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

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February 2011 Archives

Monday, February 28, 2011

Great news! Another $5 million for bike stuff!

This latest hunk of pork will be courtesy of the upcoming school bond measure, if it passes. It's for the children, don't ya know.

Will Homer's tentacles reach from Lake O. to Portland?

A concerned reader from Portland's southwestern suburb writes:

Last Tuesday night, the Lake Oswego City Council entertained Williams, Dame & White representatives and all their consultants (Otak, Walker Macey, DBG, and about four others), who gave an update on all their planning to date for the Foothills Development. At the end, Dike Dame said, very intently, that he would not "want to look at a sewage treatment plant and he wouldn't want to smell one either."

The Tryon Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant is in the industrial area earmarked for condos and commercial development. Mr. Dame probably didn't know that there are plans to beautify the plant [and other areas nearby -- JB]; however, it probably doesn't matter much. Sometime between now and the start of construction, the plant will probably be declared insufficient to meet the needs of anticipated growth and the taxpayers will be forced to fund a new one somewhere, so that Mr. Dame and his high-end clients will not have to see it....

LO ratepayers are expected to pay about 30% more for our sewer fees when the city finishes with a new, expensive main pipe being installed in the middle of the lake running straight to the Tryon Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant on Foothills Road. The Sanitary Sewer Department operates and maintains 200 miles of collection system and ten pump stations, all of which eventually empty into the Tryon Creek plant.

The plant is owned and operated by the City of Portland. Considering how the politicians in Portland love streetcars and development, any changes to the site (plus eventual streetcar construction) would most likely entail costs borne by Portland tax and rate payers. Of course, no one is talking about a new plant yet, but it's just a hunch considering what Mr. Dame wants.

The development is being promised as a place for aging Lake Oswegans to retire and young singles and families to gain entry (affordable) housing in town. Knowing that the industrial area is entirely in a 100-flood plain, laced with existing infrastructure, sited at the bottom of a steep incline and bordered by 2 PGE substations with only one access point onto Hwy 43 -- the entire enterprise screams expensive, luxury housing. High-rise housing is more expensive to build per square foot than low-rise, but high density will be needed to justify a streetcar and high construction costs.

Dike Dame also said that a streetcar from Portland to LO would be key to gong forward with development. He would have to have a commitment from the city that it was going to spend money to get the streetcar to LO and would move the sewage treatment plant, among other concessions (cut and fill the floodplain, consolidate or move the substations and put in streets, utilities, etc. -- not too much to ask). At the end, the 4 council holdovers from before the last election outvoted the 3 new council members to keep the plan going. Naturally, all the current plans were done with a city grant, so WDW has not spent much, if anything, on this development scheme. I guess we should be grateful they would even consider our town for their next project.

As a Portlander, I'm not up for paying for a streetcar and a major sewage treatment plant just to make Dike and his partner Homer Williams any richer. We're already paying through the nose for the garbage they foisted on us in Portland. Since they are the puppeteers of the Portland City Council and the PDC, their L.O. boondoggle definitely bears close watching, even from up here.

It looks real

OMG -- somebody please tell me this is a joke.

Move it on over

An interesting lateral move in Portland city government: The mayor's chief economic development staffer is leaving City Hall and heading over to the Portland Development Commission. Her name is Kimberly Schneider Branam. Yes, that Branam -- recently married to the colorful Portland City Council "clean money" candidate of a few years back. She's in her early 30s and got a graduate degree from Harvard less than four years ago. Before that, she was Phi Beta Kappa at Colby College and spent several years in the Peace Corps. She does not appear to have worked much (or at all) in the private sector.

More recently, Ms. Branam's been presiding over the mayor's economic development "strategy" -- the whole "cluster" business. Now she'll be part of the team under the car-hating new CEO of the PDC, Patrick Quinton.

Here she is offering a testimonial about a trip she recently took to Scandinavia -- no doubt on the taxpayer's dime:

You wonder how the PDC staffers who were passed over for the CEO job -- especially Erin Flynn, the PDC economic development chief, and John Jackley, the communications director -- are feeling these days. Probably not thrilled. Quinton used to work for Flynn -- now it's vice versa. Plus here comes a new kid from Sam's stable of beautiful, sustainable 30-year-old "senior policy director" types.

In any event, good luck with the economy, Portland. We are certainly going to need it with the pipedreamers in charge. Go by food cart!

Move 'em? Or lay 'em off?

A flap is being raised about whether to consolidate the offices in which the 88 employees of the chancellor of the Oregon university system work. There are currently three sets of offices for these folks, in Eugene, Corvallis, and Portland. We recently blogged about the chancellor's hefty salary, to go along with the use of two nice houses paid for by the public; now there's some talk in the Legislature of settling him and his staff in Portland.

A more fundamental question is whether that office really needs 89 people. It's a block of bureaucracy over the individual universities, which already have multiple layers of administrators. Rather than move the 89 people around, we'd rather see somebody take a look at laying off half of them or more. What do these people do all day? As one of our readers conjectured, there must be "a lot of chancelling involved."

Guys after my own heart

"Did he write stories that I believed were unfair?" former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo asked in an interview. "From time to time, and I told him so. But he was also valuable and admirable. You weren’t going to frighten him or bargain him out of a story."... "I respect authority almost too much, I think," he said — another statement sure to raise eyebrows. "I’m not an angry guy. There’s just a lot to be outraged about."...

"When I run out of fights to have, I’ll stop fighting," he told me. Until then, you will find him out on the town-hall circuit, play-acting, berating and emoting his way toward some kind of public reckoning, leaving nothing unsaid.

The 1982 pennies

Today's the anniversary of the start of our pennies project, in which we're sifting through all the cents that were brought home every day by our reader Ben for more than 20 years. Lately we've been cranking back up on the project after a period of inactivity. We'd been sorting through the coins in chronological order -- the oldest was from 1929 -- and when we got 1982, things got complicated.

In 1982, the U.S. Mint changed the metal composition in the penny, from mostly copper to mostly zinc. But the Mint did this in mid-year, and so some of the 1982 pennies are made mostly of copper and the rest mostly of zinc. If you're being a thorough collector, you must treat the two types as separate, and since they look identical, the only way to tell the difference is by weight. The copper ones are a little heavier than the zinc ones -- about 3.11 grams instead of 2.5 grams.

Some folks say they can tell the difference by the way the pennies sound when dropped on a hard surface. We tried that a few times, to no avail. And so it was off in search of a scale sensitive enough to differentiate a 3.11-gram object from a 2.5-gram one.

We put out a call on this blog, and of course, there were a couple of readers who came through with an offer of a scale that would do the job. (One of the real beauties of this blog is our ability to ask for favors from knowledgeable people, and enjoy the generous response we invariably get.) One reader, Leigh, has a scale that he sometimes uses to measure out gunpowder for packing into rifle cartridges. He's a firearms instructor, and a steady hand when it comes to gun matters. In contrast, we don't know a thing about bullets except to stay away from them.

But anyway, after putting the loan of the scale on both of our long to-do lists, and while the holidays came and went, it took a while for us to show up at his place and pick it up. But we're glad we did, as it turns out to be just the ticket for a task such as this. The darn thing is sensitive down to a measure known as a grain, which is a teeny weeny fraction of a gram. 3.11 grams is the equivalent of 47.9945 grains; 2.5 grams is 38.5808 grains.

Leigh showed us how the thing works, and we packed it back to our place to start a-weighin'. The best technique was to set the scale at the weight of the lighter zinc penny, and see what reaction it gave when a penny of unknown composition was placed on it. The copper ones pinned the scale easily; with the the zinc ones, the pointer floated up and down before settling somewhere near the center point for the mark we set.

We don't have an exact tally yet, but there were about an equal amount of copper and zinc pennies in the 1982's. We've got them separated now, and can resume cataloging them. Logjam broken!

But first -- we had another wicked idea. We read on the intertubes somewhere that sometimes the Mint mistakenly uses old metal stocks in making new coins following a change in their official composition. Wouldn't it be something if one of Ben's 1983 pennies was actually made of copper? Now, that would be a valuable find. And so more weighing was in order.

An important side note should be made at this point: One thing of which this project has reminded us is that the Mrs. is highly tolerant of our many idiosyncracies.

In any event, we've got almost all the '83s checked now, and so far there's no copper penny in there. And so it will back to the mundane sorting, inspecting, and chronicling of what is in there. Ben will likely wind up keeping all the copper pennies, because their metal content is worth more than one cent. And if we find a rarity in the later years, we'll all have a party. But run-of-the-mill cents from 1983 and later -- like the 1982 zincs -- will probably wind up heading to a bank in exchange for something better. A credit to a checking account with an associated debit card sounds good.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Police thuggery in Portland -- the latest chapter

Two Taser-happy officers cost the taxpayers another six figures in damages, and one was found to have lied about what happened:

"Officer Thompson denies deploying her Taser against Tran while he was on his knees, facing away from her, but based upon the testimony of several witnesses, I find that she did," arbitrator Alan Bonebrake wrote, adding she deployed probes into Tran's back.

"This was unnecessary, unreasonable and an excessive use of force," he wrote. Tran proved he was deprived of his civil rights from the use of the Taser, assault and Thompson's negligence, the arbitrator found.

Sounds like criminal assault to us, and was that lying under oath? Maybe the next Multnomah County district attorney ought to commit to doing the right thing and filing charges against the police in cases like this. Heaven knows, the outgoing D.A. wouldn't prosecute a cop for anything.

It gets worse, of course:

In her deposition, Thompson said she received a de-briefing from then–Central Precinct Sgt. Kyle Nice. (A police review board this month found he acted inappropriately for drawing his firearm during an off-duty road rage encounter.)

In a confidential memo Nice wrote to then-Precinct Cmdr. Mike Reese, he said the Tran case had caused Thompson anguish, she had reviewed it and would learn from it.

And of course, no one was disciplined for anything. There's just way too much of a pattern here, folks. Kyle Nice -- he of the James Chasse murder. And don't you dare say anything about it:
Because Clay would not put his face to the ground or turn fully away from police, Hughes fired his Taser at him twice. Police also threatened to Taser Clay's friend who was videotaping them.
Pitiful. God help our city.

At least the daily newspaper didn't bury the story on a Friday night, which is when they usually run this sort of news. They saved it for Sunday night-Monday morning, which is exactly right.

Sweet home Chicago

Funky as ever.

He's not selling any alibis

Here's a refreshing tale of a guy who went tit for tat with the heavies of banking.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kooky Wu's latest blurt

"When some guy gives me pills, I just take them. I don't ask what they are."

Right up there with Pepe's

Not one but two Portland pizza spots -- Apizza Scholls and Ken's Artisan -- have made this list of the top 25 in the country. We'll have to make a point of testing them both out, as they are in some super company.

We had the pleasure of living around the corner from Pepe's in New Haven for a few months 33 years ago. There was another joint called Sally's up the street. Both were great, but Pepe's was legendary. As we recall, the decor was quite rugged, and the only artist on the jukebox was Frank Sinatra. But oh, the pie.

Game report: Blazers 107, Nuggets 106, OT

You talk about your Groundhog Day scenes. It was 20 after 4 yesterday afternoon, and we were thinking about a mellow evening ahead, when the phone rang. A friend was on the line with Blazer tickets that were going to go unused. Great seats -- courtside, in fact -- and were we interested?

Felt awfully familiar.

The Mrs. and I had made no other plans for the evening, although both the kids were going to be gone at a sleepover and we were expecting to do something. I was not sure that a trip to the Rose Garden would fill the quotient of romanticism that the evening called for, but she agreed, and off we went.

As it turned out, it was about as magical a night as one can experience at a ballgame. A fan from out of the stands made a halfcourt shot to win a truck. Then, almost as improbably, the Blazers, led by Brandon Roy, staged a storybook last-minute comeback to take their game with the new-look Denver Nuggets into overtime. And in the extra period, Portland prevailed by the skin of its teeth. Holy moly.

