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

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December 2011 Archives

Saturday, December 31, 2011

'Dogs will be up early

Players in our charity pro football underdog game, don't forget that all the Big Daddies of the NFL will be playing tomorrow, and your pick in our contest is due by 10 a.m. Pacific Time. It's an important week -- the regular season comes to an end, and the big point spreads are likely to be gone after this. Good luck, and happy New Year!

Urban League takes another hit

Still reeling from a financial scandal involving its CEO's expense accounts, now the Urban League of Portland has lost an important state grant on account of poor performance, even after receiving prior warnings. The grant was to help get poor children enrolled in government healthcare programs.

At least the local media was kind enough to soft-pedal the story on the holiday weekend, when it would get completely lost. The old 9 p.m. Friday posting trick strikes again.

We continue to wonder how members of the board of this organization can continue to hold on to their positions. Gents, it's time to bow out gracefully.

Mattress World going under?

First the husband disappears from the TV commercials, and now it appears that the ads are vanishing entirely. The subtexts were Shakespearean in their depth, and without them the local tube will never be the same. Suddenly it's too late to sleep like a baby.

The year through a Fish eye

The Portland city commissioner surveys a year of his accomplishments here. It's modest, but impressive nonetheless.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Have a great holiday weekend

Could Portland Beavers come back?

Here's an interesting development: With the death of "urban renewal" in California, there won't be a new ballpark built for the former Portland Beavers down San Diego way. As a result, the owners are now talking about selling the team, which is currently playing in Tucson, and they say they're in talks with three potential buyers -- one in El Paso and the other two also outside California. Could one of them be in Beaverton, the 'Couv, or Clackistan?

The year that was

Outside of the weather and the police blotter, there isn't usually a whole lot of news to write about in the week between Christmas and New Year's. And so an editor, seeing reporters sitting around with nothing to report, usually picks one or more of them to compile a year-in-review article. These pieces usually don't have much of a point, but sometimes they pull together some threads that got missed as the day-to-day news unfolded during the year just past.

Back in our days as a newspaper reporter in New Jersey, we got the call one year to write the county-wide annual wrap-up, which was a bit of an honor for a young guy like ourselves -- the task of summing up everything that had happened in Hudson County in 1973 (or maybe it was '74). We had a lot of help from around the newsroom and the various bureaus that the paper had in those days. But whatever happened wasn't too memorable, because today we couldn't name a single story that we included.

Just for nostalgia's sake, we thought we'd try to replicate that feat for the Portland area in 2011. Combing through our hundreds of blog posts during the year, what were the big stories? Without colleagues and editors to provide additional sets of eyes, we're sure to be missing something obvious, but what the hey -- here are 40-plus stories that occupied us (if you'll pardon the expression) this year:

1. Federal bribery charges at Portland City Hall. Ellis McCoy, the city's parking meter manager, is accused by federal prosecutors of accepting to bribes to influence the awarding of city contracts. These allegations knocked around City Hall and the county district attorney's office for years, but no one did anything meaningful about them until acting U.S. attorney Dwight Holton, in his final days leading the federal prosecutor corps, pulls the trigger.

2. The Sam Rand Twins pack it in. Portland's ditzy (or worse) mayor and the bully city commissioner who pulls his strings both announce that they won't run for re-election in 2012. The mayor's seat is very much up for grabs; the Admiral appears to be successfully bequeathing his chair to Stevie Novick.

3. Water-and-sewer lawsuit. Outraged water and sewer customers haul the City of Portland into court demanding a halt to the illegal spending of water and sewer rates on pet projects that have nothing to do with providing water or sewer service. The city tells bondholders that it thinks "the majority" of the claims are meritless -- but apparently, by the city's implicit admission, not all.

4. Wu flames out. The westside congressman is shown to be a drug-addled nutjob, but he refuses to step aside until allegations of recent impropriety with a young woman become the straw that broke the camel's back.

5. Kroger's finished. The most ambitious politician Oregon has seen in many a year shocks everyone with the announcement that he won't be continuing as Oregon attorney general past the end of his term because of an undisclosed illness. Given that he faced no serious opposition for re-election, he must be quite ill, or else not revealing the real reason for his dropping out.

6. City auditor speaks up. Portland city auditor Lavonne Griffin-Valade shakes up the rest of City Hall with a handful of reports that are none too complimentary of bureaus run by the Sam Rand Twins. Among her valid criticisms are diversion of water and sewer funds for marginal, non-service-related projects; and the city's addiction to borrowing money, with long-term indebtedness now topping $3.2 billion. An outside auditor also finds fault with the bookkeeping in some of the bureaus.

7. Clackistani rebels. Voters in Clackamas County are stirred up by the invasion of Portland-style planning-mania, and they fight back with grit. They defeat at the polls a tax on them for the Sellwood Bridge replacement; they vote to force a countywide vote on future "urban renewal" schemes; and they hang tough against the condo-ization of the east side of Lake Oswego, replete with an utterly delusional streetcar link to Portland.

8. Portland cop indicted in shooting. The first Portland police officer in recent memory charged with a violent crime committed while on duty, is accused of accidentally shooting a fleeing suspect with live ammunition when he thought he was firing a beanbag round. Meanwhile, his colleagues are busted on several off-duty drunk driving raps, and one is charged with brandishing his gun in a road rage incident on I-90 in Idaho.

9. Occupy. The national protest movement takes root in a downtown Portland square, resulting in dozens of arrests, the trashing of a couple of parks, many hours of televised drama, and precious little by way of meaningful social change. A followup protest on the South Park Blocks turns out to be little but a glorified late-night dance party, and then even the hardcore squatters disappear for the holidays.

10. School bond election cheating. After being called out for it on this blog and elsewhere, Portland public school officials are cited and fined by the state for using taxpayer dollars to promote the school district's massive construction bond ballot measure. The measure fails despite the illegal tactics.

11. Gang violence steps up. With their future more hopeless than ever, Portland's young gangsters take to shooting, stabbing, and beating each other in record numbers.

12. Reprieves for a suspect water bureau. The feds back down on their demands that Portland build an ultraviolet water treatment system at Bull Run, and disconnect the open reservoirs in town. City officials seem crushed that they won't get to play with as many giant Tinkertoys as they had hoped, and they're still pushing for a land use change that would allow the UV treatment plant at Bull Run.

13. Portland food composting and plastic bag ban. The state-sponsored "green" religion advances in Portland with a unilateral 50% cutback in landfill garbage service, accompanied by heavy arm-twisting on residential customers to put out all food slop separately for composting at a facility that's stinking up North Plains. The City Hall high priests of "behavior change" also outlaw plastic bags at big retail groceries, but not at Powell's.

14. Failed school bond. It would be the biggest construction bond in state history, and the construction types who have been hovering around the public schools for a decade are watering at the mouth. But despite a heavy "for the children" come-on, including illegal use of school district money for the campaign, the voters wisely say no.

15. Government PR juggernaut. The local mainstream media picks up on our longstanding complaint that government in the Portland area spends far too much money on public relations flacks. The army of flacks shrugs and keeps Tweeting.

16. City Hall honchos leave in droves. One after another, Portland bureau directors are taking the pension and running. Transportation, parks, legal, administration, finance, housing... with Sam Adams in charge, stability is impossible.

17. Wyden exposes himself. The latest exploits of the senior senator "from Oregon" -- teaming with the far right wing to push privatization of Medicare -- awaken people nationwide to what we've been complaining about for years: The guy is a New York Republican. Wrong on health care, wrong on taxes, we wish Ron would step down, sell off the Eastmoreland love nest, and hang with his beautiful people in the Big Apple full-time.

18. SoWhat jail. Overruling a hearings officer who told it like it was, the Portland City Council approves a high-security immigration deportation facility next door to an elementary school. At first a seeming breach of the city's bleeding-heart liberal agenda, on closer inspection the council vote is a return favor for the politicians' developer pals who own the building and stand to make a bundle off the lease to the federal immigration sweethearts.

19. Jeld-Wen Field. The sports stadium that the City Council essentially handed over to Henry Paulson's son reopens for business in its renovated state, without baseball. As usual, soccer is a big hit; as usual, Portland taxpayers are on the hook for eight figures should a league failure or other financial problems cause the Paulson team to turn off the cash flow spigot to the banks. Tens of millions of debt from a prior re-do of the stadium remain unpaid.

20. Brandon Roy reveals glass knees, retires. The Blazers' best player goes from the backbone of the franchise to the junk heap over the course of several months, but not before he turns in a playoff game performance for the ages.

21. Mystery Train to Milwaukie breaks ground. Portland's insolvent mass transit agency starts clearcutting the "urban forest" to make way for its most wasteful and pointless project ever. The money to pay for the thing is not even lined up, but it's full speed ahead.

Continue reading "The year that was" »

California "urban renewal" stays dead

The new law abolishing redevelopment agencies in the Golden State has been upheld by the state supreme court. Many California ideas eventually make their way to Oregon -- let's hope this one gets here soon.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Big time

The folks running the Lake Oswego Review -- who seem to be puppets of the developers and planners who have wrecked Portland and see L.O. as their next gravy train -- are calling us out, apparently.

And when they learn the rules of spelling and capitalization, we'll stop laughing at them.

Full house

We held the occasional poker game at our place last night. The usual seven suspects assembled for another round of food, drinks, cigars, stories, bullying, bluffing, and twists (simple and otherwise) of card-playing fate, all to a boomer soundtrack. Several of us have been playing poker against each other for three decades now -- half a lifetime -- and this particular group has held together all the way from pushing 50 to reaching 60.

The "hut," as our converted garage is known, was in need of a good cleanout, and we managed to get that done in time for the festivities. Perhaps as a reward, the cards came our way, and we ended the night about 17 bucks ahead of where we started. Not to mention a couple of leftover six-packs of good beer. Funny how the beer disappears more slowly these days. We've all gotten smarter about a lot of things.

Bunkers for Buckman

The corner of SE 20th and Morrison in Portland has been targeted for high-rise apartments for many years now. On the southeast corner, they threw up a condo bunker several years ago that remains to this day sadly misplaced, and homely as all get-out. On the northeast corner, which was owned by Multnomah County, they were all set to start the condo-izing when somebody noticed there was a historic Chinese graveyard on the site; Plan B is to turn the lot into a memorial park, some day.

Now there's new action on the northwest corner, for many years the site of a recording studio. The guy who recently defiled Irvington with a ghastly monstrosity of an apartment building is going to erect two of his bunkers -- one four stories tall, the other three -- with 71 apartments and only 12 or 15 parking spaces, depending on which account one reads. He's agreed to put a fake brick facade on the bigger of the two buildings, and apparently that's all it takes to keep the neighbors from putting up too much fuss. Coming in with a project that's just slightly less hideous than the most recent, rejected proposal for a site seems to be a successful modus operandi for him.

The developers keep playing stack-a-shack in Buckman. Just around the corner on Belmont is Homer Williams's failed, utterly out-of-place condo bunker, which when last we looked had to be turned into rental apartments. With no place to park and no good jobs nearby, the area is the perfect place for more young people to go to retire.

Somebody's reportedly trying to get historic district designation for the neighborhood. They'd better hurry while there's still something historic to designate.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bad cops in Spokane

We're talking really bad.

Fareless snare

Are you like us -- do you have old Tri-Met tickets lying around? If so, you might want to bring them with you the next time you're downtown, so that you can exchange them. Come May 1, they'll no longer work.

A gift of Oregon wine backfires

A California solar energy company is busted for pinot payola.

