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

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April 2011 Archives

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I feel so much safer

What a day for America -- we've killed another one of Muammar Gaddafi's children. And three grandchildren, too. Who says Obama is no Reagan?

If only she liked soccer

She'd fit in so well at the Timbers games.

We completely agree

Here's the latest election porn from the Portland school tax bond measure proponents, which arrived along with our ballots yesterday:

They're right, of course. That the school buildings have been allowed to deteriorate is an outrage. Management has been poor.

The question of the day, however, is whether to hand over a ton of money -- the largest bond measure in Oregon history, we're told -- to the managers who let things get this bad, and expect them to spend it wisely. Given their obviously poor sense of priorities so far, it's hard to get to a yes answer.

We're voting no on both measures, and our message to the school board is to come back next time asking for about a third as much money. In the meantime, fire some bureaucrats in the main office and use their salaries to do some basic repairs.

And tell the football coaches that if they want Astroturf, someone will need to find private money for it.

An honorable man

Here's a guy who's as outraged as we are about this -- but who's actually in a position to influence the outcome.

UPDATE, 12:09 p.m.: Add these voices to the chorus.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Jail Blazer advances

It's the second demoralizing night in a row for Blazer fans, as ex-Portland thug Zach Randolph has carried his Memphis team to a stunning playoff series upset of the top-seeded Spurs. On Sunday, he'll play against Portland's even bigger nightmare, Kevin Durant, in the second round of the playoffs. Congrats to Grizzlies coach and former Portland great Lionel Hollins, who did a better job with his team than you-know-who did.

Have a great weekend

"Today you, tomorrow me"

Here's a thought-provoking Oregon story that we missed when it first appeared last month.

Trouble in the Oregon government facilities office

A couple of honchos are on leave, and there are "issues concerning business management practices." Sounds like a job for Dave Frohnmayer's law firm, doesn't it?

Much public money sloshes through the state facilities division. One of the managers who have been yanked from her desk says here that she manages an annual budget of $110 million. She adds:

Oversaw multilevel government joint venture in surplus land development for the State of Oregon, implementing unprecedented economic development project in conjunction with the City of Salem, projected to generate $70M in land sale proceeds to fund state programs.
A case worth watching, to be sure.

Nothing from nothing leaves nothing

The Portland City Council has unanimously passed something or other about the FBI terrorism task force deal. The city's not rejoining the task force (despite erroneous headlines to the contrary), but it might participate if it wants to.

To us, it seems that "Legend" Dan Saltzman got outvoted, backed down, and is declaring a Vietnam victory. Is that a fair assessment?

Coming soon: ginormous Mississippi floods

Having had large parts blown away, the south is soon going to drown again.

Where's Gladys Knight?

We're watching the royal wedding with the sound off. So far it's like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, only much, much more boring.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Blazers fold

The Brandon Roy Game 4 miracle was the Blazers' finest moment -- but it was also the beginning of the end. Another lackluster game plan has sent them packing for the summer after a first-round exit. And with two more years of Coach Nate to look forward to, frankly there's no end of this in sight.

With that, it's time to start talking about "how well they did despite the injuries" and "if only Greg Oden were healthy." That will go on for another two years, too. Anyway, here's to the great moments that the Blazers gave us this year. They were wonderful, though not plentiful.

Super Carole steps in another bucket

Here's a foolish controversy for her to create when her big property tax bond issues are out for a public vote.

They want $700 from the average property owner. For that much we could take up a collection and send all the public school kids in the neighborhood to the French School and Central Catholic.

You'd be better off putting cash in a mattress

The Oregon college savings plan has had its issues -- here's the latest. Money market funds with high fees are a real losing proposition these days -- even if one ignores the inflation monster that's right around the corner.

UPDATE, 8:33 p.m.: O.k., it's an overstatement. You won't get a state tax deduction for stuffing Benjamins into a mattress.

Another mini-quake, closer to home

The U.S. Geological Survey has posted another small earthquake from last night. It was a 1.6, just across the Willamette River from Champoeg Park, at 1:37 this morning. That's about an hour and a half before the 1.9 over by McMinnville and Sheridan.

Telling Headline of the Year

"Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden visiting Portland"

It's like they always say: Every now and then, visit where you vote.

UPDATE, 7:37 p.m.: We see that the Oregonian has now scrubbed that headline -- hilariously. Just for the record, here's what it said before they changed it:

Bicycle Rex leaving politics

But he's hoping to get an urban planning gig at Portland State, where bad ideas grow. He'll fit right in with Vera and the rest.

Even the Blue no can do

When Marc Abrams is voting against a property tax increase, you know something's wrong with it.

Turnover at Willy Week

City Hall reporter Beth Slovic joins news editor Hank Stern in quitting Willamette Week. But while Stern has moved into the ranks of Multnomah County p.r. flacks, Slovic's going in the opposite direction, taking Stern's old job at the Oregonian.

Her fiancee, Nick Budnick, is another ex-WW writer, and he's leaving the Bend Bulletin to come back to Portland and work at the O, too. Good luck to both of them -- we suspect they will need it. One wonders which will come first, their buyout offers or their first W-2s.

A little quake in Yamhill County

They just had a middle-of-the-night 1.9 temblor down near McMinnville and Sheridan.

Japanese nukes in biggest disgrace so far

As of last week, the Japanese government increased the amount of radiation that children are allowed to be exposed to. It used to be 1 millisievert a year. Now that that number is too inconvenient, it's been increased to 20 millisieverts a year.

20 millisieverts a year is what international experts recommend as the maximum that a nuclear power plant worker or nuclear medicine worker be exposed to in a year, if he or she is going to be working in the industry for five years. The international standard for adults in the general public is 1 millisievert per year.

Children are much more vulnerable to the damaging effects of ionizing radiation, particularly cancers, than adults are. Now kindergarten kids in Japan are allowed to get as much radiation as nuclear power plant workers in Germany, just by being alive and going to school.

That, friends, is nothing short of criminal.

Maybe Portlanders ought to get together and adopt a few families from the Fukushima area, and let them move here to get their kids away from a future that's already bad and is likely to get worse. We're surprised we haven't heard of such an effort yet.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Watch out for that Zipcar

Its driver isn't insured for all that much.

Durant steps up to the second round

Oklahoma City finished off Denver in the pro hoops tournament tonight. The Guy the Blazers Could Have Drafted has led his team to the next level, where they'll meet either the Spurs or Memphis. The Thunder's prospects in that series look mighty good.

A little quake near Mt. St. Helens

A 2.0 at 2:37 this afternoon, here.

Bull's eye -- no bull?

The news that Target is acting serious about putting a store on the second and third floors of the Galleria in downtown Portland is welcome. If that big-box chain does locate there, it would indicate that the city's strict DIY, keep-it-weird, buy-local, orthodox Blumenauerism is softening, at least somewhat.

It would also be great for the snooty Brooks Brothers downstairs to have to deal with more real people passing by than it already does. Remember when they were hassling the convenience store across the street?

In any event, talk is cheap, and the poor Target folks have only just begun to deal with the Portland City Hall bureaucracy. We'll believe the news when the store's open and we can shop there.

Is LaMarcus Aldridge too tired?

The Blazers have to beat the Dallas Mavericks twice -- in Portland tomorrow and in Dallas on Saturday -- or their season is over. In their last game the other night, Portland was flat as a pancake, and some folks remarked that the Blazers' best player, forward LaMarcus Aldridge, looked fatigued. He scored only 12 points and didn't get to the foul line.

Well, he ought to be fatigued. He's played on average 43 minutes a game in the five games of the playoffs so far. There are only 48 minutes in a game, and so that means he has sat out only five minutes per contest. In Portland's dramatic Game 4 win last weekend, Aldridge rested only 1 minute and 12 seconds of the game.

During the regular season, he played in 81 of the team's 82 games, averaging 39.6 minutes per game of playing time. He is second in the league in minutes played this year, and after tomorrow night he will likely be first. In contrast, Dallas's Dirk Nowitzki plays only 34.3 minutes a game, and he isn't anywhere in the top 20.

Aldridge is 25 years old and has been playing pro hoops for five years. In our view, he's been overplayed by coach Nate McMillan, and sometimes it hurts the team as well as Aldridge himself.

Let's get this guy off the streets

Here in northeast Portland, there's a guy driving around exposing himself to middle school girls. He's been doing this at Alameda and 44th, at Alameda and Beaumont, and also at 20th and Brazee, which is more than 20 blocks away from the other two locations. So far he's been committing these acts on Friday afternoons, including this past Friday.

He's described as a Hispanic man, in his 20's, and driving a small white sedan, most likely a four-door. They haven't gotten the license number of his vehicle yet.

The Portland police officer on the case is Jim Mooney at 503-823-5700, and the case number is 11-32657.

UPDATE, 4:42 p.m.: As the comments to this post reveal, there was an extraordinarily similar case last fall, not too far away from where this one occurred. A suspect was arrested, acquitted despite victim identification, and apparently deported. Based on these facts, one could certainly draw a plausible inference that there's a connection between the two cases.

The Portland water empire eats away at a park

The design of the new water pumping station that's going to take away several thousand square feet of Portland's Willamette Park has been shown around now, and it looks like this:

That's an interesting drawing, minimizing the impact on the park, but if you crop it a little you see that the new building is going to be a bulky, tall hulk of a thing:

A year ago, the liars' budget for this facility was $12.2 million. One can only imagine what it's going to end up costing in the end. One thing's certain: That part of the park will never be the same.

Big chunks of Portland school tax to go for athletic fields

The come-ons for the construction portion of the upcoming Portland school tax bond measures do a lot of talking about student safety, including abatement of fire hazards and asbestos. But as this story in the O last month points out, several millions of the bond funds would go to replace grass fields next to the city's high schools with synthetic turf. According to the story, $1.6 million of bond funds would go for a turf field at Franklin, another $1.6 million for turf at Madison, $1.6 million for turf at Grant, $800,000 for turf at Wilson, and $800,000 for turf at Lincoln. That's $6.4 million total.

Not that new fields are a bad thing, but don't buy the suggestion that all the new property taxes are going to be dedicated to keeping tiles from falling on little Molly's head in gym class.

A tale of two nuke blowouts

Studying the videos of the two reactor explosions at Fukushima in Japan, one can see that the destruction of reactor no. 3 (above) was far more violent than the earlier wreck of reactor no. 1. (The explosion of reactor no. 4 apparently happened at night, undetected by any camera.) What happened?

Retired nuclear power exec Arnie Gunderson theorizes that the spent fuel pool in no. 3 may have undergone a "prompt criticality" -- instantaneous, uncontrolled nuclear fission -- that blew it sky high. His thoughtful video on the topic is here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Merkley took fat junket to China

And got mocked for it in the Washington Post.

Howlers of the Week from Japan

The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says water may be leaking from the spent fuel pool of the No. 4 reactor....

The firm says robots on Tuesday detected radiation levels of up to 1,120 millisieverts per hour inside the No.1 reactor building. It says some contaminated water may be leaking from the reactor into external pipes....

Radioactive water may be leaking? Ya gotta laugh at that one, to keep from crying.

New terror task force doublespeak from Fireman Randy

Portland's little dictator has a new version of what the relationship between the city's police and the FBI is supposed to be. Essentially, Portland police will help the feds in terror cases if and when his puppet mayor and puppet police chief say it's o.k. But the local cops won't actually "join" the terrorism task force.

Whatever. It's all code for continued one-man rule over the city by you-know-who. This is supposed to protect everyone's civil liberties. The Sardine will go along, as will the Mayor-ionette, and so this silly issue is pretty much resolved until next year's municipal elections.