The seats were in the fifth row behind the basket down at the visitors' end -- the opposite end from owner Paul Allen's seats (which were empty when we looked down that way). At this location, the stanchion that holds up the basket is actually a bit of an issue, but it's made up for by the closeness that we experienced to the action:

In keeping with the Groundhog Day theme, just as in Wednesday night's devastating loss to the Lakers, the Blazers took care of business in the first half. They led by six points after the first quarter, and by 10 at the half. Denver was without one of its main big men, Kenyon Martin, who was home with the flu, and they were leaving most of the scoring duties to a tall, skinny guy from Italy, Danilo Gallinari, who immediately caught the Mrs.' eye. "Except that his head is too small for his body," she remarked.

Now that Carmelo Anthony has finally left, Denver actually has quite a team. Ray Felton, J.R. Smith (a Newark prep school boy, after my own heart), Wilson Chandler, Al Harrington -- they have a lot of guys who can beat you. When his shot gets hot, this Arron Afflalo can add the word "Assassin" to his already A-list name. And for comic relief, they bring in their Bird Man, Chris Andersen, who actually glared back up into the stands when a fan yelled down to him that he sucked.

Toward the end of the first quarter, Roy checked in for the Blazers, and we shuddered a little. Clearly just a shadow of his former self, Roy has been out of the playing loop for a long time. It's painful to think that his career is so soon on the down slope, and to wonder how soon it might be over entirely. But he was still out there, going through his paces. And his teammates wanted to get him the ball. LaMarcus Aldridge seemed to be forcing that issue, in fact, but point guard Andre Miller, a true basketball wizard, was finding even better opportunities for him. Roy looked downright decent.

At halftime, a Russian gal and two big Russian guys performed stunts in which they threw her into air from, and caught her time and again on, a narrow plank of some highly pliable substance.

In the third half, the Blazers walked the plank. They lost the quarter 33 to 16. Nothing worked. Toward the end of the quarter, Nate McMillan tried a Patty Mills-Brandon Roy combination. Mistake-o grande. Mills logged eight minutes, and the Nuggets picked up six points on Portland over that stretch. Suddenly Portland was down by seven, and it seemed like an eternity before Miller was reinserted into the lineup with 9:45 to go in the fourth.

With a nine-point deficit to make up, Miller had his work cut out for him. "Plenty of time," we told him as he set up to take free throws. And he actually looked up at the clock at that point. Then he started finding people -- Roy, Matthews, Aldridge -- and the Blazers came back to life. But the Nuggets' shooters pumped in some shots of their own, and with 1:52 to go, Denver was ahead by six.

Here's a shot taken during that timeout. Note how many fair weather fans had gone home, and how the Nuggets' bench players were yucking it up and having a good time, thinking that their third straight win was in the bag:

And the score stayed at 94-88 Nuggets all the way down to about 40 seconds left to go. Then Miller found Roy, who hit a three-point shot, and the place went nuts. Felton made a two at the other end, quieting things down considerably, but after a timeout, Rudy hit a quick three with 15 seconds to go. More screams, Nuggets by two.

Cranky old Joey Crawford called a mystery foul on Miller, but the Italian rooster Gallinari missed one of his foul shots, Roy got the rebound and it was a three-point game, Blazers ball, time out, 13 seconds to go.

At which point, the Blazers did what any script writer would have told them to do. What the gods of fate would have instructed. If Willis Reed were there, he would have given the nod.

They gave the ball to no. 7, up top to the left of the basket.

Where he has worked magic before.

And did so again.

Three points! Pandemonium.

A lightning-quick timeout by George Karl, just down to our right. Denver with one last chance to win in regulation -- five seconds. Ty Lawson layup -- fail! And it's on to overtime we go, again.

In the extra stanza, the Blazers relied on LaMarcus Aldridge, who somehow still had a little left in the tank. The home team survived by a single point. Denver had two shots to win it at the end -- the Rooster missed, the ball went out of bounds off the Blazers, and with less than two seconds to go, Assassin Afflalo missed another one.

Blazers win. As barely as barely can be. A single-point margin.

We've attended four Blazers games so far this season, and three have gone to overtime. This was the first of the three that the Portland squad won.

You worry about Aldridge. He's playing way too many minutes. Against the Lakers it was 49. Last night it was 51. Both games were prize fights from start to finish. How long before we start reading about surgeries and heartbreak with LaMarcus? Scary. New Blazer Gerald Wallace was there last night in a suit, but he didn't play because the physical exams that come with the trade haven't been done yet. Let's hope he gets into uniform and takes some of the load off Aldridge post-haste.

After the game -- elated, dizzy really -- not sure of our late-night dining options, we settled for jambalaya and a nice pinot gris at the Bistro Montage. Now there's a slice of Portland that hasn't changed much in 20 years. It looked as though they might have swept the floor eight times over those two decades. You expected Peter Lorre to sit down next to you and start telling you his troubles. It's not the kind of place you would probably wish to see in the bright light of the afternoon. But at midnight, in the rosy glow of a classic Blazer win, it was totally steppin' out. A million thanks to our ticket benefactors for a night that won't soon be forgotten.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Have a great weekend

Coal terminal in Longview would be a whopper

And its proponents have apparently told a few. [Via KATU.]

Voodoo "I do"

The folks in L.A. find it amusing.

Oh, the blight

WW has got hold of a rough map of Portland's mayor's planned new "urban renewal" scam zone down by the real estate smoke-filled room formally known as Portland State University. It's contained in this document, which bears a strong Edlenesque perfume.

In order for this tax-sucking proposal to go through, the city will have to declare the area, which includes most of the scenic South Park Blocks, blighted. What a joke. If we're not mistaken, the district would also include a bunch of existing high-rise apartments south of Keller Auditorium, and would abut (or include) a fair amount of real estate owned by "Legend" Dan Saltzman and his aristocratic clan. Such a slum. Go by streetcar!

What's in a naime?

A reader down between Division and Powell writes:

There's a bioswale on my corner now. They stamped the concrete with the street name. It is different from the spelling of the street name on the sign right above it.

I asked the concrete guy how they put the name in concrete. He said, "The city has a stamp."

I said, "Tibbetts is spelled wrong."

He said, "No, this is the correct spelling now. They're going to change all the signs next."

I laughed at this. I said, "I guess I will have change all my stationery."

Then he said, "I thought the 'e' was funny."

The bioswale guy thought the "e" was wrong, when it was one of the only things they got right. Is this surprising to you?

Admiral Randy's shopping for two new fireboats

The $400,000 rescue boat that the City of Portland just purchased has merely whetted the appetite of the fire commissioner. Now he's going to replace two of the city's fireboats. But not just any old replacements -- these are going to be custom-designed, no doubt with heavy input from the Loomaster himself (patent pending). Only the best for this man's Navy.

Will the SoWhat District ever get a grocery store?

Not any time soon, apparently:

The neighborhood's present population is estimated at 2,749. Taking into account surrounding competition, that density is only about one quarter what the neighborhood needs to get a small grocer, Hambleton said.

"If you take the standard urban competitive situation, it's going to take 10,000 people for a 20,000-square-foot store," he said. "You look at a place like that and it just seems like it would be able to support a grocery store.

"It just doesn't work like that."

Wait 'til the Burlingame Fred Meyer closes for four months this summer. That's one of the few grocery options for the SoWhat folks (and for their neighbors across the freeway in Lair Hill). Some basic aspects of life in the condo bunkers are going to get even less convenient before they get easier. You wonder whether the real estate agents ever mention this to the prospective suckers.

Wheeler trying to water down junket reform

Ted Wheeler, the Oregon state treasurer, continues to resist requiring his "Masters of the Universe" in-house investment managers to disclose all the freebies they get from people soliciting the state's investments. And he still insists that they should be immune from state ethics rules, so long as they follow their own office's expense account policies and act in "good faith."

We couldn't disagree more. When the crooks of Wall Street are drooling over state funds, the public has the right to know about every single lavish meal, round of drinks, and entertainment that they buy for state employees. If there's nothing to hide, then there should be no resistance to disclosure.

As for "good faith," how can we forget that we're talking about people who billed the taxpayers for "reimbursement" of expenses they never paid to begin with? Ted, these lovable characters forfeited their "good faith" cards quite a while ago.

Breaking News: It didn't really snow much

As so often happens, Portland's meteorologists badly miscalculated the flimsy snow event we had in town yesterday. All the hype about four inches of snow "on the valley floor" was worthless. But of course, the school folks couldn't wait to shut down for the day with the arrival of the first flake. Turns out, it was a decent day, with temperatures in the mid-30s and roads that were not only clear of snow, but also in fact bone dry for a lot of the day. The kids in the schoolyard near us played basketball all afternoon.

Now it's below freezing, and expected to drop into the teens tomorrow night. Although it's clearing off, there are some icy spots here and there on the roads, which should trigger some further closure action by the decision-makers. The schools will probably open late, which is fairly amusing, because the ice probably isn't going to melt until late afternoon.

But if you were hankering for snow photos, we've got just the place for you, here. The date and place are phony -- these shots were taken elsewhere, in several locations -- but they supply a look at what Portland's weather has once again failed to deliver.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blazers get better; so does Thunder

There was indeed some wheeling and dealing by the Blazers on trade deadline day. Gerald Wallace is coming in, and Joel Przybilla and Dante Cunningham are headed to Charlotte. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City picked up Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson from Boston in exchange for Jeff Green and that Krstic guy.

Green will be a loss for OKC, but they get some bigger timber in the center, and we've always loved watching Nate play.

In other trade news, former Duck Aaron Brooks, who tortured the Blazers in the playoffs a while back, is moving from Houston to Phoenix to become the heir apparent to Steve Nash. Houston also sent longtime stalwart Shane Battier to Memphis -- the Rockets, it seems, are blowing everything up and starting over.

How "bad-ass" is your part of Portland?

There's only one way to find out.

Warning: Graphic depictions

These are not for the squeamish.

Tough sell

A friend of ours with a strong liberal streak writes:

Have you written about this event on your blog? I can't believe how much marketing they have spent. I have gotten multiple mailings, three each, at my office. The attached plastic laminate is the latest, and again I got three of them. Their billboards are cute, and rotate the big guy on each. I haven't seen one where Laura is out front.

They are overcharging at $1.95 for the whole group.

Colin Powell, for crap's sake, who is personally responsible for launching the Iraq war by holding up that vial of fake yellow-cake at the U.N.

Seems like it would be a nice day for a true Portland-style street demonstration.

City of Portland population: PSU, Census numbers converge

After going their separate ways for a while, the federal Census Bureau and the population estimators at Portland State University have come to remarkably similar conclusions about the number of residents Portland had on July 1, 2010. The new Census figure, released yesterday, is 583,776, whereas the PSU number from a couple of months ago was 583,835. Almost identical, really -- a 0.01% difference.

As the Census was showing lower numbers in recent years, the growth rate drawn by that federal agency is higher than the rate drawn by PSU. According to the feds, population growth in Portland over the last three years was at a compound annual rate of 0.99%, whereas PSU had it pegged at 0.90%. Over five years, Census had an annual growth rate of 1.69%, compared to PSU's 1.05%.

We've reset our City of Portland debt clock using the new Census population snapshot number, and a compromise growth rate projection of 1.4% a year. As of this writing, the city population stands at 589,106. At the 1.4% growth rate, the population within the city limits over future years will be as follows:

DateNew residents since 7/1/2010Total residents

At this rate, Portland's population will double in 50 years. It will reach 1 million residents in 39 years. Wrecking the place to prepare for the masses who are supposedly moving here any minute now, seems a dubious course of action indeed.

Game report: Lakers 106, Blazers 101, OT

As of 4:20 yesterday afternoon, we were planning a quiet evening at blog headquarters. Then the phone rang, and suddenly we were going to the Blazer game, although we would be sitting on the roof. At about 6:15 it rang again, and suddenly we would be sitting in the eighth row on the floor. We had exactly 12 minutes to wolf down some meat loaf and get on our way.