Putting faces on problems

Street Roots is one of our favorite Portland institutions. Their website usually has food for thought. Right now there are a couple of interesting stories up: Leo got an apartment, and Thomas is getting by with a little help from his family.

Meter mania

If you like watching the numbers roll by, here's a world view, and here's its counterpart just for the good old U.S.A.

Blogger-as-media case to be appealed

And apparently, this time the blogger will have professional legal counsel. It should make for some interesting freedom-of-speech precedent.

Is Fukushima radiation killing Alaskan seals?

So far, it's just a theory, but it's as good an explanation as any other so far for a sad situation.

Eugene Occupiers do it in style

Several of them were busted for camping out on the lawn in front of a City Council member's house.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The O says, "Kill the Lake O. streetcar"

They said it the day after Christmas, when nobody would notice, but still -- they said it.

When even the O is against something shiny and Goldschmidtty, you know it's a screaming waste of money. The nattering nabobs on the Lake O. City Council can keep pushing this for Homer Williams if they like -- they may soon be rewarded by getting to spend a lot more time with their families.

The first 'dogs of 2012

The pro football oddsmakers appear to have taken yesterday off, and so we presently have lines for only a few of the games in our charity underdog contest:

12 BUFFALO at New England
9 WASHINGTON at Philadelphia
4 INDIANAPOLIS at Jacksonville
3 HOUSTON vs. Tennessee
3 KANSAS CITY at Denver
3 SAN DIEGO at Oakland
3 SEATTLE at Arizona
3 DALLAS at New York Giants
2.5 CINCINNATI vs. Baltimore
1.5 NEW YORK JETS at Miami

Bucs/Falcons, Steelers/Browns, Bears/Vikings, Niners/Rams, Lions/Packers, and Panthers/Saints are all still up in the air, but probably not for long. Players should keep checking back here, as we'll continue checking out what Vegas is saying.

This is the last week of the regular season, after which the games get fewer and the point spreads get smaller. There are no more Thursday games, and so this week all picks are due by 10 a.m. Pacific Time Sunday, New Year's Day. Good luck with the 'dognostication, folks.

UPDATE, 11:18 p.m.: Here are some more:

12 TAMPA BAY at Atlanta
10.5 ST. LOUIS vs. San Francisco
9 CAROLINA at New Orleans
3.5 GREEN BAY vs. Detroit

Bears/Vikings is a pick 'em, and by rule that means it's off our board. Steelers/Browns could still surface, depending on Ben Roethlisberger's status. We'll keep checking through Thursday.

Last Buck-a-Hit Day charity selected

As the winner of our comment contest, reader Ben gets to designate where $250 of our "inner circle" contributions go. And true to his political nature, he has designated Oregonians in Action Legal Center. The IRS does recognize that group under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, and so it meets our criteria. Congratulations to Ben, and thanks again to all who commented and voted.

Our checks to the charities are scheduled to go out today. That's always a satisfying step in the process. We're grateful to everyone whose money we're sending, along with our own.

Municipal bond meltdown gets uglier

In Alabama, one county is claiming that it doesn't have to make good on its general obligation bonds and similar "full faith and credit" paper any more, because it is in bankruptcy. That proposition is sure to spook the bond market, and that in turn would mean higher interest rates for places like Portland, which are addicted to debt and constantly in need of new cash infusions or refinancings to keep a financial house of cards from tumbling.

Less and less money available for basic services, more and more going out the door to repay old debts -- that's how the Alabama county got into this bind, and it's not alone with its problems. Wait 'til Mom and Pop's muni bonds start to go bad; it's going to be painful to watch.

The perils of those sort-of holidays

What day of the week is it today? It doesn't feel like Tuesday. With Christmas on Sunday, yesterday was a holiday for most folks. But not everyone. The people who write parking tickets in Portland were out in full force. Such a lovely gift to the citizenry from the money-desperate Sam Rand Twins. Wonder how many people were surprised by the citations they found on their windshields.

Other holiday observances are even more ambiguous. We've written in the past about Columbus Day, for example -- a big deal back east, but in Oregon not so much. Here's a funny court case, decided last week, in which the Oregon Department of Revenue got caught in that box. They were supposed to serve papers on the Honda motor company on October 9 to preserve their tax case against Honda. Since that date fell on a Sunday, the law gave the revenuers until Monday the 10th to effectuate the service of process. But they needed to get the papers in the mail as certified mail by that date, and the Post Office was closed on that Monday for the federal observance of Columbus Day. And so the state got them in the mail as soon as the Post Office opened on Tuesday.

The Oregon Tax Court just threw out the case, on the ground that the taxing agency's mailing was too late. Although Columbus Day is a federal holiday, it isn't an Oregon state holiday. And so the deadline was Monday the 10th, and the Department of Revenue didn't meet it.

Filing screwups happen to taxpayers all the time, the court said, and so it's only fair to hold the taxing authority to the same standards. Tit for tat. And so Honda's off the hook in its tax dispute with Oregon.

Monday, December 26, 2011


The football game was a rout, and so we clicked over to the second half of the first Blazer game of the season. We weren't a minute into it when we started to assemble our list of the many things we dislike about the Portland TV announcer duo.

When we realized what was happening, we just turned the sound off. Much better. We're not sure how much of the Blazers we're going to watch on TV this season, but how ever much it is, we think we'll continue to do it without the audio.

You shouldn't have

Did you get any gifts that you didn't really want? You are not alone.

"Mark my footsteps, my good page"

Today's the day we sing "Good King Wenceslas" incessantly. It is the Feast of Stephen, the day on which, according to hymn and legend, the noble duke of Bohemia set out in brutal weather to feed a needy person. We love the story -- and the day, one of the best of all the year.

What would Svatý Václav say to us, 1,080 years after his famous walk? Doubtlessly he'd disapprove of this news item, brought to us by the 1% in groovy Aspen.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

May your 'dogs be merry and bright

The Bears fell to the Packers this evening, and so none of our underdog contestants picked up any points from Santa. Minnesota, Indy, Buffalo, and the G-Men all did their thing on Christmas Eve, however. With three players (with asterisks) flying on the Atlanta Birds tomorrow night, and four weeks left in the game thereafter, here are our standings:

Continue reading "May your 'dogs be merry and bright" »

Merry Christmas

Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to enroll themselves, every one to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; to enroll himself with Mary, who was betrothed to him, being great with child. And it came to pass, while they were there, the days were fulfilled that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased."

And it came to pass, when the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger. And when they saw it, they made known concerning the saying which was spoken to them about this child. And all that heard it wondered at the things which were spoken unto them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, even as it was spoken unto them.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


'Dogs in excelsis, day-o

Yes, the pro's are playing football today, and here are our players' picks in the charity underdog game:

16 ST. LOUIS at Pittsburgh- NoPoGuy
14 CHICAGO at Green Bay - mna, John Cr., jmh, genop, Drewbob
13 CLEVELAND at Baltimore - Gary, john dull, Bad Brad
9.5 MIAMI at New England - Gordon, genop's gal, umpire
7.5 TAMPA BAY at Carolina - Biggest Cubs Loser, Michael K.
7 JACKSONVILLE at Tennessee - Paul, Grizfan
6.5 MINNESOTA at Washington - Weavmo, Ricardo, Broadway Joe, Usual Kevin
6.5 ATLANTA at New Orleans - Rudie, AKevin, Tommy W.
5.5 INDIANAPOLIS vs. Houston (Thursday, winner) - John Ch., Pete Rozelle
4 ARIZONA at Cincinnati - PDXileinOmaha
3 BUFFALO vs. Denver - Larry Legend, Bayou Baby
3 NEW YORK GIANTS at New York Jets - Carol

There may be stragglers. This post was composed earlier this morning and is being posted by robot. We'll verify the complete list when we can attend to it this morning.

Merry Christmas, and enjoy some football if you like, everybody.

UPDATE, 11:18 a.m.: All of this morning's picks now included. Good luck to all!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Have a great holiday weekend

Where they came from

Belated thanks to everyone who linked here for our charity fund drive on Tuesday. We definitely would not have reached our goal of 5,000 unique visits without the traffic that others sent our way. This year, Facebook and Twitter were particularly good at getting the word out; as we all know, nowadays through those media, everybody and his brother is on the internet.

Coming up with a list to acknowledge always raises the danger that we might inadvertently omit someone, but here in no particular order are at least some of those who linked here on Tuesday:

Willy Week Give Guide
Stumptown Blogger
UO Matters
Somebody on a ShackNews forum
Al the blogging bus driver
Jake at utterlyboring.com
Max Redline
Linda Kruschke
Lars Larson
Illegal Screen

On Twitter, we got lots of linky love (some of it begrudging) from:


There was also a lot of incoming visitation from Facebook, but for the life of us we can't figure out how to track it down. You Facebook linkers, thank you, too!

There was e-mail and word of mouth as well, and that we have no way of identifying. But it was great, it helped, and it was appreciated.

If we left you out and you'd like to be on the distinguished lists above, just let us know.

We're gathering up the checks from the "inner circle," PayPal is zapping the dough to our bank, and the charity checks are scheduled to head out in Monday's mail. It has been a blast. Merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah to all.

Tasty leftovers

Our faithful reader George got into the spirit of our Buck-a-Hit Day on Tuesday. He gave a penny a hit -- $54.89 -- to the Oregon Food Bank in our honor. Way to go, George!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Welcome to our cyber-office Christmas party

Coat room's on your left, bar's on your right.

Make yourself at home! Shoes optional.

Front of the pack

In our charity pro football underdog game, two players go with tonight's early 'dog:

5.5 INDIANAPOLIS vs. Houston (Thursday 5:20 p.m. PST) - John Ch., Pete Rozelle

Good luck to them.

UPDATE, 12/23, 8:31 a.m.: And they prevail, proving that they'll be contenders for our prizes over the final four weeks. Everybody else, remember that your picks are due by 10 a.m. on Christmas Eve.

Comment contest winner is: Ben

Congratulations to him. Now if he'll please designate a legit nonprofit organization (recognized by the IRS under section 501(c)(3)), we'll send that organization a donation of $250. Thanks to all who commented, and all who voted.

Poll dancing with Cogen

The surprising decision by the Multnomah County commission to pull the plug on an upcoming vote for a new library taxing district has got many folks scratching their heads. Now WW tells us that according to county chair Jeff Cogen, the commissioners did it because a private poll of taxpayers showed that formation of the district wouldn't pass.

There's skepticism about that claim, and understandably so, because this past June another poll showed that the new district would pass handily:

A poll of 400 likely voters by Portland's DHM Research found broad support for a new tax. While support was highest among Democrats, independents and Portland residents, a majority of Republicans and county residents outside the city also expressed favor for a permanent tax.

So do we get to see the latest poll, which supposedly shows that the proposed district would fail? Apparently not. The Cogue based his decision on secret data that the public doesn't get to see.

None of the story that the county is telling hangs together. A more likely scenario is that the word came from somewhere -- perhaps Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, of whom Cogen is a clone -- that the money that the new library district would take is needed for more important stuff. Like the Mystery Train to Milwaukie, and streetcars galore.

Portlanders love their public library, and it sure seems looks as though the most ardent library supporters have been betrayed.

Last call for comment contest votes

A reminder that balloting in our comment contest closes at noon Pacific Time today. The winner gets to designate which charity receives $250 in connection with Buck-a-Hit Day on Tuesday. If you haven't already voted, you should go here and do so.