Tell Megan you love her

But you'll have to take a number.

No show tonight

You reach a certain age and important people start disappearing. This one hurts more than we might have thought. Phoebe Snow, a Jersey girl with a voice like butterscotch, has died at age 60.

She'll probably best be remembered for her smash hit debut album, but we liked her second one just as well. She spent most of her life caring for her disabled daughter. This took Snow out of the limelight, and in some ways she was taken for granted. But now she'll be missed. Heaven rest her.

Videotape a cop, get your nose broken

Here's a story that sounds a lot like Portland.

Too much information

Here's a major screwup in federal court in Alabama -- criminal investigation records that were supposed to be sealed instead got posted to the courts' Pacer website, for all the world to see. One part of the news account that doesn't sound right is the assertion that the authorities don't know who might have viewed the documents in question. Pacer is a pay service, and access to documents is closely metered.

What the Fukushima

Now that the world media has stopped paying attention, the folks battling the blown apart nuclear reactors in Japan are breaking worse news. Today we learn that the water collecting under the reactors is much more intensely radioactive than previously reported:

TEPCO says a survey last Thursday found an increase in the density of radioactive substances in the water in the basement of the No. 4 reactor's turbine building.

The company says the levels of cesium-134 and 137 increased about 250-fold and iodine-131 increased about 12 times compared with one month ago. TEPCO says contamination of this level requires them to prioritize the transfer or disposal of the water.

Iodine-131 has a half-life of only 8 days. After the course of 32 days, the amount of iodine-131 in any given sample should be 1/16th of what it was at the start of that period. Instead, the concentration of that radioisotope in the collected Fukushima wastewater has increased to 12 times what it was before.

Yikes, people -- yikes.

The water under reactor 4 is coming either from what they're pouring into the damaged fuel pool in that reactor building, or from water that's getting shot at reactor 3 next door. A lot of melted fuel must be getting washed out of one or both of those facilities, and the rate at which the oozing wreckage is getting mixed in with the water must be increasing substantially. Another possibility is that some of the wrecked nuclear fuel has gone critical in uncontrolled reactions since the earthquake -- a scenario that Tokyo Electric and the Japanese government aren't talking about. If that's the case, one reason the iodine isn't dissipating is that nuclear fission is continuing, at least sporadically, producing more iodine.

The cesium isotopes have half lives of 2 years and 30 years, and so their buildup is going to continue at a much more sustained rate than the iodine. And where there is radioactive iodine and cesium, there's also radioactive strontium and heaven knows what other dangerous radionuclides.

Given how badly damaged those reactor buildings are, it would be a miracle if that nasty water isn't leaking into the ocean, either via the groundwater or directly. And it's a given that no human being is going to get near that water any time soon.

Which brings us to the robots. Who doesn't love a robot story? Wouldn't it be great if remote-controlled machines saved the day by fixing the many problems at the destroyed reactors? A closer look at the robots that have been employed at Fukushima so far exposes that as highly wishful thinking.

In their first expeditions into a few of the radiation zones, the robots revealed themselves to be wimpy, spindly things and by no means high-tech marvels. For example, to take a radiation reading, two robots were needed: one to hold the Geiger counter and the other to point a video camera at the Geiger counter so that the plant workers could read the dial. It appears the new joke will be about how many Tokyo robots it takes to screw in a light bulb.

And when the 'bots entered reactor 2, the humidity was high, and the lens on the videocam immediately steamed up, and so that was the end of that foray. High-tech salvation, this isn't.

The promoters of nuclear energy continue to remind us that the Fukushima reactors were old, and that more recent designs are safer. But that only throws into a worse light the continuing practice by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission of tacking an extra decade or two onto the licenses of reactors of the same design and vintage as Fukushima.

Here's one case from the Atlantic coast in New Jersey, a mere stone's throw from where our cousin the blogger lives. As an alert reader pointed out on our blog yesterday, that plant has already been busted for leaking radioactive tritium into the nearby Barnegat Bay, and into the groundwater. The reactor is 42 years old; it has outlived its design life. When it came online, the Beatles were still a band, and "Come Together" was the number 1 song in America. The reactor is old and brittle. It's tired. It has less containment than Fukushima. It shouldn't run for another two decades, but the nuclear cheerleaders at the NRC are happy to let it do so. The license now runs to 2029.

Do we ever learn? Not when there's money to be made.

In recent years, Wall Street ne'er-do-wells like Henry Paulson have been doing to Americans the same thing that the power companies have been doing to us for decades with nuclear power: privatizing the profits and socializing the losses. In the case of the nukes, the losses are cancer -- sneaky losses that can't be conclusively proven. It's money vs. life, and we all know where that comes out.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blazers on the brink

Portland's pro hoopsters fell in Dallas tonight, after a weak third quarter and a fourth-period stretch in which they missed 10 shots in a row. They let Tyson Chandler have 13 offensive rebounds. The loss puts the Blazers behind, 3 games to 2 in the playoff series, with double elimination to start Thursday night back in Portland.

They're not alone in being one game away from the golf course. The Spurs of all people are down 3 to 1 to the Memphis Grizzlies, led by ex-Blazer thug Zach Randolph. And the Nuggets are down 3 to 1 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, led by the ultimate bitter pill for Portland, Kevin Durant. To see Memphis advance while the Blazers go home would mess with Portlanders' minds pretty badly. And a Griz-Thunder second round would signal that the Western Conference torch has been passed to some new guys -- and passed right over Portland.

This cannot be allowed to happen. Go Blazers!

Homer's new rubes: guys who want green cards

Now Portland's crown prince of public pork is tapping into the federal immigration system for nine figures to play with. If that guy ever builds anything without a government scam angle, please give us a call.

Portland's mayor more irrelevant every day

All of his speechifying about the new interstate bridge has been thrown in the trash can, where it belongs.

Tax Grandma out of her house -- it's for the children

Here's an interesting twist in the Portland school tax ballot measure saga: Super Carole is presenting two budgets tonight: one with the taxes passed and the other with them rejected. Another way to campaign on the taxpayers' dime?

Maybe not. According to Willy Week, "Top administrators are informing an unspecified number of administrative employees now that they will lose their jobs." Wait -- there are expendable people in administration? Seems like a reason to vote no.

Fireman Randy has an answer for everything

So just do things his way, o.k.?


The San Francisco treat.

The news nobody's reading

The world's attention span is short, and the mainstream news media have grown bored with the story of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. But for those with an interest, lots of alarming news can be found from over there. Today they're going to step up the dumping of water into the damaged spent fuel pool in reactor no. 4, to try to bring the temperature down. This, even though they're also afraid that the weight of all the water might cause the building, already badly damaged, to collapse. Even in the best case, the water will become quite radioactive, and let's face it, most or all of it is going to wind up in the ocean next to the plant. Despite excruciatingly misleading headlines like this one.

They're sending veterinarians in to euthanize the livestock in the evacuation zone. Meanwhile, outside the zone, the government's advising residents not to spend too much time in the public parks -- there's too much radiation there. The kids should wash their hands after playing. No kidding.

They're debating whether to harvest stem cells from the emergency workers now, to try to use the cells to save the workers' lives when they come down with radiation sickness.

A highly radioactive chunk of concrete was found on the ground outside reactor no. 3 -- a foot square and two inches thick, it was throwing off 900 millisieverts an hour of radiation. The maximum exposure for the emergency workers is 250 millisieverts, which that concrete chunk generates every 17 minutes. That's so radioactively hot that it's adding to the speculation that that particular reactor underwent more than a hydrogen explosion. Indeed, when you look at the photos of that wrecked hulk and think about how the reactor top was on a high floor, it's extremely hard to believe that the reactor vessel is still intact.

And they're admitting now that they've been understating how much radiation has been released from the plant, and that it will be at least four months before the releases stop, even under the most optimistic assumptions. Add to this the fact that the Japanese government has taken over information flow and switched into serious censorship mode, it's as scary a story as ever. Just not one that the media cares much about.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lakers have hands full

If the Blazers win their playoff series with Dallas, next they'll play the winner of the Lakers-Hornets matchup. Portland's opponent would not be well rested, as the L.A.-N.O. series has now gone back to being tied. Ex-Blazer Jarrett Jack hit a clutch fourth quarter shot for New Orleans tonight, and his team earned a split at home to go with the split they pulled off in L.A. Like the Blazers, the Hornets are 2-2 and will have to win one on the road to stay alive. The Blazers go again tomorrow night in Dallas, while the next game in La-La Land is Tuesday.

We wish the New Orleans fans would resist chanting "Beat L.A.!" It only seems to inspire the Lakers. They hear it everywhere, and so it's almost like a home crowd cheer. Plus, calling them out by name essentially acknowledges that they're a special opponent. Surely there's a more wicked formulation to taunt them with.

SoWhat condo values keep declining

Here's one unit that's said to be priced 40% below the top of the market. "Only" $225 a square foot! And perhaps with a great view of an immigration jail site. Go by streetcar!

A souvenir from downtown Portland

If you don't get a parking ticket (even on Sunday), maybe you'll be lucky enough to score one of these, spotted the other day under a windshield wiper blade on a car near NW Eighth and Glisan:

A linchpin for Louisville

Goldman Sachs saves the day with a stadium deal.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Psycho dictator chic

Ya gotta hand it to Muammar -- he's going to eternal damnation in style. It's kind of a cross between mid-'70s Stevie Wonder garb and Michael Jackson's wardrobe circa 1988. At least Stevie can say that he never saw it.

Brandon Roy, superhero

He just led the Blazers to what may have been their most improbable come-from-behind victory in their history. Down 23 points in the second half, and 18 in the fourth quarter, they beat the Dallas Mavericks to even their playoff series at two games apiece. Now it's a best-of-three-game series, and the scene shifts to Dallas for Game 5. What a miserable plane ride back to Texas the Mavericks are about to have. Let's hope the misery follows them into the next game. Go Blazers!

On stalks of clover

While Portland's planning army makes a nice living (and pension) drawing pictures of it, the area around the Rose Garden arena doesn't seem likely to be improved any time soon. The mayor's asinine discussion of a Costco store near there has been officially pronounced dead, as it was from the get-go, and now the Blazers are ready to turn their backs on their Junktown Drunktown Jumptown proposal. In other words, nothing's happening.

The city's dropping hints that Nike is interested in developing the area. That sounds about as likely as the big box store idea. Successful business people are smart enough to run away when they see someone like the mayor on the other side of the table.

Meanwhile, they're talking about blowing "urban renewal" money (a.k.a. property taxes) to shore up the Memorial Coliseum before it falls down. They've spent dough on worse things.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Have a great weekend

Mission impossible

Can anybody find anything of value in this baby? To us it's just more Portland planner psychobabble. And it no doubt cost the taxpayers a fortune. If we need money for teachers, we should lay off some planners -- especially if this shinola is all they have to offer.

Uprise -- blood pressure edition

The Blazers' next playoff game will be at the Rose Garden tomorrow at 2 in the afternoon. Apparently the construction of the eastside streetcar is going to have traffic and transit service in the vicinity tied up all weekend. Fans should plan to parachute in to the game.

UPDATE: 1:47 p.m.: Oh, and it gets better -- the Morrison Bridge will be closed tomorrow! This is what is known among Portland transportation officials as a "cluster."

Calculate what the Portland school tax ballot measures will cost you

The upcoming Portland school tax election involves some pretty spendy propositions. Measure 26-121 would add $2 of property tax for each $1,000 of assessed value; Measure 26-122 would load on another $1.99 of tax per $1,000 of assessed value. The proponents tell us that the median homeowner would pay $588 a year in taxes as a result of the two measures; by our calculations, the average homeowner would pay $699 a year.