It was a splendid night outside. All the snow hype was proving to be blatantly false, but the leftovers of the anticipation of a snowpocalypse, along with a visit from the loathsome world champion Lakers, sent a nice energy through the crowd of Portlanders.

With four guys sharing six tickets -- two great ones and four pretty bad ones -- we split up just inside the arena doors and settled on a rotation. Two up and two down, with guys changing seats so that we each had 24 minutes of spectating time from the good seats. As the procurer of the downstairs ducats, I appropriated the first and fourth quarter for myself at floor level.

I had enjoyed the good seats several times before, especially back in the days when the Blazers were terrible and no one wanted to go see them. The end zone view is great, and you're just eight rows from the Blazer bench:

The tunnel that the players use to enter and exit the arena was just two seats away. At one point, Blazer Wesley Matthews was riding an exercise bike over there.

The first quarter was great for Portland. The Blazers played with energy and had great ball movement. The Lakers looked tired, and Portland won the quarter by six points. Brandon Roy made a token appearance on the floor, Rudy Fernandez made a diving save into the stands that resulted in a three-point basket by Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge was making shots, and everything was hunky dory.

It wasn't until I moved up on the roof for the second stanza that I noticed how many Laker fans were on hand. These folks show up every time their infernal team does, but never do I remember dealing with them in such great numbers. It seemed as though fully 40% of the cheering in the Rose Garden was for the Lakers. It was depressing.

I was living in two different worlds, that's for sure. Upstairs, we were in the very last row -- where there are even seats at the top of the stairs. There was nothing behind us or above us but Hoffman Construction concrete, and sweet Portland air: You couldn't see any of the scoreboards except the one directly over the center of the court. The rest were obscured by banners representing the Blazers' past glory -- banners that almost mocked what was playing out below them. Nonetheless, if you could avoid vertigo, you got a pretty good view of the game:

The second quarter was dead even, and the Blazers took a nice lead into the locker room at halftime. We had a beer in the Schonely bar on the first floor, and the Schonz himself was there overseeing the proceedings. With a modest tip, a microbrew in the Rose Garden is now $10.

Back on the roof, we watched the third quarter -- another standoff, with both teams punching it out like prize fighters. Even a cynic would have to admit that it was entertaining basketball.

In the fourth quarter, we viewed up close as the Blazers folded down the stretch. When the chips were down, Portland had no offense except three-point shots, which weren't falling. Andre Miller, whom we love, was trying valiantly to put some two's in the bucket, but they were no-go. The Lakers knew that LaMarcus Aldridge (who wound up with 29 points) could beat them, and they didn't let that happen. His Royal Whining Kobe-ness performed according to his usual script, and the game went into overtime. In the extra period, the Blazers' offense continued to be nothing to write home about, and the L.A. squad won.

The Blazers didn't score in the last 4 minutes and 22 seconds of the fourth quarter. The Lakers closed an eight-point deficit during that stretch.

In all, it was a wonderful, unexpected, interesting, entertaining evening -- a million thanks to our buddies who invited us -- but the outcome was not satisfying. And even if the Blazers had won, having to share oxygen with all the foul Laker fans would have put a bit of a damper on things. It reminded us how much Portland has changed in the last 10 to 20 years, and not necessarily for the better.

When I die, if I go to hell, I'll be listening to the gruesome cheers of the "Laker nation" night and day. I certainly don't need to be hearing them in Portland's own gym.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

By the numbers

Just released today:

About that snow...

Now it's going to be arriving "late."

Like next November, maybe?

Got yours yet?

SoWhat District: "too big to fail"

Ain't it the truth. Just another ripoff of the average taxpayer. Go by streetcar!

Car hater takes over the PDC

Did you know that Patrick Quinton, the new CEO of the Portland Development Commission, just a few years ago had a blog called "Cars Are Evil"?

6. Modern American consumerism, characterized by excessive choices and overindulgence, is possible only through the car and its ability to transport large quantities of purchased goods. This dynamic has also encouraged the increasing centralization of retail stores and made purchases of necessary retail goods without the use of a car unnecessarily challenging.

7. The car, which was originally a symbol of progress and modernization, has become an obstacle to innovation by preserving outdated work and transportation patterns, stymieing new technologies that threaten the combustion engine and oil dependence, and preventing new thinking in areas such as urban planning and the use of energy.

8. The convergence of technological developments, geopolitical realities and renewed awareness about energy consumption make this an ideal time to begin to counter the car’s dominance of American culture.

A real economic go-getter he's cut out to be. But hey, he'll do what the mayor and the developer overlords want, or else he'll be canned. Go by streetcar, indeed.

Wake up! Get ready for another devastating storm!

It's never in a blogger's best interests to turn readers away, but if you're in the Portland area, you really need to step away from your computer monitor right now, and start preparing for the humongo blizzard that is about to hit our area.

Here's a preparedness checklist:

1. Have plenty of bottled water on hand.
Once the first snowflake appears, remember to drink only bottled water. Experts recommend having 10 gallons of water on hand, in plastic bottles, for each member of your household, before the snow starts.

2. Bring all temperature-sensitive plants indoors. Today would be a good time to dig up your yard and transplant it into Home Depot buckets, which you should keep on the top floor of your home until the Arctic blast has passed. Plant movement permits are available for $25 from Portland City Hall. As a transition rule, parsley less than one inch tall does not require a permit, this year only.

3. Take special care of your pets. To help ward off the cold, most veterinarians advise that you feed dogs and cats only handmade sausages until temperatures have safely thawed out. Veal is best.

4. Keep sidewalks clear of dangerous ice.
In Portland, you're responsible if anyone slips and injures themselves on the right of way in front of your property, and so keep the sidewalks clear and dry. Use of rock salt, sand, and other contaminants is forbidden, however, and so city transportation officials advise a proactive, "green" approach. Walking along the sidewalk waving a broom during a snowstorm not only discourages accumulation, but also promotes good health and ensures a sustainable future.

5. Avoid unnecessary driving. Common sense should tell you that once there is an inch of snow on the ground, it is not safe to operate a motor vehicle. At that point, be smart and ride a bicycle.

6. Do not flush the toilet
until the storm threat has been officially declared over. If you must flush, be sure to add baking soda.

7. Operate your microwave oven only on its highest setting.
If foods become too hot, place them outside to cool off.

8. If you lose power,
rinse your toothbrush in vodka.

9. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 around the clock for the latest weather updates. We are standing by with the same award-winning coverage we have provided year after year. But we sure do wish we had a budget to hire this guy as our field reporter:

What kind of pills did Wu get from campaign contributor?

This report in the O says it was oxycodone -- which would be a pretty major no-no -- whereas the folks at Willamette Week seem to indicate the donor told them it was ibuprofen.

Whatever it was, it wasn't smart pills.

[O]n Election Day 2008, Wu disappeared and his staff couldn't find him. Multiple sources who were involved with Wu's campaign that year said that not even his wife, Michelle, could locate him.
Is this the end for this fellow? This is Oregon -- there's really no telling.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dark star, I see you in the morning

Fellow moonbats of the blogosphere, join me in reflecting on this important e-mail message from a self-proclaimed crackpot correspondent:

See all the comets out past the relatively clean solar system in the drawing? There could be a brown dwarf star roaming around way out there in a binary system with our sun. Its orbit could take 3,800 years and we could be entering a time when it is closest to us -- inside the Pluto orbit on the drawing. At this point it will exert much greater gravitational forces on earth as well as bombard us with its radiation particles. It doesn't have visible light but it is radioactive and could greatly affect our magnetic shield, etc... As I understand it, true magnetic north has been drifting in unusual ways, and the poles could flip.

Now the bad news: It would have to be escorted. It would also drag lots of these asteroids and comets that are in the Oort Cloud and perhaps send some of them our way. That could be dramatic.

The one guy I heard on this says his best evidence of the coming gravitational changes is from Greenland. Every year the sun rises for the first time on a certain day -- this January it came 2 days early. I don't really know what any of this means but it is interesting to contemplate some of the ancient texts as possible descriptions of what happened last time. They don't make for light reading. The real conspiracy people postulate that the elite types have known about this for years and are preparing to ride it out in mountainous areas and vast underground structures. Flooding will be an extreme problem (See Noah -- or Google any of the other ancient people who recorded a flood). Minor events like the triggering of the Yellowstone Super-Volcano and God knows what else could also occur. The notion is that we are being kept in the dark about the Dark Star so that society doesn't react poorly to the information. The good news is that the human species will survive -- but as a fraction of the numbers we have now.

Check this link out if you'd like. Just don't wait until 2013 to do it.

Oh, and the national debt? Relax. Not a problem.

Indeed. This may call for a cutback in our voluntary 401(k) contributions.

Tin foil helmet? Don't laugh.

The chattier among us may need one.

Making the rounds

I finally saw the famed Irvington-Alameda coyote with my own eyes yesterday, as I was driving to work. At the corner of 14th and Stanton, and heading north. Perhaps he or she was just going to hang out with the cops at Starbucks.

Not a very imposing figure, but no doubt quite wiley. And not the only interesting wildlife along that stretch.

Thunderbird knows

Streamlining government, Oregon style

Step 1: Add a new position.

Wheeler: Credit card is maxed out

Here in Oregon, the state treasurer and his debt commission are telling the world that the state can't afford to be borrowing much more money any time soon:

The commission, in a release, called the amount of debt available "scant"... It’s so low that the state should consider delaying or deferring the sale of bonds for certain projects that are in the early stages. The state treasury is scheduled to sell $1 billion in bonds within three months for projects approved by the 2009 legislature.
Too bad about the $250 million in lottery bonds that have already been sold to finance the insane Portland-to-Milwaukie train. Along with $90 million for other "multi-modal" transportation pork, and $20 million for streetcars. That borrowing all went down less than two years ago, when the recession was already well under way. Some of the debt bears interest at a rate in excess of 5% a year, even though the interest is tax-exempt.

Now the state's too hard up even to take out new loans, for anything. Go by streetcar!

A bright moment

Rip van Saltzman's 12-year nap on the Portland City Council was interrupted last week when the West Hills prince stirred briefly and noted that the city's sewer bill receipts are being raided for all sorts of junk that should either be paid for from other sources or not paid for at all:

"Portland’s sewer ratepayers should not be expected to shoulder a larger and larger share of citywide services that do not directly correspond with the BES’s core mission," Saltzman wrote in a memo to the mayor, fellow city commissioners and city budget managers. The programs collectively cost the agency $220,200.

They include: $75,000 for Endangered Species Act work on Portland waterways, (a cost formerly paid by the Portland Development Commission); $65,000 to control invasive species at Portland parks; $69,000 to enforce dog rules in city parks and natural areas; and $11,200 for sampling and analysis services at Cully Park, related to annual state certification of the Killingsworth Landfill.

When you add this to all the extraneous shinola being purchased with water bill receipts -- neon signs, rental properties, demonstration construction projects, tour buses, Twitter armies, street toilets -- it's depressing. The regular people of Portland are being nickeled and dimed all the way to Tigard.

But let it be duly recorded: Saltzman noticed. And he wrote a nice memo.


The mayor of Portland's "state of the city" speech on Friday -- which Willy Week promptly characterized as long and confusing -- contained at least one surprise: The city wants the county to take river patrol duties away from the sheriff and hand them over to the city fire bureau. County Chair Jeff Cogen, who was in the audience with the usual earnest City Club types, was immediately put on the spot. You've got to wonder whether anyone had ever mentioned the idea to him before, or whether this was just more government-by-ambush from the continuing nervous breakdown known as the mayor's office. (The sheriff was not warned in advance about the grenade that the mayor was about to throw.)

