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

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November 2010 Archives

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

'Doggies come lately

A couple of add-ons to this week's lines in our pro gridiron game:

9 SAN FRANCISCO at Green Bay
3.5 ARIZONA vs. St. Louis

We'll keep checking on Jacksonville and Tennessee.

Forget privatizing Social Security

How about nationalizing your 401(k)?

Free Kool-Aid

"The world’s best and brightest on urban issues" are coming to town to tell us how to live.

The fix was in -- until it wasn't

The City of Portland's usual scam network appears to have broken down a little in this case. Uh oh -- there could be some awkward moments at the Arlington Club this week.

"Clean money" meets Justice Scalia

Now that Portland voters have rejected public funding of local politicians' election campaigns, it's of less local interest, but the Supreme Court has agreed to rule on whether Arizona's "clean money" system is unconstitutional. Given the High Court's warm, fuzzy feelings about corporate money controlling the electoral process, it may well strike down "clean money."

On the road again

You never know -- that tractor-trailer rig in front of you may have some interesting cargo.

The 20-minute slum

Well it turns out I was living the livable life style when I was growing up in Queens, New York in the fifties and didn’t know it. Here all along I just thought we were poor.

The Don wimps out

The plan to submit an "urban renewal" program to the voters of Beaverton in May appears to be on the rocks. Somebody no doubt took a poll and discovered it would go down in flames. Or maybe they called New York and heard about the ongoing collapse of the municipal bond market. Either way, old Don "The Don" Mazziotti's recycling from Portland to the suburbs is starting out the way his tenure as Merritt Paulson's baseball stadium guru ended: not great.

Remember the "eco-bricks" in the Lents stadium parking lot? Too funny.

Hello, Dad? About that apartment...

Some young Portland women phone home from the Big Apple.

The 'dogs of December

With four five weeks to go in the regular season, the battle for top bragging rights in our charity pro football underdog pool is getting intense. We play all the way through the playoffs, but as the the playoffs wear on, it gets harder and harder to move up in the standings.

Here are this week's lines so far. No Jacksonville/Tennessee, San Francisco/Green Bay, or St. Louis/Arizona yet. We'll keep looking.

13 OAKLAND at San Diego
8 HOUSTON at Philadelphia (Thursday 5:20 PM PST)
7.5 DENVER at Kansas City
7 CINCINNATI vs. New Orleans
7 WASHINGTON at New York Giants
6.5 BUFFALO at Minnesota
6 CAROLINA at Seattle
5.5 DALLAS at Indianapolis
4.5 CLEVELAND at Miami
3.5 NEW YORK JETS at New England
3 DETROIT vs. Chicago
3 TAMPA BAY vs. Atlanta
3 PITTSBURGH at Baltimore

Picks are due Saturday at 11:59 p.m., except for Houston at Philly, for which I would need your pick by kickoff of that game.

Houston at Philly for 8? Hmmmmm...

UPDATE, 10:36 p.m.: Add these two pups:

9 SAN FRANCISCO at Green Bay
3.5 ARIZONA vs. St. Louis

UPDATE, 12/3, 8:34 p.m.: One more:

3.5 JACKSONVILLE at Tennessee

Portland, Oregon: The City That Sloganeers

It's a shame that the City of Portland blows so many tax dollars on dopey public relations efforts. Every city bureau has a slogan, a logo, a media relations person, a Twitterer. The latest comes from the city's "human rights commission" -- most recently hailed as a great place for city insiders to score free food. An e-mail message we got last week from that austere group included a header that we hadn't seen before:

Egads, what's that thing on the top supposed to be -- radioactive confetti? One can only wonder how much the city paid some marketing type for that and the catchy slogan. And no spaces between the words! Capital letters in the middle! CreativeClass all the way.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I got yer Marbs right here

Fake accents and foreign phrases: Using the term "Cheers!" three times in two sentences, especially when you hail from Molalla, is unacceptable.
The whole thing is well worth reading.

Good news for downtown Portland

Less parking! Who says terror isn't green?

When your neighbor gets chickens

That may not be all you're getting. [Via Lelo.]

Why I didn't go into science

I don't think I could have come up with profound stuff like this.

Homeless lockers get chilly reception from neighbors

Relentlessly pounded by City Hall, Portland's Chinatown is handed another Band-aid. Don't worry, folks; soon the homeless resort and spa will be open over by the Greyhound station, and the stolen shopping carts will be checked in and out over there. Then you can brace yourselves for the next treat that the city has for you.

Mark it down

Here is the stupidest thing that Sam Adams has done as mayor of Portland, and that says a lot. Sending people a bill that they don't have to pay, but requiring them to mail in a farookin' "affidavit" instead of a check.

That guy's medication is way off.

Part of me hopes that a bunch of people say "I ain't wasting a stamp on this -- come and get me," and we find out how much money the comics on the City Council are willing to waste on this. It might also be fun to refuse to pay on the ground that the charge is illegal under the city charter and the state constitution. Good times.

The big picture

More evidence that the Port and City of Portland's grand plans to pave over West Hayden Island for a shipping terminal are all about selling coal to China.

Rebellion is on against Tri-Met

Emboldened by the defeat of the Tri-Met bond measure earlier this month, suburban forces are talking about using the ballot box to put a stop to the Portland transit agency's insane plan to build a light rail line to Milwaukie. Not only are they planning to challenge the "urban renewal" IOUs that Clackamas County is all hot to sign for train construction, but Milwaukie MAX opponents are also preparing to challenge Tri-Met's own borrowing ordinance when it gets passed by the psychedelic Tri-Met board of directors over the next few weeks.

To force this scam onto the ballot will take a lot of signature-gathering in the rain over the holidays, but in this case, given the fact that the folks in the suburbs are sick and tired of suffering for Tri-Met boondoggles, there's a promise of quite a robust bond election or two if the challengers can get enough people to sign their petitions. At the very least, it's going to be way fun to watch, and certainly we'll sign if they go after the Tri-Met bonds. We love the bus system, and light rail is slowly but surely killing it. Light rail needs a long timeout.

Meanwhile, the folks down in Boring want to secede from Tri-Met altogether. They've noticed that nobody rides the bus that Tri-Met sends down their way, and that the primary function of that bus line is to subject every business for 2½ miles on either side of it to the transit agency's ever-increasing payroll and self-employment taxes.

We're not sure that canceling the bus line will get Tri-Met off Boring's back, however. As we understand it, Tri-Met can tax any business in the Metro district, and when last we checked, a lot, if not all, of Boring was in there. Maybe Boring needs to secede from Metro, too. Is there a way it can do that? We'd be surprised.

3,452 ballots that didn't count

We've been noodling around with the now-official results from the November 2 elections, and we see that in the race we followed most closely, Metro president, Tom Hughes officially defeated Bob Stacey by 1,003 votes out of 393,885 cast for the two of them. That's a margin of only 0.25%.

Another interesting statistic that we've compiled is the difference between the actual number of ballots counted in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties and the number of ballots that the Oregon Secretary of State was showing as having been received on November 5, three days after the election:

Where did all those received, uncounted ballots go, and why? In a race as close as Hughes vs. Stacey, it's a question worth asking. Presumably some were challenged for irregularities, but where did that slippery Secretary of State "ballots returned" number (which changed daily for a while) come from, anyway?

It's also interesting to note the percentages of "returned" ballots that the uncounted ones represented in each county. In Multnomah County, the uncounted were 0.76% of returned; in Clackamas County, only 0.25%; and in Washington County, 0.46%. Is Multnomah County three times as finicky as Clackamas County?

We trust our knowledgeable readers will have answers for us.

Why downtown Portland is failing

Forget being a new-found terror target. According to the landlords trying to attract businesses there, a big part of downtown's decline is the panhandlers.

Their story makes sense. It's what first-time visitors to downtown Portland most often remark about -- a prominent feature of our bizarre theme park. Go by streetcar!

To keep from crying

Amidst the media frenzy surrounding the downtown Portland Christmas tree bomb plot, the ensuing histrionics in the blogosphere, and the ugly backlash, perhaps some gallows humor is in order. We'll try to prime the pump with these:

1. Since his name is Mohamed Mohamud, does that means he should get consecutive sentences?

2. The mayor says he's not insulted that he was not part of the federal sting. "It's no big deal," he said. "I get bombed every Friday night, with or without the FBI."

3. Portland was never in any danger. The feds made sure the kid couldn't set off the explosives. They gave him a cell phone from AT&T.

4. This never would have happened if Paul Allen had let Lars Larson put up the crucifix in the square.

5. Yesterday I saw Dwight Holton at the Home Depot return counter with the bomb parts.

Readers, as you can see, I'm running out of steam. Please take it from here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Week of the Terriers

Only our players who had the littler 'dogs were victorious today: St. Louis, San Diego, and Chicago reeled in a few points for 9 of our 32 charity pool contestants. Nobody's got the Monday night game (a chihuahua), and so our standings at week's end are as follows:

Continue reading "Week of the Terriers" »

"You're at a red light and can pay for it to go green"

I'm glad that I probably won't live to see this. Especially what will happen when the planning drones of Portland get hold of it.

Ducks slip to No. 2 in BCS rankings

Too funny. Oh, how the whining will be heard. Go Beavers!

Don't worry -- Mother Nature will handle this

Those who believe that "sustainable growth" is a contradiction in terms may never win the argument with some people, but if they're right, they can rest assured that people's routines are going to change.

The way we love Portland City Hall

Out of the loop and completely irrelevant.

Ghosts of Christmas (shopping) past

Here are a couple of tried-and-true Portland holiday gift shopping resources that we won't be able to visit this tough year:

Makes me nervous

The sooner this gets off the front pages around the country, the better:

Guess who's in charge of the internet now

The sweethearts at federal immigration, of all people. They're apparently shutting down websites left and right for alleged copyright and trademark infringement, without advance notice to the website operators.

It is only the beginning. Wait 'til they find a kernel of "intellectual property" infringement in your core political speech. Think about what the airport is like now -- extended to the internet.

And weep for our nation.

Pass the 'dogs

After all the intense gridiron action of the last few days, it's hard to fathom that there's more to come on this late autumn Sunday. But shoulder on we must with the Big Daddies of the NFL, and the players in our charity contest have got these underdogs going for them:

10 CAROLINA at Cleveland - Eric
7.5 TAMPA BAY at Baltimore - Umpire, AKevin, pdxmick, Michael K., Bad Brad, genop's gal. Drewbob
7 JACKSONVILLE at New York Giants - john dull, Ricardo, Paul
6.5 TENNESSEE at Houston - Sattelihu, PJB, Annie, Andy
6.5 BUFFALO vs. Pittsburgh - Gordon, Conrad, Mike G.
4 ST. LOUIS at Denver - Flowers by Dorcas, Jim, Flowers by Dorcas Husband, Nick, Biggest Cubs Loser
3 SAN DIEGO at Indianapolis - Broadway Joe
3 CHICAGO vs. Philadelphia - Anthony, genop

No fair using the point spreads -- gotta win outright to move up in the standings. Good luck, everybody, and enjoy yet some more football.

Continue reading "Pass the 'dogs" »

Saturday, November 27, 2010

An unenviable position

The high-priced, superstar-laden Miami Heat basketball team has started the season with a 9-8 record. Tonight they lost to Dallas, giving them a 4-6 record in their last 10 games.

How much longer does head coach (and Portlander) Erik Spoelstra get to try to make the joy happen? If this thing busts, he's likely to be the first one to go.

Are the Blazers cursed?

Last night's anemic performance by the Portland Trail Blazers -- 30 points in the second half -- has some of our readers buzzing about the possibility that the pro hoops team is laboring under some sort of curse. Apparently a discussion of this nature was going the other day on the local sports talk radio. The Sam Bowie and Greg Oden draft busts, the infamous "Bryant to Shaq" playoff loss to the Lakers in 2000, Sean Kemp, Darius Miles, and now Brandon Roy's cartilage-free knees... Blazer fans are emerging as among the longest-suffering in all of sports.

If it is a curse, what is it a curse for? The razing of the lively African-American neighborhood to build the Memorial Coliseum? Or is the hex on team owner Paul Allen, who seems to have had more than his share of bum luck for all his money? Maybe he done somebody wrong in his Microsoft days.

Forget about a new team doctor -- the Blazers need an exorcist.

Portland Christmas tree bomb shocker

Our city dodged a bullet last night. Even if you take all of the government's "terr" scares with a grain of salt, this one was awfully close to home. And you've always got to wonder whether the copycats will be less stupid than this particular perpetrator. One more thing to worry about in downtown Portland this winter -- forget the parking meter fascisti, keep an eye out for the jihadists.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sweet as pumpkin pie

Our evening found us fading in and out of a turkey leftover concussion, and we caught a few bleak sights on the sports telly in between dozing spells. But we were upright and alert enough to watch the end of this college football game, which was truly wonderful.

Fifty years ago tonight

Something really bad happened in Portland.

Too clever by half

For some people, we have no sympathy.

Sounds awfully familiar

"They have been pushing rail expansion for decades now," Mr. Rubin said, "and it has not had much of an impact in terms of increasing transit ridership. The big problem is that these are very, very expensive, and we wind up spending so much money on building these rail lines that there is not enough to operate bus service. So we wind up cutting back on bus operations and then raising fares, which drives the riders away."
Guess which city he's talking about.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Time for some strong black coffee

We're heading out to Target at 3 a.m.

More DIY disasters

After the "Urban Survivalists" took to robbing banks, the deniers of modern society are now immolating themselves rather than buy eggs at Fred Meyer. It's sort of like riding a bike -- OK if you know what you're doing, and deadly if you don't.

A light in the darkness

Here's a hopeful followup on one of Portland's bleakest moments.

Early bird 'dog

Just one player in our charity pro football underdog pool picked this morning's gridiron contest:

6.5 DETROIT vs. New England (Thursday 9:30 AM PST) - Hank

Good luck, Hank, and happy turkey day, everybody!