But hey, nobody wants to be average. Before casting their ballots, voters should get an idea of what it means for them -- or for their landlord, if they're renting. It's not all that mysterious, and we've tried to cobble together a calculator for this purpose. With a silent prayer to the gods of html and Javascript, here it is:

[See update below.]

To find your property's assessed value, go to portlandmaps.com and enter the property address. When the property comes up, click on "Assessor," and then scroll down toward the bottom, where the assessed value appears. Taxes will increase as the property's assessed value increases each year; under Oregon's crazy property tax rules it is sure to do so for most folks, at 3% a year.

UPDATE, 3/19, 10:33 p.m.: The construction bond failed, but the operating levy passed. Here is a revised calculator that shows how much more the new operating levy will be than the expiring levy was -- 74 cents per $1,000 of assessed value:

Enter your property's assessed value (without commas):The ballot measure that just passed will cost you this much more per year than the old levy:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blazers bounce back

Portland's pro hoops team won its first home playoff game against the Dallas Mavericks tonight, narrowing the Mavs' series edge to 2-games-to-1. Several of the Blazers who hadn't been heard from much in the first two contests, in Dallas, showed up at home and played quite well. And Brandon Roy, his drama queen moment behind him, gave a fine performance. Wesley Matthews came out in the first quarter shooting the lights out, and he ended up with 25 points to lead Portland.

The Blazers must now win three games out of four, which is better than the four games out of five they needed as of this afternoon. But two of those four games ahead are scheduled for Dallas, and so the odds against Portland are still awfully long. We're hoping and rooting for the best -- go Blazers! -- but not betting the farm on it.

Another day, another gang shooting in Portland

This one might get someone's attention at City Hall -- it was on Williams Avenue. It could have hit a cyclist!

Wu's election porn is on taxpayer dime, too

A two-fer Thursday: We get this one to go along with this one.

Why we loved Lucy

The screenwriter who cooked up so many of the stunts that Lucille Ball would pull on her famous television show has left us. Madelyn Pugh Davis was 90 years old.

Japanese nuke types make believe everything's o.k.

As we reported the other day, the backtracking and internet scrubbing about the true impacts of the Fukushima meltdowns have begun in earnest. Just one example: Remember when the chief cabinet minister said a few weeks ago that the evacuations around the Fukushima plant were for the long term? The prime minister repeated that assessment yesterday.

No, wait. The prime minister didn't say that. Someone must have misheard.

Lie, deny, cover up, and distract -- that's the nuclear way, especially in a secretive society such as Japan. They definitely goofed yesterday and let a little bit of the truth out.

Meanwhile, Mother Nature is firing up some of her larger aftershocks near Fukushima today. In the last five hours, they've had a 6.1, a 4.9, a 4.7, and a 5.6.

UPDATE, 11:58 a.m.: Wonder how they'll try to spin radioactive breast milk.

A funny smell resurfaces

All of a sudden, they're talking about an earthquake retrofit, rather than a replacement, for the Multnomah County Courthouse in downtown Portland. Heaven knows something has to be done before a real tragedy happens with that creaky old building. It wouldn't take much of an earthquake to knock it over. Some days you wonder whether it would collapse if a Tri-Met bus blew a tire on Fifth Avenue.

But the fact that they're now mulling seismic upgrades is curious. As long-time readers of this blog already know, in 2008 the Portland Development Commission borrowed $9 million and handed it over to the county for use in building a new courthouse at the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge. The city agreed to pay the Wall Street types 6% interest on the "urban renewal" bonds, whereas the county invested the money at a yield of only half that. Even then, the idea of a new courthouse seemed bogus, and the latest discussion (with a $220 million preliminary liars' budget for retrofitting) confirms that it was a pipedream at best.

So what happened to that $9 million? Is it still sitting in a bank account, earning far less than the interest that's being paid on it? The whole thing stinks to high heaven. It's the kind of matter that you might expect the state treasurer to take a look at -- except of course for the fact that in this case, the current state treasurer was running the county when the questionable transaction was hatched.

Fish splits with Sam Rand Twins on terror task force

Quoth Nick Fish:

The Mayor's proposed resolution is an improvement over the 2005 resolution. I have worked closely with the Mayor to be sure the protections of civil rights are explicit and the supervision by Council and the police chief are clear.

However, I am concerned that the addition of the limitation to only allow Portland police officers to participate in "full investigations" is a fundamental flaw in the resolution. The provision is confusing and will prevent officers from performing basic police work when working with the JTTF.

I am confident that Council can create an agreement with our federal partners that will protect liberties and enhance safety. I will be working with my colleagues to bring an amendment to address what I see as a critical shortcoming in the proposed resolution.

This is a diplomatic, but big, thumbs-down to the mayor and Admiral Randy. Given Legend Dan's support for rejoining the federales, it sounds as though Nurse Amanda may end up holding the swing vote on this one.

More campaign abuse from Portland public schools

We can't believe they keep doing this. With all the money the Portland schools have raised as a campaign fund for their colossal property tax increase ballot measures, they continue to blow taxpayer dollars promoting the measures. Here's the latest piece of election porn, which showed up in our snail mailbox yesterday:

Campaign literature, to be sure. So it must be paid for by the unions and contractors, right? Think again!

They say they're after $588 a year from the "median homeowner," but despite their informational zeal, the school bureaucrats fail to disclose what the measures would cost the average homeowner. By our count, it's $699 a year.

That's too much for our budget. And when you see from the campaign itself how fast and loose the school district plays with tax dollars, it's all the more reason to say, "Sorry, try again next year for half that." Please, knock it off with the campaign abuse.

By the way, can anyone tell us what this symbol, from just below our address on the flyer, is supposed to mean?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cable access scandal brewing in Clackistan?

Something definitely looks wrong here.

Shiloh's gone

Portland needs to do something about its serious gang problem. A gun control ordinance is not what I mean.

Homer Williams scam script played to perfection

The absolutely insane proposal to run a streetcar from Portland to Lake Oswego got the green light from the Lake O. City Council last night. There was a list of conditions attached, but that's the same ploy that developers Homer Williams and Dike Dame used to get the aerial tram [rim shot] built to their utterly failed SoWhat development about a decade ago in Portland. They'll find some way to make it look as though the conditions have been satisfied, and if they don't, the conditions will be changed or waived.

The same machinations, or something similar, will get the dopey transit toy approved by the Portland City Council today, or sometime soon. The developers' puppets on the Portland council will give it a go. They always do.

It's classic Williams-Dame. You get your call girl politicians to keep voting yes, all the while saying "It's just for further analysis -- we can always say no later." One morning the song is suddenly switched to "It's too late to turn back now." That's what Tri-Met has done with the mystery train to Milwaukie, and that's what a slim majority of city council members are doing in Lake Oswego. Whether they realize it or not.

That Williams and Dame are still operating, indeed expanding their empire, is testament to how far Portland has fallen. It's wrecked, people. If your kids show promise, take them to other parts of the country, because there's a good chance they're not going to want, or be able, to live here.

Joke of the Month

Portland's "unique" mayor has been "negotiating" with federal law enforcement for months now about whether and how the city would rejoin the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force. The "discussions" have gone nowhere, and so now he's decided to take the issues public. He's posted his "proposal" to the FBI here.

The FBI often says it doesn't bargain with terrorists. One wonders what its policy is toward clowns.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Blazers fall apart

They lose Game 2 in Dallas, convincingly, and there's no sign that they'll be able to win a game there. The Blazer players don't seem fully prepared for the post-season level of competition. Rudy Fernandez is the new Cliff Robinson -- a nonfactor -- and Brandon Roy wasn't given much of a chance to play his way out of his funk. The defense against the outside shot continued to be terrible. The referees were not to blame.

Given Coach Nate's inability to come up with playoff-caliber strategies, it surely looks like another first-round exit for the Portland team, with no prospect of any better outcome any year soon. They may not get swept in this series, but they aren't going to prevail.

Latest cop snoop breakthrough

A vacuum cleaner to suck all the data out of your cell phone -- even stuff you forgot you had. How are the police using it? Sorry, it will cost you half a million to find out.

Japan government out to censor internet nuke news

Buried at the bottom of a fairly dull article, this disturbing news:

Now the Japanese government has moved to crack down on independent reportage and criticism of the government’s policies in the wake of the disaster by deciding what citizens may or may not talk about in public. A new project team has been created by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, the National Police Agency, and METI to combat "rumors" deemed harmful to Japanese security in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

The government charges that the damage caused by earthquakes and by the nuclear accident are being magnified by irresponsible rumors, and the government must take action for the sake of the public good. The project team has begun to send "letters of request" to such organizations as telephone companies, internet providers, cable television stations, and others, demanding that they "take adequate measures based on the guidelines in response to illegal information." The measures include erasing any information from internet sites that the authorities deem harmful to public order and morality.

If we get a demand letter, we'll post it here.

Move over, Fireman Randy

Remember when Portland's water commissioner proposed that the security guards for the city's water system become his own little armed police force? Well, now the state university system wants the same thing -- and they've gotten the state senate to vote to give it to them.

This is the same state university system that wants the taxpayers to hand it hundreds of millions of borrowed dollars, and then surrender all meaningful oversight in the future. There's something really wrong in that neck of the woods. Not to mention the bobbleheads in the legislature (in this case, Floyd Prozanski) who are prepared to hand the academic bureaucrats whatever they demand.

We need to do something about the federal deficit

Or do we?

Fukushima's future

Here's the latest liars' budget on what it will take to re-seal the melted-down nuclear reactor at Chernobyl: $1 billion, and that's good only for 100 years. In Japan, there are three reactors that may have to be entombed.

Why not radiation-test West Coast fish?

The Food and Drug Administration says it won't test fish caught off the western United States for radioactivity, despite the acute pollution of the Pacific at the Fukushima nuclear meltdown site in Japan. The ocean is so vast, we're told, and Japan is so far away, that the contaminated waters couldn't possibly affect the fish that are harvested on our side of the Pacific.

That doesn't sound like a smart assessment to us. The data on the extent of the radioactive spills into the ocean is spotty at best, and the sources of that data -- the Japanese government and the private utility that's responsible (and liable) for the disaster -- are not above suspicion. Fish such as salmon and tuna swim long distances in their lifetimes, and many make it quite a ways toward Japan before turning back to the United States. Alaska is one of Japan's closest neighbors -- you-know-who can see it from her back porch.

And pollution typically doesn't disperse in every direction immediately upon its discharge into the ocean. There are known currents, and from Japan, they head mostly in the direction of the United States.

Sooner or later, radioactivity from Fukushima is going to be detected in U.S. fish, and then testing -- public or private -- will become routine. Starting the testing now would set a baseline to judge future readings, build public awareness of the actual risks involved, and establish an atmosphere of trust that can only benefit the fishing industry in both the short and long terms. It would be worth whatever it might add to the price of fresh fish in our markets (or the cancellation of a streetcar or two) to institute a radionuclide monitoring program immediately.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rick Adelman moves on

He made a lot out of not very much in Houston, but now he's on to the next stop. At age 64, he's probably got one more team in him. In the meantime, he's got lots of family here in Portland whom he can visit.

While they poison the ocean

Someone's been playing games with the stock of Tokyo Electric, the outfit presiding over the worst nuclear disaster in history. Amidst all the other worries over the Fukushima meltdown site, now we can guess as to whether the timing of the bad news is being manipulated to make someone a bundle.

The sooner that company gets nationalized, the better.