Chuck trucks

Charles Lewis, one-time Portland City Council candidate and former operator of a "duck bus," is leaving Ethos Music, which he founded many years ago. After some time off smelling the roses, he's hoping to go work for a charitable foundation. Whatever he does, we wish him the best.

North Plains hates stink of Portland food compost -- news story

Cyber-Office Christmas Party is this afternoon and evening

It's a busy morning here at Blog Central, as we set the stage for our annual Cyber-Office Christmas Party. Our elves are chopping up the ingredients for the finger food, the staff is putting up the mistletoe, the DJ is setting up the sound system, the hot tub tech is testing the water, and the bouncers are going over the details of security. (We're not sure who that guy is sitting out on the front porch.)

We'll start partying around 4:00. Come as you are, and bring your own beverage.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Buck-a-Hit Day finishes with $10,410

We've made our list, and checked it twice, and here are the final results of Buck-a-Hit Day, our ninth annual charity fundraiser, yesterday:

Virginia Garcia Memorial Medical Center$ 897
Children's Heart Foundation, Ore. Chapter$ 908
Sisters of the Road$1,223
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Ore. & Wash.$1,504
Human Solutions$1,580
Oregon Food Bank$4,048
Charity to be named by comment contest winner$ 250

Seventy-nine readers clicked on our donate buttons yesterday, pungling up $4,760. So nice. Thanks again to all who visited, and especially to all who gave.

Wobble time

At this moment, we're tilted as far from the sun as we get all year. And so begins winter. But although it's about to get colder and wetter, at least the days will get a little longer. Come on back here, old buddy.

Beautiful new dogs

Up at Timberline Lodge, they've got a new St. Bernard puppy. And in our charity pro football underdog game, a full-grown adult just arrived:

14 CHICAGO at Green Bay

The rest of the week's lines, unveiled yesterday, are here.

Players, if you're taking the Colts, your pick is due by 5:20 p.m. tomorrow. Everybody else, remember that the games are on Saturday, Christmas Eve, and your deadline is 10 a.m. that day.

An extra special bonus

We did some Christmas shopping at the Powell's Bookstore branch on Hawthorne Boulevard this afternoon, and OMG! Look what we got!

We are not making this up -- it's an actual contraband plastic grocery bag! Don't waste time asking how this is happening -- head on over, pick up a used copy of something by Hemingway, and when they ask if you would like a bag, just say yes!

Best Christmas music on Portland radio

It's on 1450 AM, the public school station. They are digging deep in the vault. The best part: no commercials, hardly any talk. The occasional AM static adds to the nostalgic vibe. Buon Natale!

New "infill" for Westmoreland

The current Portland craze of destroying the look and feel of its neighborhoods in favor of soulless, ugly, tiny, modern boxes continues apace just off SE Milwaukie Avenue, where a Lake Oswego developer is going to tear down two perfectly good houses and cram in 20 shacks. No doubt the City Hall "planners" are beside themselves with glee, as this sort of abomination is exactly what they have decided is the "sustainable" and "equitable" future of Portland. If you don't like it, you'll need some "behavior change."

Meanwhile, part of the same block, on Milwaukie, is the Woods, an old funeral parlor that's recently been converted into a music venue. Apparently the music place is being run out, and it's not clear what's going to happen to the building. We shudder to think.

When you call Portland City Hall for help

Here's a cautionary tale out of the Reed neighborhood in the southeast part of town.

Reader poll: Who left the best comment?

It's time to pick the winner of the comment contest from Buck-a-Hit Day yesterday. The winner gets to steer $250 of our charity donations to the nonprofit (501(c)(3)) organization of his or her choice.

Here are our contestants, in chronological order:

Kathe W.:

Comment for the day from my all time favorite movie Auntie Mame (Rosalind Russell played the famed Mame):

"Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death."

I am donating to the Oregon Food Bank and Sisters of the Road. No one should go hungry in this country.


Dear Jack,
Came here at the suggestion of Bob Miller, I will be returning. I wanted to tell you that the spirit of giving you encourage can be seen in many places, our local High School choir adopted a family this year for the first time, not only did the experience change Christmas for one family, it changed it for about ten kids who wholeheartedly embraced the true meaning of giving. May the spirit of giving continue to spread one person at a time.


As one who says both nice and not so nice things about Jack over the years, I'll repeat: Jack should run for local office. Now, was that a nice or naughty thing to say?



Portland Mayor Jack Bogdanski Infuriates Portland Business Alliance, Shuts Down PDC

Published: Monday, January 14, 2013, 7:53 PM
By Roseph Jose, The Oregonian

Portland Mayor Jack Bogdanski has outraged the ruling hierarchy at the Portland Business Alliance. Following through on his campaign promise to reverse the soaring city debt problem Mayor Bogdanski announced today his plans to outright abolish the Portland Development Commission. The announcement was met with harsh criticism from many of Portland's powerful stakeholders who supported several of candidate Bogdanski's opponents.

The unwavering Mayor Bogdanski appeared gleeful about the criticism saying, "It's reassuring to get such immediate confirmation that I am doing the right thing."

The Mayor's spokesman and former funny man Bill McDonald said, "We are deeply concerned about the welfare of the PBA."

-– Roseph Jose
© 2013 Oregonlive.com. All rights reserved.


Top 10 Reasons Santa is considering moving from the North Pole to NoPo:

10 - Santa is concerned with equity. And a member of the creative class, he would like to take advantage of moving his workshop into a condo bunker with elevators - an opportunity that only equity provides!

9 - Santa first bought a home in Vancouver to save on taxes. But as an active political figure considering running for mayor, he is realizing that he needs to reside n the City.

8 - Santa has recently built some political connections, and is interested in leveraging public-private investment from a PDC innovation district to expand his workshop, and jobs(!), in the south waterfront.

7 - Homer Williams suggested it, and arranged public financing, by pointing out the monumental benefits to future generations. It's for the kids!

6 - While picking up books at a book store in Manhattan, Santa ran into Republican Senator Wyden from New York, who told him what a progressive city Portland is.

5 - Santa lent $20 to David, a nice young man from Welches Oregon, and would like to reconnect so that he can be repaid.

4 - Santa heard that the City of Portland has such a strong credit rating, and a perusing of the Oregonian demonstrated that it is because the City is so careful in issuing debt for only necessary projects.

3 - Santa received so many press releases from politicians in the state demonstrating progress, that he realized the only sensible thing to do would be to move there.

2 - Santa is nearing retirement, and would like to put in a few years as a UO football coach to ensure he will be taken care of into his golden years.

1 - Santa heard that a local tax law professor with too much time on his hands had a great blog, and was donating to good causes. He wanted to come check it out and spread the holiday cheer!

Happy Holidays!


I have always wished for a computer that would be as easy to use as my telephone.

My wish came true. I no longer know how to use my telephone.


With extreme and sincere apologies to Julie Andrews:

Raindrops on Roseway, can Randy assess that
Bury the water, don’t ask for a variance
Rose Fest, bike lanes, the Water House, ca-ching
These are bully Randy’s illegal things

Odd in-fill houses, train transit and density
Millions to developers, oh, the insanity
Meanwhile Portland school classroom sizes zoom,
Compression leaves us no budgetary room

An over budget Tram, the Office of Equity
Police Shootings, Centers for Sustainability
Baby Deer statue, artwork for Light Rail
Stenchy brings love to the composting pail

When the Cash ends
Pension costs soar
Where do we begin?
The council just borrows for favorite Dons
And then we feel screwed again

Those for mayor, no common sense among them
Smith, Hales and Brady, an idiots’ quorum
Progressive, liberal, let’s spend it, ca-ching
These are the developers’ favorite things

Kitz and Cylvia, State government is broke
Energy credits, but solar power’s a joke
Build a new bridge, though we don’t know which one
Federal subsidies soon might be done

Urban renewal, condo bunkers and Parkways
Food composting, Water Bureau history
Don’t ever expect basic services to bring
Cash, sex and favors to the Goldschmidt ring

Opt-out of leaf tax, but don’t expect paving
No money to keep parks and pools functioning
If you want sidewalks, your neighborhood must pay
Because millions will arrive now any day

When Sellwood Bridge falls
More gang shootings
No jobs to be had
I simply pack up and move to Vancouver
And then I don’t feel so bad

Jack (no relation)

Christmas Haiku:

One day way back when
Came to Earth a Holy Babe
Can I get some Uggs?


Happy to send some extra dollars toward the effort today Jack. Thanks for allowing your readers such easy access to help these great non profits.

I think Ben is really on to something, but not sure you have committed yourself to the next mayor’s race. So I guess my Christmas wish for the next election cycle would be for whichever Mayor we pick to consider some of the frequently posted concerns on your blog……

To remember the little guy; the developers will do just fine on their own

Spend less for self promotion and more for city improvements

The City’s success is not judged by those on the outside looking in, but rather by those living here

The livability of a neighborhood is more important than designing a way to get there

Support the lawful right to protest, but be tough with lawbreakers

There is a limit to the extra fees that can be expected for city services we already pay taxes for

Public input is important. Do more to encourage it, less to limit it

The path to equity is a dead end road

Have a great Christmas

* * * * * * * * *

And the winner is:

Who left the best comment?
Kathe W.
Jack (no relation)
pollcode.com free polls 

We'll leave the balloting open until noon tomorrow, and formally announce the winner tomorrow afternoon.

Thanks to everyone who visited here yesterday, left a comment, or made a donation. You are greatly appreciated.

Cyber-Office Christmas Party -- tomorrow around 4

Embarrassing oneself at the office holiday party is a time-honored American tradition. But what about telecommuters? When do they get to put lampshades on their heads -- never?

Perish the thought. This blog will be holding its annual Cyber-Office Christmas Party tomorrow beginning at around 4 p.m. We'll have music, food, and lots of entertaining chatter. The company's always the best. We tend to go until the wee small hours -- it's kind of like Occupy, only without the body lice. Come as you are, and bring whomever you'd like.

We'd link to last year's festivities to give you some idea, but that would violate our cardinal rule: What happens at the Cyber-Office Christmas Party, stays at the Cyber-Office Christmas Party.

Next year at this time, we'll be in a somber mood as the Sam Rand Twins leave the political scene, and so this year we're planning to really get down. "Celebrate good times, come on!" Hope you can make it.

Buck-a-Hit Day sets new record

The clock has struck midnight on our ninth annual Buck-a-Hit Day, and thanks to some amazing last-minute Santas, we broke all records for this charity event. As of the close of the day, we amassed $10,193 for our six charities, breaking the old mark of $10,115, set three years ago. Amazing! And just $57 shy of our dollar target for the day -- a shortfall of a mere 0.56%. (If anyone would like to "top off" our total to help us reach that dollar goal of $10,250, the donation buttons still work.)

Having monitored the day carefully for the last 24 hours (with only cat naps here and there), we've been floored by everyone's generosity. Seventy-seven readers clicked on our donation buttons, with gifts ranging from $3 to $600, and our "inner circle" primed the pump with contributions as high as $2,000. We got our quota of 5,000 unique visits with a couple of hours to spare -- the final total was 5,489.

We will forgo the Jerry Lewis telethon routine at this hour. The words thank you -- not nearly adequate -- will have to do for now. We'll get a final accounting together, and set up the voting in our all-important comment contest, later this morning.

UPDATE, 12:33 a.m.: And just like that, a generous reader steps in and donates the last $57 we needed to meet our goal. It's a wonderful world, and now, good night.