UPDATE, 3:49 p.m.: Hank did not prevail. Nobody chose Dallas at home over New Orleans.

Several players do have Cincinnati at the Jets this evening. They may not get posted here until later tonight. The deadline for picking that game is game time, 5:20 p.m.

UPDATE, 10:22 p.m.: Also not prevailing this evening:

8.5 CINCINNATI at New York Jets (Thursday 5:20 PM PST) - Doug, Larry Legend, Bob, Gary

UPDATE, 11/26, 3:24 a.m.: There's still no line for Miami vs. Oakland, and so that game is off-limits.

RIP, Bambi

Here's a recently departed resident of the 'Couv who was much better known in other parts of the country.

Straggling hounds

Our oddsmaker informs us that Carolina is a 10-point underdog at Cleveland, and Tennessee is a 6.5-point underdog at Houston. Miami and Oakland still have no line. We'll keep looking through the day today as family events allow. Meanwhile, our charity pool players should add these to their cards:

10 CAROLINA at Cleveland
6.5 TENNESSEE at Houston

Those picking any of today's three games must get their picks to us before kickoff of their respective game.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Have a great holiday weekend

Another Dagoba chocolate recall

This time for salmonella. Last time it was for lead, and I got a bunch of it. Haven't bought any Dagoba products since -- and am mighty glad.

Attention: Today is Wednesday

Between the freezing cold, the kids being off from school, and a four-day holiday weekend starting tonight, it feels as though we should all have the day off, doesn't it? Those of us who don't, can at least act like it's Friday, I guess.

Special Report: It still might snow

This just in to the bojack.org Storm Center: It's way below freezing outside, and so if there is any precipitation in Portland, it will be frozen. Snow! Deadly snow! There's a chance of it for tomorrow.

Just hope that we don't get the dreaded, deadly freezing rain instead. That's how these cold snaps usually end themselves in these parts. It all depends on how fast things warm up, above and below. If we get the freezing rain, we are all going to perish!

Remain calm. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 for further updates.

$65 million* of public money to give Gerding Edlen something to do

Nowadays, you wrap it in "green," but it's the same old line of "jobs" malarkey from the City of Portland as it throws literally tens of millions at a real estate play that will make a favored developer richer and leave the taxpayers with a white elephant. O.k., a "green" white elephant -- one that will become a quaint joke in short order.

[M]undane efforts, such as tenants putting up with cooler offices in the winter and warmer ones in the summer, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, not using hot water or energy-hog appliances, and minimizing electrical usage for desktop computers and personal electronic devices, must provide the rest.
What a wonderful place that is going to be for an office. Who's going to pay the astronomical rent that this moon station is going to need to pay for itself? NORML and OSPIRG? No one with any common sense is going to want to get near it.

Oh well, one more exhibit in the eccentric theme park that Portland has become. The bankruptcy will eventually put a stop to these. Go by streetcar! (Which, by the way, will cost another $4 million to have its tracks realigned.)

* - Preliminary liars' budget.

Almost Portland news

It's been a slow news week. Aside from the Arctic Chill, there hasn't been much going on in Portland. That may pick up today, as the day before a four-day holiday weekend is an excellent time for politicians to reveal something they'd rather you didn't know. And their chums in the local Fourth Estate usually take the cue and report said bad news on the eve of the weekend.

Already Clackamas County and Tri-Met have scheduled controversial public meetings for this morning; watch for a bombshell from state or local government this afternoon. Maybe there'll be an outcome in that corruption case involving John Kitzhaber's girlfriend, or Tom Moyer will plead in his election fraud prosecution.

Since the local headlines have been few, how about some stories that sound like Portland, but aren't? Here's one that's got light rail, missed deadlines, a new bridge, and bike lanes. And here's another one, with a heavy-handed, tone-deaf Pacific Northwest City Hall coming down hard on a popular downtown business with a giant purple octopus on the front of it.

Sometimes close is the best we can do.

Another fun hour with Windows

If your Windows computer starts telling you that you need "ThinkPoint" to get rid of a virus, then you already have a virus called "ThinkPoint." It runs a file called hotfix.exe, which is going to make your computer quite stupid. Whatever you do, do not buy anything from ThinkPoint!

It's a sinister little bugger, with the Microsft logo being displayed and everything. Especially if you recent switched over to Microsoft Security Essentials, which of course allows this virus right in, it's easy to be fooled.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware will get rid of the virus, as will other reputable malware removal tools. There are also some helpful suggestions about what to do here. (Alas, once ThinkPoint is running, it won't let your computer go anywhere, much less there.)

There's a special place in hell for the psychos who create these things.

Obama finally takes the bait

North Korean wild man Kim Jong-Il and his son, Menta Lee-Il, have been acting up big time this month -- rubbing the U.S.'s nose in their new nuclear bomb factory and bombing a South Korean island. Now it's time for our Navy to head on into the area for some "exercises." Let's hope that some serious hands don't get thrown over there any time soon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who let the 'dogs out?

We did -- here are the lines for this week's pro football games in our underdog contest. Three games are not up yet: Carolina at Cleveland, Tennessee at Houston, and Miami at Oakland. Per the rules, we'll keep looking through Thursday.

Remember: Thanksgiving games are due by their respective kickoff times as listed below. For all other games, the deadline is midnight on Saturday night. Good luck, players:

8.5 CINCINNATI at New York Jets (Thursday 5:20 PM PST)
7.5 TAMPA BAY at Baltimore
7 JACKSONVILLE at New York Giants
6.5 DETROIT vs. New England (Thursday 9:30 AM PST)
6.5 BUFFALO vs. Pittsburgh
4 ST. LOUIS at Denver
3 SAN DIEGO at Indianapolis
3 DALLAS vs. New Orleans (Thursday 1:15 PM PST)
3 CHICAGO vs. Philadelphia
2 MINNESOTA at Washington
2 GREEN BAY at Atlanta
1 SEATTLE vs. Kansas City
1 ARIZONA vs. San Francisco

UPDATE, 11/25, 2:30 a.m.: Add these two:

10 CAROLINA at Cleveland
6.5 TENNESSEE at Houston

Dang, it's cold

But it's a dry cold. And not much wind.

Warm thoughts for a cold day

And now for something completely different: scuttlebutt about where the World Cup soccer tourney will be played in 2018 and 2022. Our buddies Steve and Harry Stark are all over it. (In '14, it'll be in Brazil.)

Reporting for duty

How to wreck a nice town

Down in West Linn, they're gearing up for the dreaded "infill," led by some know-it-all thirty-year-old true believers from the Church of Urban Planning. Why doesn't the town just stop growing? Sorry, that's out of the question. "Green" means condos and skinny houses. Meh.

NATO falls for con man

This guy will be "traveling back to Welches" in style.

The loneliest 'dog

With last night's trouncing of the Ponies by the Chargers (amidst the Philip Rivers Love Fest all evening on the television), we have only one winner in the underdog pool for the week, and the standings are left as they were Sunday evening.

We should have the early lines on this week's games later this morning, if our oddsmaker has power in the current Arctic conditions.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Portland buckling under light dusting of snow

OMG, it has actually snowed. Here at Storm Center 9000.2, we have 0.01 inch of snow on the ground, paralyzing our every move. What is worse is the temperature, below freezing for the past hour and a half and likely to stay that way for another 36 hours at least. What were very wet surfaces two hours ago are now covered with ice. You can't shovel it. It's politically incorrect to throw salt on it. You can throw sand on it, but how come you have sand lying around?

Step outside that front door and die! Instead, stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2, where smart people go when there's nowhere else.

Snowstorm from hell could be here any minute now

Portlanders who were foolish enough to leave their homes today are going to regret it. It's only 41 degrees in town right now, and that's a mere nine degrees above freezing! If the temperature drops by more than that, it snows really hard, and the ground suddenly gets a lot colder than it is now, travel could become hazardous. Remain calm, but cancel all activities for the foreseeable future. Have your survival kit ready. And stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 for all the latest updates on this dangerous situation.

Multi-modal meltdown

Drivers in New York are just saying no to more bike lanes. Just in time for David Bragdon's arrival -- too funny.

But O heart! heart! heart!

Those of us who were around 47 years ago might want to stop for just a minute today and think.

Special Report: It still might snow

Here at bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2, we continue to await the arrival of the deadly snowstorm that is expected to lash Portland any minute now. Right now it's 39.2 degrees and raining -- much too close for comfort. If you go outside, you may never get back. Remain calm and stay tuned to this blog for further updates.

Is Portland paying more for retired cops than current ones?

A frustrated reader asked us a while back whether the City of Portland was paying more to retired police officers and firefighters than it was to those currently on the police and fire forces. We've finally gotten around to looking at that question, and the answer appears to be no -- not yet.

According to this document -- a disclosure the city made when it took out a huge short-term loan to pay police and fire pension benefits this past summer -- the city was expecting that its police and fire pension fund was going to spend $107.4 million in the year ending June 30, 2011. Of that amount, about $4 million is being put aside for the pensions of recently hired police and firefighters, who are now covered by the state pension system; that leaves $103.4 million being spent currently on benefits to retired and disabled officers under the city's reckless pay-as-you-go system.

Who is in that retiree group? According to the city's administrative rules, only permanent sworn officers are members of the pension fund:

(A) Those sworn permanent employees of the Bureau of Fire and Rescue having the job classifications of Fire Fighter, Fire Fighter Specialist, Fire Fighter Communications, Fire Lieutenant, Fire Training Officer, Staff Fire Lieutenant, Fire Captain, Fire Training Captain, Fire Battalion Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, Division Fire Chief, City Fire Chief, Fire Inspector I, Fire Inspector II, Fire Inspector I Specialist, Staff Fire Captain, Fire Lieutenant Communications, Harbor Pilot, Assistant Fire Marshal, Assistant Public Education Officer and EMS Coordinator;

(B) Those permanent sworn employees of the Bureau of Police having the job classifications of Police Officer, Police Sergeant, Police Detective, Criminalist, Police Lieutenant, Police Captain, Police Commander, Deputy Police Chief, Assistant Police Chief, and Police Chief.

How much is the city spending in current salaries to officers in those categories, presently on the force, this year? Here are some figures that we pulled out of the current year's budget. When in doubt as to whether a position was covered by the pension plan, such as when the title didn't exactly match up to the one on the official list just quoted, we included it:

TitleNumberBudgeted salaries
EMS Program Manager1$ 92,724
Fire Battalion Chief131,507,812
Staff Fire Battalion Chief2246,744
Fire Captain323,217,344
Staff Fire Captain4416,136
Fire Chief1169,020
Deputy Fire Chief5662,230
Fire Division Chief2287,302
Fire Fighter44232,214,648
Fire Fighter Specialist8612,276
Fire Inspector242,010,895
Sr. Fire Inspector6573,240
Fire Inspector/Specialist10909,342
Fire Investigator7648,451
Fire Lieutenant1049,297,363
Staff Fire Lieutenant7651,383
Fire Marshal1143,652
Assistant Fire Marshal2244,296
Fire Training Officer4355,159
Harbor Pilot7621,464
Assistant Public Education Officer184,204
TitleNumberBudgeted salaries
Police Captain10$ 1,199,164
Police Chief1183,852
Assistant Police Chief3447,652
Police Commander7919,764
Police Criminalist171,422,966
Police Detective957,862,499
Police Lieutenant242,494,016
Police Officer70049,226,244

If you add up all those salaries, you get a grand total of around $118.7 million -- and that's not including overtime, I don't think. Overtime probably tacks another $25 million to $30 million onto those base salary figures. And so no, Virginia, Portland's not spending more on retired police and firefighters than on current ones. The ratio's something like 3-to-2 current-to-retired. But the day when the retirees catch up and get ahead may not be too far off.

Goofball new Portland "urban renewal" district in trouble

That gerrymandered scam-fest known as the proposed new "central city urban renewal" district in Portland has been put on hold for several months. It seems that the county and the school district, which are both quite broke, would rather not have the future property tax increases in the affected areas diverted to developers' pockets rather than being spent on essential human services. And besides, right now you couldn't probably couldn't "sell the bonds" (i.e., borrow the money) for that district on anything but cutthroat terms.

Good news for taxpayers, but doubly so in that it shows how ineffective the mayor is in pushing his pet projects. The leaf tax, "voter-owed" elections, now this -- it seems that the City Hall crowd isn't quite getting it done the way they used to. And pretty soon, the developer bosses who pull their strings are going to be looking for new puppets to send to Council Chambers. Maybe there'll be an opening for somebody who really cares about the average Jane and Joe in Portland.

Masters of the mindscrew

Guess when Clackamas County's going to hold a public hearing on its proposed $5 vehicle tax for the Sellwood Bridge. Yep -- the morning before Thanksgiving.

It will be tough choosing between that one and Tri-Met's board meeting on contracts for the Milwaukie mystery train -- to be held at the same time.

This is "public involvement" in these parts -- guaranteed to attract only those who will say what the decisionmakers want to hear. Maybe they'll get really lucky and the snow will keep down the crowds.

Ron Artest visits Whole Foods -- news story

Burning question

On another Sunday talk show, CBS’s "Face the Nation," Mrs. Clinton said she would not like to go through a security pat-down.

"Not if I could avoid it," she said. "No. I mean, who would?"

All together now, everyone: Besides your husband?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

'Dog do not

Only one winner in the underdog pool today -- Matt scored 7 with the Redskins over Tennessee. We still have six players rooting for the Broncos (10) against the Bolts tomorrow night: AKevin, Hank, Sattelihu, Gary, Paul, and Eric. That double-digit game could change things considerably, but as of this posting, here are the standings:

Continue reading "'Dog do not" »

What just hit us?

The devastating storm that dropped snow mixed with rain on Portland this afternoon has temporarily ceased its fury. As cautious residents begin the arduous task of digging out, meteorologists warn that more precipitation is on the way. And it is only 38 degrees outside, meaning that if the temperature drops another six degrees, wet surfaces will freeze. Freeze -- leaving deadly black ice, ice that is so black that it looks like wet pavement, and it is, only frozen, and treacherous. Remain calm. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 for all the latest updates. We remain on high alert.