Meanwhile, the radioactive water in the basement of reactor no. 4 -- the one with the damaged spent fuel pool and who knows what other problems -- is now five meters deep. That's 16.4 feet. And who knows how much is leaking into the ocean and groundwater from there. The environment won't be recovering from that in our lifetimes, that's for sure.

And the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is now joining in with the insane happy talk. They've stopped handing out iodine tablets to Americans, because hey, they simply won't need them. Uh huh.

A sure sign of spring

A daylight drive-by shooting at the park behind Lloyd Center. Go by MAX -- and soon by streetcar!

UPDATE, 5:50 p.m.: Correction -- it was not a drive-by. It was an execution-style walkup shot in the head.

Tom Moyer trial date -- June 20

We asked this morning when the felony charge of campaign finance fraud against Portland real estate mogul Tom Moyer was going to be tried. An alert reader has sent us what purport to be the docket entries in the case, and it now appears that the trial is scheduled for June 20 before a Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge -- probably John Wittmayer.

Interestingly, it also shows the home address of the 92-year-old Moyer as being on Evergreen Highway in the 'Couv.

Anyway, you have to wonder whether Jim Francesconi's mayoral campaign was worth it.

Lights keep going out in downtown Portland

A reader downtown writes:

More businesses are closing up.

Today is the last day for the Williams and Sonoma store.

Carl Greve is having a 20%-to-60%-off sale. My very reliable sources told me today that a professional liquidator has been brought in and the merchandise may not be of the quality that Greve's would have sold in the past. No one knows how long the liquidation will last.

There are now more empty storefronts around "Portland's living room" than there are viable businesses. I wonder how long Nordstrom's will stay?

But the SamRand twins will just keep hiking up the rates and employing more minions to collect the money. Does it not occur to them that the ratepayers are leaving?!

On the bright side... it sure is easy to find a place to park, at $1.60 an hour.

All together now: Go by streetcar!

How Tom Moyer will get your sewer bill payment

The City of Portland developer welfare system truly boggles the mind. Now the sewer bureau says it needs 75,000 square feet of additional office space -- and of course, the usual suspects are lining up to provide it.

In these hard times, one would have thought that city bureaus would be trying to contract, rather than expand. But not when there are hungry mouths to feed in the West Hills.

Speaking of Tom Moyer, when is he going to be tried on his pending felony campaign finance fraud charges? It's less than two weeks short of a year since the state supreme court reinstated those charges.

Banana republic, here we come

Even the cheerleaders at America's comical bond rating agencies are bearish on the federal government.

Bad news from the robots

They sent robots into a couple of the three melted down Japanese nuclear reactors over the weekend, and they've confirmed what most people suspected: It's too radioactive inside the reactor buildings for human beings to enter. There's also too much debris inside Fukushima reactor no. 3 -- the one that had the plutonium-mix fuel in it and suffered the worst physical damage when it exploded -- for even robots to get around in there.

Some of the repairs that will be needed -- rebuilding the plants, essentially -- will require human presence. Robots are not capable of performing all of the functions that will be required.

Meanwhile, the tragic figures who run the plant -- honchos at a company that will probably be nationalized any day now -- are busy telling local evacuees that they might be back in their homes by the end of the year. What a cruel joke that is.

In other meltdown news, there's been a spike in radioactivity in a water tank in Fukushima reactor no. 2 -- the one of the four whose roof is still intact -- possibly from a problem in the spent fuel pool. There have been serious problems in the pool in no. 4 since the March 11 earthquake. No. 4 exploded out of range of cameras, and it's not known exactly what happened inside.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chairmen of the blogosphere

Over the years, we've marveled at the blogger called Grouchy Old Cripple in Atlanta. Now he's got company -- Smart Ass Cripple, based in Chicago. Both are beyond politically incorrect, so read them at your own risk. We laughed, anyway.

That'll be RIP, at the second window

Going out in style -- L.A. style.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


The Blazers bit the dust in the first game of the playoffs. Little wonder: With the game on the line, Coach Nate ordered up some predictable Brandon Roy solo play that went nowhere. The Blazer shooting guards never showed up, and Gerald Wallace didn't get much done.

Meanwhile, the announcer lineup on ESPN was interesting: two women and one man in the arena in Dallas, and a woman anchoring back in the studio. That might have been a little more of a step forward into the future than we were ready for.

Something's popping down by Yosemite

The earthquakes under a place called Hawthorne, Nevada are going off every few minutes this evening. Including a 4.8. Here's the list -- go figure.

Another inconvenient truth

We're starting to hear the catcalls from readers who want the nuclear disaster in Fukushima to get out of sight and out of mind as soon as possible. Sorry, folks. Even if there are no more big booms out of the doomed nuke facility -- and there still could be -- the amount of radioactivity being washed into the ocean over there every day isn't going to go away. In fact, it's already headed our way.

The folks at Tokyo Electric are doing an amazing job of keeping things under wraps. With a million unanswered questions about what's happened and is still happening inside the four damaged reactors, they're simply not talking. There's a press conference every now and then, at which only a tiny amount of information drips out. They post an unrevealing still photo of the plant, taken from about a mile away, every hour. Every 10 days or so they send a drone aircraft over and share a few photos. If they're allowed to keep this up, the public will never know exactly how bad the situation is. But it surely will drag on for many years.

In the meantime, interested observers are poring over every scrap of information they can get their hands on -- particularly before and after photos of the reactor buildings. Here's a shot of a crew working in reactor no. 4 back in happier times, 2002:

And look a little closer -- you'll get a good sense of the high level of technology at work at this facility:

Hockey vs. soccer

The last couple of nights, in the lull between the pro basketball regular season and playoffs, we watched on television two sports that we don't follow much: soccer and hockey. The soccer game match, on Thursday, was the Timbers' opening game match as a "major league" team side, and the hockey was a couple of Stanley Cup games, particularly one involving the Vancouver Canucks, last night.

Aside from mild indigestion at the thought of how much public money has been blown on Jelled? When? Field, the soccer literally bored us to sleep. The agonizing slowness of the "beautiful game," being played at a decidedly lower level of skill than the World Cup, coupled with the obnoxious drone of Portland's unemployed, drunk creative class chanting whatever it is they chant -- next thing we knew, it was morning. And what's with the British accents on the announcers? Are there no Americans willing and able to call a game on television? No wonder the average Joe in the States has no interest.

The hockey was a completely different experience. It moved at lightning speed -- huge, garbage-truck-sized guys hurtling down the ice, among the best in the world in their sport. Many shots that actually have a chance of going into the goal, followed by equally dangerous shots at the other end just seconds later. The Vancouver skaters (from the real Vancouver) are amazing passers, and their split-second execution was thrilling. We were sorry when the games were over for the night, and will definitely be squeezing a little more hockey into our viewing schedule in between pro hoops playoff games, which start in less than an hour. Go Canucks!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Have a great weekend

U.S. government kills online poker

Federal prosecutors have indicted the people behind the three biggest internet poker sites, and reportedly made it impossible for U.S. players to reach them.

Score one for the Harrah's types. But it's hard to stop the internet, and even harder to stop gamblers from gambling. New chapters of this tale are no doubt being written already.

Why your taxes aren't due today

It's April 15 -- why do we get until Monday to file tax returns? Because it's a legal holiday today in the District of Columbia -- Emancipation Day, usually celebrated on the 16th but observed on Friday when the 16th is a Saturday. When D.C. has the day off, federal tax deadlines get pushed to the next business day.

In Massachusetts and Maine, Monday is a holiday -- Patriots Day (Paul Revere's ride, and all that) -- and so folks in those states have until Tuesday the 19th to file their state (but not their federal) income tax returns. The federal IRS has a service center in Andover, Massachusetts -- presumably, it will be closed on Monday, but federal returns are still due that day.

Nurse Amanda will run on dirty money after all

Back when Portland was diverting scarce property tax dollars to finance amateur political campaigns by the likes of Jesse Cornett and John Branam, now-city commissioner Amanda Fritz told us she simply could not, would not, run for office without public funding. Now that the wise voters have gotten rid of that foolhardy idea, the time has come for Fritz to say whether she's up to the arduous task of raising private money to pay for her own lawn signs in a re-election bid. And surprise, surprise! She's going to tough it out and run again.

Rockin' on Hawthorne

There were a few small earthquakes last night down in the Buckman and Ladd's Addition neighborhoods, close in on the east side of Portland. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there were three: one (a 2.1, at 8:49 p.m.) was centered near the corner of Hawthorne and Poplar (between 18th and 19th); another (a 1.7, at 9:26 p.m.) near the corner of SE 27th and Morrison (near Lone Fir Cemetery); and the third (a 1.2, at 9:56 p.m.) near the corner of 30th and Belmont.

That part of town has had little ones before -- most recently, according to our archives, in the spring and summer of 2009. Makes you wonder about that Reed College nuclear reactor.

There was also a 2.2 under the marina at the Riverplace Hotel at 4:07 this morning. Let's hope it's all a meaningless event.

UPDATE, 2:17 p.m.: The downtown quake has been downgraded to a 1.9, and re-charted as near SE 19th and Morrison. That's exactly where a shaker was recorded in 2009.

They've also added a fifth Buckman quake to the list -- a 1.3, at 11:01 p.m., near SE 30th and Taylor. Very close to the one about an hour earlier.

Do the right thing

Here's a depressingly familiar story out of Portland: A woman was awarded $82,000 damages after police committed battery, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution against her. Apparently she had the nerve to question the conduct of Officer Aaron Dauchy, and to demand a business card from Dauchy's partner, Jim Sandvik. At which point Sandvik assaulted her, arrested her, and had her prosecuted -- a prosecution at which he conveniently failed to show up.

Dauchy and Sandvik were part of the transit squad -- a unit with a checkered past, to be sure. Remember when "Thumper" Humphreys beanbagged a 12-year-old girl on a MAX platform? His partner that night was Dauchy.

But there's a ray of hope here, if you read far enough down in the story:

Sandvik... said Newmann was screaming, angry and demanding — and had approached him from behind as he was trying to deal with four drunken men. Sandvik also said Newmann ignored repeated lawful orders to get back....

Jurors, however, said they watched minutes of TriMet video, which showed multiple officers standing around doing nothing much.

Newmann also testified that she never saw Sandvik talking to four drunken men.

Part of her testimony was backed up by Officer Paul Valdez, who testified Newmann was polite and didn’t do anything that could be considered interfering with an officer, which was what she was charged with doing.

Wow, a Portland police officer telling the truth when one of his colleagues steps out of line. Now, there's a first. Thank you, Officer Valdez.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Let's go fishin'

Nooner off your tuner

Hard to believe, much less to accept: They're cancelling "All My Children."

Wheeler comes around on travel expenses

An important development this morning in the continuing saga of the Oregon state treasury's Masters of the Universe -- the in-house investment advisors who gallivant around on fancy travel junkets doing "research," having their expenses paid by the private firms that they're supposedly evaluating and monitoring:

Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler did an about face on his agency's travel policies Wednesday, making a fundamental step to increase transparency in the management of pension fund investments by announcing that agency employees will no longer accept travel paid for by the investment firms that they oversee.
But it's not clear how much rejoicing taxpayers should do about this. It appears the sometimes-lavish trips are going to continue -- but on the public dime:
Wheeler announced the latest policy change Wednesday in an interview on Oregon Public Broadcasting's Think Out Loud program, saying the agency would henceforth "simply cover the costs and report all of them."

Wheeler noted that the state would effectively be paying for the travel costs twice, as they are currently covered in the annual management fees that the state pays to the investment firms. He was unable to provide an estimate of those costs.

Maybe they ought to look into using Skype.