UPDATE, 8:44 a.m.: Another $100 showed up overnight, and so our total has increased to $10,350. Thanks, everybody! On to the comment contest voting, and the accounting, later today.

UPDATE, 10:29 p.m.: With $60 additional now on the books, our final total for the day was $10,410. Beyond all expectations -- thanks again.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Welcome to Buck-a-Hit Day

Thanks for coming to this blog on our ninth annual Buck-a-Hit Day. Just by visiting here today, you have caused the bojack.org Gift-Giving Team to give $1 to one of our six designated charities. We'll throw in a buck a hit for the first 5,000 unique visits (as measured by SiteMeter).

Now that you've shaken a dollar out of us, please don't leave just yet. Don't miss your chance to subvert some of the action to your own favorite charity. The writer of the best comment left attached to this post will get to designate where $250 of our kitty goes. Make us laugh, make us cry, tell us why you gave, make us think, whatever -- the criteria for "best" are wide open. Something having to do with the spirit of the season would be welcome. Even a link to an original photo of yours would be good. We'll pull out six or so contenders from the comments tonight, and hold a reader poll tomorrow to see which commenter gets to make the call.

Last but not least, here is your chance to help our charities. Please click on one or more of the six buttons below and give generously to the organization pictured. You'll go to a secure PayPal site, which will take your credit card info if you don't have a PayPal account. (We pay all PayPal fees; every dollar you give goes to charity.) Please enter the amount of your donation, and "Update" or "Update Total." Then either log in to your PayPal account or click where indicated to pay by credit card.

No donation is too small!

For more information about these excellent charities, you can check out their websites here:

Sisters of the Road Cafe
Children's Heart Foundation, Oregon Chapter
Human Solutions
Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
Oregon Food Bank
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Washington

If you'd like a receipt (contributions are tax-deductible for you deduction-itemizers out there), just be sure that PayPal has your current address; we'll see to it that you get proper acknowledgment in the mail for the amount you've contributed. And if you've got questions or concerns, please email me here.

If we get our 5,000 unique visits and get $4,600 in donation from readers, then taking into account matches from the Gift-Giving Crew, we'll be raising $10,250 for good causes here today. Now, that would be awesome.

Regardless of whether you donate or comment, thank you for coming by today. If you are a newcomer to this blog, we hope that you will look around the site a bit (the archives are on the left sidebar, if you're interested), and come back again another day. And please don't hesitate to get out the word to others who may want to visit and give before this day is out. It's a tough time for a lot of people, and we need all the help we can get.

[Note: The time stamp on this post will be changed throughout the day to keep it on top of our main page. It was first posted just seconds after midnight this morning.]

UPDATE, 12/21, 12:33 a.m.: An awesome day -- we broke all records, and met all our goals! A summary of the results is here.

We made it! 5,000 hits, 5,000 bucks.

Just after 9:00 this evening, we logged our 5,000th unique visit of the day on this blog. That means that all $5,000 pre-positioned in the Buck-a-Hit Day coffers by our Gift-Giving Crew will be donated to our six designated charities. There's another $650 where that came from, and so far today our readers have clicked on our donation buttons and pitched in an additional $3,878. We're less than $1,000 away from our ambitious goal of $10,250 for the day.

This would be a good time for us to thank the many bloggers and others who linked to us today -- on their blogs, and on Facebook and Twitter. Five thousand visits in one day is a tall order, particularly during the holiday season, but by making our cause your cause, you showed that the power of friendship can bring people together like no other force. Thank you!

Now let's see if we reach our contribution goal in just a short time left...

A classic Salem runaround

The U of O faculty members who didn't want Richard Lariviere dumped as university president have been complaining that the state higher ed board did it illegally, in that board members violated the Oregon public meetings law. Members reportedly discussed the matter, and the board chair took a straw vote, before the formal meeting to can Lariviere was even set up.

The group that thinks the procedures have been violated has filed a complaint with the state government ethics commission in Salem, but that agency, toothless even when it wants to act, says it can't do anything about a violation. Until the board has convened in an "executive session," the ethics board says, it has no jurisdiction over anything that goes on. And in this case, any extracurricular activity that might have taken place before the formal meeting was not, in the ethics board's view, an "executive session."

Of course, that's the crux of the matter -- whether the board in effect held an illegal "executive session" before giving the required public notice and access. But by summarily declaring that it hadn't, the ethics commission seems to be subjecting the critics to Catch 22. And it seems willing, even eager, to kill more time arguing about whether to investigate than it ever would on an actual investigation.

The next stop for the disgruntled faculty, if they have the energy to keep pursuing this, appears to be in the state courts. We wouldn't be surprised if the state courts somehow ruled that it wasn't in their jurisdiction, either. Government ethics in this state is a sad joke, and as far as we can tell, that's exactly how the state legislators, and the governor, want it.

Late afternoon update

Buck-a-Hit Day continues to chug along. We are at more than 3,700 unique visits for the day now -- looking good for 5,000 by midnight, but not a sure thing yet. With reader contributions of $2,728 so far, we're well on our way to our $4,600 goal in that department, but it's going to be a tough climb this evening. Please consider clicking on one of our charity donation buttons before your working day is through. Thanks for being here today, and especially for leaving a donation.

On, Bradford! On, Hillis! On, Marshall and Freeman!

The Big Daddies of pro football play most of their games this weekend on Saturday, Christmas Eve. And so players in our charity underdog game, please note that except for the Thursday night game, all picks are due by kickoff of the first game on Saturday -- 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

16 ST. LOUIS at Pittsburgh
13 CLEVELAND at Baltimore
9.5 MIAMI at New England
7.5 TAMPA BAY at Carolina
7 JACKSONVILLE at Tennessee
6.5 MINNESOTA at Washington
6.5 ATLANTA at New Orleans
5.5 INDIANAPOLIS vs. Houston (pick due Thursday 5:20 p.m. PST)
4 ARIZONA at Cincinnati
3 BUFFALO vs. Denver
3 NEW YORK GIANTS at New York Jets
3 SEATTLE vs. San Francisco
2.5 SAN DIEGO at Detroit
2.5 PHILADELPHIA at Dallas
1 OAKLAND at Kansas City

There's no line posted yet for Bears/Packers. Good luck with the predictin', players, and get it done a day quicker, please.

UPDATE, 12/21, 8:22 p.m.: Here's the last 'dog for the weekend, and it's a big 'un:

14 CHICAGO at Green Bay

Our charities thank you

Every year, shortly after I send in our and our readers' donations from Buck-a-Hit Day during Christmas week, the charities send me a nice acknowledgment. Most of the time there's a handwritten portion in which somebody from the nonprofit explains what the gifts made here mean to that organization. I get a warm glow from that, which is just another of the many benefits of having this blog.

I know that this year, Human Solutions is going to be especially grateful for our help. They had a tough year, in which their headquarters was damaged by a fire. It could have been worse, but let's face it, it was not good.

I came to know that organization years ago, when once in a while I would drive some of their clientele -- homeless families -- around on a borrowed, old school bus. The people they're helping deserve their aid, and our support. And that's one of six examples you have to choose from, here. Please give.

Lunch hour update

As of this hour, we are more than halfway to our goals for readers visiting this blog, and reader contributions, for Buck-a-Hit Day. But we can't rest on our laurels, because blog traffic typically starts to wane right around afternoon nap time, and we still have a long way to go. If you could get some more readers in here this afternoon -- and especially if you could dig around in the sofa cushions for a donation to one of our charities -- it would be greatly appreciated.

We've now gotten donations from 45 readers through clicks on our charity donation buttons today, with a total of $2,128 contributed. Among our charities, Oregon Food Bank has the most support, followed by Ronald McDonald House. The other four are also worthy of your consideration.

Be a spammer, just this once

We're trying to get 5,000 visitors to this blog today, and with high noon approaching, it looks as though it's going to be a close call when midnight rolls around tonight. For every visit we get today, my buddies and I are giving a buck to charity. If you can, please alert your own pals and send them a link to bojack.org, so that they'll come on over and help us reach our total. They don't have to do a thing but that one click.

It might be spam, sort of, but we'll never tell. Thank you.

Worst. Nativity scenes. Ever.

Hard to pick just one favorite out of this bunch. [Via KGW.]

Is this blog "media"? Am I a "journalist"?

We spent some time on the public radio yesterday as a guest on a talk show that was taking up the question whether or when bloggers are "media" or "journalists." The question comes up quite a bit these days -- for example, when bloggers try to attend "executive sessions" of public governing bodies or try to resist subpoenas that would make them reveal their sources.

The occasion for the latest round of attention is the huge libel judgment that was rendered recently against Crystal Cox, a Montana blogger who had defamed a lawyer in Oregon who was serving as a bankruptcy trustee. In the course of deciding that case, federal Judge Marco Hernandez, here in Portland, ruled that the blogger wasn't "media," and the criteria he used to make that decision are controversial, to say the least. Under his approach to the question, it's not clear whether yours truly would make the cut or not. Working against us, in his view, are the facts that we do this alone, and we don't print out our content on dead trees.

We think the judge got the result right in the case before him, but the route he took to get there was troublesome. Fashioning a better approach is going to be important if freedom of speech is going to be protected, but it will be no easy task.

Be that as it may, we learned quite a bit getting ready for the show. One important facet of the case is that the judge's interpretation of the Oregon media shield law -- the Watergate-era law that allows media workers to protect their confidential sources -- probably was irrelevant. That law specifically states that it can't be used by a libel defendant such as Cox. And so whether she is or isn't "media" for purposes of that statute was an academic question that the judge didn't need to reach.

More troublesome, though, is an Oregon Supreme Court opinion from the '80s, in which "media" was singled out for enhanced protection under the constitution in defamation cases. Under that decision, which involved the Bank of Oregon and Willamette Week, if a "media" figure commits libel (harmful untruth) against a person who is not a "public figure," he or she can't be held responsible unless his or her conduct was negligent. If someone is not "media," however, apparently Oregon law may hold him or her liable for the defamation without regard to whether he or she was negligent. It's the old "strict liability" concept for libel and slander -- if what you say is untrue and it damages someone, you're on the hook. That concept has been on the run since the early '70s, but apparently it still survives in the Beaver State in 2011.

And it doesn't sound right to us. There is plenty of precedent for the proposition that the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press covers the "lonely pamphleteer" as well as the large corporate print institution. Those of us in the former category here in Oregon would like that recognized. Maybe the brilliant minds of our state legislature could get on the issue.

Our Top 20

Of the 1,492 visitors who have dropped by this site so far today, 20 have made cash donations to one of our charities, including a few who have contributed to more than one. That is fantastic, and we thank them!

Now, if the rest of you need a little fundraising speech, here goes: We blog here 365 days a year, and we don't ask readers for money in exchange for what we offer. If you like what you find when you visit here, maybe you should acknowledge that. And the way to do it is to make a contribution, large or small, to one of our charities today. So far today, readers' gifts have ranged from $3 to $500. It's all good.

Thanks again to the Top 20; now come on, other readers!

$400 match for the Oregon Food Bank

For the next three hours one of our sponsors is challenging readers to click on our contribution button for the Oregon Food Bank. We've got $400 to match reader contributions through noon. Please brighten somebody's life with a donation for food. Your $1 is worth $2 this morning. No contribution is too small.

UPDATE,11:06 a.m.: We met this match by 11:01 a.m. -- in just a little over two hours! Thank you, everyone. We'll keep taking donations to the Food Bank, as well as to our other five charities, all day.

Are Reed, Warner Pacific robberies related?