File photo.
Tyree Wilde, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland, said cold temperatures and moisture are the ingredients for snow.
And don't you forget it!

Consumer Health Tip of the Week

If someone in a bar offers you an on-the-spot breast exam, they may not be a real doctor.

It has begun

Here at Storm Center headquarters, our high-tech sensors are detecting rain mixed with snow. Snow! Frozen, deadly snow. Remain calm. Remain indoors. Do not go outside for any reason. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 for further updates.

Wild times in the Palm Springs of Washington

Our correspondent to the north and east sends along some amazing cops-and-robbers news out of Yakima. Check out one attorney's involvement with the homeboys, both in and out of the clink. And the police up that way seem to be imploding on their own.

He's good for something

Gatsby Wyden gets this one right.

"Morning Joe" gave money against Earl the Pearl and Wu

A local angle on a national story.

Chilly 'dogs

The players in our charity pro football underdog game have spoken for another week, and they're all going for seven points or better:

11.5 SEATTLE at New Orleans - Ricardo, Anthony, Drewbob
10 CAROLINA vs. Baltimore - Bob, Annie
10 DENVER at San Diego - AKevin, Hank, Sattelihu, Gary, Paul, Eric
7.5 ARIZONA at Kansas City - PJB, Larry Legend
7.5 OAKLAND at Pittsburgh - Bad Brad, Flowers by Dorcas, Flowers by Dorcas Husband, Jim, Broadway Joe, Umpire, john dull, Doug
7 DETROIT at Dallas - Michael K., Nick
7 WASHINGTON at Tennessee - Matt
7 HOUSTON at New York Jets - Biggest Cubs Loser, Gordon, Andy

A handful of players missed the deadline this week, despite reminders. We hope they'll be with us again next week.

Good luck, players, and enjoy the games.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rolling over a big one

This blog received its five millionth unique visit this evening, as counted by the popular SiteMeter tracking service. The last time the seventh digit turned on the blog odometer was on January 11 of this year, which means that we racked up a million unique visits in 313 days, or 3,195 visits a day on average. The last million took 344 days, or 2,907 a day, and so our readership appears to have grown at a rate of about 9%.

The numbers don't matter nearly as much as the quality and quantity of interaction between us and our readers. To the many people who contribute in various ways to this enterprise, we are deeply grateful.

Something for the Urban Survivalists to look forward to

The guy, at least, may get a chance to hang out with this fellow.

Impending insider trading bust has Portland connection

A couple of readers have alerted us to this story.

For your reference library

The next time one of our state or local officials puts his or her live-in hottie on the public pad, and you want to know "Is that legal?" -- you may want to consult this document, the latest version of the Oregon public officials' ethics guide.

Look after the bottom line

When the revenue stream is down, think about changing the product.

Special Report: It still might snow

The possibly big potential snowstorm tentatively forecast for tomorrow night has local governments posturing around in the media and on the intertubes, assuring the public that yes, they are reaching their very highest stages of readiness.

At Portland City Hall, the city's army of 27 bloggers and Tweeters are standing by with up-to-the-minute reports. Sample Tweet: "Fireman Randy says to let your faucet run a little." The water commissioner has also requested that Portlanders make regular use of his patented street toilets to keep the seats in those facilities from getting too cold. "Being frozen to the bowl in a public loo robs people of their dignity," he declared at a Friday afternoon press conference. "Let's thaw the sticky circle of homelessness."

Mayor Creepy advises turning down the thermostat and cuddling up with an inexperienced sustainability staffer. The mayor also notes that the two guys who drive the city's snow plow have now located the keys to the truck and are standing by for further instructions. "Your street probably won't be plowed," the mayor said, "but if it is and you get a bill for the service, you may sign an affidavit that you would have shoveled it yourself but didn't have time to prepare. If your application is approved after our review, the fee will be waived -- for this storm only."

Commissioner Nick Fish announced this morning that once freezing temperatures set in, the city will partially refill the bottom of the dredged-out Laurelhurst Park duck pond with water diverted from nearby bioswales, and the parks bureau will open the city's long-delayed public skating rink there. Former Portland Business Alliance head Kim Kimbrough will be on hand from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday to autograph exclusion notices. Parks bureau employees are also hoping that enough precipitation will accumulate to allow construction of a festive snowman, PCB Pedro, to complement nearby Cesar Chavez Boulevard.

Tri-Met is gearing up to put chains on the area's buses as a safety measure at the first sign of a snowflake. All buses will be on special "snow routes," which means Fifth and Sixth Avenues between NW Glisan and SW Jefferson Streets. And in keeping with seasonal tradition, dozens of buses will be idling 16 hours a day in front of the U.S. Bank Tower beginning Monday morning at 4:46 a.m. (time approximate).

The transit agency also asks that residents on the west side phone a special tip line (503-238-BUST) if they see anyone riding the WES train. Of course, the MAX lines will shut down entirely if the temperature drops to 31 degrees or below.

Winter weather makes travel to Mount Hood more challenging. Residents of Welches are particularly hard hit by snowstorms and usually need $40 for cab fare home from Sandy.

Perhaps the biggest threat posed by the weather is to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Because of the impending snowstorm, grocers are reportedly running out of turkeys. If you don't already have yours, you're advised to get it right away, at all costs. Portland's streetcars are free this month to anyone carrying a fresh, free-range turkey, dead or alive, in a reusable bag.

In sum, the city is in a state of extreme preparedness. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 for all the latest on the Blizzard of '10. We look out the window -- so that you don't have to.

Warnings and Precautions

When you first become an Oregonian, someone should take you aside the way the pharmacist does, when you pick up a new prescription, and give you some important advice: Always read the state and local political news with food -- crackers or a small meal, at least. It cuts down the nauseous feeling you can sometimes develop.

Extremely close call on an Airbus 380

Here's a near-disaster in the skies that we hadn't heard about until now:

What was known immediately after the blowout was that the left inner engine suffered an "uncontained" failure, meaning it flung shrapnel through its casing. Photographs showed a hole in the left wing, but there were no official reports of further damage.

But the new information makes it clear that the shrapnel cut hydraulic lines and electric cables in the left wing, disabling equipment throughout the aircraft. It also punctured two of the 11 fuel tanks — meaning highly flammable fuel was streaming from the left wing — and damaged the wing’s spar, or backbone.

With the power lines severed, the crew could not move fuel from the rear tanks to the forward ones as they emptied, creating the potential that the plane would become so tail-heavy it would stall and crash. The crew also could not reposition the left wing’s slats, which are small panels that normally help maintain lift at the low speeds of takeoff and landing. The damage to the spar could have been catastrophic if the plane had hit turbulence.

Sounds like they had a dream team in the cockpit -- and a good thing, too.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Time goes ga-ga for Portland food

They loved it, loved it, loved it. Especially our "locavorism."

Funny thing, though...

Have a great weekend

Close to home

Here's a new Oregon outfit that's apparently going to try to give Groupon a run for its money. Not knowing much about this sort of thing, we'll let our readers be the judge of how the two compare.

Tough week for democracy

Here's a dangerous development. It goes quite well with this one. The Democratic Party, hard at work protecting our liberties, not.

Time for another round of "Who Had the Pickle?"

This time, the state auditor takes a look at the spending habits of the Oregon Marine Board. Good eatin'!

Lake O to treat solo bloggers, gang bloggers differently

Lake Oswego's city attorney has taken up the fruitless task of trying to define what "media" is these days. He's trying to interpret a crazy feature of the state's "open meetings" law that allows public bodies to meet in private executive sessions, with the "media" present but the public excluded. The law states that the "media" is not allowed to publish anything they see or hear at these semi-secret meetings.

The whole concept is absurd, but adding to the folly nowadays is the fact that nobody knows what "media" means any more. And so now, thanks to some troublemaking by the infamous Mark Bunster, the city is trying to draw that line. They've been relying heavily on the mainstream media in doing the interpretive work, and of course the product they have come up with discriminates heavily in favor of mainstream outlets. Here's from the Trib's version of the latest draft:

Right off the bat, the policy defines media as any organization that has been previously recognized as eligible to attend executive sessions, such as The Oregonian and the Lake Oswego Review.

Secondly, anyone who is a member of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, Oregon Association of Broadcasters or the Associated Press will be addmited [sic].

Any newspaper that the local government uses for publishing public notices would also be admissible. Open Oregon urged the inclusion of this requirement because some small, rural newspapers may not be members of ONPA or AP but are still well-established media insitutions [sic] in their communities.

To address non-traditional media, there is a two-part test. First, it must be organized and regularly publishing, broadcasting or transmitting news that reports on local government. Second, it must be “institutionalized” and committed to uphold the law regarding executive session. Institutionalized is defined to mean that an entity must have multiple personnel, must have names and contact information of personnel readily available and has a process for correcting errors.

Does this blog have "multiple personnel"? Not unless you count commenters and people who send in tips that are reproduced here. Whereas I would guess an outlet like Blue Oregon Loaded Orygun, for which Bunster sometimes writes, would qualify. Is this blog "organized"? I have no idea what that even means.

Not that it matters all that much to me. If you ever see me writing about wanting to attend an executive session of the Lake Oswego City Council, please take me out and shoot me. But I don't think the line they're drawing is going to be tenable, and if it is actually adopted, at some point it will surely be tested in court. If Portland tries it, I might see you at the courthouse.

Interest rates are on the rise

For mortgages, but particularly for state and local bonds. Municipal bond deals are cratering all of a sudden. Heck of a time to be building a mystery train to Milwaukie and talking about starting up another "urban renewal" district.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stay tuned for vital updates

The TV weather people say it could snow in Portland on Sunday. Snow! Frozen, slippery, deadly precipitation. And so Oregonians are advised to head out to the grocery store now and stock up on water, batteries, and sardines. If a snowflake should appear, remain indoors -- do not go outside your home for any reason. And of course, come back to this blog again and again for the latest news on the Thanksgiving Week Arctic Blast.

Mad? Here, let me take your money.

Here's a totally bogus suggestion being tossed around in the furor over invasive airport searches: hire private security guards to replace federal employees. Huh? If they're going to be performing the same searches as are being performed by the TSA now, the fact that they're employed by a private company isn't going to make the intrusions any more palatable.

As for their being more customer-friendly or efficient than the TSA, that is complete and total hogwash. The private guards who performed the searches before 9/11 were far more obnoxious, inefficient, fat, lazy, and ignorant than the crews we have now. The abuse that they used to dish out at airports like Newark is legendary. And of course, they failed miserably.

No, the privatization meme is just another money grab by corporate America, and its tools like this clown politician. It's the searches, stupid -- not who signs the paychecks.

It's God's fault

Here's one of the best columns about the Blazers that we've read in a long time.

Another mission accomplished... not

Remember when they were talking about the future of the Rose Quarter and the mayor of Portland said, "Now is the time for action. We do not lack plans. We lack action"?

That was in April 2009.

It makes the latest news on that project all the more amusing.

About that airport peep-or-grope

The new U.S. airport security procedures -- whereby travelers get either an intrusive manual probing or X-rays that essentially give the security guards the subject's naked photo -- are sure provoking a lot of discussion. Here's one interesting suggestion; here's another.

We're not sure what all the sudden controversy is about. Issues of this kind are not new:

Big Brother never sleeps, so neither do you

The latest from local government: midnight robo-calls.

The new U.S. attorney

The new nominee to the office of U.S. attorney for Oregon is a Facebooker. Her page there is mostly private, but apparently anyone with a Facebook account can see the photos, at least for now.

She lists herself on the social media site as "Amanda Amie Marshall," but her official name is "S. Amanda Marshall." (The S. is for Sally, we think.) She reportedly lives in McMinnville and lists her hometown as Mill Valley, California.

We hate to sound like an old fogey, but at 41, she seems a bit young for the job. She goes from working as about a third-in-command for John Kroger to running the U.S. attorney's office -- a pretty serious leap in levels of responsibility. Think she'll be taking on any serious corruption in Portland? Let's hope she surprises us.

Reaction pouring in

Portland homeless lockers part of national trend

Nick Fish is quoted in a USA Today feature on the emerging practice.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another knee surgery for Oden

That's the rumor. Since it would be microsfracture surgery, it would be breaking news -- literally.

UPDATE, 8:44 p.m.: ESPN just broke into tonight's excruciatingly boring NBA game with a report to the same effect.

Portland population growth slows to near-halt -- 0.3% a year

The population estimators at Portland State University have some remarkable news this afternoon: The City of Portland gained only 1,705 residents between July 1, 2009 and July 1, 2010. That's a gain of only 0.29% over that year. The population within the city limits rose from 582,130 to 583,835, according to PSU.

All the ugly infill that's been built in the city's neighborhoods has been pushed on us by the Metro drones and city planning Mafia based on wildly inaccurate population growth projections. The population within the Portland city limits, it seems, isn't growing much at all. For the previous five years before this year's count, the annual rate of increase was a mere 1.12%.

We'll be adjusting our city debt clock, which has been using a 1.28% annual growth rate based on the last three years, this evening. But clearly every Portland resident's share of the city's massive debt just went up, because the estimated number of residents just went down.

The spreadsheet of the new PSU report is here. Keep in mind that the federal Census Bureau thinks that PSU overstates the city's population, and so the real number of residents may actually be lower than what's in the Excel file.

UPDATE, 7:39 p.m.: The new five-year growth rate is 1.05% a year, and the new three-year growth rate is 0.90% a year. We've updated the population portion of our debt clock (always on our left sidebar), using a 1.0% annual growth rate just to give the planner cabal the benefit of the doubt. At this hour, that puts the city population at 586,071.

They love Sustainable Susan in England

Portland sure looks "smart" to these guys.

Dear Senate Democrats: Show some guts

Alas, it will never happen.