Regardless of the intergovernmental protocol, though, there's a substantive issue here: If the city's fancy new $400,000 rescue boat and its crews have got enough free time to do the county's work for it, does Portland really need that boat and those crews to begin with? Surely the fire commissioner, who recently held the city's taxpayers up for a property tax increase just to buy fire trucks, will tell you that it does. But the city's offer to the county reveals that perhaps the fireman has more of a navy under his command than the city really needs -- including the (count 'em) seven harbor pilots currently on the fire bureau payroll.

You say Gaddafi and I say Gadafy

Qaddafi, Kadafi,
Gaddafi, Gadafy,
A lot of people definitely want to call the whole thing off.

In the spotlight

Oregon Health and Sciences University (Motto: "Don't forget the 'and'") made the front page of the Sunday Times this weekend. But not everyone likes what they saw.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Carrying condos to Condon

Clackamas County Chair Lynn Peterson is resigning to take a gig as the new-old governor's transportation advisor. Foes of "urban renewal" and light rail madness in Clackistan will be glad to see her depart, but chances are there's another linchpin-lover poised to succeed her.

Tri-Met's looking for a new head bean counter

One little, two little, three little boondoggles...

Jobs! No, not you.

Amidst all the local hoopla surrounding the President's visit to Hillsboro on Friday, little or nothing was said about Intel's announcement that they are going to build a wonderful new $5 billion chip plant -- in Arizona.

Portland Beavers may be stuck in Tucson for a while

Governor Moonbeam's plan to kill off "urban renewal" would likely doom the team's proposed new stadium in a San Diego suburb. The guys who bought the Beavers from Little Lord Paulson must be thrilled.

162 robots like this

The latest from the corporate spooks: They create fake groundswells of opinion on internet sites, by producing fictitious personas:

Software will allow 10 personas per user, replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent. Individual applications will enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries.
Among the parties interested in buying the fakery: the federal government, of course.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The kids aren't blogging

Facebook, Twitter, and the like are expression enough for the younger set. Blogs, it appears, are for geezers.

What's the buzz?

In Colorado, they're talking about setting a legal limit for THC in the bloodstream while driving. Here in Oregon, there doesn't appear to be any specific threshold, but driving under the influence of pot is as bad in the eyes of the law as blowing higher than .08 for alcohol.

Is the "legal limit" approach the right one for determining marijuana-induced impairment in a driver? Should "field sobriety tests" be used instead? Are the same tests used in alcohol cases appropriate when pot use is suspected? Is any evidence more damning than an open bag of Doritos on the front passenger seat?

In Wisconsin, a splash of cold water in the face

The new Republican governor there has embarked on a major reality check, which is bringing the public employee unions out into the street, Cairo-style. Canceling federal-pork-fueled train projects, making public employees pay more toward their own health care and pensions -- are we really talking about Madison, Wisconsin?

Should county commissioners be donating tax money to charity?

Willy Week's story about the Multnomah County commissioners' expense accounts raised a few eyebrows. Part of it was another round of the journalistic game of "Who Had the Pickle?" But there were some newsworthy tidibits in there.

One item called into question was commissioners' paying to attend charity fundraisers. They say there's enough of a connection to their duties that they need to show up at these things on the public's dime, even if the tickets are 50 bucks a pop. Diane McKeel also drags her staff with her to these events, including six City Club confabs and trips to conferences in Washington, D.C., Seattle, and Newport about human trafficking.

Since part of the ticket prices at charity dinners is usually a donation to the charity, a commissioner who buys a ticket is in effect sending tax dollars to the sponsoring nonprofit as a contribution. Shouldn't that sort of decision be made by the board as a whole, rather than by individual commissioners?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Greetings from 1960

In our office cleanup today, we moved a few storage boxes and found this on the rug, face down, at the bottom of the stack:

That's a wrap

We joined everybody and their kids at OMSI this afternoon. The Egypt exhibit was impressive and fun. They're too tactful to advertise it this way, but they have a real live mummy. Great outing with the sun streaming through all the glass. And now, to rest our ears.

Once a year, whether it needs it or not

This morning my capable assistant and I are dusting and straightening around blog headquarters. Dad's office is not a pretty sight when the sunlight is bright and you look at the surfaces up close.

It reminds us of the Catholic boy who, upon hearing that "thou art dust and unto dust thou shall return," cheerily responded that someone was either coming or going under his bed.


Don't tell our local politicians about this.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Have a great weekend

Mayor Creepy's going to Germany next

And he's got yet another "urban renewal" district to rake good tax dollars and throw them over to developer scoundrels.

Oh, and Grandma got lunch.

Read the whole tomfoolery here.

Muni bonds may be junkier than you think

So suspects the SEC. And if those slow dogs wake up and start sniffing around, you know something's up.

Fish on immigation jail: "a small processing center"

Really, Nick?

At least he voted the right way and wasn't bullied by you-know-who.

Sustainable Susan's "calamity"

The City of Portland's army of planners -- the smug know-it-alls who parlay vague memories of Tom McCall into one ugly, out-of-place condo bunker after another -- have a stunning defeat on their hands with a state board's rejection of their "River Plan." The bureaucrats are downplaying the latest development, but as one knowledgeable observer pointed out, "It's such an overwhelming rejection of both the city's methodology and its outcomes."

More than a decade of planner busy work has essentially been flushed down the loo. And the business interests who oppose the plan are taking the latest ruling to an appeals court to make sure that the city doesn't get away with papering over its major flaws.

Environmentalists are understandably bummed, but their ire shouldn't be directed at the business folks, who were just protecting their money. It should be directed at the bunglers in city government. With friends like the mayor and the planning cabal, Portland's wildlife, like its beautiful neighborhoods, don't need enemies.

WaPo: Wal-Mart's better than nothing

Quite a concession.

Plot summary requested

The whole WikiLeaks thing has managed to fall off our radar screen lately. Correct us if we've got this wrong, but at last report the WikiLeaks guy was going to embarrass the heck out of Bank of America. Then he got arrested in London on sex charges from Sweden. Then the U.S. government started prying into the WikiLeaks people's Twitter accounts.

Now we see that there's another ring to the circus, in which one or more private spy outfits have reportedly been hired by a private law firm with ties to the bank, and charged with investigating and attacking not only the WikiLeaks dudes but also a guy from Salon and critics of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Have we got that right?

Government spooks are bad enough -- corporate spooks getting in your business is really a drag. In any event, can't wait to read the dirt on B of A.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Paging Mr. Roget

Do reporters in this town get some sort of bonus for overusing the word "iconic"?

Our Lady of Preferences...

... pray for us.

Cho, don't you dare!

Trade Andre Miller and Rudy Fernandez for Devin Harris and Travis Outlaw? Gag me.

Whew -- what's that smell?

Portland taxpayers are handing millions (directly or indirectly) to Mark Edlen to build a spiffy new "sustainable" headquarters for Vestas, the Euro wind turbine people, in the old Meier & Frank warehouse. This was supposed to "create jobs," according to the mayor and the city's failing "development commission."

Funny thing, though -- Vestas just laid off a bunch of staff here in Portland, including all but one member of its IT department, according to one report. If the report is true, it's the second year in a row of layoffs for Vestas in Portland.

But wait -- don't tell me -- it's too late to cancel the deal with Edlen. So we'll still re-do that building even though we may have to leave it half-empty (or worse). Edlen banks his profit, of course.

Another financial coup for Mayor Creepy. What a town.

The City That Works -- Part-Time, in a Food Cart

"My ex-girlfriend decided she wanted to go to art school here and I wanted to leave Pennsylvania," he said....

"This seems to be a mecca for the misplaced half-cast rock-and-rollers," Gardiner says. "A lot of half-rican, halfie, half-black, half-white rockers out here and metal heads and punk rockers. I like that a lot. It seems to be that I chose the correct place to come if this is where we're all flocking to."

The whole thing is here. This is what the city's going broke turning itself into. Go by streetcar!

My confession

Forgive me, but I couldn't give a dang whether the Portland police bureau is or isn't in the Joint Terrorism Task Force. The chances of Portland's membership in that group ever making a difference in apprehending a terrorist seem nil. And the argument that membership in the task force somehow compromises the local police's devotion to civilians' personal liberties is equally ridiculous. In Portland, they'll kill you for looking at them funny -- but somehow they're going to stop short of illegally tapping your phone unless the evil feds make them do it?

While we're on the subject, the chances of Portland's unique mayor ever getting a security clearance from a serious organization also seem nil.

Portland sewer dollars for art projects -- illegal?

The latest city audit raises that interesting question, among others:

The revised City Code does not specifically state which City bureaus are required to participate in the Percent for Art program. Instead, the Code defines a participating bureau as "a City of Portland Bureau or Commission that funds an Improvement Project within the meaning of this Chapter." City Code states that sewer and water system construction fund and operating fund revenues are not eligible for Percent for Art. However, some Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) construction projects have included Percent for Art allocations. The public art piece shown below was funded as part of the BES Swan Island Pump Station. We looked into BES’ participation in the program because their contribution of sewer funds to Percent for Art seemed to be in conflict with this Code language.

BIG PIPE PORTAL: Making the Invisible Visible (2009)
Artist: Rhiza A + D
Funding: Percent for Art - City of Portland
Location: Swan Island

We discussed the situation with the City Attorney’s Office and learned that there are legal opinions on the use of sewer and water operating and construction fund revenue for art. According to the opinions, if an artwork meets certain conditions, one of which is meeting the "connected with" test (meaning that the art is somehow related to the operation of the sewer system), then the use of funds on art is appropriate. The opinion directs the bureau to document how projects meet the test before contributing money to art.

A BES business services manager told us that the bureau allocates money to Percent for Art from capital expenditures used to construct habitable facilities like offices or pump stations, but there is no bureau policy that outlines this practice. There was no documentation of how their Percent for Art allocations met the "connected with" test created before the allocations were made. RACC provided us with a policy last updated in 1994 on BES and Water participation in Percent for Art. RACC reported the policy was originally created when they were a City bureau, with the participation of BES.

The lack of clarity around sewer funds may result in confusion among BES staff about which projects should include a Percent for Art allocation. There may also be public confusion, since Code language suggests that these funds are not eligible and City Attorney opinions found their use allowable under certain conditions. Our concern that Percent for Art guidelines are unclear, a major issue from the 2005 audit, still exists today in the areas described above.

Our budget problems are over!

It's simple: Tax the Canadians.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Just another night, for these guys

[Via Casey Jarman.]

PDC head honcho candidates dropping off

None of the names still being tossed around for CEO of the Portland Development Commission seem right. On this one, we're expecting the unexpected.

SoWhat neighbors win a round on immigation jail

Fireman Randy must be beside himself, but apparently he's outvoted, at least for now. We are proud to have played a role in blowing the whistle on that particular stinker.

Forget "linchpin"

The new buzzword for looting the public treasury for private gain is "iconic."

Please make a note of it.

Don't bug me when I'm...

Funny interview of the Portland mayor in today's WW. It's obvious that they're letting him rehabilitate himself in the public eye. That's probably why they sprung his boy toy scandal on him during his first month in office -- to give him lots of time to get over it, and maybe send him a message early on to clean up his act. They lovingly endorsed him, after all.

Anyway, they hit a hot button when they reminded him of his fabricated "Mike and Jean" story. His response included:

Why did you guys go crazy over that? You are really in a bubble. You need to spend a day with me. I was on the corner here, and a woman—an artist—was talking with me about what she needs in terms of support for the arts. I get this all day long. These are tough times for people. And I’m very recognizable and they approach me with their needs and wishes and hopes and complaints. All day long. And I love it. Except Sunday afternoons...
Ah yes, Sunday afternoons -- a man needs time for other things besides work.

What has to be done

It's great that the folks down in Salem are focusing on the most crucial issues.

The new map

This one's a few weeks old, but if you're like us, you missed it -- and you shouldn't.

Judy's tip jar

Multnomah County commissioner Judy Shiprack -- whose ability to burn public money for personal benefit is already the stuff of legend -- had the county government pay her state bar dues.