The travel cost change brings Oregon's policies in line with states' such as California and New York, which pay their investment officers' travel expenses. Both of those states have endured scandals related to illegal gifts provided to state employees by outside investment firms and third party marketers seeking big investments and the management fees that they bring in.
A long overdue reform here. And Wheeler can tell the Masters of the Universe that he tried as hard as he could to keep the gravy flowing, but there was only so much he could do.

Let's hope the folks at the O take a hard look at those travel expense reports when they come in under the new policy. They're pretty good playing "Who Had the Pickle?"

New battle in Cylviagate

Now the defrocked Energy Department guy is suing Crimefighting State Attorney General™ John Kroger. More scenes from the grange hall Iliad.

Oregon comes in sixth

But it's not a good thing -- sixth hardest state in which to make a living.

And now, a word from a straight guy

We got another mailer promoting gay marriage yesterday:

That's two in less than a week. It appears that a long public relations campaign is under way, with a ballot measure down the road somewhere.

Portlanders want water system taken away from Fireman Randy

That's the verdict from this survey. A well deserved verdict.

There's an easier way to change the way the water bureau is run, of course. Just vote the Sam Rand Twins out of office next year.

Hoops playoff preview

Mavericks fans prepare for an exciting series.

Here's how the pro basketball championship tournament will go for the Portland Trail Blazers. They play the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, with the winner of that series to play the winner of the Los Angeles Lakers-New Orleans Hornets series. The victor in that second round will face the San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, or Denver Nuggets. The first round matchups in the latter foursome are Spurs-Grizzlies and Thunder-Nuggets. (Note to self: Develop a candy bar line called Thunder Nuggets.)

So to make it to the NBA Finals, the Blazers would have to beat Dallas and most likely the Lakers and the Spurs as well. It can be done -- no, it will be done. Go Portland!

The matchups in the east are the Chicago Bulls vs. the Indiana Pacers, paired with the Orlando Magic vs. the Atlanta Hawks; and the Boston Celtics vs. the Philadelphia 76ers, paired with the Miami Heat vs. the New York Knicks. It's hard not to see Boston vs. Miami in the second round -- that's a matchup that the TV executives are drooling over. Da Bullss should stomp Indiana, but Orlando vs. Atlanta may not be as much of a romp for the Floridians as some are predicting.

The league finals will be Miami vs. Portland, with the Blazers prevailing in 7 games. Remember, you read it here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Seattle has a real D.A.

When police up there assault someone, they get charged with crimes, at least sometimes. Wish we had that in Portland.

Obama: "Tax the rich -- this time I really mean it"

Come on, Mr. President. You told us you were going to do that three years ago. People making more than $250,000 a year of income should pay more, you said. Joe the Plumber called you out on it. Remember?

And we elected you, and gave you the Congress, and provided you every opportunity to do what you promised. But you didn't. You sold us out.

Forgive us if we call b.s. on you this time. We won't get fooled again.

Give our love to Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) when you see him.

Blazers playoff drama: chickenpox and other news

The Blazers play their last game of the regular season tonight -- a meaningless tilt against Golden State down in Oakland. One hopes the coaching staff would give the key players the night off and play the scrubs.

Meanwhile, the Portland squad doesn't know whom it's playing in the playoffs, which begin this weekend. It could be Dallas, the Lakers, or Oklahoma City. A lot of folks are saying that Dallas would be the easiest opponent for the Blazers to beat in a playoff series, but I don't know, Portland could give the Lakers fits in the first round. Particularly since one of the Lakers, former Blazer Steve Blake, has just come down with chickenpox, a highly contagious disease for which several of the other Laker players are neither vaccinated nor immune. If there's an outbreak of the virus on the team, the L.A. purple-shirts could find themselves short-handed. One of their bigs, Andrew Bynum, has got a gimpy knee, which took him out of the game last night against the Spurs. Laker thug Matt Barnes is also complaining about knee issues.

Anyway, the fans at Blazers Edge have the scenarios down. All will be resolved tonight:

OKC Will Be Portland's Opponent If...

* Dallas loses [hosting New Orleans], OKC wins [hosting Milwaukee] no matter what L.A. does.

L.A. Will Be Portland's Opponent If...

* Dallas wins and L.A. loses [in Sacramento] no matter what OKC does.

Dallas Will Be Portland's Opponent If...

* All three teams lose [or win]

So...Questions to ask yourself:

1. Did Dallas win? If so, Portland will face Dallas if L.A. also won, L.A. if L.A. lost.

2. Did Dallas lose? If so, Portland will face OKC if OKC wins, Dallas if OKC loses.

The Blazers haven't won a playoff series in my daughter's lifetime. She'll be 11 in the fall.

Ikea -- the Swedish Wal-Mart?

It sure sounds that way.

Closing Portland's parks

It's been a cool, damp winter and spring in Portland, and the grass fields in the city's parks are wet and muddy. And so the city announced last week that the fields are closed, and now they will remain so until at least next Tuesday.

Has this ever happened before? Certainly the cold, damp weather has -- I mean the field closures.

Is there no other solution? Or is this another situation in which the city doesn't have the money to deal with routine problems because it's blown it all on junk?

The new Erik Sten

Our mild leeriness of State Rep. Jefferson Smith of Portland is quickly growing to outright distaste, as he's showing his colors as an overgrown Bus kid with a gigantic ego and big, not-so-smart ideas. Now he's championing the "satellite" urban renewal district boondoggle -- whereby the "blighted" Pearl District's property taxes will pay for school buildings in East County. The whole thing sounds unconstitutional to us, but more importantly, it confirms that Smith, who has lofty political ambitions, is the next in line to bankrupt us.

He also has plenty of time in his busy schedule to make cutesy YouTube videos on the public's dime. This is why we need a full-time legislature?

Does this guy have a job? Or does he, like Opie Sten, have mystery money stashed away somewhere? And what is a hard core blue-collar House district doing being represented by a Harvard Law School dandy? Anyway, he's a sweetheart of the Blue Oregon crowd, and WW loves him, and so we can expect to endure his bloviations for many years to come.

Japan nuke update: Spent fuel pool acting up

The latest crisis at the Fukushima meltdown site, aside from earthquakes that continue to pound the place, is that both water temperature and radiation levels are rising quickly at the spent fuel pool at reactor no. 4. They say they can't get close enough to know exactly what's going on in there, but they keep pumping fresh water into the pool -- water that's no doubt winding up in the ocean in a highly contaminated state. At 90 degrees Celsius where the latest temperature reading was taken, they're reaching the point where the water in the pool is going to start bubbling.

Meanwhile, over at reactor no. 1, the pressure inside the reactor core continues to rise. There, too, it's not clear just what is going on inside. The huge steel reactor vessel may still be intact, but the seals connecting it to other parts are doubtlessly shot, and there's no doubt that there's been a partial fuel meltdown.

Now they're finding highly radioactive fish more than 20 miles away.

But don't worry. This won't affect us.

Greetings from Klickitat Street

We missed it, but Beverly Cleary, a Portland girl who done good, turned 95 yesterday. Best wishes to her from her old stomping grounds.

Police reform? Don't expect any help from Salem.

Legislators, many of them ex-cops, say any Portland problems need to be fixed by Portland City Hall.

Good luck with that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Whole lotta chancellin' goin' on

The folks who are questioning whether Oregon's university chancellor, George PERnSteiner, should be voting in Eugene, rather than in Portland where he owns a home that he lives in, have gotten a response. It's a letter that the chancellor's private lawyer wrote to the Lane County elections board. In it, the attorney defends the propriety of the chancellor's Eugene voter registration.

Curiously, the lawyer also asks that his letter be kept secret, which seems fairly ridiculous. He's from the same law firm that's apparently making the big bucks in Cylviagate and the Masters of the Universe junket caper -- positively Old Boy Central.

Meanwhile, it appears that on working days when the chancellor lives in his nice southeast Portland home, he bills the state for meals. He collects 13 bucks when he rolls out of bed and opens up a container of yogurt? No wonder tuition's going up. [Hat tip to the troublemakers at UO Matters.]

Is it lunacy to think it?

Nobody really knows for sure what triggers an earthquake. But it's interesting to speculate about. Do you think the recent "super moon" has anything to do with the current outbreak of mayhem in Japan? Or the re-awakening of seismic activity in the Caribbean?

The "Hobo Bellagio"

Portland is about to open its new homeless center over by the Greyhound terminal. Apparently the city has decided to test out the theory that the best way to reduce the number of homeless people on Portland's streets is to build them a nice eight-story hotel. Named after ex-Mayor Bud Clark, the place will fill up as soon as it opens its doors, and presumably that will mean fewer street people.

Maybe. Certainly it's worth a try. But Portland already has a reputation for being extraordinarily tolerant of the antics of some of the homeless, and one wonders whether rolling out the red carpet in nice digs is going to reduce the city's attractiveness to the more problematic segment of the street set. One intuits that it might have the opposite effect.

Anyway, the local media have had a tour of the place, and the kids at the Merc have dubbed it the "Hobo Bellagio." It does seem rather resort-like, but perhaps that's over the top. It does need a nickname, but a gentler one, please.

Sam Rand Twins changing their tune

Somebody must have taken a poll.

As we noted over the weekend, suddenly Portland's water commissioner and admiral of the fleet is posturing around as if he's a frugal watchdog over water bureau money. This after he's been exposed as a profligate spender who has blown sky-high water revenues on all sorts of pet projects that have nothing to do with the delivery of water.

He's up for re-election about a year from now.

So is the city's kooky mayor, who has abruptly seen the light and decided that despite his fondness for teenagers, he isn't going to pay for his proposed college scholarship fund out of water and sewer revenues. This after the city auditor has basically told him that it's illegal and he's cruising for a lawsuit if he keeps pursuing it.

These two fellows are such caricatures of petty municipal government that it seems incredible that they may get re-elected. But they are shrewd and practiced political operatives, and it's clear that whoever takes them on will be in for an ugly fight. And the many sheeple in the city are standing by waiting to be manipulated into voting for four more years of nervous breakdown.

You know you're hiding something when...

... China urges you to be more transparent.

Monday, April 11, 2011

4.3 quake off southern Oregon Coast

View Larger Map

Given the craziness happening under the sea off Japan, this area is worth watching.

Fukushima story: Mom's on the roof

As we knew they would all along, Japanese nuclear authorities are now talking about rating the nuclear disaster at Fukushima as a 7 on the international severity scale -- the same as Chernobyl. They're breaking the bad news gently over there. According to this summary, 7 is the top of the scale.

Get out your metal detector, Dad

People are talking about all the debris from Japan that will be washing up on Oregon's shores in a couple of years from last month's tsunami. Here's where it's projected to go -- stay tuned for the surprise ending.

Most of it will be unwelcome, but perhaps not all.

Go by super-bus

This could leave the fixed-rail birds behind on a number of fronts. It would do best with a dedicated lane, but it can go just about anywhere.

Do as we say

Not as we do.

Crazy cold way down there

To keep Grandpa warm, and be "green" at the same time, you can't go wrong with wool.

Quakes rocking Fukushima

Who needs a tsunami when you can have earthquakes, epicentered on land, less than 40 miles from the melting-down Japanese nuclear power reactors? The temblors have been going all night -- more than a dozen, including a big 6.6, all in the same area. And they're shallow -- only 6 to 10 miles down. Here's the spot of the biggest one:

In addition to more pounding on the wrecked reactor buildings, the quakes cut off power to the plant for about 50 minutes, during which time no water was injected into the damaged reactor cores. And when the tsunami warning went off, all the workers were forced to evacuate for a while. Tokyo Electric says they've got power back on now and have restored things to... well, the science-fiction version of normal that's been in effect for the last several weeks.