Dead birds, and mercury in your salmon

While the Port of Portland and Portland City Hall conspire to pave over bald eagle habitat on Hayden Island for a coal terminal to ship Wyoming coal to China, up in Cowlitz County, Washington, a similar plan is getting the lousy reception that it deserves.

Who knows better about "high-crash corridors"?

Portlanders, take note: The mayor will be out at the intersection of SE 108th and Foster on Friday morning for a "traffic safety event." They're not saying exactly what that entails, but you just picture it, can't you? "Take it from me: When you're driving around buzzed, playing pocket pool, be sure to watch the cars in front of you."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Where is Portland DUI cop's mugshot?

News reports say that Portland police office John Shadron was arrested for drunk driving in Gresham on Sunday evening, following a collision. Why is there no booking photo of Shadron here? There couldn't be some double standard for alleged drunk driving by police officers, could there?

More Portland cop hijinx

Officer Hitler takes a hit, and a couple of other members of the force run into trouble with their self-medication programs.

The scary part for the Nazi guy? He's required to undergo a "mentorship" supervised by Mayor Creepy.

Anyway, a three-bagger day for the PPB. The collective nervous breakdown of the city rolls on. Only two years and one and a half months to go!

Killer cop gets the ax

The Portland officer who fatally shot Aaron Campbell just got his walking papers. But it's hardly over. The union will do its usual song and dance, and he might be reinstated. Campbell, however, will remain deceased.

Move over, cool 'dog

The first lines are up for this week's games in our charity pro football underdog contest. We have nothing as yet for last night's teams (Giants at Philly or Washington at Tennessee), but we'll keep checking those and get them posted here as soon as they are available:

11.5 SEATTLE at New Orleans
10 CAROLINA vs. Baltimore
10 DENVER at San Diego
7.5 ARIZONA at Kansas City
7.5 OAKLAND at Pittsburgh
7 DETROIT at Dallas
7 HOUSTON at New York Jets
5.5 BUFFALO at Cincinnati
3 MINNESOTA vs. Green Bay
3 ST. LOUIS vs. Atlanta
3 TAMPA BAY at San Francisco
3 INDIANAPOLIS at New England
1.5 CHICAGO at Miami (Thursday at 5:20 PM PST)
1 CLEVELAND at Jacksonville

If you want the Thursday game, please get your pick in by kickoff time of that contest; otherwise, by 11:59 p.m. Saturday. Good luck, players! And readers, your advice is always welcome.

UPDATE, 7:59 p.m.: And here are the other two games:

7 WASHINGTON at Tennessee
3 NEW YORK GIANTS at Philadelphia

While they're outlawing Four Loko...

... what about Spanish coffee?

Did putting Claritin-D behind counter reduce crime?

This district attorney says that returning pseudoephedrine to prescription drug status "is part of the reason that Oregon recently experienced the steepest decline in crime rates in the 50 states." He may be right.

The O cheerleads Old Town Beam deal

The City of Portland's scary $6 million loan to a Chinese medicine college for a new headquarters in Old Town -- a project that will make developer Brad Malsin at the Beam firm some nice dough -- is a wonderful thing despite the extraordinary risk. So says this editorial by the city's moribund daily newspaper. Why? Apparently, because the nearby Chinese Garden is so nice:

The now 10-year-old Lan Su, formerly known as the Portland Classical Chinese Garden, is an enclave of serenity, where the college already offers classes and lectures (recently on the health benefits of drinking tea)....

And you can't walk into the Lan Su without marveling at the otherworldly sense of relaxation it projects. This place has "alternative therapy" and "wholistic wellness" written all over it. It's the embodiment of the "de-stress" message central to the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine's core mission.

And that's why it's a good idea to ignore the fundamentals of finance and make a mid-seven-figure loan that no bank would get anywhere near, at an insanely low interest rate?

They need their "wholistic" heads examined. The O's editorials haven't been this goofy since Jonathan Nicholas took the severance package.

Bad deals chase out good deals. And this one screams hysterically bad. The PDC and its developer pals appear to be in the financial intensive care unit, and getting desperate for any transaction, at any price. Go by streetcar!

Sweet Lord, please turn it off

We are so very weary of this one and this one, and the media who flog their messed-up lives so mercilessly. Until there is something even vaguely approaching real news in the case, please grant us peace in the darkness.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stay, 'doggy, stay

The Monday night underdog, the Washington Redskins, failed to produce, and so the standings in our charity pro football underdog game remain where they were last night (scroll down). We should have preliminary lines for next weekend's games tomorrow. We are 10 weeks into a 20-week game; as the playoffs progress, the chances of advancing get slimmer, and so the folks in the back of the pack should start throwing some long bombs any time now.

This might be a good time to remind all our players about our weekly deadline. This week, Drewbob correctly picked Dallas -- which would have been a beautiful 14-point win -- but he did so at 8:24 Sunday morning, after we had posted the picks for the week. That makes his pick null and void. Another excellent player, genop, had the same thing happen a few weeks back. Once the picks get posted on Sunday morning (this week they went up at 6:30 a.m.), no further selections will be honored.

The deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, with a grace period until we actually post the picks, and as noted in the official rules, it's enforced. We hope, if we play this game again, to have an automated system in place that will let folks post their picks up until the first game kicks off on Sunday. But that is many months away, and so for now, players, just to be safe, please get it done by midnight Saturday night. BTW, picks can be changed up until the deadline -- just ask Doug, who correctly picked Dallas but then had late-night second thoughts on Saturday. He switched to Cincinnati just in time to miss the biggest payoff of the season so far.

Another creative class member goes berserk

This time in Santa Cruz, but I'd bet he'll be trying Portland out soon.

Tough call

Here are a couple of university professors who think that to jump-start the colonization of Mars, we ought to resolve right now that all tickets will be one-way. We totally agree, and a number of nominees immediately spring to mind.

Whom would you send -- say, if you could choose just three people?

Here comes TARP II

Some sobering words about the City of Portland's lender of choice, Bank of America.

A new sister city for Portland

They've even got their own SoWhat District. No doubt a sustainability center won't be far behind.

Wanted: dead or alive

No, you aren't.

More Portland merchants pounded by City Hall

Here's an unhappy recent addition all along NE Broadway and Weidler Streets between the Rose Quarter and Ninth:

And it's not just Broadway and Weidler themselves. The infernal pay-to-park zones curl around the corners onto the side streets as well. What leeches.

We suppose the city justifies this intrusion by noting that they've laid down streetcar tracks. But not only are there no streetcars yet, but it's also four blocks from that parking meter to the streetcar route.

This is part of the false sales pitch that "the streetcar pays for itself." No, people who drive to the area to shop pay for the streetcar. And it's one more reason to shop somewhere else.

It won't be long before Transportation Sue has those meters installed all the way up Broadway and Sandy to 57th. Bless her and the commissioner in charge of her bureau. Our congressman, who brings us streetcar pork, too. They're keeping our city so livable.

In case you missed it

Late Friday, we learned that the Portland leaf tax has fallen apart.

Something new at the airport

You get your choice: the nude photo or the grope.

(Or pay a $10,000 fine if you decide to go home.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

One in five Portland bike commuters hits asphalt during year

Some harder than others, but all picking up some road rash nonetheless.

Among the biggest hazards: streetcar tracks and wet leaves. You superior people on two wheels know whom to blame for those. The same Earl the Pearl and Mayor Creepy for whom you religiously vote. Die by streetcar!

Smell the sustainability

Here's an interesting new blog, about riding Tri-Met.

Accused Portland bank robbers were eco-bloggers


An alert reader points out that two of the three people arrested for robbing two Portland banks at gunpoint -- including allegedly firing live rounds into bank branch ceilings -- are self-styled "urban survivalists" who have been blogging for more than a year about their "green" do-it-yourself ways in their Lents neighborhood home. Chickens and all. They often signed off with "Stay safe and sustainable."

And Tweets, of course. Plus, buy the T-shirt!


They were reportedly planning a third bank holdup for Friday, before they were busted. She allegedly had her passport and bags ready to go, too.

Guess this is what happens when the creative class goes bad. Does this mean that pending orders for her homemade soap aren't going to be filled?

The third member of the accused trio apparently has some kind of gig at Intel and is known on Myspace as Batman83. I wonder what his nickname might be in federal prison. Maybe he could ask the guys to call him "Merritt Paulson." (The first guy's MySpace page is available for perusal here.)

Stay tuned -- there could well be a made-for-TV movie in this one.

'Dog Picks X

The players in our charity pro football underdog contest have made their selections for the week, and more than half of them have the same idea:

14 DALLAS at New York Giants - AKevin
7 CINCINNATI at Indianapolis - Flowers by Dorcas Husband, genop's gal, Broadway Joe, Doug
6.5 ST. LOUIS at San Francisco - Bob, Matt, Mike G., Hank, Ricardo, Jim, Sattelihu, Anthony, Eric, Michael K., Nick, Larry Legend, Flowers by Dorcas, john dull, PJB, Gary
4.5 NEW ENGLAND at Pittsburgh - Paul, genop, Andy, Conrad, Biggest Cubs Loser
3 WASHINGTON vs. Philadelphia - pdxmick, Annie, Gordon
3 DETROIT at Buffalo - Umpire

Good luck, everybody, and enjoy the games.

UPDATE, 4:50 p.m.: Only one winner in the day games -- AKevin, who went for the gusto with the Cowboys. Smart guy. The majority lost in overtime. Several players are still in the hunt tonight and tomorrow night.

UPDATE, 11:24 p.m.: New England comes through, as we knew they would, giving points to four savvy players. That leaves the standings as follows, with one game to go tomorrow evening:

Continue reading "'Dog Picks X" »

Saturday, November 13, 2010

That beachfront property in Melville, Oregon

Our grandkids may surf there.

Throw away the key

These punks need to spend the primes of their lives as somebody's prison spouses.

Brandon Roy tweaks that bad knee

If I had to guess, I'd say that's the end of him for this year.

Poetry corner

We came across this poem a little while back. It's a beauty, and so here it is, for no particular reason at all.

The Children’s Hour
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away.

Stacey concedes to Hughes

For a short while there, we thought Bob Stacey would eke out a win over Tom Hughes for Metro president. But the worm turned pretty quickly, and for a week now we've known that Hughes would come out on top in the vote count. That said, we expected it to be close enough for a recount, but Stacey has conceded. Here are the latest numbers, no doubt the last we'll be poring over in this race:

Congratulations to Hughes, who seems like a relatively level-headed guy. Let's hope that he doesn't drink too much Metro Kool-Aid, and that he doesn't get bought off with a state or federal job. Dr. Rerun and Earl the Pearl are doubtlessly none too thrilled that his opponent, a true believer, was turned aside by the voters.

Friday, November 12, 2010

City leaf removal tax falls apart

It's going to be enforced like the fares on the streetcar -- that is, not at all. All you have to tell the City of Portland to avoid it is, "I would have managed the street leaves in front of my property myself if I had earlier notification about the fee and the opt-out process."

Who isn't going to say that? They'll spend thousands processing paperwork for a program that won't bring in a dime. More joy from Mayor Creepy.

Just another day in Windows hell

Before I begin this post, let me state that I do not want to read about how I should buy a Mac. Thank you.

Early this morning -- too early -- my main home computer became infected by "malware" -- the psycho destructo computer crud formerly known as a "virus." Suddenly the computer was not recognizing familiar domain names (like bojack.org and wweek.com) when it was connected to the wireless router. It was also going haywire when clicking on Google search results -- stalling out or sending me to crazy commercial sites that had nothing to do with my searches. The problem spanned all three of the internet browsers on the computer; curiously, however, the situation was A-OK on all browsers when the computer was tethered to the iPhone. The rest of the computers in the house (there are three) worked fine.

After 45 minutes with a Comcraptastic guy who was actually pretty helpful, it was on to Malware Removal City. First I installed and ran the Windows Malicious Program Removal Tool, which of course found and did nothing. The AVG program that I paid good money for was also completely worthless. Finally, something called Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and another free program called Super Anti-Spyware found the DNS-name-changing Trojan and got rid of it, as far as I can tell.

But one problem remains. On starting up the computer and every once in a while thereafter, I get a warning box in the middle of the screen, along with the sickening Windows "clank" sound that means something is seriously fubarred. It says "GoogleUpdate.exe - Bad Image," and then tells me that there's something wrong with a program called C:\Windows\System32\mstask.dll. When I "explore" over to that location, there's a file there, but it's showing 0 bytes.

I think this is part of the malware infection, but it could have been something I did with the Comcraptastic guy, who had me reset a couple of files (from an extremely scary command line) having to do with IP addresses. My hunch is that it's the malware, but I honestly don't know what to do about it. The computer's running OK now, as far as I can tell, but the whole "clanking" thing makes me slightly nauseous.

In the course of the day's agony, I've downloaded a program called HijackThis, which produces some sort of log of what's going on in the bowels of the computer, but I can't make heads nor tails of it. And the "mstask.dll" file doesn't show up in the log anywhere, although Google Updater's in there a few times.

Is there anybody out there who can help me fix whatever the heck has happened? The operating system is the dreaded Vista. A free bojack.org bumper sticker or a nice beverage is waiting as a reward for information leading to the destruction of this annoying, and distressing, bug. Have moicy, and e-mail me here.

UPDATE, 11/13, 2:02 a.m.: The D Man has come to my rescue, and with his help, I've managed to replace the corrupted .dll file, and now all seems to be well. In the course of prowling around with him, figuring out a fix, I discovered that the evil malware -- a terrifying rootkit -- had weaseled its way onto the computer early this morning by placing an executable file in a temporary folder, then sneaking into the automatic task scheduler that comes on Windows, and scheduling a task. The task instructed Windows to run the executable file, which in turn made my internet connection act stoned. Apparently, to get this to work, it had to gut the .dll file -- leaving it on the computer but having it be empty.