Two years in a row.

Now that WW has called her out on it, she's paying it back. Not because it was wrong, but because "these are hard times."

Voters should pay Shiprack back when she's up for re-election next year. Maybe Merritt Paulson or Randy Leonard will give her a job.

Cancel everything

Snow is falling in Portland. Large white flakes, mixed in with rain. The snow is very cold. The rain is very wet. If the snow starts to stick to the ground, roads will become slippery, and it could become difficult to stop a vehicle. Or even to make it go.

Reporters are assembling on the Sylvan overpass. Tri-Met is about to stop all buses for three hours to chain them up. MAX light rail will, of course, stop functioning any minute.

Earl Blumenauer is holding a press conference to announce that he did not know it was going to snow.

Remain calm. Stay indoors, and away from windows. And of course, stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 for all the latest updates.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The hard measles

The Portland mainstream media have all gone nuts over the news that there's an infant up in Clark County with a case of the measles. Get vaccinated, they say. Good advice.

Fifty years ago, when I was a kid, there was no vaccine, and so we all got the measles, along with the mumps and the chickenpox. All of these "childhood diseases" were contagious as hell. There were two varieties of measles, which were not the same thing at all -- the German measles, which I think was rubella; and what the old folks called the hard measles, which I think is rubeola. The German measles were supposed to be really bad news for pregnant women, but they were a minor annoyance to the host compared with the hard measles, which apparently is what the child in Clark County has contracted.

The hard measles are some nasty stuff. In my case, it was the sickest I've ever been in my whole life. There have been a couple of wicked bouts with the flu over the years, but the measles take the cake. It almost killed me. I ran a fever of 105 for a while. I lost 10 pounds, which was a good 15% of my body weight. My hearing was damaged a little. The illness went on for quite a while, and they moved me out of the bedroom that I shared with my brother. You knew you were pretty sick when you wound up on mom and dad's bed.

But the strongest memory I have of the whole awful experience was that a parish priest came to the house to see me one night. Father Bob Piatkowski, I think it was. Things never progressed to the "last rites" stage, but a visit from the priest was a much bigger deal than one from the family doctor, Israel Bernstein, who made house calls to us kids on a fairly regular basis.

I don't remember too many details from the priest's visit. I'm sure I was high as a kite on the fever at the time. Eventually, it broke. My body fought it off. And my parents prayed their prayers of thanksgiving.

Five decades later, our thoughts and prayers go out to the little one with the measles, and his or her parents. May this episode pass with no need for a priest or the equivalent.


Let's hope that it doesn't come to this.

You do not need sleeping pills

You can just go here. Even the wonkiest among us probably can't plow all the way through that baby without nodding off.

For a much smoother version, that might actually keep you up a few minutes playing with it, try this.

But will you have to buy a hunting tag?

Over in South Dakota, if your wife's about to have an abortion you don't want her to have, and you can't bully her out of it, it may soon be legal for you to kill the doctor.

Auditors say not all is well at Portland City Hall

The City of Portland's audited financial statements for the year ended last June 30 have finally come out, and the auditors don't like everything they see. In a letter appended to the very end of the mind-numbing 339-page document, the outside reviewers make several findings of "material weakness" and "significant deficiencies" that they say violate state standards:

The City lacks the appropriate communication between the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and the Office of Management and Finance (OMF) with regard to intergovernmental grant agreements (IGA’s) for the construction of capital assets sufficient for OMF to know the proper timing for recognition of capital assets covered in the IGA’s in the financial statements....

The City lacks adequate controls over the review and reconciliation of payroll related accrual accounts necessary to identify errors and to make timely adjustments where necessary.

The Portland Housing Bureau did not observe established controls over Housing and Urban Development Section 108 loans. As a result, loan transactions and outstanding balances at year-end were not properly recognized in the financial statements.

The City lacks adequate communication and related controls with the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services and the Portland Water Bureau sufficient to allow for the proper classification of cash and investments between restricted and unrestricted and between current and non-current assets; classification of short-term debt as long-term when it is issued as interim financing and repaid with long-term debt; and net asset classification between invested in capital assets, restricted, and unrestricted.

Lots of big bucks sloshing around, and some weak accounting practices. Sounds like a recipe for mistakes, or worse.

Here comes stagflation

Prices can't be held back forever. Jobs, though? Maybe.

Obama drives platinum spike for Milwaukie MAX

It looks as though the psychedelic mystery train to nowhere is a done deal. The White House has $200 million in the federal budget for it, no doubt thanks to Earl the Pearl and the other delirious light rail nuts.

The pointlessness of this project on every level is breathtaking, but at this point there's no sense even wishing that it will go away any more. What a pity for our city and our region. The latest ladle of unctuous federal pork now gives the Tri-Met Goldschmidters all the more incentive to dismantle the bus system, which actually, you know, serves the people who live in Portland now. Here's a memo showing that Tri-Met is about to steal $13 million from a state bus acquisition fund and hand it over to the Milwaukie light rail project:

Staff, under the direction of Director Garrett and Deputy Director Bohard, had crafted an ODOT funding package that, in combination with FTA funds and other matching funds, would fill the last “gap” in local funding for the $1.5 billion project.... Under this proposal, TriMet would receive approximately $13 million, and would agree to refrain from requesting Capital Bus Program funds for bus purchases for the next three biennia, and would have funding responsibilities for the McLoughlin sidewalk project if the light rail project came in under the estimate.
To paraphrase Marie Antoinette, "Let them ride bikes."

The White House budget announcement also illustrates well the tragedy of our country's doomed economy. Print federal money and use it to buy junk -- what a strategy. No doubt waste like this is slated nationwide.

Teach your children well -- how to speak Chinese. Or buy them some gold bars to pay for the $20 loaves of bread they'll be buying. One way or the other, Magic Federal Money™ is going to be painfully expensive in the long run. Go by streetcar, indeed.

It's for the children

Your gas tax, that is, if the new-old governor has his way.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Welches con man getting around

Two sightings in as many nights. Readers write:

... spotted last night at the Division Street New Seasons.

Five seconds into his pitch, I recognized him from your blog, so thank you. At the very least you spared us from enduring what would have probably been a lengthy performance.

Immediately after he said "Welches" I interrupted him with "Don't you know you're featured on a blog? You're infamous!" Then we rolled up the window and drove away.

I have to tell you though, he sounded very authentic/sincere.


David from Welches... Saw him at Sandy Hut tonight. Waitress says he comes in pretty often. I'd try to write a story myself but I'm too close -- he took me for 20 bucks some time ago!

If they're ever hard up for sketch ideas for "Portlandia" (which we doubt), the Welches con man has got to be right up their alley.

Another one bites the dust

The great jazz pianist George Shearing has left us.

Stacey caves; it looks like Babs for Metro

He says he'll run for the seat when it opens up next year. Sounds as though the rest of the commission will be less than thrilled if he makes it.

Cha-ching! Your tax and tuition dollars at work

The media has duly noted that Governor Retread won't be living in the official gubernatorial mansion in Salem -- at least, not much. Does that mean that he'll get a housing allowance for his love pad in Portland?

If not, he's not doing as well as the chancellor of the state university system, George PER[n]Steiner, who gets both free use of a mansion in Eugene (which apparently costs around 50 grand a year just to maintain) and a $26,000-a-year stipend to pay for his other house in Portland. On top of his $280,000 salary, $36,000 expense account, and all the state employee pension you can eat. Nice work if you can get it.

OnPoint saw profit cut in half in 2010

Our quarterly look at the financials of OnPoint Community Credit Union, designed to give us a picture of the state of the Portland-area economy, reveals a tough year in 2010 but a stable fourth quarter.

OnPoint's net income for 2010 was $13,871,613, down 51.19% from $28,419,382 in 2009. Operating expenses jumped from $56,459,380 in 2009 to $75,317,579 in 2010 -- a 33.4% increase. This included a 77.13% increase ($2,743,397) in premiums and expenses relating to the nationwide insurance system that backs up credit unions, including rescuing weak ones. Another part of OnPoint's decreased profit was the $22,514,914 in loans it wrote off in 2010, compared with $19,378,445 in 2009 -- a 16.19% increase.

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

Item12/31/099/30/1012/31/10Quarterly increase (decrease)12-month increase (decrease)
Total investments$432,665,342$625,128,631$625,611,2730.08%44.59%
Federal agency securities$285,152,450$505,421,759$517,311,7412.35%81.42%
Total reportable delinquency - total delinquent loans$22,551,519$29,353,063$28,623,943(2.48%)26.93%
Total reportable delinquency - indirect lending$4,449,517$3,055,264$2,522,542(17.44%)(43.31%)
Total outstanding loan balances subject to bankruptcies$29,565,449$25,828,172$18,544,050(28.2%)(37.28%)
Ratio of delinquent loans to total loans (percent)1.061.461.45    
Ratio of total delinquent loans to net worth (percent)8.7311.0410.52   

Delinquent loans are those delinquent for two months or more.

In the fourth quarter of 2010, deposits decreased from $2,488,675,931 to $2,473,555,611 -- a 0.61% decrease and a second consecutive down quarter. Deposits at the end of 2009 were $2,381,752,154, and thus for the year 2010, deposits were up 3.85%.

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

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

Continue reading "OnPoint saw profit cut in half in 2010" »

Free, legal music downloads

Just three tracks a week, but that will keep some of us busy. Another benefit of our local library card. [Via the O.]

Shaming the Goldschmidt people by name

Fred Leonhardt, one-time speechwriter for disgraced former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt, has spent many years of his life telling the world about Goldschmidt's prolonged sexual abuse of a teenaged girl while he was mayor of Portland -- and about how people in the extensive Goldschmidt network knew what was going on, or had gone on, and didn't blow the whistle.

Yesterday the Eugene paper published a provocative op-ed article by Leonhardt. In it, he lists many prominent Portlanders whom he regards with disgust because of their closeness to Goldschmidt, and at least some of their complicity in, or condoning of, the former guv's sorry misdeeds.

Here are the names mentioned in the article, in the order in which they appear:

Vera Katz
Mike Schrunk
Rabbi Manny Rose
Bob Burtchaell
Alan Webber
Homer Williams
Earl Blumenauer
Ted Kulongoski

Of course, that is just the tip of a large iceberg of Portland big shots, all of whom should reflect on these words:

For the privilege of being in on "The Deal"; for the money made from corporate takeovers, condo developments and light rail extensions; for the cushy executive position with all the perks; for the high political office; for the entry to the Arlington Club; for the skids greased and the backs scratched; for nothing more than an occasional pat on the head from the Great Man himself; for a young girl’s life — the best and the brightest looked the other way.

There was no conspiracy of silence. People talked. People knew. Instead, there was a conspiracy of indifference — which is far worse.

They still attend parties in his honor. To this day, they are lost without him telling them what to do. "People like Neil don’t come along very often," former Gov. Ted Kulongoski reminds us.

Fred Leonhardt is obviously a tortured soul. But he's doing his darnedest to make sure that the big slimeball behind it all never shows his face in public life again, even though his victim is now dead and buried.

While we continue to suffer the "leadership" of Goldschmidt's cronies, who continue to run the state, we should be grateful to Leonhardt for his vigilance. There must never be a comeback of Neil Goldschmidt himself, and you wouldn't put it past him to try. No outrage is beyond that guy and his many shameless servants.

Make up your own joke

Portland city employees are about to lose their right to smell good.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The big picture

Our weekend started off on a rough note, as we discovered that the monitor on the main computer at blog headquarters had died overnight the night before. It was an oldie but a goodie -- a CTX purchased used for $15 three years ago, and seemingly going strong -- but its power supply finally conked out. We tried different power cords, but to no avail -- we couldn't even get the on-off indicator light to come on. Tot.

It wasn't as if we were cut off from the outside world. We have three other PCs and two iPhones in the house. But as some of our best stuff is on the mothership computer and none of the others, having no monitor on the big one was disruptive.