Do you get the feeling that Mother Nature is very angry?

UPDATE, 12:54 p.m.: They haven't let up yet -- the latest a 5.4 a couple of hours ago.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


[I]f you ask me, I’d say that the nation wants — and more important, the nation needs — a president who believes in something, and is willing to take a stand. And that’s not what we’re seeing.
If he's going to be a sellout, at least he's a blatant, obvious sellout, as opposed to a clever one like the Clintons.

But who will work for him in 2012? If all he's going to do is sort-of-save the Supreme Court, it hardly seems worth it.

Take me out to the coma

Another reason to loathe Los Angeles sports fans.

If iTunes freezes when you plug your iPhone into the computer

Here's a wild story from our iPhone annals. When you plug your iPhone into your computer, iTunes is supposed to come on and start syncing the computer with the phone. Lately our phone has been having trouble doing that. ITunes would come on, all right, but it would freeze and it wouldn't recognize the phone. As soon as we'd unplug the phone, iTunes would instantly work fine. The same thing would happen if we started iTunes first and then plugged the phone in -- iTunes would seize up until we unplugged the phone.

We tried a number of solutions we found on the internet, including uninstalling and reinstalling iTunes, but to no effect. This went on for hours over the course of a few days. Frustration! Finally we stumbled across a post on a discussion board that worked: We started playing a song on the phone's iPod function before plugging it into the computer. Voila! Everything was back to normal. Go figure.

UPDATE, 12:25 p.m.: Never mind. When we tried our solution a second time, it didn't work.

UPDATE, 12:34 p.m.: Another try worked. Ah, the mysteries of gadgetry.

UPDATE, 5:42 p.m.: It appears there may have been a conflict with an anti-malware program, which was running in the background on the computer. The program, Super AntiSpyware, is a good one, but we don't need to have it running all the time. We got it to stop starting up every time we started Windows, and so far so good on the iPhone.

UPDATE, 4/11, 5:42 a.m.: Another suspect: a program called Setpoint, which comes with a Logitech mouse.

UPDATE, 6/2, 1:20 p.m.: A couple of months' worth of fussing with this problem has led to some progress, but not a final solution. Our update is posted here.

UPDATE, 6/14, 3:32 p.m.: We think we have figured out the problem, and come up with a solution! Details here.

Another photo of tsunami hitting nuke site

They've released some new photos of the Fukushima meltdown site, and among them is this angle on the wall of water jumping the inadequate seawall and surging into the reactor complex. It's hard to tell, but it looks like about 10 feet of water in the reactor buildings, and more in the turbine and emergency generator structures, which are closer to the ocean:

Along with yesterday's video, it's clear that there were a few cams going when the beginning of the end occurred.

Phony Story of the Month

Here's a bogus plot that the local daily newspaper swallows hook, line, and sinker: The staff at the Portland Water Bureau wants to spend millions on fancy new water meters, but Fireman Randy is turning them down because he's a careful custodian of the public's money.

What a joke.

No one who works in any office run by the Fireman ever has the nerve to disagree with him -- if they know what's good for them. And he'll spend bureau money on whatever he darn well pleases.

It's an interesting set-up, but anyone who buys it deserves to live in a place run by Fireman Randy.

Greg Walden is not harmless

He is certainly no friend of the internet.

Bike rage incident ends peacefully, and implausibly

Here's a blizzard of lies from the off-duty-cop-on-a-bike and the driver who got into it coming into town off Cornell Road a couple of weeks ago. It's nice that they kissed and made up; they were probably both in the wrong in one way or another.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Beginning of the end in Japan

In the month that we've been watching the nuclear disaster unfold in Fukushima, there has been relatively little by way of video for us to look at. Tokyo Electric is strenuously downplaying the crisis, and as part of that effort, it has steadfastly refused to share with the public any live video. All we get is a still shot taken from a nearby hill, refreshed once an hour. Here's what it looks like on Sunday morning over there:

The big stacks are ventilation pipes from the melting-down nuclear reactors. They stand about 250 feet high. To the right is the Pacific Ocean, with breakwaters built to keep stormy seas off the turbines and emergency equipment, which are at ground level between the stacks and the ocean. You can see some radioactive smoke coming off one or more of the plants. That's pretty much constant, and most of the time, it's blowing our way.

Once in a while they send a drone or a helicopter over the top and release some photos for folks to pore over. You can be sure that this set has been analyzed by thousands of people. Otherwise, it's been a big game of hide-the-ball. Break the bad news gradually, hide as much as you can for as long as you can, and distract, distract, distract. "Look, we plugged a hole!" Yeah, right.

Anyway, given that no one has posted any images of the tsunami hitting the plant, we have assumed that none existed, but in fact that's not true. Today Tokyo Electric released a brief amateur video clip, taken by a fleeing worker, which shows the wave crashing into the plant. Perspective is a tricky thing, but the wave seems to have been quite a ways up the stack:

Should those plants have been built there? Of course not. It's earthquake country -- tsunami country -- but the nuke people just rolled over all concerns and made their money. As they always do. Then when the farming and fishing are ruined for miles around, and the people come down with cancer, and the birth defects appear, they deny the truth as much as possible, occasionally bowing to say they're sorry. About five minutes later they're back pushing new reactor projects.

GE has pitched in a big "up to $10 million" to help the crisis. They'll pay a lot more than that chump change on lawyers before the Fukushima story fades, decades from now.

Are we voting on gay marriage again?

This came in the mail yesterday. It looks like an election campaign flyer:

There was an ad on the TV last night, too. Did I miss the memo, and gay marriage is on the ballot again? Or is this just a general public opinion campaign?

Cylvia is high-maintenance

The governor's concubine has cost the taxpayers $400K and counting over her company and its alleged contract scam with the shady Oregon Energy Department. The folks at the O are now painting the investigation as a waste of money. Really? If her friend who's a checker at Fred Meyer slipped some expensive stuff into her shopping cart and let her walk out the door without paying for it, should the police just let that go?

Here's the way it's supposed to work: On the criminal side, salaried government prosecutors and investigators assemble the case and bring it to a grand jury. On the civil side, salaried government employment lawyers handle the case and advise the supervisors whether or not to discipline the employees involved. The suspects retain and pay for their own lawyers unless and until they are disciplined or charged. Once they are disciplined or charged, they (or their union, if they have one) still need to come up with, and pay for, their own lawyers. If they're vindicated, maybe -- maybe -- they should be reimbursed for their attorney's fees.

If that doesn't work -- and admittedly, there are a lot of ways it could go wrong -- then the elected officials in the picture should be voted out of office at the next opportunity. It doesn't have to cost $400K, and the bad guys don't have to walk without consequences, to someone.

Sixty thousand dollars worth of alleged state contract favoritism for the governor's girlfriend is a big deal.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Have a great weekend

The latest pastime at the Portland Water Bureau

Forget the Tweeting -- how about wrestling?

Wayward Government Car of the Week

An alert reader caught this scene across from Pioneer Courthouse Square yesterday afternoon at about 2:30:

Think that parking ticket will ever get paid?

Let's see: one Tri-Met person to park the car illegally, one City of Portland parking minion to write the ticket, one Tri-Met office bureaucrat to process the ticket, one county court clerk to deal with the ticket, somebody at City Hall to see that the ticket has or hasn't been paid...

This is why we need to raise your property taxes to perform basic maintenance on schools.

Welches con man foiled again

And this time, the interaction spices up a tour of the Rose City.

In Lake O., a rustling of pitchforks

An alert reader from Portland's southern 'burb sends along this notice, forwarded from Mike Kehoe, a city council member who's opposed to the proposed streetcar boondoggle:

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you to let you know about an upcoming opportunity to offer public comment about the potential streetcar to Lake Oswego. On Tuesday, April 12th at 6:00 PM at City Hall, Council will be taking public comment on streetcar. Anyone who desires to comment will be allowed up to two minutes and all you need to do is fill out a request to comment card.

This is a very significant decision for Lake Oswego because it will affect many other things that we can or cannot do in our town. If Streetcar moves forward, it will permanently change the character of our small town. In addition, it will shift our financial priorities from other valuable projects. Given the magnitude and the cost of this decision, I will be advocating at council that a public vote should be held. In the absence of a public vote, I feel that it is extremely important for the citizens to come forward on Tuesday evening and tell us what their vision is for Lake Oswego.

I hope that you will attend the meeting on Tuesday evening, bring your friends and neighbors and provide a comment.


UPDATE, 10:24 a.m.: Another alert reader points out that the group that speaks for the neighborhood associations down that way came out last weekend against the streetcar:
April 2, 2011

Be it resolved that the membership of the Lake Oswego Neighborhood Action Coalition is opposed to the streetcar as the locally preferred alternative over the enhanced bus or no build options. We believe that streetcar proponents have not proven that project benefits are commensurate with the estimated $458 million project cost. Congestion will not be significantly reduced and the streetcar does not provide a better transit opportunity for all Lake Oswego and local area users. We believe that the purported economic and development benefits of the streetcar are overstated and unrealistic. We believe that streetcar construction will cause irreversible environmental damage to sensitive lands and wildlife located along the proposed route. We further believe that currently unknown local funding requirements for construction and operation of the streetcar will place a significant future burden on Lake Oswego taxpayers. Finally, we believe that streetcar construction and operation will divert financial resources away from important new projects supported by the whole community as well as schools, street maintenance, parks, library, police and fire.

Do you smell that? It smells a little like tar and feathers.

Meanwhile, closer to home

While all eyes are turned to the nuclear crisis to our west, the nucle-heads at Hanford had their own little problem at a reactor yesterday. But don't worry -- when the hydrogen went up, it was just a little "puff." They know what they're doing. Nothing can go wrong.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

You read it here first -- Portland schools mailer looks illegal

Now even the O catches on to the blatant abuse of taxpayer money for electioneering.

The person who enforces state law on this kind of violation says she needs a complaint to take any action. Well hey, here's her email address: Carla.M.Corbin@state.or.us. Perhaps someone out there would like to pull the trigger.

This one's like the library ballot measure from six months ago. Whatever the merits may be, the way it's being promoted turns our stomach. No way we're going to pull out the clothespin for our nose and cast a yes vote "for the children." Sleaze should not be rewarded.

(And speaking of echoes -- compare this today with this on Monday.)

Japan nuke meters have been "cooked"

Despite many denials from the operators of the doomed Fukushima reactors, smart money says that the meltdowns have penetrated the bottom of at least one of the three stricken reactor vessels:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission speculated Wednesday that some of the core of the No. 2 reactor had flowed from its steel pressure vessel into the bottom of the containment structure. The theory implies more damage at the unit than previously believed... The Nuclear Regulator Commission said that its speculation about the flow of core material out of the reactor vessel would explain high radiation readings in an area underneath, called the drywell.... But some of the radiation readings taken at Reactors Nos. 1 and 3 over the last week were nearly as high as or higher than the 3,300 rems per hour that the commission said it was trying to explain, so it would appear that the speculation would apply to them as well. At No. 2, extremely radioactive material continues to ooze out of the reactor pressure vessel, and the leak is likely to widen with time, a senior nuclear executive said.... Tokyo Electric’s difficulties in providing accurate information on radiation are not a result of software problems, as some Japanese officials have suggested, but stem from damage to measurement instruments caused by radiation because it exceeds the maximum dose that they are designed to measure, the executive said.... "It’s killing the measuring equipment," he said. "They’re blaming it on software — it’s their meters getting cooked."
Who knows how hot it is in there -- or why?