Anyway, the D Man and I copied a wholesome version of the .dll file from another computer, figured out how to get Vista to let us copy over the blank file, and then, with fingers crossed, overwrote the corrupted file. Lawrence, in the comments to this post, had exactly the same idea and provided invaluable moral support. I next discovered that the evil task was still in the task scheduler, and even though the executable program had already been deleted by Malwarebytes, I deleted the task nonetheless. It had given itself the name "7uOCEI3," although I'll bet it goes by a different name with every infection.

Hoping that is the end of this latest adventure in computing, I say thanks to the D Man, and to Lawrence. And I'm reminded once again of what a great gift the readership of this blog is.

Have a great weekend

A cool guy from the 'hood

Here's a Portland native of whom I hadn't heard before. He seems like quite a man.

Death of a Reedie

And its impact on his famous dad.

An unbeatable challenger

It's too bad that this is so very unsafe for work. It shows just about the only way that Portlanders are going to be able to change the cast of characters running our local government.

Which candidate would you vote for?
Randy Leonard
Naked Woman
pollcode.com free polls

It's always something

Have you checked your reusable grocery bag for lead?

Maybe the lead will kill the E. coli.

PC alert

Uh oh -- they used the "C" word!

The price you pay

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An interesting question

Asked and answered.

Behind the scenes

It's not all a bed of roses at Twitter. (It's not safe for work, either.)

Sameness you can believe in

Hmmm, let's see...

Dave Hunt still running the Oregon House Democrats -- check.

Tom Imeson of Goldschmidt Imeson Carter running the governor's transition team -- check.

John Carter of Goldschmidt Imeson Carter leading the governor's manufacturing "jobs creation" team -- check.

Same old Portland West Hills stranglehold on government -- check. Boondoggles galore. Go by streetcar!

A deep green god of young love-stained memory

Portland took a step toward designating eight new "heritage trees" yesterday. Given that the city won't let you touch street trees without a permit, and is getting pretty close to forbidding you from cutting down trees even on your own private property, it's not clear how much extra protection a tree gets from a "heritage" designation any more. But surely it adds more layers of bureaucracy between Mother Nature and the chainsaws.

The original press release said there were going to be nine new trees designated, but one got scratched at the last minute, apparently. Anyway, one of these guys is just up the street from us a ways -- a big London plane tree at the corner of Regents Drive and 25th.

Here's the photo that the city was showing around yesterday, but that photo is not taken at that address:

I think they're talking about this fellow, as seen on Google Maps Street View:

Pretty nice trees, both. Long may they live.

Honored for making a difference

Congratulations to the winners of this year's Skidmore Prizes: Leah Hall, Israel Bayer, Laura Streib, and Gaby Mendez.

Multnomah County's real estate delusions

Believe it or not, we really try to make sense out of what our local politicians and bureaucrats do. But every time we give them the benefit of the doubt, they confirm that they're crooked, nuts, or both.

For example, what are the Multnomah County commissioners smoking these days? They're actually still talking about getting into one of Portland's famous "public-private partnership" swindles on the west side of the Morrison Bridge to build -- take a guess -- a condo tower with retail!

Just what Portland needs -- more condos! Just what downtown needs -- more vacant retail space!

It's really, really hard to explain these folks' behavior. Some days we feel a little like giving up.

And speaking of the west side of bridges, we're still puzzled by the infamous "new courthouse" project. The Portland Development Commission went out and borrowed $9 million of "urban renewal" moolah and promptly handed it over to the county, supposedly to start work on a new county courthouse on the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge. That was March 2008. It's going on three years later, and as best we can tell the money's still sitting in a bank account somewhere, at last report earning around 3% interest. Meanwhile, the city's paying 6% interest on the loan.

We still can't believe that one is legal. It sure isn't smart.

The pungent odor of scam

The Portland Development Commission has really stepped up its developer welfare program lately. Here's a dandy of a story: Instead of lending $745,000 to the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine to earthquake-proof its new Old Town facility (formerly the Globe Hotel), now the PDC is suddenly lending the college $5.5 million for the purchase and renovation of the building. Interest will be between 1% and 2%, and since it's owned by a nonprofit, the building will continue to be property tax-exempt.

Or wait... is it $6.2 million? Guess it depends on who you ask.

Sweet deal for the taxpayers, eh? In a pig's eye. Remember, when the city goes out and borrows money for these "urban renewal" schemes, it pays much higher interest rates, and the IOU's are supposed to get paid off out of property tax revenues. What a joke.

And the developer? Wait for it...

Brad Malsin's Beam Development.

Cha-ching! Merry Christmas, Brad! Don't worry, no matter how screwed up your business plan is, you'll never fail. The grandmas and grandpas of Portland are here to bail you out. Our property tax bills are your paychecks. We love you that much. Really.

Will the alternative medicine school be able to pay back $5.5 million of debt over seven years as scheduled? Even at 1% interest, the payment on that kind of money is around $815,000 a year. The most recent IRS reports for the college show annual net revenues of roughly the following amounts:

2006-2007: $34,000
2007-2008: $256,000
2009-2009: $198,000

To our untrained eye, it doesn't seem to be the world's most secure loan. And yet, the chair of the PDC, a Melvin Mark suit, has the gall to blow this smoke:

Andrews said he hopes the college will pay back its loans sooner than required. That could allow the agency to add more to its proposed $7.6 million subsidy for the Uwajimaya project.
Yes, and I hope to hit the Powerball jackpot. I must remember to buy a ticket.

Of course, O reporter Ryan Frank is quick to regurgitate the latest pap from the PDC. He even loads this on the pile:

The Oregon College of Oriental Medicine is part of the city's decades-long effort to revive the frayed Old Town Chinatown district. The city made progress in the past five years, investing $28 million in real estate deals to attract the University of Oregon's Portland campus and the Mercy Corps headquarters, renovate a historic building and build a new home for Portland Saturday Market. The neighborhood, long dominated by drug pushers and the homeless, now includes a mix of young hipsters and middle-aged professionals.
Ryan's prose is so much smoother since the lobotomy. (He's the City Hall reporter now; apparently Randy Gragg refused to come back.)

This latest news comes on the heels of the airing of the Vestas headquarters deal over in the Pearl District, which gets more and more shadowy by the week. That one's an $8.1 million loan to a shaky European windmill manufacturer, which will lease its newly renovated offices and spacious parking garage from... wait for it...

An affiliate of Mark Edlen. Another fellow that we Portland taxpayers just can't give enough money to. A walking linchpin, the guy is.

And oh, what a loan his group is getting this time! According to another O reporter, Brad Schmidt:

Though it's not uncommon for PDC to use public money for private development, this loan is unlike any other in the agency's 4-year-old Commercial Property Redevelopment Loan Program. It strays from agency guidelines in several ways:

* The $8,105,000 loan is four times larger than the $2 million maximum established by guidelines for the redevelopment program. Exceptions are allowed, but the loan is by far the largest in the program's history, representing one-third of all funds, according to agency documents.

* The loan is interest-free. Guidelines suggest below-market rates of 3 percent. Of the program's 27 other loans, four totaling $2.5 million were no-interest.

* The term of the loan is 15 years. Guidelines suggest up to 10, and only the Vestas project exceeds that.

* No payments are required until maturity in 15 years. Guidelines call for regular principal and interest payments. Eight other loans have received exceptions, almost always for two years, with the longest deferred for six.

With all this sweet, sweet taxpayer money sloshing around, one word comes to mind:


Maybe it's all legal graft, and certainly in Portland it's graft that will never be questioned by law enforcement, but graft nonetheless.

Smile as you pay that unmanageable water and sewer bill, people. Smile while the hipsters and '60s burnouts vote away thousands of your dollars toward new property taxes. Because your money's going to make some real estate sharpies in the West Hills even richer than they already are. And there's not a darn thing you can do about it, except move.

Maybe if you get too stressed about all the nickel-and-diming, you can go in for some acupuncture.

A harsh dose of reality

The blue-ribbon, bi-partisan federal commission set up to address the crushing federal deficit is showing around a draft of its recommendations, and they're refreshingly honest. The federal government needs to cut spending, including on Social Security, and raise taxes. We can either feel the pain now or inflict it on our children and grandchildren.

Alas, the chances of the current crop of politicians in charge of the country actually doing what the commission suggests is nil. But don't tell the kids nobody warned you. Go by streetcar!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ron Artest was right

Brandon Roy is playing injured.

It's his knee.

No, the other knee.


Portland finances: The canary dies

If Portland's financially blind electorate needs any further sign that the city government is careening toward bankruptcy, here's an interesting tidbit from today's Willy Week:

[O]n Wednesday, City Council will vote whether to allow Commissioner Nick Fish’s Bureau of Parks & Recreation to borrow $3.8 million for maintenance projects.
Borrowing to pay maintenance costs? The end is near, people. Go by streetcar!

We'll clean up our room... tomorrow

We've written before about how the clowns in the U.S. Congress (particularly the Senate) have left the tax system in a shambles. Now they're sending out letters to the IRS promising to get their act together and restore a little bit of order to the chaos before the end of the year. The pledge was made yesterday in connection with the alternative minimum tax, which Congress insists on jerking around with on an annual basis.

Heaven forbid they should just pass the legislation in a timely way. Now they send out letters telling you what they think they're going to pass. Great job, guys.

I'd hate to be the commissioner of internal revenue. Having to administer a system created by immature children is never any fun. Especially when the children never learn, but just get more and more unruly every year.

Fighting the mystery train to Milwaukie

Tri-Met's ill-advised plan to blow upwards of a billion dollars on an unwanted commuter train from Portland to the sleepy 'burb of Milwaukie may sail through the transit agency's board meeting today, but the taxpayers down at the other end of the line are fighting back. It appears that the City of Milwaukie will put its share of the massive cost to a public vote, and a petition drive is about to be launched to have Clackamas County voters do the same.

Those votes will both almost certainly be negative.

That won't stop the train Mafia, of course. They'll probably build it anyway. But it will wind up costing even more. Hey -- maybe we can break $2 billion! Another achievement for Portland.

End of an era?

There's an amusing item in the Murmurs column at Willamette Week this morning. Dave Hunt, speaker of the Oregon House, thought he would be throwing his weight around on the recently passed state ballot measure designating lottery dollars to parks and open space. Hunt opposed the measure and reportedly was going to try to limit it. But funny thing -- without a Democratic majority in the House, he has no weight to throw around.

Does that mean we'll no longer our annual New Year's card from old Dave, showing him with his wife and kids? Without it, we'll need a new reminder of what a bizarre state we live in.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Seattle's Chasse

Wherein killer cops become filthy liars. It's so sad, but the fatter they get, the less we can trust them.

Was your vote counted?

One of our favorite readers writes:

If you go to this web site, you can see if your ballot was received and counted.

Make sure you enter your name just exactly like it is on the voter registration. I entered my whole middle name and it showed "No voter record found," but using just my middle initial, it showed that they got my ballot. It was just the opposite for my wife. Her registration includes her entire middle name.

The Mrs. and I check out -- Oregonians, how about you?

Hughes advances in Multnomah County

The Multnomah County elections folks say they've counted 1,299 votes today. In the Hughes-Stacey race for Metro president, today's Multnomah County totals were:

Hughes 423
Stacey 413

Nothing new from Clackamas or Washington Counties at this hour. Since Multnomah was Stacey's stronghold, today's returns don't change our projection that Hughes is the winner.

Beware, beware, beware

... of the naked man.

It's true what they say

Nowadays, as soon as one political campaign ends, the next one begins.

A nice place to visit

Tourists think Portland has the smartest people in the country. Meanwhile, those of us who live here rank ourselves no. 6. The latest silly ranking exercise is courtesy of the Huffy and Travel & Leisure magazine.

New phase for 'dog pool

Players in our charity pro football underdog game, take note: There are games on Thursdays from here on out. If you're picking the Thursday 'dog (this week, Baltimore), we need your pick by game time on Thursday, and it will be announced to the world shortly after kickoff. All other picks are due, as usual, at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, and will be announced on Sunday morning -- likely in the wee small hours.

Here are this week's choices. Please note that while there are no lines yet for Carolina/Tampa Bay, New England/Pittsburgh, or Cincinnati/Indianapolis, there may lines published for any or all of these games over the next day or two. Kansas City at Denver is a pick 'em, however, and therefore off the board for the week.

All that said, here go the 'dogs so far:

14 DALLAS at New York Giants
6.5 ST. LOUIS at San Francisco
3 SEATTLE at Arizona
3 WASHINGTON vs. Philadelphia
3 CLEVELAND vs. New York Jets
3 DETROIT at Buffalo
1 BALTIMORE at Atlanta (Thursday 5:20 PM Pacific)
1 MIAMI vs. Tennessee
1 CHICAGO vs. Minnesota
1 HOUSTON at Jacksonville

Good luck with that intriguing lineup.

UPDATE, 9:39 p.m.: Here are the other three games:

7 CINCINNATI at Indianapolis
6 CAROLINA at Tampa Bay
4.5 NEW ENGLAND at Pittsburgh

Goldschmidt prepares to start record sixth term as governor

He dusts off some old puppets and puts them back on the stage.

Showdown in Seattle

It appears that if the mayor up there doesn't get his desired increase in taxes on commercial parking operations, he's going to slash budgets for, among other things, pedestrian and bicycle "master plan implementation."

This is what some folks we know refer to as a win-win situation.

New Portland city computer system officially pronounced a fiasco

When the city auditor, who usually plays patty-cake with politicians and bureaucrats alike, tells you you've screwed up, then you've really screwed up. She reports:

Instead of a $14 million, 14-month implementation as planned, the reported project costs exceeded $47 million and took over 30 months to implement. These significant increases to the originally planned costs and schedule were made worse because some of the planned system functions are not complete and other functions were eliminated as the project developed. In addition, the City’s intent to eliminate secondary or "shadow" systems remains incomplete....

Moreover, the City did not appear to heed some of the warnings from its experience with prior City projects. As it was beginning the process to select and implement the new system, the City compiled a listing of lessons learned from past City projects. The City also recognized the opportunity to learn from problems experienced during this project and issued a "Lessons Learned" document in April 2010. However, we noted concerns in the April report that were similar to concerns in the previous report.