And so hi ho, hi ho, it's off to Free Geek we would go.

We dropped off the dead screen and threw five bucks in the jar to cover their time and trouble. It's quite the beehive of activity down there these days. All sorts of staffers running around, and our "donation" took all of about two minutes. We checked their thrift store to see if they had a suitable replacement, but they had only a bunch of smaller screens. We'd gotten used to about 21 inches, and so retreating to a little guy was out of the question.

As we sat in the car and searched around on our iPhone for the nearest Best Buy, a light went off in our head. What about Costco?

Sure enough, our big box warehouse buddies had a nice candidate, for about $280. We were tinkering around with the back of the display model, looking to see what kind of connector it took, when we accidentally disconnected the power to it. Along came some friendly Costco types to stop us from doing any more damage, and in the course of getting the monitor hooked back up, one of them mentioned that we could get a similar display device, with a TV tuner in it to boot, for just 10 more dollars.

It's been years since we thought about this sort of thing, and we were a little incredulous about the dual-purpose unit actually working. But Costco Man assured us that it would satisfy our computing needs, as well as providing us with our first HDTV. Sold.

It is a Vizio M260MV -- a 26-inch LCD LED HDTV. Whatever that means.

We got it home and hooked it up, and lo and behold, it does indeed function quite nicely in both capacities.

Getting the new unit up and running took some time, due to a comedy of errors. The TV connection worked great, but we couldn't get the output of the computer to display. The Vizio kept telling us "No Signal." We called in to an extremely polite, helpful, native-English-speaker Vizio customer support center, and the folks down there (in Salt Lake City) helped us troubleshoot the issue.

Their first instinct was that our computer was set to a screen resolution that the Vizio couldn't handle. We would need to change that. But without a working monitor, of course, we couldn't see what we were doing on the computer. Therefore, we had to unhook a monitor from another computer and hook it up to the mothership to change the resolution.

The other monitor we chose for this role was hard to disconnect, and it had a cord that was quite short, and so we had to situate it on the floor next to the computer tower, which sits under our desk. Not the easiest thing to do, and when it was hooked up, it wasn't the easiest thing to see, either. Our lower back, which was still squawking a bit from a burst of yard work last weekend, wasn't pleased.

To make matters worse, changing the resolution wasn't working. Every time we disconnected the working monitor and reconnected the Vizio, we still got "No Signal." And when we reconnected the working monitor, somehow our Windows Vista computer had reset to a higher resolution than the one we were trying to test.

Continue reading "The big picture" »

Ex-hoops journeyman a star behind the wheel

This is old news, but I completely missed it. Did you know that one of the original Portland Trail Blazers now drives a Tri-Met bus down in Tigard? And does it well -- Driver of the Year, no less.

His oats got too wild

The CEO of the Year is in a heap of trouble. We suspect there will be few tears shed for him in Portland.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Busted for gaming Google

And J.C. Penney is now paying the price.

We held the day in the palm of our hands

That Vietnam-era veterans' memorial that we stumbled upon in Canby last summer is in the news tonight -- about to get a bronze sculpture that will complete the installation. The local folks seem to care a lot about that place.

Setting the bar

The thing with Apple products is, they simply work.

Somebody else gets it

You have to plow through the feel-good fluffy part of this post to get to it, but there it is when you scroll down:

"We're painting ourselves into a bizarre corner where we're not able to maintain our streets, we're not able to maintain the buses and the trains that we have out there, and we're focused on cutting ribbons in front of new rail projects," Taylor says.

He's skeptical that streetcars are the urban transit solution they're touted to be. "If the investment is tied in effectively to the rest of the transit system, it can be a very effective investment," he says. "If it's not — and there are cases where it has not been — then it's not."

View from the street

Here's an idea about how to curb drug trafficking in Portland's Old Town: Put some food carts, a couple of cops, and some mental health outreach workers on the affected streets. Sounds worth a try.

As our cities go bankrupt...

... the Paulsons of the world will be right there to make a buck off the collapse.

The dream of the '90s is alive, cont'd

Now the bike maps are in Burmese.

You can't make this stuff up.

At the depot

My friends -- No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe every thing. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you and be every where for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Have a great weekend

What's Twitter got to do with it?

Usually, less than the media and pundits suggest.

Someone's planning, Lord, kumbaya

The latest issue of Portland Curbsider is out. This newsletter from the City of Portland usually helps us all figure out which bin to put which type of trash in, but this time around, it's got much bigger ambitions.

Check out the first half of the thing. It's a textbook example of precious planner psychobabble -- page after page of platitudes. "What kind of Portland do we want?" If you could be a twee, what kind of twee would you be?

We hold ourselves accountable, so that the benefits and burdens of our actions are equitably shared across communities...

Achieving equity will be a priority and part of all the strategies and actions in the Portland Plan — from education, housing and economic prosperity to transportation, sustainability and public health. Addressing chronic racial and ethnic disparities requires specific action, such as the development of a racial and ethnic justice and accountability initiative...

A network of safe and attractive sidewalks, bikeways, trails and neighborhood greenways that connect people to nature and neighborhood destinations...

More Portlanders are leading active lifestyles and can easily get to thriving local business hubs, schools, parks and transit on safe sidewalks, trails and streets...

Excuse me, which week was yard debris pickup again?

On page 4, they've got some great news: Having people throw food scraps in with yard debris cuts landfill garbage by 30%! Yeah, and they're going to cut landfill garbage pickups by 50%. Probably jack up the price, too. What fun.

Anyway, to round out the absurdity, on the back of the newsletter is a survey designed to make it appear that Mayor Escalofriante and Sustainable Susan give a darn about your everyday problems, like potholes, poor street lighting, dilapidated parks, and the like. Ha! Ha! Whatever you write on that paper, you know what the City Hall solution will be -- streetcars, nasty infill, drainage ditches bioswales, and bike boulevards.

It’s not possible to immediately fix all problems, but the survey below gives you another way to inform the City’s budget decisions and priorities. In these tough economic times, many Portlanders have trimmed household budgets, and the City is doing the same.
Too, too funny. Go by streetcar! And above all, remember:
To create and enhance a vibrant city, BPS combines the disciplines of planning and sustainability to advance Portland’s diverse and distinct neighborhoods, promote a prosperous and low-carbon economy, and help ensure that people and the natural environment are healthy and integrated into the cityscape.

BPS provides a forum for community engagement and education, and is a catalyst for action. With a city full of partners, BPS develops creative and practical solutions on issues as far ranging as comprehensive, neighborhood and environmental planning, urban design, waste reduction and recycling, energy efficiency and solar technologies.

This innovative, interdisciplinary approach strengthens Portland’s position as an international model of sustainable development practices and commerce.

The PC police get up even closer in your face

Now they're going to send you a "report card" on how your neighbors are using less energy than you.

We have two words for these people, and they aren't "go green." They make us want to crank everything up and burn more, just to spite them.

Worthy of the Jada Mae

Over at Street Roots, they've been taking nominations for various honors that they will be bestowing on members of the community this spring. One of them is --

Jada Mae Langloss Rabble Rouser of the Year: Given to a citizen that has created real change in the community through community activism and standing up in the face of adversity.
That one is named after a late, legendary figure on the Portland political scene, who didn't let adversity of all kinds get her down.

A reader of this blog sent in a nomination for that prize. She wrote:

This is to nominate Jason Renaud for the Jada Mae Langloss award.

Jason is one of the most dedicated agitators for the human rights of the downtrodden in Portland's history. Good things that probably would not have happened without his hard work include the creation and momentum of the advocacy organization, Mental Health Association of Portland, and the film, Alien Boy. He is a constant voice for people experiencing both homelessness and metal illness, which are, to use the poetic wonky jargon, "highly comorbid."

Jason deserves this award, because like Jada, he forever keeps pushing, and because, like Jada, he gives agitating a good name.

We couldn't agree more.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Legendary pro hoops coach Jerry Sloan is newly unemployed... Blazers coach Nate McMillan is in the last year of his contract in Portland...

Trade mission update, Day 2

VALENCIA, Spain (Reuters) -- A pivotal meeting between Portland, Oregon's trade delegation and executives from a Spanish company was postponed this morning due to a medical emergency at the firm's headquarters here. Paramedics were summoned when the international vice president of Iberdrola, Amparo Moraleda Martinez, collapsed after choking on a breakfast churro. Office workers managed to perform the Heimlich maneuver and revive Moraleda, who was taken to a local hospital as a precaution.

"She was turning blue," said Julian Martinez-Simancas Sanchez, the company's general secretary. "It was fortunate that we had people around who knew what to do. She's going to be o.k."

According to witnesses, Moraleda inadvertently inhaled a portion of her pastry in a fit of laughter after her assistant told her that the mayor of Portland and the head of that city's development commission had dropped by to encourage the company to keep its American headquarters in the Oregon city, rather than moving it to Chicago. "I told her they were here, and she asked me to repeat what I had just said," said the assistant, Esperanza Garcia-Rojo. "I told her again, and then she burst out laughing -- really loud belly laughs. I've never seen her like that. Hot cocoa flew out of her nose, and then she started choking."

It was unclear if the meeting with the American officials would take place later in the day. One Iberdrola official who spoke on condition of remaining anonymous said that the Portland delegation may need to make their case to Iberdrola officials at the company's renewable energy offices in Glasgow, Scotland.

For quiet rebel, a day of reckoning

Here's a guy who made a lot of trouble over a public land giveaway to the usual suspects in the oil and gas industries. Did he block a road? Chain himself to a fence? Climb up a tree and refuse to come down?

None of the above.

In a burst of creativity, he showed up at the Bureau of Land Management's lease auction and starting bidding. Making bids he couldn't pay, of course. It was an act of peaceful protest.

Now, facing 10 years in the federal slammer, Tim DeChristopher is apparently refusing any plea deal. His lawyers will argue a "necessity" defense, and hope for a sympathetic jury, when the criminal trial begins two weeks from Monday. But good luck -- it's in Utah. And outside the courthouse will apparently be a media circus about climate change. Robert Redford, the whole works. If DeChristopher's found guilty, a harried judge may be in a hanging mood.

On one web page supporting the defendant, there is written, "People pay attention when others make sacrifices." True words. But let's hope this guy's sacrifice isn't too major.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Countdown in Yacolt

Tonya Harding's going to have her baby boy any minute now.

Shocker in Salt Lake City

Jerry Sloan has abruptly left his seemingly eternal head coaching position with the Utah Jazz. Their loss.

Will Cogen do the right thing?

It's baaaaaaaaack -- the utterly senseless Portland Convention Center hotel project.

This zombie just won't die. Tom Potter and Ted Wheeler laid it to rest when they were mayor and county chair, respectively. But now the developers' puppet, Mayor Creepy, will be bringing it back strong on the city side. Will the new county chair, Jeff Cogen, follow in his predecessor's footsteps and wisely, firmly say no to this colossal waste of scarce money? We're hoping so, but not betting on it.

A government p.r. tour de force

It's like 142 press releases all rolled into one.

Cop says new "Portland loo" is "Randy's crack house"

It would be funny if it weren't true. Even sadder is the fact that Portland can't even afford to have a car with two cops in it dedicated to Old Town. What a town it's becoming. Go by streetcar!

Trade mission update

The mayor of Portland has reportedly arrived in Valencia, where he hopes to meet with Iberdrola officials in the morning. After checking into his hotel, he headed out to perform some field research on multi-modal commuting choices and sustainability.

Too big to fit under the rug

One Portand police sergeant's goonish behavior gets called out by the police review board. Said board consisting of "the sergeant's commander, assistant chief, a peer of same rank, a community member and the director of the Independent Police Review Division or a designee." If we're counting correctly, that's four cops and one civilian.

And of course:

Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, said, "We totally support Sgt. Nice and will use every resource for the best outcome."
They should start with a periodic drug test -- including for steroids.

Babs for Metro

This place just gets loonier and loonier.