We had this incident at Warner Pacific the other night, and this one a couple of weeks ago at Reed. And another armed robbery reported in November at Reed. Are the perps the same people? Copycats?

Cogen Scrooges the library

Here's a holiday bombshell from the chair of the Multnomah County commission: There isn't going to be a new library taxing district, after all. Despite the facts that voters authorized an election on the creation of the district last year, and that everyone expected the election to be held in 2012, now all of a sudden Chair Jeff Cogen says he and his colleagues won't allow it.

Is he kidding? Why not?

The answers that the Cogue is offering to the latter question are hardly credible. First, he claims that the creation of the district wouldn't pass, which is complete and total hogwash. Portland voters love the library and would pass it in a heartbeat.

Then he says it's because it would raise taxes too high. What? A Portland politician suddenly concerned about tax levels? Also not credible.

The only explanation that makes any sense is that the new district would mean less funding available for other taxing jurisdictions in the county, and for other public purposes -- like all the pet projects that the City of Portland likes to burn money on. There is a strong odor of Portland City Hall around this latest decision.

Shifting to a library district also would reduce the amount of property taxes that the city of Portland could collect, including taxes for its Children's Levy.

It's "for the children"! My eye. The libraries are losing the money competition to the streetcar people.

Probably the most important take-away from the latest news is that it illustrates how misleading the sales pitch for last year's ballot measure was. The primary justification for a yes vote was that the measure would "get the politicians out of the library budget." As we pointed out during that despicable campaign, the measure did not do that. And now it's been proven that we were right.

The county commissioners no doubt think that hiding this decision in the holidays is going to take off some of the heat, but they're wrong about that. They've made a major political mistake. Many library supporters are going to be enraged by the double-cross, and Cogue and the New Sisters of Hawthorne will pay a price for it eventually. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

Remembering the Dear Leader

Krugman on Wyden: A "useful idiot"

And another one catches on. Take the 403(b) and retire, Gatsby!

Rick Perry, poster child

For government employee pension excess, that is.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Super Carole puts your present under the tree

Portland's fearless schools superintendent waits until late on a Friday afternoon, nine days before Christmas, to come right out and say which residents are getting shunted off to schools that they didn't sign up for when they decided where to live. Maybe that will get the shuffling passed. It's a pity that the public schools are run from such a position of weakness these days.

Wheels coming off Sustainability Center

The ridiculous financial black hole known as the Oregon Sustainability Center keeps morphing. First it was going to be 13 stories, and house private companies. But given that the rents are going to be stratospheric, and working conditions are going to be less than optimal, not a single private firm is interested. And so now it's down to eight stories, and they're admitting there will be only government agencies or government-funded nonprofits as tenants.

Why build this thing? There's no reason, really, other than the fact that developer Mark Edlen and the local architects and construction companies who control Portland City Hall want more taxpayer money to play with. And note well: City Council candidate Mary Nolan, a card-carrying Goldschmidt Party lieutenant, is all for it.

This palace of waste needs a catchy nickname, but we're having trouble coming up with one. "Oregon Gullibility Center"? That might grow on us. Perhaps readers have got a better suggestion.

Please come back tomorrow -- and bring your friends!

Blogger vanity is a powerful force, and every year about this time, I try to harness it for good. Tomorrow it's Buck-a-Hit Day on this blog, and for every "unique visit" to this site (as determined by SiteMeter), our gift-giving posse and my family will give $1 to charity. Up to $5,000 this year -- but we don't get 5,000 visits on a "normal" day. And so we can't do it all without your helping us ramp up and making it a big traffic day.

Please do come back sometime between midnight tonight and midnight tomorrow night, and bring friends. We'll be running a comment contest, and we'll also be asking readers to make an electronic contribution to one or more of our six charity beneficiaries. Our goal for the day is to raise $10,250 over all, and if we get our 5,000 hits, we'll be nearly halfway there from your visits alone. We've also got some matching gifts lined up, and so with any luck we'll break our previous fundraising record of $10,115.

To get the ball rolling, all you have to do is click on bojack.org. Thanks, and I hope to see you here tomorrow.

The McDonald-Smith interview, Part 1

Last week, we posted a portion of Bill McDonald's disastrous interview with Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith, along with Bill's side of what happened. We still haven't heard any response from the Smith camp, and so we're assuming that they're ignoring us.

A few readers wanted to hear the front end of the interview; McDonald had supplied us only with the tail end. At our request, he's now sent along the earlier portion of the sit-down, and here it is. He adds the following color commentary:

Here's the beginning of the Jefferson Smith interview you requested. I've already admitted that I try and start these things with humor, so as I turn on my 2 little tape recorders, I'm saying to him that I use two in case a politician talks out of both sides of his mouth. That was a joke. The rest you can hear for yourself.

The key point in the mood shift of this interview is in the discussion of the economic meltdown. Politicians have a way of latching on to the cause of the day – and I was very interested in whether or not Jefferson Smith really understood what had happened, or was he just playing to the crowd?

After all, Jefferson Smith had just gone national in the Huffington Post, with a plan to move more local government money into credit unions, and it had the standard Occupy Wall Street themes of wealth disparity and the 99%, but there was one sentence in that piece that was a tipoff to me. He said, "This effort is not merely some punishment for national banks…" That sounded like grandstanding.

Meanwhile, his answer as to what caused the great meltdown of the global economy was – like many you hear on TV – a gentle, multi-factored dilution of what took place. It substituted "capital investment schemes" for what was a massive crime of fraud. This was not about capital investment. This was the creation of hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of gambling bets, bets that could never be paid off should they unravel, and bets that were based on fraud.

Continue reading "The McDonald-Smith interview, Part 1" »

See how they run

One thing about bullies is that they often portray themselves as victims in order to manipulate people. And so it should be little surprise, we suppose, that when held accountable by the very criminal justice system that they enforce, Portland police officers assume the victim's role.

First we have the officer who mistakenly shot a man multiple times with hard ammunition when he says he thought he was firing beanbags. Rather than plead guilty to the crime of which he's been charged as a result of his negligence, Officer Dane Reister is pleading not guilty and fighting the charges in court. The district attorney is tossing him an underhand pitch -- a "negligent shooting" charge -- to let him plead his way out of more serious trouble, but no. He's apparently going to say that it's all the city's fault -- he wasn't trained properly. So he should walk. Come on.

It gets worse. Remember Ryan Graichen, the ex-Portland officer who's facing serious jail time up in Tri-Cities for child sex abuse? Doubtlessly knowing what happens to child molesters in prison -- much less child molesters who are ex-cops -- he's apparently trying to find a safe place to hide while he does his time. His pitch? He only got into child sex abuse as a result of the on-the-job stress he suffered while on the Portland force:

In an interview as part of the pre-sentencing report, Graichen claimed he already has been punished and "suffered greatly" and shouldn't be locked up with sex offenders because "it makes me sick." Graichen agreed he needs treatment and counseling for his post-traumatic stress disorder, and porn and sex addictions, but said he doesn't consider himself a sex offender.

When somebody asks why the PoPo gets no respect, these two guys are handy poster children for the problem.

Bureaucrat junketeers, cont'd

As we mentioned yesterday, the O ran a long-ish piece over the weekend detailing the outlandish amounts of taxpayer-funded travel undertaken by state government employees. This inspired one of the critics of the Portland water bureau to pipe up with a tale of some spendy travel this past spring by city water employees. A delegation of no fewer than 10 water bureau types schlepped to Washington, D.C. for the annual meeting of the American Water Works Association, and the tab came to more than $29,000.

Here's the spreadsheet that the city released in response to a public records request. Lodging costs ran an average of $1,285 for each of the 10, and that included a slight discount that the city got because one of its employees, Anne Hill, gave a talk at the confab about the city's infamous "water house" project, which of course is now being challenged in court as an illegal expenditure of ratepayer dollars.

That speech by Hill -- "The Power of Partnerships" -- has been making the rounds for a while. Here's a version of it that she gave in October 2010. At the end, she identifies herself as a "principle management analyst." Uh huh. The city's main "partner" is something called Earth Advantage, Inc., a nonprofit organization spun off from Portland General Electric.

Please link to Buck-a-Hit Day -- it's tomorrow

Just a reminder: Tomorrow is our ninth annual Buck-a-Hit Day on this blog. We give $1 to charity for every visitor to this blog on that day, and with the help of some generous sponsors, this year we can keep giving those dollars all the way up to 5,000 visitors -- $5,000.

But the bucks will flow only as the hits come in -- that is, if and when visitors show up on this blog between midnight tonight and midnight tomorrow night. Five thousand hits is ambitious for a mid-December day, and so we need your help. Please alert your social media contacts, other friends, and readers if you have them -- all they have to do is click on your link to this blog any time tomorrow, and a buck of somebody else's money will go to charity.

Here are the beneficiaries of the day:

- Sisters of the Road Cafe
- Children's Heart Foundation, Oregon Chapter
- Human Solutions (They had a rough year.)
- Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
- Oregon Food Bank
- Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Washington

We'll also be holding our annual comment contest tomorrow. The author of the best comment (determined by our readers' vote on Wednesday) will get to steer $250 of our contributions to his or her own favorite nonprofit (501(c)(3)) organization.

Visiting here is a painless way to do a good deed, but we need those visitors. Please help us bring them in tomorrow. Thank you.

Death of Kim Jong-Il: Portland reacts

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Santa comes early, brings puppies

It was a big day in the under(dog)world of the NFL. Which leads to some significant shuffling in our charity game standings, with five weeks (two regular season weeks) left. Here's the group (clerical error corrected at 7:48 p.m.):

Continue reading "Santa comes early, brings puppies" »

"Equity" this, "equity" that

On the heels of last week's Willy Week diatribe about how hard it is to find a dirt cheap rental in inner Portland any more, this week's Trib offers a screaming headline revealing that -- breaking news -- rich people and poor people live in different parts of town.

People in Irvington are better off than people on 122nd Avenue. Gee, you don't say.

Why is this piece on the front page of a Portland newspaper -- especially when, as the text of the story reveals, Portland does better on this issue than its neighbors?

The message seems to be the same one offered by the silly WW apartment piece -- that we need to let the "behavior change" experts in the city planning department force nasty infill apartment bunkers into the nicer residential areas. It's the same agenda that's been foisted on Portland's established neighborhoods for 25 years or more. But now that the fairy tale about a perpetual population boom can no longer be retold with a straight face, the apartment weasels need a new sales pitch.

And it's "equity." Every neighborhood needs its bunkers, especially the finer neighborhoods. Otherwise, it's elitism -- maybe even racism -- and definitely not The Portland Way. "Our Economic Segregation." Feel the guilt, people. Homer Williams will save you from your sins.

Tim over Tom?

Here are the players' choices in our charity pro football underdog game. Quite a few pickers are going with Tebow over the Pats:

14 KANSAS CITY vs. Green Bay - Biggest Cubs Loser, Gordon
6.5 INDIANAPOLIS vs. Tennessee - Grizfan, mna, Eric W.
6.5 CAROLINA at Houston - Paul, Broadway Joe, Drewbob, Carol
6.5 MINNESOTA vs. New Orleans - Ricardo
6 DENVER vs. New England - Rudie, NoPoGuy, John Cr., Usual Kevin, Weavmo, genop, genop's gal, Michael K., Bayou Baby
3.5 SEATTLE at Chicago - Larry Legend, Tommy W.
3 NEW YORK JETS at Philadelphia - PDXileinOmaha, John Ch., jmh

Previously this week, we had:

11 JACKSONVILLE at Atlanta (Thursday, nuh-uh) - Bob, Gary, Annie
7 TAMPA BAY vs. Dallas (Saturday, no go) - Pete Rozelle, john dull, AKevin, Bad Brad

It should be an interesting day on the gridiron. Stay warm and enjoy the games, all.