That sounds like an apt new motto for the city: "We Never Learn."

As it continues to increase its knowledge of how to operate and maintain the system, the City may incur up to $4.4 million for consultants to provide operating and maintenance services. Further, the long-term maintenance and support costs of the new software are expected to be higher than the costs of the old software. Because the new SAP software is highly complex, the City anticipates it will need additional staff and training to properly maintain and operate the software. In the City’s FY 2010-11 budget, Council approved additional personnel to maintain and operate the SAP software and to support SAP users. These new positions are also expected to help implement additional SAP software functions, some of which were originally planned to be available once the software went live. City bureaus using the new software will pay for these additional costs through increased fees.
Mission accomplished.

The whole thing is here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pot can make you stupid

But perhaps not as stupid as the current laws regarding pot. Here's just one example of what our current, dysfunctional system produces.

Don't like the truth?

Attack the messenger.

Hughes beats Stacey

We've got some new ballot count numbers in the Metro president race, and it appears that Tom Hughes has widened his lead over Bob Stacey to the point at which Hughes can be declared the winner.

Here's our math. Hughes is up by 1,065 votes at this point. As best we can tell, Clackamas and Washington Counties are almost done counting; Multnomah has about 5,000 ballots left to count. Stacey will pick up votes in Multnomah County, but not enough to overcome a margin of 1,065. Hughes wins by about 750 votes, and it's on to the recount.

A multi-modal clustertrek

This looks like fun. The map reminds me of Adams's and Blumenauer's thought processes.

Your tax dollars at work, cont'd

I don't know what to think about this one: a "historic" survey of '50s ranch houses in east Portland? Doesn't exactly sound like an essential government service in these tight times.

Is Brandon Roy's body giving out?

Ron Artest thinks the Blazer star is quietly playing injured. Readers at Dwight's site agree. It would be a shame if the years of carrying the team on his back are already coming back to haunt him.

More vote-by-mail goodness

Some of the same questions we asked last week are being raised down south as well.

Tri-Met: Screw you, we're still doing Milwaukie MAX

Completely tone deaf to last week's overwhelming vote against its bond issue -- a backlash by taxpayers who are fed up with wasteful rail boondoggles -- Tri-Met's psychedelic board of directors is gathering on Wednesday to reaffirm its commitment to build its Mystery Train to Milwaukie.

The head honcho from the Portland Development Commission will be there with the snake oil displays, along with the county chair of Clackamas County, who seems quite hot to trot on "urban renewal" and light rail, although her constituents just told Tri-Met to pack salt. Among the transit agency directors casting the momentous vote, of course, will be Homer Williams's stepdaughter, a proud Kulongoski appointee. And when she gets tired of sitting in the meetings, you can bet Dr. Rerun will replace her with another of the same ilk.

In other words, the fix is in, people, and nothing any voter can do or say is going to stop it.

On a brighter note, the bankruptcy proceedings for this organization are going to be darned interesting.

Expenses, loan losses drag on OnPoint third quarter results

Our quarterly peek at the financials of OnPoint Community Credit Union gives us a picture of the state of the Portland-area economy, and it confirms that it's no picnic out there.

OnPoint's net income for the first three quarters of 2010 was $7,470,534, down 65.99% from $21,965,019 in the first three quarters of 2009. Year-to-date operating expenses jumped from $39,171,979 in the first three quarters of 2009 to $54,056,612 so far this year -- a 38.00% increase. A smaller part of the decreased profit was the $16,935,292 in loans written off so far this year, compared with $14,993,022 at this time last year.

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

Item9/30/096/30/109/30/10Quarterly increase (decrease)12-month increase (decrease)
Total investments$431,120,688$624,081,874$625,128,6310.17%45.00%
Federal agency securities$267,096,828$492,671,538$505,421,7592.59%89.23%
Total reportable delinquency - total delinquent loans$25,324,131$28,487,420$29,353,0633.04%15.91%
Total reportable delinquency - indirect lending$5,360,245$3,206,668$3,055,264(4.72%)(43.00%)
Total outstanding loan balances subject to bankruptcies$17,031,887$16,007,824$25,828,17261.35%51.65%
Ratio of delinquent loans to total loans (percent)1.161.391.46    
Ratio of total delinquent loans to net worth (percent)10.0510.8811.04   

Delinquent loans are those delinquent for two months or more.

In the third quarter of 2010, deposits decreased from $2,503,549,729 to $2,488,675,931 -- a 0.59% decrease after four consecutive quarterly increases. Deposits a year earlier were $2,373,916,394, and thus for the year, deposits were up 4.83%.

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 of the first things we've noted is that First Tech has substantially increased the amount of delinquent loans it had on its books as of June 30 of this year. In the second quarter report that First Tech filed over the summer, it showed total delinquent loans of $10,587,881 as of that date; in the current report, that figure has been increased to $16,846,609. That's a 59.1% increase in the restated figure -- apparently something seriously screwy happened there.

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 (with the First Tech June 30 number revised upward):

Continue reading "Expenses, loan losses drag on OnPoint third quarter results" »

Irvington-Alameda coyote update

In addition to hearing from a reader who saw said wildlife south of Fremont and 19th yesterday morning, we spotted a Multnomah County Animal Control truck cruising along late yesterday afternoon where Regents Drive bottoms out at 26th. The official hunt for the predator (or plural -- there could be more than one) must be on.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Silence of the 'dogs

It happens from time to time -- nobody picks a winner in a given week in our charity pro football underdog game. Cleveland defeated New England, but our players laid off that one. No one chose tomorrow night's game, either, and so the week's standings remain the same as they stood at the start of the action today.

The dark time

Once we turn the clocks back, Portlanders head into a special time. Of course, the hours of daylight get shorter each day, and nights get longer, just as they do everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. But when you add in our characteristic cloudy skies and foggy mornings, the darkness really gets thick for the next three months. Telling which hour of the day it is, becomes an interesting challenge without a clock.

As we prepare ourselves for the dark time, this story is disconcerting. Pedestrian fatalities are up substantially this year in Oregon, and the victims are most often mowed down at night. They may have the right of way, but that's cold comfort to a walker or jogger who's dead. If you're out there on foot and unwilling to go all the way to a reflector vest, for your own sake, at least wear white. Don't let the city's ten-toes happy talk lull you into thinking that every driver is watching out for you. Quite the contrary.

Twice a year


A beast in Northeast

Word in the 'hood is that a coyote has been spotted for a while now up on the Alameda Ridge here in Northeast Portland. Its behavior has some folks speculating that it's not well. Seeing these critters within the city limits is nothing new, of course, but still, those of us in the vicinity had better keep an eye on the kitties -- and the toddlers! Coyotes will eat just about anything.

Howlin' hounds

The players in our charity pro football underdog game have chosen their teams for the week, and here they are:

9 ARIZONA at Minnesota - Michael K., Larry Legend, AKevin, Mike G., Bob, Matt, PJB, Eric, pdxmick, Andy, genop's gal
8 DALLAS at Green Bay - Drewbob, Annie
7.5 TAMPA BAY at Atlanta - Flowers by Dorcas, Flowers by Dorcas Husband, Bad Brad, Sattelihu, Anthony, Doug, Paul, Gordon, Jim, Ricardo, Gary
6.5 CAROLINA vs. New Orleans - Broadway Joe
6.5 SEATTLE vs. New York Giants - Hank, Conrad, genop
3.5 DETROIT vs. New York Jets - Nick
3 BUFFALO vs. Chicago - john dull
3 INDIANAPOLIS at Philadelphia - Biggest Cubs Loser

Now they can all root for their own 'dog, and the favorites in everyone else's games. Good luck and enjoy the big daddies on the tube, folks.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

True genius

I raked up all the leaves in front of my house yesterday, to try to avoid the leaf removal tax. I even photographed my work as "evidence" when the city sends me a bill and I refuse to pay.

And today I check the calendar and see that the street sweepers won't be here until next Saturday.

Which means that I get to do the whole thing again next Friday.

Meanwhile, in the nearby Sullivan's Gulch neighborhood, they're being told that they'll be charged $30 for a single sweep (instead of $15 each for two weekend passes), because of their narrow streets. And if they don't move their cars, they'll be towed.

Living in Portland really will drive you crazy. The collective nervous breakdown continues.

Something good coming

We held the regular periodic poker game at our place last night. I lost seven bucks overall, but on the plus side, one of the guys brought this over for a spin:

It's a wonderful recording in that it seems not to want to please anyone but the musicians themselves. Petty has shown contempt for the music industry in his previous writing, and it's been o.k., but now he's treating it as simply irrelevant, and the results are even better. There's mostly blues in here, and even a Dead-like jam vibe at one point, to go with some classic sweet Beatlesque Heartbreakers noise and a ballad or two. It's all new original material written by Petty. Very grown up and interesting, but eminently listenable, it would make a nice Christmas gift for the geezer guy on your list -- if he hasn't already run out and bought it on CD himself.


From Portland's own Isaac Laquedem: "TriMet's voters didn't vote against new buses; they voted against Milwaukie light rail."

Don't forget to turn the clocks back tonight

Here in Oregon, we're turning them back to 1994.

Hughes leads Stacey by 831

The latest numbers in the Metro president race show Tom Hughes ahead of Bob Stacey by 831 votes. We now have Hughes unofficially projected to win by 732:

We're told that a recount is not automatic unless the margin of victory is less than 0.2% of votes cast, which in this race should be about 800 votes. But even if the margin is 900 or 1,000 in favor of Hughes, we would assume that Stacey will make a phone call and shake out enough wine money for a paid recount. In any case, it probably won't be over for quite a while.

Friday, November 5, 2010

For the record

The street sweepers will be coming through our block tomorrow, but they will not need to sweep any leaves from in front of our place. This afternoon we raked, swept, and dumped into the worm compost bin all the fallen leaves, and now you can eat off our street:

We won't be paying the City of Portland leaf tax -- not without an order from the Oregon Supreme Court.

Have a great weekend

Sam, Kitz, Novick, and Bud

Brandon runs into them all in the same week.

Dudley-style house burning deduction nixed

The IRS won a big case on the subject in the U.S. Tax Court yesterday.

How the world will end

End times will probably start with something like this.

Where the money goes

How did it become a city government function to hector me day after day about how I should spend less time in my car? They don't even spend that amount of effort and money urging people to stop smoking. Or stop drinking. Or stop beating their spouses. I guess I'm missing something really profound.

Game report: Thunder 107, Blazers 106, OT

Through the good graces of a friend, we were able to attend last night's pro basketball contest between the Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder, and we got top value for his entertainment dollar. The teams battled into overtime, but alas for the faithful crowd at the Rose Garden, the visitors prevailed.

There were all sorts of story lines going here. The Thunder had lost two in a row, including the night before to the Clippers in L.A., and they didn't want to fall again, into a losing record. The Blazers had only 10 men suited up and ready to play. Rudy Fernandez now has back problems and can't perform -- as in, "I wish I were back in Europe." Fabricio Oberto, the big Argentinian whom Portland had brought in at the last minute to play center, suddenly retired hours before the game with heart problems. And Blazer scrub Eliot Williams was pronounced lost for the season due to... wait for it... a broken kneecap. Paul Allen has some seriously bad karma, I guess. Or maybe they ought to check the practice floor -- all these bad knees can't be just a coincidence.

For some people who still haven't gotten over it, it was also another occasion to contemplate the fact that the Blazers made a big mistake not drafting Kevin Durant instead of Greg Oden, who was nowhere to be seen.

And most poignantly, it was a night to remember Maurice Lucas -- a moment of silence, some cheers and chants, a couple of video loops, and members of his family waving from one of the luxury boxes.

The game started out with a Blazer offensive scheme that was new to me. Marcus Camby was playing out on top, and lobbing the ball down low to LaMarcus Aldridge, who turned the alley-oops into dunks a couple of times. Aldridge also hit some jump shots and did all the scoring for the Blazers for the first six or eight minutes.

The Oklahoma starters played at least even with Portland for the first quarter, with Russell Westbrook joining superstar Kevin Durant to do the heavy lifting. But the Portland bench players were superior to the Oklahoma second squad. This new Blazer Armon Johnson is clearly NBA-ready -- quick as a whip and a true point guard. No wonder Jerryd Bayless got hustled out of town so quickly. And Wesley Matthews, the new shooting guard, does some of the slashing and driving that Bayless was good at. His long outside shot is suspect, but when Matthews gets the ball and starts heading for the basket, the opposition had better put a body on him or else he's going to lay it in. Nic Batum got hot just as Aldridge cooled off, and they accounted for most of the Blazer offensive output in the first half.

Both teams shot for high percentages in the half, but Portland had a slight advantage, and that continued past halftime. At one point in the third quarter, I believe the Blazers were up by 12 or 13 points. Then they started to coast a bit, throwing up jump shots that were no longer falling. I think Portland might have been expecting Oklahoma to let down a little, given that they were on the road and playing their second game in as many nights. But it didn't turn out that way. Durant went to town in the fourth quarter, and when he wasn't hurting you, Westbrook was.

By the end of the game, Aldridge was the one who looked tired. Although he converted another pretty alley-oop, this one from Andre Miller, LA's shot eventually deserted him, and he and Camby seemed to get outhustled on the backboards down the stretch by the no-name Thunder big men and Westbrook. Brandon Roy, who hadn't played his one-on-one game all night, was handed the ball with the score tied and seconds left in regulation. It was a clearout, him against Durant, schoolyard style, with time running out. Roy's buzzer-beater missed, and it was on to overtime.