What the bureaucrats do all day

The government public relations juggernaut continues unabated. The Portland area's oddball Metro government has taken it to new levels of absurdity. Not only do they come up with a bogus survey of public opinion, badly tainted by self-selection issues, but then their quasi-independent "reporter" burns some hours writing about how bogus it is. It gets nuttier by the day over there.

What next? Surely the guy who invented the survey has to spend some time responding, and of course the reporter will have to report about that. Tweedle dum, tweedle dee, and all with a catchy PERS backbeat for both of them. What a waste. What a town.

An intense aftershock

Another big shaker in Japan a little while ago -- 7.1 or 7.4, depending on which authority one reads. It was late Thursday night over there at the time. The external power has gone out at at least one nuclear power plant as a result, but there has been no tsunami, and so if things work the way they're supposed to, emergency generators have switched on to cool the nuclear fuel and prevent another nuclear disaster.

Fighting the "kicker"

Governor Retread and Treasurer Ted are pushing the state legislature to set the wheels in motion to get rid of the state income tax "kicker," under which Oregon refunds taxes to taxpayers if tax collections exceed budget estimates. We need to "build up a savings account" in good economic years, they say, to provide a cushion in lean economic years.

The problem with this argument, of course, is that even in lean times, Oregon spends money on unwanted and unneeded junk like a train from Portland to Milwaukie -- and the bureaucrats will borrow money if necessary to pay for the toys. Given that reality, trying to sell a tax increase as building a "savings account" is going nowhere fast. If the "kicker" money is kept by the state, it will surely be spent on baloney, or used to pay credit card debt on previously purchased baloney.

They might be able to get rid of the corporate "kicker," but the individual version isn't going away any time soon. It's in the state constitution, and the votes just aren't there in the electorate to change it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fingers crossed on Fukushima no. 1

The pressure inside the reactor core in Fukushima unit no. 1 continues to grow, today to 754.8 kilopascals (109.5 pounds per square inch). That's a 28.1% increase over the past week. They've started slowly injecting nitrogen into the thing, to try to prevent a serious hydrogen explosion.

Since the emergency is beyond all expectations, there's no manual. They're winging it. Those of us who live downwind of Japan, and who eat fish out of the Pacific Ocean, hope this experiment has a decent outcome.

The Oopsilon incident

We keep getting email messages from all sorts of folks with whom we normally deal, warning us that they gave our email address to an outfit called Epsilon, and Epsilon lost it. So now we might get a bunch of shady phishing emails, and we should be careful giving out our personal information.

So what else is new? We get phishing attempts pretty much every day, even without Epsilon screwing up. The bigger question is why the people we normally deal with are giving out our email address to begin with. We've never heard of Epsilon before this, and we don't want our address being handed to people we don't know. There ought to be a way we can check a box on a form somewhere so that it doesn't happen.

Another bust

The City of Portland didn't get picked by Google for ultra-high-speed internet service. But the minions at City Hall who burned gobs of time and money on this are no doubt hard at work figuring out some other way to get the city in the internet service business. We think they're still hoping to run a line to your house through the sewer system and charge the cost of laying it to your sewer bill.

Remember Opie Sten's free wi-fi fantasies? Get used to those potholes, folks. The cool kids can't be bothered with them.

Portland doc exposed by Wall Street Journal

And the spotlight makes him look pretty darn bad:

A Medicare database analyzed by The Wall Street Journal reveals that Dr. Makker has had an unusual propensity for performing such multiple surgeries on the spine. The data show that in 2008 and 2009, Dr. Makker performed spinal fusions on 61 Medicare patients. In 16 of those cases, he performed a total of 24 additional fusions. That gave him an overall rate of 39 additional fusions per 100 initial fusions, the highest rate in the nation among surgeons who performed spinal fusions on 20 or more Medicare patients during those two years.
The whole thing is here.

Blumenauering Williams Avenue

If you currently use that Portland traffic artery to get somewhere in a car, you may want to start thinking about your alternate route now, because you're probably about to lose a lane or two, for you-know-what. Since it's in a "couplet" with Vancouver Avenue, they'll probably make that miserable for cars, too.

Problems in Fukushima no. 1 confirmed

As we pointed out early yesterday, pressure is building up inside the reactor core in unit no. 1 at the Fukushima nuclear meltdown site. Today the folks who run the place acknowledged a special problem inside that unit and say they are thinking about injecting nitrogen into that reactor's core to prevent an explosion. Meanwhile the pressure inside no. 1 has continued to rise over the past day. It was at 589 kilopascals a week ago; the latest reading is 733.8 (or 106.4 pounds per square inch), a 24.6% increase. Yesterday it was 720.8.

Meanwhile, the convenient distraction of plugging a hole in a leaking pit has concluded. That one source of radioactive flow into the ocean has apparently stopped. But there are doubtlessly other leaks, unavoidable with that much water being dumped over the radioactive wreckage every day and a plant that's undergone not only a 9.0-point earthquake, but also three large explosions. The fishing industry around the plant has no doubt been ruined for a lifetime, and the dead or danger zone in the ocean will increase in size indefinitely.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The latest must-have kitchen gadget

Thank you, G.E.

What's really gone down at Fukushima

The Japanese are keeping it quiet, but U.S. engineers who have been to the scene tell some scary stories of how bad the situation is at the Meltdown Central. One point not disclosed before is that the hydrogen explosions that rocked three of the reactors sent pieces of spent fuel rods flying as far away as a mile:

The document also suggests that fragments or particles of nuclear fuel from spent fuel pools above the reactors were blown "up to one mile from the units," and that pieces of highly radioactive material fell between two units and had to be "bulldozed over," presumably to protect workers at the site. The ejection of nuclear material, which may have occurred during one of the earlier hydrogen explosions, may indicate more extensive damage to the extremely radioactive pools than previously disclosed.
They're breaking the bad news slowly, but eventually this one is going to make Chernobyl look small. The whole country, already badly battered, may never recover from what's yet to be revealed.

All loos are not created equal

Here's a funny one from Portland's mayor. He's such an expert on crime -- when he's not committing one. As part of his proposed revitalization of drug- and prostitution-free zones (which were shut down as racist a while back), he's got this plan:

To cut down on illegal activity, Adams said he asked Portland Parks & Recreation to not reopen two public restroom facilities on West Burnside and Southwest Ankeny this summer. He also said the city would be looking at partnering with TriMet to look at adding more security at the transit mall in Old Town, including playing music and installing video cameras.
This is hysterical. The city opens its "Portland Loos" amid all sorts of fanfare, then admits that public restrooms breed crime and closes other public toilets nearby. These people need Ritalin, or something.

Now, there's an idea

Why not reduce the state legislature from one house to two? Rather than 90 colorful solons strutting around Salem brooding about whether we should ban plastic bags or adopt "the Code of the West," couldn't we get by with 60? Or even 30?

Is Portland school bond campaigning on the public dime?

The folks pushing not one but two major property tax increases in Portland for the public schools have amassed a campaign war chest of about a bazillion dollars. The money's come raining down on them from all the usual suspects -- from the government employee unions to the construction dudes who will make a killing "modernizing" the schools. The political types are falling all over each other throwing Benjamins. The old Mark Edlen types are right in there with their "green" this and that -- I hear Benson High School will be LEED Plutonium.

Anyway, the "for the children" campaign signs are popping up like early dandelions on lawns all over town, and apparently they've paid for enough space in the voters' pamphlet to allow every public school student to publish a poem. The election is on May 17, and so the mailing of the pamphlet to the voters, dead and alive, is just a few weeks away.

O.k., all well and good. That's democracy, Oregon style. But having an obscene pile of private campaign money isn't enough, apparently. Last week this showed up in our mailbox -- an obvious piece of election porn, disguised as a "report" from the school board:

You don't have to look too far in this eight-page flyer to find the same kind of rhetoric that you'd expect to find in a hard-core campaign mailer:

So who paid for this thing? It's not entirely clear. The return address is the school district, but up front they include this little tidbit:

It was "supported by" somebody or other, but that doesn't mean that tax dollars weren't spent. And even though there were "no classroom funds used," that seems to indicate that some public funds in fact were.

This sort of sleaze is what turned us off on the highly misleading library campaign in the last election. The "progressive" government in Portland is such a turnoff, it's almost enough to turn a guy into a Republican.


Fukushima no. 1 acting up?

We've been following the readings on the Fukushima meltdown reactors carefully over the last half-day or so, and we're seeing some high pressure readings in unit no. 1. If you go here and compare the core pressure (P Core) of unit no. 1 to nos. 2 and 3, you see that no. 1 is at six or seven times that of the other two, and rising steadily. Not being a nuclear engineer, we can't tell how much of a cause for concern that is, but it's obvious that the problems in the reactors aren't all the same.

Having failed in sealing the radioactive water leaks with sawdust, newspaper, and adhesive, and while they're spraying Superglue on the ground to keep the radioactive dust down, maybe Tokyo Electric will try massive injections of this for any core pressure problem. And I don't know, for plugging things up, you can't beat this.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Trade mission to Germany yields... well, nothing

But Portland's nutty mayor and his band of "senior economic development and sustainability policy yada yada" people had a nice week burning through other people's money. Just as they did in Spain two months ago. "They didn't make any commitments, but they smiled a lot. They obviously like us." Yes, and right after you left, they probably laughed.

Another Gitmo promise washed out

No civilian trial for this guy. Our kangaroo court in Cuba will handle it.

What a disgrace. And what a disappointment this administration is. They'll blame Congress, but for two years, they controlled Congress and couldn't deliver what they promised. We'd call them lame, but that would be a slur on lame people.

Something else to think about with the SoWhat jail

It won't be subject to Justice Department rules designed to prevent sexual assault by prison workers. Wonderful.

Come here often -- to Whole Foods?

There could soon be a bar in your local yuppie supermarket. It's happening elsewhere, apparently.

Forget "What's your sign?" Go with "Nice arugula."

Audit: Cops know where the pot and the guns are

According to Portland's auditor, pretty much everything in the Portland police evidence room is shipshape.

The O vs. Wheeler: tin foil helmet version

Portland's daily newspaper continues to pound away at State Treasurer Ted Wheeler for standing behind his "Masters of the Universe" investment advisors in their travel junket ethical troubles. The legal bills defending these birds and Wheeler's department over their alleged expense account misdeeds are now at $163,000 and counting.

But there's always more than meets the eye in an Oregon public corruption story. Why are the O and Wheeler behaving the way they are?

Let's start with Wheeler himself. Why does he stand up for the Masters? It's not as though he's worked with them for years, or is responsible for the system that they're abusing -- Wheeler basically just got there. So what are they so intent on hiding, and why does he go along? Maybe Wheeler himself has been in on the lush and extravagant junkets with the investment gurus, and he wants them to continue unabated. But that doesn't sound like him -- he's loaded, he doesn't need some Wall Street weasels to throw him a fat vacation once in a while. There's some other deal underneath this.

Now let's think about the O -- the sleepy O, that's never out front when the state's rich and powerful are committing unspeakably corrupt acts. Why the bee in their bonnet on this one? They've got two reporters working the story -- that leaves Peter Bhatia to have to go out for the office donuts every morning.

Maybe it's because Wheeler's on to some serious shenanigans that have been pulled by the Goldschmidt Gang, and he's keeping the option of blowing the whistle. Is it time to get him hounded out of office before he does something rash? The O could start with some muckraking articles. Kind of a warning shot. If that doesn't work, the Network could go with something darker. It's a dangerous world out there.