Trade mission update

Reports from Spain are that the mayor of Portland showed up at Iberdrola headquarters in Bilbao this morning, only to find out that the people he needs to talk to are in Valencia. He then adjourned to an undisclosed location for some private business.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

London '68

Here's a beautiful interview of James Taylor on the subject of a fellow named John Lennon.

I can't wait

Vin Scully calling Dodger games on my car radio. It's been 34 years since I had that privilege.

Doctor No may not have changed much

Just as the Portland public schools launch two property tax ballot measures, the governor says local school taxes are a bad idea. Is his preferred alternative to let the school system collapse, and then run to the rescue with a sales tax? Good luck with that.

What's in a name?

Back in Fort Wayne, Indiana, it is a sack of woe.

What? Only 1 out of 20?

Portland cracks the list of best food carts in the country -- but just barely. And only on the second team!

In any event, congratulations to Solar Waffle Works, wherever it is -- "too cool for the web," but no doubt somewhere in the close-in northeast part of town.

Where washerwomen toiled

They're turning the historic Yale Union Laundry Building at SE 10th and Morrison into an art gallery. Portland city commissioner Nick Fish got the tour last week.

Two thirds of Portland "clean money" goes back where it came from

According to this report, of the $500,000 the City of Portland has lying around from its failed "voter-owned elections" fantasy, "at least $340,000" will go back to the city bureaus it was extracted from. The other 160,000 clams is apparently going to pay for new handicapped-accessible doors on City Hall.

Anything's better than handing it over to the next John Branam or Jesse Cornett to fritter away playing politician.

Get police misconduct issues out of union contract

So says this recipe for reform being offered in Seattle. (And a most thoughtful article overall.)

The sheep have all been fleeced

If like us, you've noticed that the real estate development scams have left the City of Roses and are infiltrating the suburbs, here's further confirmation that the pool of suckers for central city shenanigans has dried up. The crown princes of Portland pork, Homer Williams and Dike Dame, have pulled out of their latest deal with the sharpies up on Pill Hill (and their real-estate-obsessed poor cousins at Portland State) because the two developers can't come up with the $10 million that they were supposed to put into it. Apparently their backing out means that the latest "linchpin" down in the failed SoWhat District will be only seven stories of worthlessness instead of eight. Go by streetcar!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pioneer Place keeps emptying out

Now one of our favorite stores, Twist, has left the building. When stalwarts like that desert downtown, something's seriously wrong. Go by streetcar!

Flame warrior loses job

That commercial realtor who thought he'd mess anonymously with Allan Classen at Northwest Examiner now finds himself looking for new work. Well deserved.

Emergency! Mayor Escalofriante rushes off to Spain

Wonder if he will actually show up for the meetings this time.

It isn't just Borders

Changing times also hit closer to home.

It's the principle of the thing... not

The White House continues to baffle us. After caving completely to minority Republicans in the Senate on taxes, now the President is suddenly going to defy generations of tradition and start nominating federal judges over the objections of the senators from the states in which the judges are to sit. Yeah, like that's going anywhere.

On the waterfront

On my old stomping grounds in Hoboken, N.J., they're finding out that trendy is expensive, as recent mobster public works construction is already falling apart. Meanwhile, under the river, Magic Federal Money™ is now expected to bring a dead rail tunnel project back to life. Bank of China is standing by with the cash, no doubt. Hey, everybody, payroll tax holiday!

No static at all

You're holding this thing next to your head, and it's sending a radio signal to a tower a half-mile away. Think it might be doing something to your brain? This guy thinks it's worth discussing.

Portland's transportation plan: everything but cars

With the mayor's former Chief of Tweets in charge.

Please, Lord, only two more years of these people.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Roy G. Biv and his brother

A gorgeous double rainbow has appeared over the south side of Portland. Looks and feels like April out there today.

Today's tax tip

Don't pay property taxes on property that you know doesn't exist.

Badmouthing Evraz

Now that the company is bailing on downtown Portland, downtown's greatest cheerleader, the O, casts it in a negative light. Think the paper would have done that if the Russians were doubling their office space in Portland?

The real Aliki

Actually, there are three of them, doing their part to keep it weird.

The creatives' best pal

Here's a funny one. Portland's happening mayor is now the "curator," on behalf of the city, of a Kickstarter page. He's hawking everything from bamboo notebooks to a junket to Cancun to electrocute some sea creatures.

No sign of how much that is costing the city's taxpayers.

What's even more amusing is that the city is now claiming intellectual property rights on its official seal:

If anybody else uses that seal in a way that might confuse consumers, the city will sue the pants off them. But who else is sufficiently like the city that the public might be confused?

Getting it right

Oregon Rep. Lew Frederick's got some great ideas in this bill that he's introducing in the current legislative session. He explains:

It expands access to mental health support for officers involved in incidents in which use of force resulted in serious injury or death.

It mandates testing of officers for controlled substances and steroids immediately following involvement in such incidents.

It calls for immediate investigation of such incidents, overseen by the Department of Justice. This is to address the appearance of conflict of interest where local jurisdictions investigate themselves or their immediate colleagues.

It calls for regular, mandatory psychological evaluations of police officers. This is an attempt to remove the stigma and real or perceived danger of career repercussions attached to seeking assistance. It recognizes that police work is inherently stressful, and that those who take it on should be supported.

Cue the unions: "We can't have this! The world will end!"

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mmmmm... hash

The Huffy is being bought by AOL! Could it kill them both?

Cafe Doomed

Here's a business plan: Let's max out some credit cards and open a coffee shop on Hawthorne!

Of course it won't work. But this gal is trying it. And the O is quite intent on publicizing her efforts. Two stories in a month.

Is it to make her former employer, Willamette Week, look bad somehow? Hard to tell. But the bad blood between those two publications isn't healthy for either of them.

Some Jesus with your Aaron Rodgers?

Nope. (And not with your Steely Dan on KINK, either.)

Let's stay together

Not so easy to do in the 'Couv, apparently.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The obvious questions

Who will win the Super Bowl?

Which team are you rooting for?

For us, those are both tough calls. The Pack has momentum, but the Steelers are as solid as they come. And it's so great to see two old-time blue-collar teams make it all the way to the limelight -- it's hard for an old Giants fan to lean one way or the other.

Given the soft spot we have for the memories of the first Super Bowl -- played on our 13th birthday -- we'll go with Green Bay, both as our rooting interest and as our prediction. Max McGee, baby!

And if the Packers' score should end in a 4, while the Steelers' score ends in a 1... well, all the better.

Soak the poor: Cogen wants a sales tax

Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen soiled his progressive credentials yesterday calling for a sales tax. Sales taxes are often said to be unfair to the poor, since rich and poor pay the same tax rate without regard to their ability to pay. Progressive-rate income taxes are said to be fairer, in that the more able to pay the taxpayer is, the higher the rate of tax that is imposed.

Of course, Oregon's income tax is not model of progressivity, with taxpayers marching up to the 9% level at a mere $7,650 of taxable income (twice that on a joint return of a married couple). But putting a sales tax on top of that would make the system even less progressive.

Speaking of sales taxes, here's a study showing the sales tax rates across the country. Washington State is fifth-highest; Oregon is one of four states down at the bottom with zero.

It's just a click away

Our friend Frank, whose deep appreciation of rock music comes from years of building and playing guitars, sent us an interesting link yesterday. He wanted us to check out this deconstructed version of the Rolling Stones' recording of the song "Gimme Shelter." It's pretty remarkable, particularly Keith Richards's searing lead guitar work. If only our mind heard music that way.

Noodling around the site, we also came upon an isolation of James Jamerson's bass line on the Four Tops' "Standing in the Shadows of Love." James was simply out of his mind -- on this and countless other Motown tracks -- and we teens of the time all benefited.

A hat tip across the miles to Frank.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Have a great weekend

Tri-Met advertising for a new p.r. flack

The salary could run as high as $64,984 a year. Plus benefits, no doubt. Oh, the Tweets you'll Tweet!

$30,500 damages for more Portland police brutality

Trigger-happy Tasing and dubious courtroom testimony cost the taxpayers again.

Silver lining: At least the cop didn't kill the guy.

UPDATED, 4:55 p.m.: Headline corrected after KGW fixed its screwup.

Gatsby gets it, cont'd

Old Ron Wyden is really going to bat for a free internet. This letter is drawing praise, and rightly so, from those who object to the intellectual property bullying that's been going on, aided and abetted by the federal government.

God bless The Onion

Their parodies are so realistic.

Let's put it all together

Maybe the Democrats and the Republicans can bury the hatchet and join in denouncing "job-killing climate change."

It's hard to believe that our nation is so soft that now it's blaming its sick economy on the weather. Stand by -- we're sure it will be too hot to hire people in July, too.

"Don't give our tax dollars to Paul Allen"

We think that's a pretty accurate, albeit rough, translation of this, the latest citizen objection to the "urban renewal" juggernaut. Of course, if they're addressing the city's truth-challenged mayor -- who with his developer overlord fabricated a completely bogus story about a Costco store in the area to throw the world off guard -- they're wasting their breath. He doesn't listen.

Wrecking balls on the couplet

As "vintage" buildings come down, architects kvetch.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

You're not anonymous on the internet

As this fellow has found out. [Via WW.]

Next Portland dingbat idea on its way from Texas?

A reader in the Lone Star State writes:

The city of Austin is just as financially screwed-up as Portland (and with it being the state capital, it's directly affected by our $30 billion deficit and the draconian cuts being put to the state to pay for George W. Bush's and current Governor Rick Perry's games), and the city is too busy worrying about renaming its Solid Waste Services department. Even better, someone decided to let the general public vote:


This gave me flashbacks to 25 years ago, when the State of Wisconsin decided that all other problems in the universe had been solved, and it was time to vote for various "official state" insanity. Official state dog (the water spaniel), the official state fossil (the trilobite), etcetera. The state finally went too far by opening up a write-in vote for a replacement for the old "America's Dairyland" license plate logo: The whole plan was dropped when the winner, by a six-to-one margin, was "Eat Cheese And Die."

Not to say that Sam and Randy won't jump all over this. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the ballot box was stuffed with votes for naming the next bioswale for Sam. Considering that most of Portland's hipster trends first saw life in Austin, it's just a matter of time.

More tax giveaways for apartment bunkers

And get this -- the legislature's also proposing to exempt the commercial operations on the ground floors of the buildings from property taxes, too. Just what cash-starved Oregon government needs -- tax-exempt Subway shops and liquor stores. Let's hope there are still some adults in the Salem crowd, and they promptly kill this stinker.

Fireman Randy sees pot of money

And of course, he grabs for it.

Developers pack house, get their way in Oregon City

They get hundreds of people to show up and say, "Please don't give us a chance to vote on giving our tax money to the California real estate sharpies! Please commit to giving them the money now!" And so the politicians basically hand it over.

Guess the folks down that way have money to burn -- or think their kids will. They now will get what they deserve -- a lovely shopping mall, and less police, fire, and education. What next? Maybe a streetcar.

The Trib at 10

Portland's newest newspaper is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week. Here's a story essentially patting itself on the back for all the stories it has broken over the decade of its existence.

Although the Tribune did not fulfill every hope that it enkindled when it started, there is no doubt that its presence has done the city a lot of good. Our hat's off today to owner Bob Pamplin, the current staff of the paper, and the many great writers who contributed to the publication's first 10 years. Of all the charitable gifts Pamplin has made in his long career, the Trib is by far his best.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fine print on Portland cop drug testing: not for steroids

Which, of course, are one of the biggest problems -- if not the biggest problem.

It would also be interesting to know whether the limited random testing they are implementing is going to be pre-announced or not. And it would be nice if there were automatic testing after use of deadly force or serious injury -- which apparently there isn't going to be.

Half a loaf is better than none, but this may be only a bag of seasoned bread crumbs. If the Sam-Rand Twins tell you something's "historic," the presumption is that it isn't, really.