Portland didn't show up in the extra stanza, not scoring at all for several minutes, and converting only a single, meaningless field goal at the buzzer. Andre threw up a few of his knuckleballs that did not connect. Meanwhile, Durant and Westbrook didn't let up. With seconds left and down by 3, the Blazers should have injected Johnson back into the lineup for a three-point threat, but they didn't. With Batum and Roy being Portland's only real downtown shooters, and Aldridge fouled out after his strong early performance, the task of winning fell to Matthews, who drove in for a potential old school three-point play. He drew the foul, but his acrobatic layup stalled on the back rim. He made only one free throw, Westbrook hit a pair of foul shots on the other end, and it was a four-point contest with only a few seconds left. Armon hit a final garbage three -- albeit a pretty one -- and the Blazers suffered a tough loss. Bitter chalupas.

It was a disappointing defeat, and many Blazer fans are likely thinking that they're on a slightly different path to the same outcome as last year. Too many injuries, too shallow at center, promising young guys not yet gelling, Aldridge too soft, Miller playing well but not bringing the team together, stretches of bewilderment on offense, Nate not making perfect decisions on the bench -- the negatives were familiar, and easy to enumerate. For long stretches on offense, Batum would be left camped out at the three-point line, unavailable to do anything but distract a defender -- the same waste of space previously taken up by the departed Martell Webster. But on more positive notes, the Blazers continue to put first-rate talent on the floor despite adversity, and they're playing with a little more speed and a little longer spring in their step than in a while. Every Portland player who walked onto the floor gave us something to like, and want to see more of in the future.

Meanwhile, make no mistake, Oklahoma City is a good team -- a very good team.

On a side note, the league's crackdown on player tantrums over disputed referee calls is great. Let the crowd boo and hiss at the officials, but have the professionals behave like professionals. Nothing is lost and much is gained by dispensing with the whining.

Which brings us, I guess, to the off-court aspects of the event. The Blazer Dancers are younger than ever, less talented than in many years, and as always hideously wardrobed and choreographed. The stunt team, on the other hand, is better looking and more fit and athletic than I can ever remember. If only I were 30 years younger...

The prices of everything are still totally ridiculous, of course -- a simple hot dog was $5 and a microbrew was $8.75. We parked over on the other side of Grand Avenue, which kept the parking damages down to five bucks. But the arena was packed despite the gouging, and everybody seemed to be enjoying the scene.

And oh, yes -- the highlight of the night: The Mattress World woman was in the crowd, in person, seated just up a ways from us and sporting a Blazer jersey -- I think it was no. 12. I never would have picked her out, but I overheard the geezers behind us talking about her; they knew exactly where she was. I had left my camera in the car and had only the cell phone to try to capture her glorious image, but here's my sole game snapshot for the night, taken in her general direction:

Such a night. Would that the Blazers had scored just a single additional basket before the fourth quarter ended -- then it might have been perfect.

Portland ballot count stumbles into third weird day

It's a pretty sad statement about our country that we can't announce the result of a local election -- not even a preliminary result, before any recount -- 60 hours after the polls close. But that's where Portland is in the Metro president race. At the moment, Tom Hughes's lead over Bob Stacey has grown from 272 to 281, but the three counties in the Metro district are still screwing around with their glacial ballot counts. Indeed, at the end of Thursday, Multnomah County showed more uncounted ballots than it did at the end of Wednesday. Go figure.

As of this hour, here are the counted votes, and our own projection as to where the rest of the votes will go:

This assumes that there remain to be counted the following numbers of ballots in the three Metro counties:

Multnomah 10,994 (285,814 returned per Secretary of State Thursday morning, minus 274,820 counted on Multnomah County website tonight)

Clackamas 4,801 (158,505 returned per SOS Thursday morning minus 153,704 counted per ClackCo tonight)

Washington 12,417 (190,072 returned per SOS Thursday morning minus 177,655 counted per WashCo tonight)

And of course, anything can happen in a recount, which there most assuredly will be in this race.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ballot counting now going in reverse

We still don't have a winner in the Metro president race. After new vote tallies by Multnomah and Washington Counties were released this afternoon, the two contestants, Stacey and Hughes, remain 272 votes apart -- exactly where they were last night. What's crazy, and awfully troubling, though, is that the number of uncounted ballots in Multnomah and Clackamas Counties seems to be going up rather than down.

As of 5:30 last evening, the Secretary of State reported that there were a total of 283,340 ballots returned in Multnomah County. Then at 8:30 this morning, they reported that the number was 285,814. In Washington County, the total number of returned ballots went from 188,093 last evening to 190,072 this morning.

The polls closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night, people. Why are we seeing the number of returned ballots increase in the middle of the night on Wednesday night and Thursday morning?

Vote by mail -- it's wonderful. Really.

No kidding

Here's some breaking news: Next Monday's meeting of the City of Portland Citizens Campaign Commission has just been cancelled.

With extreme prejudice, I'd say.

The way we were

Local history buffs can spend hours getting lost in this site.

Watch out, Portland taxpayers

The real estate beasts are on the prowl. They're hungry. And for sure, they want you to pay for this.

This is what the new "urban renewal" district is all about -- more tax money for Mark Edlen, Jordan Schnitzer, Jim Winkler, Bob Naito, Tom Moyer, and the other people who own you through their puppets at City Hall. Be sure to smile and tip your hat as you pay for their new cash machines.

Sports page

Here's an interview that shows what an articulate, knowledgeable, and personable guy sportscaster Bob Costas is. The subject: the late Maurice Lucas.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Multnomah County elections bureau shuts down for the night

The latest election results in Multnomah County have been posted, but with a notice that the next update won't be until 4:30 p.m. tomorrow. Dudley has conceded the governor's race, but we're still on the edge of our seats with Stacey vs. Hughes in the Metro president race, and "clean money" campaign finance in Portland. The "clean money" folks have also conceded, but the numbers are still pretty tight.

As things apparently shut down for the night, we have Hughes currently ahead of Stacey by 272 votes, and "clean money" currently behind by 1,881.

We show 10,483 ballots left to be counted in Multnomah County, 3,730 in Clackamas, and 13,053 in Washington County. Hughes is running quite strong in Washington County -- stronger than Stacey is in Multnomah. And with more votes now outstanding in Washington than in Multnomah, we've got to give the edge to Hughes. Apparently the late vote in Multnomah was less sanguine about Stacey than the early vote was, and so we've switched our call from a narrow Stacey victory to a narrow Stacey defeat.

Meanwhile, can "clean money" make up 1,900 votes with only 10,500 left to be counted? We doubt it. Farewell to Opie's pipedream.

Hughes is holding on

New returns from Multnomah County, plugged into our amateur spreadsheet, now lead to the conclusion that Tom Hughes will hold on to beat Bob Stacey for Metro president. Hughes is now ahead by 973, and we've got him with a final margin of about 1,200. Let's hope so.

Kitzhaber passes Dudley

And so it goes.

New projection! Hughes by 28 votes.

Yep -- it's a dead heat in the Metro president race. Recount City!

Not so fast! "Clean money" is catching up.

The no votes on Portland's dopey "voter-owned elections" campaign financing system are now ahead of the yes votes by only 1,999. The last-minute voters, mostly young people who don't have money and don't care that much about tax burdens, were definitely in favor of continuing this goofball experiment, and so there's still a chance that the yes side may prevail. There are still around 30,000 votes left to count in Multnomah County, the majority of which are in Portland.

Hughes is still ahead, but...

... Stacey's gaining on him. Our math says Stacey will win, but only by 2,000 votes or less out of 400,000. Maybe only by literally a few votes.

Hughes is still ahead by about 4,000, but Stacey should more than make that up with what's left to be counted in Multnomah County. On the other hand, there are still 13,000 votes left to be counted in Washington County, which is Hughes country; Hughes should pick up about a 2,700 margin there.

Close -- extremely close.

Dear Mayor Creepy

Here's a responsible person actually trying to make sense out of the gibberish that emerges from the mind of Portland's spacey chief executive:

Dear Mayor Adams and Director Keil:

I am president of the Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association. Some of my neighbors have questions regarding the leaf pick up tax and the potential for opting out.

The first question is: Under what provision of state law or city code are property owners responsible for maintaining the streets in front of their properties?

Some neighbors have very few leaves in front of their properties. For them, the standard yard waste pickup is sufficient to maintain their streets. These individuals would qualify for the "Additional curbside hauling" option, but would not have any documentation of additional yard waste pickups. How would these cases be handled?

The "self hauling" option states "Receipts must identify dates that correspond to your property’s scheduled cleanings." In our neighborhood the scheduled leaf removal dates occur on weekdays. Most of the residents in our neighborhood work during the week. Thus, they would most likely remove the leaves from the street on on a weekend day or have to take unpaid time off to avoid the city's new tax. This raises the question: Must the self hauling dates precisely coincide with the city's scheduled leaf removal?

Similarly, given the difficulty of scheduling a yard service company to come on the date that precisely corresponds to the city's scheduled leaf removal date, must the "contract leaf removal dates" precisely coincide with the city's scheduled leaf removal? Perhaps more importantly, there seems to be an increased risk that the contract services may interfere with the city's cleaning efforts.

Regarding the "Composting" option, would you please provide me an outline of the criteria that will be applied by the city to determine whether a resident's composting efforts are sufficient for opting out of the new tax.

And last, what are the consequences for failure to pay the tax without going through the opt-out process. Will residents' water be turned off? Will the city put a lien on residents' property? Will the city pursue the tax in small claims court?

Thank you for helping me to help my neighbors with this confusing new tax.

All the best.

Eric Fruits, President
Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association

He left out one important question: What are you two smoking, and how do I get some of it?

Bully for you

Fireman Randy's fire truck tax is now passing by about 1600 votes. God bless those late Multnomah County ballot counts; the blue hipsters all seem to vote at the last minute.

Now he and the mayor can spend more money on worthless crud.

Dudley's still ahead, but...

... his lead statewide is down to less than 16,000. Multnomah County still has something like 65,000 to 70,0000 ballots to count. Kitzhaber should pick up around a 30,000-vote margin there.

It may not be over until Friday.

How to not pay the Portland "leaf removal fee"

The City of Portland's new "leaf removal fee" -- $30 a year for some of us -- apparently isn't going to be mandatory, after all. It appears that you'll be able to opt out if you can prove that you cleaned up your own leaves.

And of course, there's a form you'll have to fill out, attaching your proof.

One problem is that the annual sweeping is about to begin, if it hasn't already begun, and none of the details about the new system, including billing procedures or this available exemption, have been explained to the public. Hard feelings are sure to follow -- and many wasted hours hassling over the money.

What a dopey, dopey City Hall we have. But hey, go by streetcar!

Baby, what'd I say?

A fascinating discussion was heard on yesterday afternoon's Mark and Dave radio show. Caller after caller phoned in to confess that yes, at their house, one member of the household gets to cast two votes in Oregon's vote-by-mail election system. The passive member of the couple just signs the ballot, then hands it over to the other one to fill out. The person whose name is signed on the envelope doesn't even know what's in it. "She (he) studies the issues more than I do, and we see eye-to-eye on most things, so I just let her (him) fill it out."

It's a wonderful system -- really.

And now, on to something important

Not to be lost amid the election hubbub are this week's pro football underdogs, of great interest to our charity pool players. We have quite a few home 'dogs this time around -- unlike last week, when there were none:

9 ARIZONA at Minnesota
8 DALLAS at Green Bay
7.5 TAMPA BAY at Atlanta
6.5 CAROLINA vs. New Orleans
6.5 SEATTLE vs. New York Giants
4.5 MIAMI at Baltimore
4.5 CLEVELAND vs. New England
4.5 CINCINNATI vs. Pittsburgh
3.5 DETROIT vs. New York Jets
3 BUFFALO vs. Chicago
3 INDIANAPOLIS at Philadelphia
2.5 HOUSTON vs. San Diego
2.5 KANSAS CITY at Oakland

Readers, if you spy an underdog team (in caps) on this list that can win its game outright, please let us know. Some of us badly need enlightenment.

Sleepy time in Oregon

As we conked out for a while, some of our early-bird and East Coast readers were no doubt starting their days. For them, here's a summary of where things stack up out this way:

The entire Oregon congressional delegation got re-elected, except for Merkley, who wasn't up for re-election. Wheeler coasted in the state treasurer's office. Yawn.

More interestingly, the governor's race is still officially close, but by our math Kitzhaber can't lose. Multnomah County will turn out to be Deadley for Dudley. The Metro president race is much tighter, with Stacey having a tiny edge over Hughes in our projections; that one could end up in recount territory. On the Multnomah County commission, Smith whacked Collymore upside the head. Some of the area's legislative races are a bit beyond the reach of our radar, but Nick Kahl got bounced, while Rob Kremer's wife failed to oust the Quaker Oats guy from Tualatin who spent, like, a jillion dollars. Perhaps the Republicans in that district should have nominated Steve Griffith.

The statewide mandatory jail time ballot measure passed, as did dedicating lottery money for parks. A new Multnomah County property tax for the Oregon Historical Society made it (gag), and the groundwork for a sneaky new taxing district for the county library was also approved. The casino bombed, Tri-Met's bond issue went down in well deserved flames, Portland voters finally got "clean money" election financing off their overloaded backs, and some of the musical chair games the county commissioners wanted to play with their seats were thwarted. Term limits at the county were preserved.

On the comic side, Fireman Randy's bond issue for new fire trucks is losing, but only by a hair. I'm sure county elections workers are worried that he might show up at their place with his building inspector toughs if they don't find him about 500 more yes votes by lunchtime. That ballot measure was a referendum on the Fireman himself, and he looks almost as vulnerable as Mayor Creepy at the moment. Maybe he ought to take a smart pill before he winds up in a weekday morning book club next to Kahl.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kitzhaber's going to win

Our amateur projections have Dr. Rerun winning by about 30,000 votes.

UPDATE, 11:08 p.m.: Some new statewide numbers have us shaving our projected margin of victory for Sponge John Faded Jeans down to about 20,000.

UPDATE, 11/3, 2:48 a.m.: As the night wears on, this race gets tighter and tighter. We've still got Kitzhaber ahead, but we project him to have a winning margin of only around 10,000 votes out of well over a million cast. And when it gets that close, anything can still happen.