UPDATE, 3:30 p.m.: Interesting indeed, as five 'dogs (four chosen by our players) score. Including the second biggest one of the year so far, which gives us a new leader in our standings! We have a dozen players still in the hunt at this writing.

Junk junkets

The O's at it again with their regular series, "Who Had the Pickle?" This is where they go through bureaucrats' and politicians' expense accounts looking for expenditures to question. Sometimes they find good stuff. This weekend it's state officials' travel expenses, which -- breaking news -- are not declining despite the tough economic times. One guy from the lottery commission went to farookin' Gibraltar.

Unfortunately, the O mars its findings with needlessly inflammatory language. Remember the Port of Portland coffee "laced with" Bailey's? This time around, in the first paragraph of the story, the Coeur d'Alene resort is tagged as "swanky." Oh, those adjectives -- all the reporters over there want to be columnists. And if they think people are going to get worked up because some bureaucrat stayed at the Inn at Spanish Head or Kah-Nee-Ta instead of a Motel 6, they're misreading the public.

But surely the article makes a good point -- government employees spend way too much time on travel that produces little. A lot of these trips needn't be taken at all, at any level of accommodations.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Three 'dogs a-woofing

In tonight's action in our charity pigskin prognostication contest:

7 TAMPA BAY vs. Dallas (Saturday 5:20 p.m. PST) - Pete Rozelle, john dull, AKevin, Bad Brad

Best of luck to these four brave men.

All bozos on this bus

The Congress of the United States has turned into a clown show that's no longer funny. Now they're passing tax laws that last only two months. There's little that hurts business and finance more than uncertainty, but that's all the toupees of Capitol Hill are capable of these days.

If you had people working for you in your business and they behaved like this, you'd promptly fire them.

They'll be 'doggone

The oddsmakers haven't posted lines in Miami/Buffalo or Pittsburgh/San Francisco, and so both of those contests are off the board in our charity pro football underdog game.

Speaking of which, a reminder to players who want to pick Tampa Bay over Dallas: The game's this evening, and so your pick is due by 5:20 p.m. today, Pacific time. Everybody else, 10 a.m. Pacific tomorrow. Good luck!

OLCC is on the run after Washington vote

All of a sudden Oregon's backwoods state booze monopoly says it's going to sell beer and wine in some of its liquor stores, and let some hard stuff be sold in some grocery stores. The bureaucrats, of course, will tell us which ones.

Nice try, but the whole state "control" thing needs to be dismantled, just as it has been in Washington State. Oh wait, this isn't about the Washington deal:

"The market is expanding – a lot more different products are out there than we had a few years ago," said Steve Pharo, OLCC director. "We need to make sure the customers have those opportunities. So you need slightly larger stores to have those opportunities."

He said the proposal would require liquor stores to move to a bigger and better location if they want to sell beer and wine, and it would not allow grocery stores that are near a liquor store the chance to take on hard alcohol sales. He said the proposed move is not in direct response to Washington state’s decision.

"Some people may think that, but we started this whole process almost two years ago," said Pharo.

It's that refreshing honesty that endears Salem to us so deeply.

Here comes Japan

Debris from March's tsunami has begun washing up in British Columbia and on the Olympic Peninsula.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Have a great weekend

Next Tuesday

It will be our ninth annual Buck-a-Hit Day on this blog. Just show up and we'll give $1 to charity for you. No strings. Thank you.

Tri-Met: "We're broke! What should we do?"

Several readers have alerted us to this one: Tri-Met, Portland's mass transit agency, has literally a billion dollars plus at its disposal to build the Mystery Train to Milwaukie (pop. 21,000). But now it's crying the blues about not having enough money to continue current operations. So it's going through the motions of seeking public input on what to cut.

We all know what the answer is going to be. No, not discontinue its failed, failed WES commuter train. No, not pull out of its crazy rail construction project.

No, it will do what it has consistently done for more than a decade now, which is cut bus service.

If you'd like to play along with the public input charade, you can go here. For our money, nobody says it better than a reader who wrote us yesterday as follows:

You'll be glad to know that spending like a vengeful trophy girlfriend on rail projects is not among the reasons they are facing a huge budget shortfall. It's all down to the sluggish recovery, reduced federal funding and greedy union, dontcha know.

Don't we ever.

When Bill met Jeffy

A while back we lamented the fact that the Neighborhood Notes website pulled our friend Bill McDonald off the detail of interviewing Portland's mayoral candidates. McDonald had done a bang-up job with Max Brumm and Charlie Hales, and we looked forward to some great interviews with the others in the field. But alas, it wasn't to be -- the Jefferson Smith interview that NN published was conducted by a lesser talent than McDonald, and it wasn't much of a read.

As it turns out, that is only part of the story. According to McDonald, he did in fact interview Smith, but the piece was pulled after Smith was unhappy with the way the session went. And so it never saw the light of day, until now.

Here's audio of the latter part of the interview -- it's painfully awkward. Neither guy was at his best. We think it's valid to publish it here, and we'll leave it to readers to make of it what they will. We have never had any use for Smith, and this episode dies not change our view of the fellow.

Here's McDonald's account of what happened:

I'm sending you this out of a sense of civic responsibility. After giving me good reviews for my interviews with mayoral candidates Max Brumm and Charlie Hales, you noted that I had been "benched" for the next politician.... My interview in early November with Jefferson Smith had turned contentious, with the candidate's campaign team calling my clients to complain. I was told I had been hostile to him. They decided not to use the piece, and also canceled my interview with Eileen Brady, so if Jefferson Smith is running on a platform to help local small businesses get jobs, it sure as hell isn't working with me.

I want to stress right now that this is not about politics. As a fellow progressive, I bet I'm in line with a lot of what Jefferson Smith believes, although I have a much better understanding of the reasons behind the economic meltdown. Perhaps I'll share some of his answers on that as the campaign grinds on. Yikes.

Oh, and the timing? I wanted to spend the weeks after this trying to salvage things with these particular clients, so I am just now free to address my interview. The clients have nothing to do with this -- they are free and clear of all responsibility here, and I'm actually quite fond of them and regret any stress I sent their way. I would have run with this much sooner, but as a freelancer, I admit commerce comes before civic responsibility, especially in this economy. Six weeks has been a long break after working diligently to get in this outfit's rotation, so I focused on winning them back, and that part was not all business. This whole mess bothered me on a personal level a great deal.

So what about the holidays? Is this an appropriate time to share this particular joy with the world? That part of it is unfortunate, but this has been on my "to do" list for way too long already. So I'm thinking of it as my Christmas card to Portland. Here goes:

The problem with the interview was that I have concluded that Mr. Smith is a pr**k. A pompous, power-happy, blowhard bully. I may be wrong about that. This is just my opinion, but I do make a living sizing up politicians, and my takes have been broadcast on television and radio in dozens of countries since 1993 and 1996 respectively. As we conclude the Iraq War, I would like to point out that I have even had my protests about that disaster in Time Magazine -- in comedy form of course.

I believe in myself as a judge of this life form known as the politician, and I believe Jefferson Smith is a reckless, dangerous loser with what is probably a psychopathic personality, and believe me, politics draws more than its fair share of those. One sign is a person who appears to show little empathy, until he or she figures out what is called for, and then pours it on in a learned way that seems calculated and phony. I believe this tape illustrates that quite well.

I also admit I formulated this opinion of Mr. Smith prior to meeting him. I just watched his speeches and other interviews. In one of his dumbest points, he seems to believe I should have had no opinion of him whatsoever until we met, even though our democracy is built on listening to debates and speeches, etc., and drawing conclusions about the character of the candidates. How he got through Harvard with logic like this is a mystery, but it did clear up how Bush got through Yale.

What I suspect is that he was more concerned about the conclusions I had reached about him than the methodology I used to get there. People like this are often on the lookout for those who see through them, and switch into a confrontational mode early to try and head it off, which is what I believed happened here. Oh, and it was also quite revealing how he handled it with my clients after the interview, throwing his weight around and seeming to confirm my theories that he's a bully.

I also maintain that I arrived at the interview willing to be won over, and to be proven wrong. Longtime readers of Jack's blog know that I have no problem apologizing if I get something incorrect. I certainly was not thrilled that a major Portland race would have a serious candidate of this caliber, so if anything, I was hoping to be charmed out of my earlier fears. However, I soon realized I was probably right....

So when did I reaffirm my opinion of Mr. Smith? The moment came after a question about banks, when he said, "I don’t know if I will accept the premise of your line of questioning, or that question itself, but I will ask you to repeat it because I thought your question was such crap." Incidentally, this was 10 questions into the interview. It sort of degenerated from there.

Admittedly, the opening bit had not gone well. I do believe that a person's sense of humor is a valuable gauge of character, so some of my questions are tests to see how they handle a comical twist. Incidentally, I also throw in some questions to test their heat gauge, but not every interview question is designed to be used. All politicians should know that. So where did the comical one at the beginning go off track? It's never wise to explain why something wasn't funny after all, but you'll need this to understand a reference in the tape. Here goes:

Continue reading "When Bill met Jeffy" »

In the O, more propaganda on the news pages

Today in Portland's moribund daily newspaper, we read that the population of Oregon isn't growing much any more. That's not news, really, but at least it's factual.

But then the reporter goes off on wild, unsubstantiated spin. It's because of the national economy. And recent trends will soon be reversed.

All that latter stuff, pure opinion, is brought to you by somebody at the real estate development firm known as Portland State University. And corroborated by some guy at the University of Utah. No dissenting view is offered -- nor was one even sought, apparently.

So by all means, let's keep building the apartment towers. Far be it from the O to say anything that might contradict the prevailing local myths. If any opinion is offered, let it come from the Old Money and their earnest "planning" disciples.

Portland pushing ultraviolet water treatment after all

Christmastime is scam time in local government in Portland, and the residents who try to keep an eye on the city's water bureau are being kept particularly busy this year. Remember that "variance" that the city was supposedly getting from the state, so that it wouldn't have to install a hyper-expensive ultraviolet water treatment plant at the Bull Run reservoir? That was a great relief to city's water consumers, who would have to pay for such a facility.

But remember how tight the city's water commissioner and his bureaucrat minions were, behind closed doors, with Carollo Engineers, the ultraviolet water treatment specialists? Remember how hellbent the city seemed to be building the treatment plant, even though the microbes that it would kill have never been found in the Bull Run water? And how anemic the city's resistance to the federal treatment mandate was? The prospect of getting the "variance" from state regulators seemed to kill the project, despite the city's eagerness, not too long ago, to build it.

Well, fast forward to this week, and suddenly we discover that the city is still pursuing zoning changes in Clackamas County (in which Bull Run is located) that would allow the ultraviolet plant to be built after all. It's pretty shocking.

Floy Jones, the main thorn in the water bureau's side, updated us as follows yesterday afternoon:

We are not so sure that any of the Bureau pork is going away. Last night the Oregon Health Authority held their public hearing on their intent to award a variance with no one testifying against it, though several organizations are commenting against irrational conditions OHA attached to the variance.