UPDATE, 2/3, 8:45 a.m.: Here's an update to our original bumper sticker on the subject:

Back to school

Reporter Ryan Frank is leaving the O to go be the publisher of the daily student newspaper at the U of O. Frank, who was the O's Portland City Hall reporter for a short stint, always cut the ruling class of developer shills a lot of slack -- far too much slack -- but at least he never fell all the way down to the Randy Gragg pretention level. One wonders what will happen now, with probably an even less experienced person in the crucial City Hall position. A new kid will be eaten alive, and there aren't many old hands left as the O gradually disintegrates.

Why they have to meet every year

The State of Oregon is headed for financial collapse, but it's nice to see our legislature stepping up and tackling the tough issues.

Ring! Cell phone spam from Super Carole

A reader writes:

I have a 1st grader in Portland Public School, so they have my cell number to contact me in an emergency (as we don't have a land line any more). Since the November "School Bond" robo-call I have gotten a couple of "reminder" calls about late starts, etc. Not crucial, but I don't resent them and I recognize their relevance to my son.

Yesterday, the latest robo-call was to inform me/everyone about "3 exciting and informative upcoming workshops". These were: 1. the changes at Jefferson, 2. "The teenage brain" at King and 3. "Guiding good choices" at Ockley Green for 4 to 8th graders.

First, those aren't my son's schools, and my wife and I, as parents of a 7-year old, aren't their target. Furthermore, I absolutely don't want a phone call about every idea that came into someone's head at all of the organizations we are associated with. Sorry PPS, it's not about you -- it's about our desire to not be interrupted constantly.

I feel like giving up my phone number was for legitimate attendance issues and emergency contact only, specific to my son or about his school or some other district-wide emergency. Definitely time-sensitive information. PPS seems to think of this as just a pipeline for sending mundane marketing and other non-crucial stuff.

This morning I called and left a message for Communications Director Robb Cowie to explain/defend their policy and their criteria for putting out such messages.

It's my feeling that all marketing messages should be opt-in only, otherwise it is unwelcome SPAM. I don't think I should have had to ask them to not abuse the system -- they are adults and should recognize that its importance should be respected and not abused. It's like blasting the Civil Defense sirens to celebrate someone's birthday. Eventually enough people stop listening and there goes the point of the whole thing.

There are too many p.r. people in government in Oregon. Waaaayyy too many.

The real estate developer mindset

The builders of the Portland area never cease to amaze. They have a stunning sense of entitlement to taxpayer money. And when someone suggests that perhaps the taxpayers should be allowed to vote on the latest handout to them, the developers stomp around expressing righteous indignation.

The latest chapter is playing itself out over a proposed shopping mall in sleepy Oregon City:

Requiring voter approval of bonds could scuttle a nearly completed deal with the CenterCal Properties, developer of The Rivers, a retail center that comes with the promise of a Cabela's sporting goods outlet and 1,500 permanent jobs.

The mall would be built on a former landfill. CenterCal is seeking $17.6 million in urban renewal money to deal with environmental and soil problems but would not receive the money until the mall is open and 80 percent leased.

CenterCal and the urban renewal commission were close to a deal when City Commissioner Jim Nicita introduced the voter-approval requirement last month. CenterCal President Fred Bruning has long been frustrated by Nicita's opposition and the city's divided stance on the project. Bruning has been silent since stating last month that he's ready to pull the plug....

Ed Darrow, who is developing The Cove, a residential-commercial project near the landfill, said he would not have spent the initial $2 million needed to jump-start the project had if he faced voter-approved financing. If the measure passes, Darrow warned, "you're going to push developers away."

Scott Parker, whose family owns the former landfill, said a few vocal elected and appointed officials in Oregon City "are trying to rob the citizens of this opportunity." If the measure passes, it will be time to post signs that say "the city is no longer open for business," Parker said.

So go ahead and put up the signs. That kind of business, the city is much better without.

Trees are untouchable -- unless City Hall doesn't like them

We see that the City of Portland is pushing hard for its proposed new holier-than-thou tree rules. It will eventually get to the point that you can't build your kids a tree house in their own back yard without paying the Sam Rand Twins some money and putting up with their arrogant 20-something-year-old all-knowing City Hall minions.

Funny thing: When private parties own trees in Portland, every plant is sacred. But when a tree gets in the way of some pet program that the city is ramming through, down it goes in the wink of an eye.

For an example, take the scene up in Mount Tabor Park in the southeast part of town. Somebody in the parks bureau decided that the vegetation running up the slopes of the extinct volcano wasn't "native" enough, and so they've been chainsawing and Roundupping up a storm as part of "restoring" the natural order:

The project will remove non-native, invasive vegetation, restore native trees, shrubs and grasses and control erosion in natural areas. Removing invasive plants and planting native plants in Mt. Tabor Park will enhance watershed health by improving stormwater management and habitat, just as Tabor to the River green streets do in urban areas....

View the journal to see 'before and after' photographs of sites around the park where nuisance trees and invasive plants and shrubs have been removed.

See that? "Nuisance trees"! Such a concept.

But the goofball non-native gums and plums that are breaking up the sidewalk in front of your house every five years are not "nuisances," though -- oh no, you had better not touch those, or even look at them funny, if you don't want Fireman Randy throwing you in the clink.

Over our way, they're about to blow all kinds of money turning Klickitat Street into a bike boulevard. It's been a fine street for cyclists all along, but the two-wheel crazies at City Hall can't just leave it as the excellent bike thoroughfare it already is -- they have to put in all the curb bubbles and signage and bioswales and other needless garbage that make some favored contractor wealthier and get the mayor's picture in The New York Times for something other than reckless driving. (And this being Blumenauer Fantasy Land, they remove a bunch of parking spaces for the cars of the regular Joes of the neighborhood, of course.)

The official description of the busy work includes this:

The city's contractor will likely use open trench construction to improve streets and to install stormwater management facilities, inlets and inlet leads. New green street facilities will remove some on-street parking spaces and some street trees. The city will replace most of the street trees removed.
See that? If an overgrown, old street tree gets in the way, the city just rips it out, and (maybe) replaces it. Try doing that yourself, homeowners. City Hall will crucify you.

Forget the groundhog

This morning's big news: The Kettleman Bagel shop at NE 22nd and Broadway opened for business today. We are presently preparing to dig into some of their first batch.

End of the line for Mike Schrunk?

WW reports that Mike Schrunk, keeper of many secrets, is thinking about packing it in as Multnomah County D.A. If he leaves early, somebody will be appointed and can run under the "retain" banner.

Meanwhile, the Obama nominee for U.S. attorney for Oregon continues to sit in limbo. Amanda Marshall was named to the position back in November, but the U.S. Senate "returned" her nomination. Apparently the White House plans to renominate her at some point.

We noted when she was nominated that Marshall did not seem all that experienced. A lawyer friend of ours subsequently reported that she was not even admitted to practice in federal court until last year. Perhaps her nomination will not be a slam dunk the second time around, which along with a Schrunk retirement would leave quite the void in prosecutorial power in Portland.

UPDATE, 7:53 a.m.: And now here's a guy who wants Schrunk's job -- straight outta John Kroger's office.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hi ho, Hosni!

The denouement of his reign still stands a chance of being considerably less prejudicial than that of his predecessor.

Opt out of getting phone books?

We doubt that it will work, but if you think it's worth a try, you can give it a shot here.

Oprah goes vegan, today at 4:00

In the meantime, you can kill time with this show.

SoWhat greenway will be another no-bid deal

And your Tri-Met payroll tax dollars will be going to turn the toxic banks into a lovely beach:

Project partner TriMet is providing $1 million for the habitat improvements, which will give it environmental mitigation credits needed to proceed with the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail project, Argentina said. She plans to ask City Council to forgo its low-bid process for the project and instead issue a request for proposals. A selection committee would then select a CM/GC based on a thorough evaluation of those proposals.
Wait 'til they start digging:
"The riverbank is all industrial fill," said Andrew Holder, landscape designer with Walker Macy. "Engineers have found whole dump trucks down there with the concrete still in them. Once they start digging, I am counting on some challenges to come up."
Like everything else connected with the city's vibrant, exciting, new neighborhood, this one promises a lot of hidden expense, looting of tax money from many quarters, and a disappointing outcome. Go by streetcar!

Go ahead, laugh at the tinfoil helmet people

But they're on to something.

So now will we get to read about Neil's "love child"?

With the Neil Goildschmidt rape scandal back in the headlines, our mind drifts back to another aspect of the political boss' sordid past. Remember when they confronted Governor Ted Kulongoski years ago and asked him, "Didn't you know about Neil having sex with that teenager?" Former Goldschmidt speechwriter Fred Leonhardt says he told Ted about it in the '90s, but Ted, who had a lot to lose when the scandal broke, denied that. Not too convincingly, but unequivocally.

When backed up against the wall, however, Ted did blurt out something fascinating:

In an interview, Kulongoski said neither Leonhardt nor anyone else had ever told him that Goldschmidt had had sex with a minor. But he said Leonhardt had mentioned a different rumor.

"The only thing (about) a child that he ever told me had to do with Neil having an illegitimate child," Kulongoski said. "That's what he's told me. He had a kid. Now, whether that's true or not, I don't know."...

Kulongoski said he did not recall when Leonhardt had told him about Goldschmidt allegedly fathering a child outside his marriage to Margie Goldschmidt before their divorce in 1990. The governor said he brought it up because it was the closest thing to a conversation he could recall with Leonhardt regarding Goldschmidt, sex and a child.

He said Leonhardt had identified the woman whom Goldschmidt had impregnated.

"I'm not going to get into this, because this is the type of thing that I think takes you down," Kulongoski said. "He actually told me who it was... it was an adult that he allegedly had a relationship with."

It was not, by a long shot, the last time that that name has been bandied about. The identity of the reputed mother is a poorly kept secret -- every bit as poorly kept as the name of Goldschmidt's now-deceased statutory rape victim.

Will the local media write about it? Is it the public's business? And who among those involved in the illegitimate-child story needs protection?

Perhaps answers to those questions can be found by ruminating about today's identification of the abused teenaged babysitter. Whose interests were served by keeping the rape victim's name secret until just after her death? She seemed to have been eager to tell everyone -- including strangers in bars -- what had happened to her. And so it wasn't her confidentiality that called for protection, was it?

And if it was her parents who had some sort of privacy interest -- if I had a dollar for every time I've read an internet comment to the effect of "Where were her parents when this was going on?" I'd be rich -- they surely have lost it now.

So who's being protected by not touching the illegitimate-child allegation? By now, any such child is an adult and likely knows the story. His or her parents would presumably know. So why wouldn't the media pursue it?

Unlike statutory rape, of course, fathering an illegitimate child would not be a crime. But quietly supporting the child and covering up the truth could pose some real problems for, say, a mayor, a federal cabinet member, or a governor. Were favors done within the extensive Goldschmidt Network as payoffs for silence?

In short, there could be a legitimate public interest in knowing just who was involved. But the prospect that the local media, who have their self-righteous outfits on display today, will actually produce anything on this other story seems highly doubtful.

New year, new faces on press release meter

We're cranking up our press release meter for another year -- keeping track of how many missives grace our e-mail inbox from the computers of the several p.r. flacks who churn out media handouts on behalf of our beloved statewide politicians. This year, we've expanded the meter to include State Treasurer Ted Wheeler and State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, to go along with the champion press release originator, State Attorney General John Kroger, and Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown.

Since we've got four of them going now, and they promise to be every bit as active as they were last year, we're going to cut ourselves some slack and update the counts only once a month. But believe it or not, January has come and gone, and so here are the first month's tallies:

It appears old Ted Wheeler is an early favorite for second place in this four-way horse race, eclipsing both Brown and Avakian. But it's still early. Best of luck to all our contestants over the next 11 months.

A much needed law

Think of how many times you could have made a citizen's arrest.

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