Multnomah County is saying that it's got 280,000 ballots in hand, and it's showing results for only about 184,000. That leaves about 96,000 to go, which Kitzhaber should win by about a 39,000-vote margin. Lane County has posted "unofficial final results," and so there's apparently no more margin coming from there. Dudley's ahead by 21,500 statewide at the moment, and there are still apparently tens of thousands of ballots not yet counted elsewhere in the state. Kitz has got a 1% lead in Washington County, where the counted votes so far amount to 55% of the registered voters. I'm guessing that there are 20,000 more out there to be counted, which means that Kitz would pick up only a few hundred additional there.

It would be great if the first thing every county did on election night was count up all the ballots and publish the turnout numbers. It would make these amateur prognostications just a wee bit easier.

"Clean money" losing; fire bonds down by a hair

City of Portland voters are showing healthy skepticism about the bad ideas coming out of their City Hall. The "voter-owned" election system -- taxpayer financing of local political campaigns -- is trailing by about 5400 votes, and the property tax increase for fire trucks is down by about 850.

UPDATE, 11:19 p.m.: "Voter-owned elections" are now officially dead. Good riddance. Will Amanda Fritz run again? She said she wouldn't be in politics without "clean money." Sure -- just watch.

Stacey should edge out Hughes

We have them about 3,900 votes apart, with Hughes ahead, but the uncounted Multnomah County votes should push Stacey ahead by a small margin when it's all over. Too bad -- more condo garbage and streetcars.

Tri-Met loses

It's close in Multnomah, but they're getting their heads handed to them in Washington and Clackamas. Good. Let's kill the Milwaukie mystery train next.

Local election returns

Here's where you can see some of what's happening:

Multnomah County

Clackamas County

Washington County

Here's the Secretary of State site.

Here's The Oregonian's page.

Your post-Halloween horror show

What time is it?

Tri-Met doesn't know. (According to readers, it's that way on both buses and streetcars.)

Guess who *really* isn't green

The shipping industry. Yeah -- the folks we're going to run the bald eagles off Hayden island for. Not only are we going to wreck that wild place to ship Wyoming coal to China, so that they can burn it and send the toxic emissions back our way, but we'll be doing it for dirty vessels that wreak their own environmental havoc. Better living brought to you by the Port of Portland.

A show about nothing

The media's gearing up for its regular orgy of coverage of the election results tonight, but we might just curl up with a book.

There's not much to get excited about this time, particularly here in Oregon where disappointment seems to lurk down either prong of our fork in the road. Overall, the same old crews will keep their grip on things. We'll decide a bunch of ballot measures, most of which are bad ideas that deserve to die. Knocking them down is not particularly gratifying, and if they pass, it feels even worse.

Lord knows, enough millions have been burned hawking these people and ideas on television, on the radio, through the mails, and on the phone. But we have no money for the things that really count.

On the national scene, the tighty righties will be crowing about how America has repudiated the President, and how on Capitol Hill they're going to be nastier and more obstructionist than ever over the next two years. They'll be providing lots of cover for sellouts like Wyden and Lieberman. The Democrats will complain that now they can't anything done, but let's face it, for the last two years they've demonstrated that they don't really want to do much, anyway.

In the long run, this night probably won't prove to be too momentous either way. This troubled land is going to stay that way for quite a while longer.

Don't fear the sweeper

Has anybody heard how the City of Portland is planning to collect the Sam-Rand leaf removal tax from households in the affected inner city neighborhoods? The leaf sweepers are scheduled to come through our block on Saturday, and we're thinking about having some fun with them. We'll rake up our own leaves on Friday, document the cleanliness of the gutter with a photo, then park our vehicles in front of the house so that the sweeper has to go around them. Then when we get the bill for leaf removal, we'll say, "We never got the service." If they insist that we owe the $15, we'll argue that it's a property tax and violates the city charter, the state constitution, or both. Who knows how far we'll get with that?

But it would be helpful to know which bureaucratic machine we'll be up against. Does anybody out there know how the billing, collection, and enforcement are going to go? Does the city even know?

Rainy night ruminations

There I was in the meat section of the supermarket last evening, when I noticed that something wasn't right. All the food items were in the refrigerated case where they belonged, but in the back of my mind, it felt vaguely like something was missing.

It took me a second to put my finger on it, but then I figured it out. It was the passing of Maurice Lucas, the legendary member of the Trail Blazers' one and only championship team, the day before. The thought that he wasn't around any more was lingering in the air beneath the boomer music squawking out of the P.A. system.

Why would this sensation come to me in such an unlikely place, and why did it take a while to shake it? Luke hadn't played in the NBA for decades, and his career as an assistant coach for the Blazers had been put on indefinite hold when he took seriously ill. His death was not a shock.

Pushing the cart around the store, I pieced it together. Mo was a steady, reassuring presence around Portland -- a connection to the city's past glories and a contributor to its future as a teacher of the young players on the current Blazer squad. More so than any of his young charges, he symbolized greatness in sports.

I remember the first time I saw him in person. I was new to Portland, but prided myself on having memorized the geography of downtown pretty quickly and thoroughly. One afternoon I was walking on the Sixth Street side of the Hilton Hotel, when up pulls a nice Mercedes sedan. The driver rolls down his window and motions me over. My eyes almost pop out when I see it's him. "Which way is the train station?" Luke asks. It seems he had arrived at the Greyhound station, which used to be catercorner from the Hilton, only to realize that the trains were in another section of downtown. Or maybe he was looking for the Trailways bus, which may have stopped somewhere else -- I can't remember for sure. In any event, he was in the wrong place, and I sent him up to Old Town.

One thing I do remember clearly: In his lap he was cradling an open bottle of Henry Weinhard's Private Reserve beer, which at that time was brewed just up the street. Probably bottling no. 4 or so. No big deal in those days. A regular guy, I thought to myself.

Fast forward 20-plus years, and I wind up working out in the same neighborhood gym at which Luke plays racquetball in his middle age. He's in there all the time -- pretty good at the game, I think, but by no means the champ of the house. What impressed me was what a gentle giant the guy was. When strangers approached to ask him about his basketball life, which didn't happen often, he'd smile and act as though it was no big deal. And he always had a friendly word for the stranger about something in the present.

But perhaps the best thing I ever saw Luke do was at halftime of a Blazer game in the '90s, when he was long retired. There was a shootout contest going on, with a number of former players participating, and whatever the proceeding was, it all boiled down to Luke taking one shot from center court for some number of thousands of dollars for a charity -- I want to say 10 grand for Doernbecher's, but now I'm making stuff up. Anyway, we had seats low in the end zone, and he was shooting in our direction.

And I'll be darned if he didn't hit the shot. It might have banked in, but regardless, the place went quite nuts. I remember nothing else about that night except that wonderful, wonderful three-pointer. The guy still had the shining.

So anyway, it's always been a nice feeling that this hometown hero was still around, and you might bump into him at the gym -- or even at the supermarket. He'd be grabbing his turkey slices right next to yours, and you could crack a joke and the two of you could smile over it. For all the classic basketball moments that people will be recalling over the next several days, it was Maurice Lucas, regular Portland guy, that I'll always remember most fondly. So long, neighbor.

Tweet of the Night

"I hope those Giants fans don't flip over a Prius and have a carbon neutral riot."

A historic moment, literally

The Irvington neighborhood in Northeast Portland is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Let's hope it keeps the condo bunker weasels away.

Scaredy cat

Governor Ted's unwilling to face the election day music, and so he's headed off to hide in a more secure place: Iraq.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Last gag

And after the schools, are the parks lining up for new taxes?

We noted last week that the Portland schools have about $900 million in construction projects that they'll soon be asking voters for new property taxes to pay for. Now it appears that the Portland parks are also in the wings, brooding about the possibility of new taxes. At least, the union workers over there sound like they're thinking along those lines. A reader forwards this telling e-mail message:

Hello Neighborhood Association and Community Leaders,

Portland Parks and Recreation is facing the possibility of having another cut to it's budget this time that of 6%. This may have significant ramifications to the neighborhoods that you represent in terms of lost services and lost care to existing sites.

The workers of Portland Parks and Recreation, cordially wish to invite you to come to our community forum that we are holding. Presentations will be made in regards to who performs the work, why it matters who performs the work, what taking this work away will mean to the community.

Our effort is seeking to be as inclusive as possible, to that end we have formed a new coalition called *Progress Forward NW* because we are seeking solutions that progressively build a better tomorrow for PP&R and the community it serves.

In addition, we are open to hearing from the neighborhood associations, what projects or initiatives they are working on and what opportunities there may be to support your efforts as well. This may prove to be a great event to network different plans for the greater Portland area.

So please join us this Saturday, November 6 from 1-3 P.M. The site is 1125 SE Madison, Portland Oregon 97214. Food will be catered in by Madison's Bar and Grill. There will be a Q&A session in which you will be able to ask questions of the presenters.

For more information, please contact me.

Thanks for your time,

Toby Green
Progress Forward NW/ Laborers Local 483

I suppose they could be talking about simply fighting other city bureaus for budget dollars, but the invitation for neighbors to bring along their pet projects sure sounds like the makings of a "bond issue" -- borrowing millions that will eventually be paid back, with interest, out of property taxes.

A weighty matter

Our pennies project has hit an interesting juncture. We've sorted through all of the thousands of pennies from 1981 and earlier, but now we've reached 1982. As you numismatists out there know so well, that was the year the U.S. Mint switched the metal in the cent from mostly copper to mostly zinc. But for that year, they made some of each. And to be a true coin nerd, you're supposed to save some of each.

To keep them apart, the most reliable thing to do is weigh them -- the zinc ones weigh just a little less than the copper ones -- and for that, one needs a scale that's sensitive down to tenths of a gram. Prowling around on the internet, we see that this kind of equipment is by no means scarce -- it must be a basic tool for drug dealers -- but we want to be sure to get one that will be accurate, if only for the hour or two that we'll be weighing a couple hundred pennies on it.

Readers, got any advice -- or a scale to lend?

Still on the fence

Here it is the eve of the election, and we still haven't turned in our ballots. The hangup is the Oregon governor's race.

We can't vote for Kitzhaber. We didn't like him the last time around, when he was irascible, egocentric, and unproductive. Has eight years made him any better in those departments? We doubt it. During his previous tenure, the economy was positively booming compared to where it is now, and what did we get to show for it? Not a whole lot. Plus, we're so tired of the Goldschmidt people, and this guy is sure to keep them around, running Tri-Met, running the Port, sucking the life out of the taxpayers for another four years. No can do.

But we can't vote for Dudley, either. He wants a George Bush regime of irresponsible tax cuts, and he'll no doubt be surrounded by the usual GOP suspects with their backward social policies. Not to mention that he's already shown himself to be tight with the Gerding Edlen developer types who have Portland and its surroundings on a highway to financial oblivion. His inexperience doesn't bother us in the least. The main problem is, well... he's a Republican.

Perhaps our brightest idea on this is a warped one. We're still thinking that the legislature will stay in Democratic hands, and if that's the case, then a vote for Dudley is a vote for gridlock. Gridlock doesn't look all that bad right now.

Or maybe we just throw our vote away and blacken the circle for a write-in. How depressing.

The verdict

With advice from our readers, we've decided to grant the request of the fellow who signed his full name on some intemperate comments on this blog a few years back, and now worries that they might cost him a prospective job. We've removed his last name from the comments in question, but are not in any way shape or form adopting that as a policy that anyone else should rely on.

His full name may linger on the internet somewhere -- perhaps on the Wayback Machine and elsewhere -- but my experience with Google has been that sooner or later, it will disappear from there. And that's where prospective employers are most likely to find it.

Anyway, thanks to the readers who helped us chart this course. Oh, and by the way, the comments in question started here.

Ron Wyden is killing little old ladies

The way the U.S. Senate has handled federal taxes over the last decade -- and particularly over the last two years -- is nothing short of scandalous. Among many other goofball moves, the Senate has insured that the federal estate tax, which is imposed on rich people's fortunes when they die, went out of existence for this year only, but will rise again come January 1.

It's a long story, but it's clear where the fault for this insanity lies. The House voted late last year to avoid the miracle tax-free-year scenario by simply extending the estate tax through 2010, but the ne'er-do-wells in the Senate went home for the holidays without seeing the job through. They had a million excuses, but the main problem was that they're mostly all filthy rich themselves, and in the pockets of people who are even filthier richer.

And so now we're faced with the situation in which if a wealthy American dies in the next two months, the federal government will take none of his or her fortune, whereas if that individual dies single or widowed one second after midnight on New Year's Day, Uncle Sam will take 55% of his or her net worth in estate tax. Not surprisingly, some rich elderly folks who are nearing the end of their lives and whose remaining quality of life isn't so great anyway are contemplating pulling the plug on themselves in order to more than double what they get to leave their kids.

Can you blame them?

Ron Wyden is one of the major culprits here. Over the years, he's frequently said he wanted to repeal the estate tax, and although he flip-flops around a lot about it, there is no doubt he's no champion of keeping it. For example, his Wikipedia page (which his people no doubt watch carefully) notes: "Wyden is critical of the estate tax, which he feels is inefficient, and has voted repeatedly to abolish it." He and his Senate pals wouldn't vote for the House extension, but they wouldn't abolish the tax permanently, either, because that would alienate the blue base. And so they just decided to jerk people around.

Whatever Wyden says his vote would be now, as a senior majority player on the Senate Finance Committee, he's quite responsible for the fact that the estate tax issue has remained so obscenely unresolved. His opponent, Jim Huffman, would be no more progressive, to be sure. But at least you'd be sure where he stood.

And now, a moment of prayer

Dear Lord, please fix it so that Sarah Palin is the Republican nominee for President two years from now. Amen.

Wieners and losers

Many players advanced in our charity pro football prognostication game yesterday. Here are the standings with one player (PJB) still with a 'dog in the hunt tonight:

Continue reading "Wieners and losers" »

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