But today the PWB and City Attorney Terry Thatcher were in Clackamas County for their land use hearing for the UV radiation plant. We first heard of this hearing was on December 12, day before yesterday. There was never any notice provided to community stakeholders, nothing in the Oregonian. There has been no public discussion, no opportunity to discuss the major changes the Bureau made to the [sales pitch] they gave to City Council. When the project was described to City Council in 2009, the sales pitch for building a UV radiation plant in the watershed was that the project would fit into the small footprint of the current operations building. In the last 24 hours the PWB notified Clackamas County that their land use request is now a master plan of projects that includesmultiple new buildings, cutting trees, a sewage system -- projects they said they will phase in. Clackamas County will give land use approval with no future opportunities for public hearings. The city was not happy with our presence, needless to say....

We secured a seven-day delay to address a few specific issues; then the city can respond, but after that no new evidence can be submitted with all decided by January 3 -- ironically, the same date that the Oregon Health Authority will make its final decision on the variance.

The water bureau's consultants and bureau reps strongly argued against any delay in approving their UV treatment plant conditional land use request. Their consultant (Greg Winterowd, Winterowd Planning) said they were happy to work over Christmas holiday to get this approved. Likely they will get OT pay.

One of the attached docs is the Clackamas County Land Use Hearing description, the other a paper describing how the Bureau plans to address the risks of significant contamination of drinking water from breaking bulbs. In their LU request they indicated that there was no hazardous material related to the project!

Ah, the distinctive smell of rat. The U.S. attorney needs to take a long, hard look at the Portland water bureau. There is something quite peculiar going on over there with these big contracts.

Reader poll: City Hall worse than tow truck companies?

The Adams "administration" will surely go down in history as one of Portland's worst. Everything it touches turns nasty, just as we knew it would. This year, the city's leaf sweeping is adding substantially to the collective nervous breakdown:

Significantly more cars have been towed from crowded westside streets this year as Portland crews sweep and remove leaves through the annual program. That number is sure to go up, as sweepers Friday clean roads in the Sullivan's Gulch eastside neighborhood -- where, for the first time, cars also will be ticketed and towed.

Already, 346 vehicles have been hauled off since Nov. 30. That's a 21 percent jump from 2010, and 33 percent higher than in 2009....

Violators face towing fees of at least $157, plus an $80 parking ticket -- $32 of which goes directly to the city.

City Hall just gets more and more oppressive. It's hard to tell who's worse -- the city or the tow truck weasels. Sounds like a custom-made reader poll:

Who's worse?
Portland transportation bureau
Tow truck companies
pollcode.com free polls 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On a Jags jag

We've got three players in our underdog game going for it tonight:

11 JACKSONVILLE at Atlanta (Thursday 5:20 p.m. PST) - Bob, Gary, Annie

Good luck to them. Those of you with the right cable package, enjoy the game!

UPDATE, 11:43 p.m.: Well, that was certainly a bust. At least those three players can now spend the weekend getting ready for Christmas.

Stop me if you've heard this one

Fascinating stuff passed along by a colleague in the tax professor world:

It is a slow day in a little Greek village. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit. On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the village, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.

The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel.

The guy at the Farmers' Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the taverna. The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him "services" on credit. The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note.

The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveler will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.

No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole village is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the bailout package works!

Jacksonville, anyone?

Players in our charity football underdog game, don't forget that if your pick for the week is the Jaguars, the deadline is 5:20 p.m. Pacific time this afternoon. And if you're going with Tampa Bay, it's 5:20 p.m. Pacific on Saturday. Good luck with the choosin', folks.

Pieces keep falling off Portland water empire

Admiral Randy's grip on the coffers of the Portland water bureau continues to loosen. Today comes news that the plan to disconnect the city's open reservoirs -- a plan that is already being implemented at enormous expense -- may be derailed, at least temporarily. Federal water quality regulators have shown state water quality regulators a way to let the city keep the reservoirs connected and working, at least for a substantial period of time. That would put off for years the need to keep building massive underground tanks to replace them.

So far, the city seems begrudgingly willing to slow down the tank deals if the state says it's o.k. But you just know that privately, the City Hall types are grinding their teeth, in that another one of their backroom construction deals is being undone. This comes on the heels of the termination of their other major pork project -- a megabucks ultraviolet water treatment plan at the Bull Run watershed. The Admiral and his water pals had that system all picked out, and it was already in Portland at their hush-hush testing facility for tryouts.

Elsewhere today, the pundits are debating what kind of independent board ought to to be set up to make sure the city stops wasting water (and sewer) revenues on non-water-related (and non-sewer-related) pet projects. It's all quite interesting, but the only board that matters right now is the state court system. The lawsuit that's been filed challenging the legality of the water bureau's wayward expenditures could result in a permanent injunction against the pet projects, not to mention a refund to ratepayers. Whatever City Hall committee is set up in the distant future pales in comparison to those prospects.

Speaking of which, what that lawsuit could probably use right about now are some moles -- people inside the city sewer and water operations who know about, and object to, the many diversions of ratepayer dollars to unrelated vanity projects. The plaintiffs in the court case have assembled their list of abuses, which they've filed with the court, but there's probably more where that came from. Maybe now that the Admiral is on the run, someone on the inside would like to spill some beans. If they did, we'd be all ears.

In any event, by the time he is pried out of his office next year, a good portion of the boss' water agenda won't have been implemented, despite his best pitbull maneuvers. For the Portlanders who use water, that's a good thing.

Democrats nationwide catching on to Wyden (R-N.Y.)

Wrong on the estate tax, wrong on the Bush tax cuts, wrong on health care, and now wrong on Medicare -- when his party needs him, Gatsby's always got a better idea.

UPDATE, 2:26 p.m.: Clearly on the defensive, he's now scolding his critics. Take the 401(k) and retire, Ron!

That's the way the infrastructure crumbles

We see that suddenly there's a shortage of money for street maintenance in Portland. When you raid millions of dollars of revenue for streetcars, bike sharrows, and bioswales, that tends to happen.

So what's to be done? Prioritize. Only streets with bike paths will get maintenance; all others are "insignificant" and will be left to rot:

PBOT Director Tom Miller wants to concentrate maintenance on what he calls Streets of Citywide Significance, which he defines as only those streets that carry automobiles, transit, freight trucks, bicycles and pedestrians on adjacent sidewalks.

"It’s a prioritization tool," says Miller, noting that exceptions could be made as needed.

According to a preliminary map prepared by PBOT, qualifying streets account for only about 600 miles of the 4,700 miles of streets. They would include Sandy and Martin Luther King, Jr. boulevards on the east side, and the portion of the Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway in Portland on the west side.

Heavily traveled Columbia Boulevard would not be included, however, because it primarily carries freight traffic.

Putting unqualified zealots and dupes in charge of things does have its consequences.

If the city really wanted to save some money in the transportation zone, they could lay off whoever they have sitting around producing this blog. It's basically a free advertising space for Zipcar and its ilk, and the new goofball rent-out-your-own-car program.

It never ceases to amaze us how the city transportation office spends so many millions of dollars trying to convince people not to own a car. If you have a life, you need a car. Apparently, Portland doesn't want you to have much of a life.

Oh, and don't miss the story that riding transit makes you skinnier and healthier. Yeah, take a look around you on the bus -- it's a regular health club.

New neighbors for Bud Clark

They're planning a six-story, 140-unit apartment bunker across Jefferson Street from the former mayor's watering hole. Part of the property is currently owned by Tri-Met, which could make for an interesting land transaction.

But here's a feature of the plan that makes no sense: The building will have three stories of underground parking. For cars! Evil cars. Even though the building is on the sacred MAX line to Hillsboro. What are these developers thinking?

It does not compute

Today's Trib:

New Seasons cofounder Eileen Brady was the first to release a plan in October that would loan Portland Development Commission funds through credit unions to targeted businesses.

Article XI, section 9, Oregon Constitution:

No county, city, town or other municipal corporation, by vote of its citizens, or otherwise, shall become a stockholder in any joint company, corporation or association, whatever, or raise money for, or loan its credit to, or in aid of, any such company, corporation or association.

Vestas in Congress, hat in hand

The Danish wind power equipment manufacturer, with its U.S. headquarters in Portland, yesterday laid out its case that the federal production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy must be extended immediately. The credit is scheduled to expire at the end of 2012, but they say that's affecting orders that aren't being placed now:

Extending the PTC now will allow wind power plant developers to place orders for 2013. Currently, few, if any, 2013 orders are being placed. This impacts not only the manufacturer but the supply chain as well. We order component parts based on the market we anticipate, often before orders are placed. Suppliers require significant lead time to ensure they have produced the parts necessary to meet our customers' needs. When orders slow down due to a looming expiration of the PTC, our suppliers' businesses suffer....

For this industry's continued success, it is critical that Congress immediately extend the PTC. The impact of allowing the PTC to expire — or extending it at the last hour — is much greater than in previous years. As the Navigant study shows, 37,000 American jobs could be lost. This would be a devastating blow to the nation's fragile economy.

"If you don't extend our tax credits, we'll kill these jobs!" It's a familiar refrain these days, on all levels of government.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Put another 'dog on the barbie

Our oddsmaker just gave us another option for the weekend in our charity pro football underdog game:

6.5 MINNESOTA vs. New Orleans

Also, players should note that there's both a Thursday evening game and a Saturday evening game this week. If you want either of those, you must get your pick in by the kickoff time of the game you're picking.

The week's complete list (so far) is here.

UPDATE, 12/15, 8:50 a.m.: Miami/Buffalo and Pittsburgh/San Fran are still off. We'll keep checking through this evening.

NBA unkind to Blazer season ticket holders

A friend of ours who's part of a partnership on a couple of Blazer season tickets was telling us earlier tonight that the league has trashed the quality of the product that he pays to watch. In knocking down the number of Blazer home games from 41 to 33, eight games had to go, and look at the eight opponents who were cut:

San Antonio

Those first six were all teams that our buddy wanted to see. The cuts mean that the four East Coast teams on the list won't be coming to Portland at all this year, and the western teams there will show up only once instead of twice.

Funny thing, though -- Blazer fans will get their full regular home game allotment of Minnesota, Sacramento, the Clippers, Golden State, and Utah. From the Y to the U to the C-K-Y. And they'll get two visits from Kevin Durant to remind them that they're cursed.

Maybe it would have been better for the Portland fans if this season had never happened. Between the crummy schedule and the sudden disintegration of the Blazer roster, the outlook is not rosy.

Wyden (R-N.Y.) strikes again

Now he's going to privatize Medicare. As the smart people explain:

Democrats are hoping to retake the House by arguing that Mr. Ryan and other House Republicans are pushing for the privatization of Medicare, which they say could greatly increase costs for beneficiaries.

The new Wyden-Ryan proposal, by blurring the contrast between the parties on this issue, could make it more difficult for Democrats to win the argument....

A senior Democratic Congressional aide said, "This plan gives bipartisan political cover to Ryan and other Republicans against whom we have been waging a very successful political offensive."

Traitor or idiot? Either way, old Gatsby has long since outworn his welcome at our "progressive" household.

UPDATE, 11:15 p.m.: We just saw an attack ad on TV against congressional candidate Rob Cornilles, calling him a Tea Party candidate. In part, it accused him of a platform of "turning over some of Medicare to private insurance companies." Which of course is exactly what Wyden is now proposing. Too funny.

From Dignity Village to Dignity City

Here's an idea that's sure to be controversial: The City of Portland is going to allow "religious institutions" and "nonprofit agencies" to run homeless camps on their properties, with up to four vehicles each. This includes campers and trailers, so that the numbers of "guests" could conceivably be a dozen or more. City codes will not be enforced.