Portland council to put property taxes on line for Milwaukie MAX

They're pointing to a bunch of goofball fees to pay the $45 million plus interest, but it appears that in the end, Portland property taxpayers will be on the hook:

The city bonds are to be repaid from a variety of non-property tax sources. They include state gas tax revenues, city-wide wide transportation system development charges, North Macadam transportation system development overlay charges, Portland Innovation Quadrant transportation system development overlay charges, parking revenue received by the Portland Bureau of Transportation and other transportation related revenue.

Although none of these sources include city property tax revenue, the bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the city, meaning property taxes could eventually help pay for them if the other revenue are not sufficient.

This city needs so many things. It's a real travesty that we're going to blow our money on more worthless junk. We can all thank Earl the Pearl and the rest of the developer-contractor-union Mafia for this one.

Barring a miracle, the taxpayers aren't going to get to vote on these bonds. But they will get to vote if a certain bow-tie biker runs for mayor.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bath salts in the poison soup

The nucle-heads at Japan's melting-down Fukushima power plants have focused everyone's attention the last few days on this pipe outlet or hole, which they say is leaking highly radioactive water into the ocean:

They've been trying to contain it with concrete, then sawdust, newspapers, and expanding sealant -- at one point they were reportedly stuffing large bags full of litter into a hole as part of the process. So far, nothing's worked, they say.

But if that isn't all a purposeful distraction, I'll be a monkey's uncle. Do they honestly think there is only one leak? And if they stop the water from going into the ocean, where is it going to go? We're talking water by the swimming pool-ful, every day, drenching the reactors for the next year or more. They don't have storage space for anything close to that. And letting it get deeper and deeper just makes more and more of the plant untouchable by repair crews.

No, the water will continue to pour into the ocean. The radioactive iodine, which they keep giving out readings on, will dissipate. But there are a lot of other nasty radionuclides in that water, like cesium, that will be around for decades. If there's plutonium, we're talking danger for hundreds of centuries.

The latest dispatch from Tokyo Electric is that they put bath salts in the water to make it look milky and see where the leak is coming from. That's so cute. This show makes for interesting television, but so does "The Three Stooges."

UPDATE, 4/4, 1:47 a.m.: The latest from Japan is here:

The total amount of contaminated water to be released will be 11,500 tons and the concentration of the waste water is estimated at about 100 times the legal limit, which is deemed as a relatively low level, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
That's around 3,000,000 gallons of water -- enough to fill four Olympic-sized swimming pools with enough to fill a fifth pool halfway up. And now 100 times the legal limit is "low level" radioactivity, eh? My, my. How stupid do they think the world is?

Gaddafi wins humanitarian medal of honor

Not really -- but it wouldn't be much more preposterous than this.

Yes, you may

Too funny, yet too true:

This promotion of childishness in the electorate means that bike lanes are just the beginning. Soon we'll be making room on our city streets for scooter and skateboard lanes, Soapbox Derby lanes, pogo-stick lanes, lanes for Radio Flyer wagons (actually more practical than bicycles since you can carry a case of beer—if we're still allowed to drink beer), stilt lanes, three-legged-race lanes, lanes for skipping while playing the comb and wax paper, hopscotch lanes and Mother-May-I lanes with Mayor Bloomberg at the top of Lenox Hill shouting to the people on Park Avenue, "Take three baby steps!"
The whole thing is here.

Blue wins, then goes bi-partisan

An alert reader of our post of yesterday about phone book trash in Oregon points out that it shows the state Senate Transportation Committee to be evenly divided, with three Democrats and three Republicans. "Last time I checked," the reader observes, "the D's controlled the Senate."

We hadn't thought of that. Hmmmmm... the Oregon House is evenly divided, 30-30, but in the Senate, it's 16 votes for the Democrats and 14 votes for the Republicans. And yet the committees are set up for partisan gridlock? Another place where the Democrats give up power, apparently.

UPDATE, 4/4, 12:46 a.m.: Another reader sends along this compilation of the party breakdown of the other Senate standing committees. It appears that Revenue and Finance is the other one getting the tie-vote treatment -- with Ginny Burdick presiding. Bad news for the little working guy.

Embarrassment in Eugene

The Oregon Ducks won their second-tier post-season invitational basketball tournament, but the key play in the final game was when a player on Creighton committed a backcourt violation because the awful, awful cutesy U of O arena floor doesn't have a clearly visible center court line. Way to go, Ducks! Another tainted trophy for Phil Knight's case.

They need to start all over on that floor. It looks more like vomit than anything else, and makes watching a Ducks game on television impossible. Our friend Bill McDonald pointed out the other day that it looks like the same paint job as on the tops of the Fukushima reactors. Indeed. Epic fail.

Bodies found at Fukushima

The remains of the first two workers to die at the melting-down Japanese nuclear power station have been recovered and identified. The dozens of brave souls who are there now battling the disaster expect that they will eventually die from their radiation exposure as well. As for the general population, you can be sure that no one in power will ever admit that anyone else suffered adverse health effects from what's happened and continues to happen. Some will even be told the radiation is good for them. Heck, if they don't care that they're killing you, they're not going to worry about lying to you.

Meanwhile, here's an interesting story about an American sailor who did ultra-hazardous work at a nuclear accident in the 1950s in Canada. His name was Jimmy Carter.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Oregonian calls Wheeler out on travel perk secrecy

As well it should. As much as we like the state treasurer, on this issue he just doesn't get it.

How foolish of Wheeler to let something so petty stain his tenure in state office. What terrible truth is being hidden here? He needs to tell his "Masters of the Universe" investment geniuses that their wild weekends are over. If they don't like it, they can go make the millions that they're supposedly worth elsewhere.

Phone book trash -- time to speak up

Here's one that's so simple, so obvious, and yet the people we elect and send to Salem can't seem to get it done. A mandatory opt-in system for paper phone books. Senate Bill 525. We're told this one is stalled. For Pete's sake! Who's holding it back? The paper companies? The phone companies? Surely the publishing company can't have the clout to stop this.

Here are the people in the State Senate who are sitting on this. If you're with us, let's give them an earful and stop this outrageous ecological insult. Apparently there isn't much more time to get them off the dime:

* Lee Beyer (D), Chair – sen.leebeyer@state.or.us - (503) 986-1706
* Jason Atkinson (R), Vice-Chair – sen.jasonatkinson@state.or.us
* Ginny Burdick (D) – sen.ginnyburdick@state.or.us
* Chris Edwards (D) – sen.chrisedwards@state.or.us
* Fred Girod (R) – sen.fredgirod@state.or.us
* Bruce Starr (R) – sen.brucestarr@state.or.us

You might want to add your own state senator to this list.

Then there's the Portland City Council. When it suits them (such as on gun control), they tell us that "the cities need to get out front on important issues." Funny thing, though -- there's been no action from that group on this issue. It's obscene.

But hey, one thing at a time. Let the senators hear from you right away.

What ails us

Sure, coming from the Wall Street Journal, the surrounding rhetoric is to be taken with a grain of salt, but this article presents some sobering facts:

Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.... More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined.... Every state in America today except for two—Indiana and Wisconsin—has more government workers on the payroll than people manufacturing industrial goods. Consider California, which has the highest budget deficit in the history of the states. [It] now has an incredible 2.4 million government employees—twice as many as people at work in manufacturing. New Jersey has just under two-and-a-half as many government employees as manufacturers. Florida's ratio is more than 3 to 1. So is New York's. Even Michigan, at one time the auto capital of the world, and Pennsylvania, once the steel capital, have more government bureaucrats than people making things.
Sad, really. "World trade" sure didn't help.

April madness

Our annual spring fling with college basketball reaches its apex this afternoon with the Final Four. There's not much suspense left in the bracket games we have entered -- we'll finish either second or third in one of them, and well out of the running in the other -- but both of today's games are intriguing.

The first contest pits against each other two teams who most would have thought had no business in the national semi-finals, Virginia Commonwealth and Butler. VCU's presence is remarkable in that many pundits said they had no business being in the tournament at all. Butler's is noteworthy in that last year, they were the shocking Cinderella, finishing as overall runner-up. Both teams have lovable young coaches and wonderful back stories, and with any luck they should play a close game throughout. Since hardly anyone has either of them on their brackets at this point, rooting will be based on other criteria. We're siding mildly with Butler, as their making the finals two years in a row is a tale that goes beyond amazing.

Whichever of those teams wins, they'll be a deep underdog to the victor of the second game, between Kentucky and Connecticut. Plenty of folks saw one or both of these teams making it this far -- we have UConn in our Final Four -- and both have played well to get to this point. Kentucky has seemed slightly hotter, but a week off and a trip to hype-filled Houston may cancel out their momentum. We're hoping for a heavyweight bout, and will be rooting for Kentucky, but again without a lot of oomph. Part of us just wants to see the overrated Big East Conference, which got too many berths in the tournament, sit down and shut up. But we won't be surprised if the Huskies roll over the Wildcats.

When the championship game is over on Monday evening, we can go back to ignoring the collegiate game for another 11 months and get ready to watch the Trail Blazers writhe through another playoff series -- or (one hopes) two.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Have a great weekend

Linchpin lunacy in Cincinnati

Fortunately they have some folks in office there who see the foolishness of the streetcar.

They probably don't wear bow ties, either.

Run Greg run

He's not in our district, but he'd have our support. No oxy or tiger suits here, that's for sure.

Wanted: Wyden watch

After our posts of earlier this week wondering about the true domicile of one Sen. Ron Wyden, we thought it might be revealing to compile a calendar of which cities Wyden sleeps in each night. And so we have signed onto his website and sent him a message asking if such information is available anywhere.

Think we'll get an answer? And if we don't, is there any way we can compile such a calendar independently of the senator's office?

Granted, the number of nights slept in any town is not controlling when it comes to determining one's domicile. But it's certainly relevant. And the comparison between New York City (where Wyden's wife and kids live) and Portland, Oregon (where he maintains a mostly-empty condo unit, currently on the market) would be quite interesting.

To our readers

In the spirit of full disclosure, we want to alert our readers in advance to some changes to this site that will become evident this summer. After a fair amount of soul-searching, and consultation with a couple of reader focus groups, we have accepted a generous offer by SagaCity Media to bring this blog under its umbrella of world-class publications. Having this blog hosted on their servers will enable all sorts of new interactive features that will make it an even better outlet for the news and views that you've come to expect. We're also looking forward to the excellent editorial guidance that their leadership can provide.

Don't worry, we'll still be the same old us, but come our ninth anniversary, this July 2, our old server will automatically refer you to our new blog location, here. Wish us luck with this exciting transition!

Transportation? Ask the true experts.

We got another howler in the mail the other day from the City of Portland transportation folks:

There's so much to goof on in this six-page, multi-color flyer, but one item jumped right out as our instant favorite:

We thought about this for a minute -- about our fearless commissioner in charge (currently vacationing on the taxpayer's dime in Germany), and his new director of transportation (currently vacationing on the taxpayer's dime in Spain). We sensed that we were being had. So we drove down to City Hall and asked to see the real transportation bureau pyramid -- the one that they follow themselves, as opposed to the one they foist on the unsuspecting taxpayers. They tried to give us the runaround, but eventually, we got the document under the public records law.

It's just as we suspected:

The Real Portland Transportation Bureau Pyramid

Japanese nuke waste pool boiled dry

It was no. 4 -- the one with the hottest fuel in it when the quake hit. Some expert insight into the situation can be found here.

UPDATE, 6:08 a.m.: Now they're going to try containing the radioactivity with... well, Superglue. And maybe pump some nitrogen into the reactors to see what happens. Meanwhile, there are uncontrolled nuclear reactions going on in one of the reactors. The chance of a big boom over there does not seem to be decreasing.

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