We guess that's one way to clean up the homeless problem downtown -- export it to every neighborhood in the city. It sounds quite modest, not to mention Good Samaritan-like, but no doubt it will soon be twisted into something that neighbors aren't going to like. Between this and all the off-the-books camping already going on in people's yards, Portland's got a sad look these days.

Boring secession from Tri-Met passes

The withdrawal will take effect in January of 2013, making Boring the sixth Clackamas County city to withdraw from TriMet service. The others are Wilsonville, Damascus, Molalla, Canby and Sandy.

For the rest of us, we can all secede in our minds.

Interestingly, speaking for the Tri-Met board in the O story was Steve Clark. Since he left the Portland Tribune and now works for Oregon State University in Corvallis, we thought he'd be long gone off the transit board by now. What's up with that?

A chance to be a walking buzzword

The latest fad in the bureaucrats' world is "equity." Equity this, equity that, every other word is now equity. They cancelled Halloween in the public schools for the "spirit of equity." The developer weasels have picked up on it, too. That apartment bunker they want to put next door to you? It's for "equity."

What is "equity"? We think it used to be called equality, or diversity, or (heaven forbid) affirmative action. But like "green," and like "sex," it will be used to sell all sorts of stuff that has nothing to do with fairness, which is what equity means in the dictionary.

Anyway, now the City of Portland is out looking for someone to be the new official "equity" czar at City Hall. The pay will be between $102,648 and $146,952, plus all the PERS you can eat. No doubt they've already got somebody in mind for the gig -- it would not be surprising if a Lolenzo Poe type wound up in the seat -- but they're required to advertise for it, and here's the ad.

This position is an exciting and challenging opportunity for a proven leader who will establish and direct the new Office of Equity and Human Rights. This Office, created in September of 2011, represents the City's next step in creating an environment in the workplace and ultimately in the Community where equity and human rights become part of everyday decisions.

The Office of Equity and Human Rights Director is a high-level manager responsible for directing the City in promoting equity and the elimination of disparities within City government, particularly as this pertains to race/ethnicity and disabilities. The new director will lead the Office in educating and providing technical assistance to all bureaus to build capacity in achieving equitable outcomes and service. The Director will work with community partners to produce measurable improvements to equity and inclusion in the City. The Office, under the guidance of the new Director will work to resolve human rights issues and issues rooted in bias and discrimination.

Under general policy direction from the Commissioner-in-Charge, the OEHR Director will plan, organize, manage and direct the implementation of equity and human rights systems and programs for the City. The Director will oversee a beginning budget of over 1 million dollars, and supervise three to ten staff in the first year....

It takes eleven people just to get the city government to be "equitable"? You can imagine how big the machinery will get when the whole "community" gets involved. Anyway, yesterday was the deadline for getting applications in. The lucky finalists will be notified of their callback schedule next week.

"Your papers! Now!!"

Maybe the terrorists haven't won, but we're sure losing.

No joke -- the "green" police

In Washington, D.C., throwing recyclable material in your landfill can could cost you hundreds of dollars in fines. How long before this sort of "behavior change" approach is adopted in Portlandia?

Who's on the Blazers any more?

These are not ordinary times. It's mid-December and we'd have trouble reciting the Trail Blazers roster. Roy's gone, Oden's out, and as we dimly recall, a lot of other Blazers have been dealt away in the last year or two. Martell, Rudy, Dre, Przybilla -- they're all gone. Travis Outlaw, too, thank heaven. So who's left?

LaMarcus Aldridge, if his ticker will allow it. He's the best they've got, we think. But the way they relentlessly overwork that guy, he's a medical case waiting to happen. O.k., who else? We hear they now have Ray Felton as their point guard, Gerald Wallace as an enforcer, and geezerific big men Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas. Portland will be lucky if Camby and Thomas have one good knee between the two of them. So far, that lineup is a veritable Goodwill store of pro basketball talent. Then what -- Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews? Those guys are more at the Nordstrom Rack level.

Can good chemistry come out of a group like that, especially with the sphinx-like Coach Nate setting the level of excitement? One can hope, but fan expectations are likely to be pretty low. And with all the personnel turnover, including in the front office, the team isn't inspiring abiding loyalty at the moment. The short season could be downright unsightly.

But never say never -- especially not a couple of weeks before they even start playing the games. Maybe something will happen that will pleasantly surprise us.

Money for nothing

One of the many crazy things about politics in America is that politicians get to accept "campaign contributions," even when they're not running for anything, or even when they're running unopposed. Guys like Earl the Pearl and Gatsby Wyden sit on hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they'll never have a formidable opponent. So what do they do with that money? Give it to other politicians' campaigns and thereby gain power, we suppose.

Here's an example of the looni-tude: The other day Phil Knight made a $10,000 "campaign contribution" to John Kitzhaber. Kitz can't possibly be planning to run for re-election, can he? Surely he'll retire -- again -- and Cylvia can cut up his food for him. And even if he did run, his race wouldn't be for nearly another three years.

The U.S. Supreme Court tells us, rightly or wrongly, that giving money to political campaigns is the equivalent of speech, protected by the Constitution. It would be great if somehow that principle could be limited to people who are actually running for something, and the donations could be restricted to some reasonable time period around their actual election. Otherwise, it just looks like a bribe.

At least it's a *local* rathole

Here's a twist on the story of the financial abyss known as the Milwaukie MAX project: Oregon Iron Works, the local streetcar manufacturer, has reportedly been named a finalist in the competition to become a subcontractor of the Swiss outfit that's got the contract to build the light rail cars. That would certainly help the forces pushing the Mystery Train boondoggle to sell it as a local "jobs" program.

But it would be a whole lot better for the future of this region if the billion-dollars-plus about to be blown on the thing were spent on something more important and useful. We could think of a hundred better uses for that kind of dough.

And given Tri-Met's terrible track record in buying trains, both the Swiss contractor and any of its subcontractors need to be approached with extreme caution. Getting a Tri-Met rail contract these days is not particularly a good omen.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Occupy Portland game wears on

Here's a guy who's been arrested five times since the festivities began a couple of months ago. When does he get to do some meaningful jail time? When he breaks a dozen? When he earns a flat screen TV for his 25th cop on overtime?

Ground Control to Major Paul

A spacey guy just got a whole lot spacier.

Missing the story

The O's Brad Schmidt has been reporting yesterday and today about Homer Williams's latest great deal for Portland taxpayers: He and his buddy Dike Dame will build a Residence Inn in the Pearl District. Leaving aside how much public money they'll probably be able to wring out of their water boys at the Portland Development Commission, the scam aspect to the deal -- not reported by Schmidt -- is here:

PDC’s existing agreement with Hoyt Street calls for a residential project on the site with at least 30 units set aside for households earning 120 percent of the area’s median family income or $59,280 for a two-person family.

More broken promises from Homer. You were expecting something different? Old Brad sure seems to be.

Comfy cozy

Here's your new couch, brought to you by the City of Portland bureau of sustainability.

It was a gas gas gas

There was a scary moment indeed over near the Rose Garden in Washington Park yesterday afternoon -- a Portland water bureau crew severed a natural gas line. We hate it when that happens. Thank goodness the situation was rectified before anything seriously bad happened. A few folks were evacuated from their homes, but that was it.

You water bureau critics out there, make up your own jokes.

Going to need your help

Hey readers, next Tuesday is the ninth annual Buck-a-Hit Day on this blog. I and my inner circle of gift-giving buddies are going to give $1 to charity for every visit to this blog next Tuesday, December 20. And this year, we'll do that up to $5,000.

Can we get 5,000 visitors here next Tuesday? It's going to be a bit of a stretch. Lately we've been bringing in more than 4,000 unique visits (as counted by SiteMeter) on an average Tuesday, but traffic slows down during December, and next Tuesday is cutting it kind of close to Christmas.

So here's what we need you to do: Please start asking folks you know to show up on this site next Tuesday. Just for being here, just for a single click on bojack.org, readers will shake out a dollar of somebody else's money for a worthy cause. That's all they have to do.

Once they get here, of course, we'll be trying to hit them up for donations to one of our six favored charities, but that's up to them.

Speaking of which, we're going to be bold and try to break our previous record of $10,115 in overall donations for the day -- this year, the top of our thermometer will be $10,250. So in addition to getting 5,000 folks to show up here, we're going to try to get them to give charity, through us, a total of $5,250.

It's ambitious. Money's too tight to mention right now. But we're counting on our readers to come through. Do we sell subscriptions to this blog? No. Do we torture readers with pop-up and pop-under ads? Never. Do we blast audio commercials at people? Of course not. Once a year, we ask a few bucks for charity. We're confident that readers will pitch in, as they always do, despite the tough times.

If we got 5,000 visitors and they each gave a dollar, with another guaranteed $250 thrown in from our family and friends, we'd be there.

Our six charities will be the same as last year:

- Sisters of the Road Cafe
- Children's Heart Foundation, Oregon Chapter
- Human Solutions
- Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
- Oregon Food Bank
- Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Washington

So anyway, please do be here a week from today. Think about throwing something in the hat. But most of all, please help get out the word. That's Tuesday, December 20. Thank you.

Layer upon layer of bureaucracy

We must have missed the media coverage of this, but Portland's "unique" Metro government is currently looking for both an "executive director" and a "director of operations" for the Oregon Convention Center. One of these vacancies was discussed recently by the "general manager" of "Metro visitor venues," who delegated a bunch of authority down to the Convention Center's "assistant executive director."

It seems that there are more well paid bureaucrats in the office over at the Convention Center than there are conventioneers most of time. If only there were a taxpayer-funded private hotel...

It must have been a dream

But it seemed so real. We could have sworn that we just read somewhere that the federal government just gave Multnomah County some money to help replace the decrepit Sellwood Bridge. That could never happen on Earl the Pearl's watch. Must have been something we ate.

Among those nuked: Tokyo schools

It's just one horror story after another from Japan in the ongoing Fukushima disaster. Can you imagine this happening at your kid's school?

By the 'dogs' early light

Here are the first lines in our charity pro football underdog game this week -- Week 15, crunch time:

14 KANSAS CITY vs. Green Bay
11 JACKSONVILLE at Atlanta (Thursday 5:20 p.m. PST)
7 TAMPA BAY vs. Dallas (Saturday 5:20 p.m. PST)
7 WASHINGTON at New York Giants
6.5 INDIANAPOLIS vs. Tennessee
6.5 CAROLINA at Houston
6.5 CLEVELAND at Arizona
6 DENVER vs. New England
3 NEW YORK JETS at Philadelphia
2.5 SAN DIEGO vs. Baltimore
1 OAKLAND vs. Detroit

We'll keep checking for Bengals/Rams, Dolphins/Bills, Seahawks/Bears, and Steelers/Niners. But meanwhile, these should wet your 'dog whistle.

UPDATE, 11:08 p.m.: Here are a couple of additional pooches who just waddled in:

6 ST. LOUIS vs. Cincinnati
3.5 SEATTLE at Chicago

UPDATE, 11:59 p.m.: Players, don't forget that if you are picking either the Thursday game or the Saturday game, your pick must be in by kickoff of the game you are choosing.

UPDATE, 12/14, 11:35 p.m.: And here's another option:

6.5 MINNESOTA vs. New Orleans

Can't get into the holiday spirit?

You can do it. Sí, se puede.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gotta have money for streetcars, bioswales, and "equity"

... not to mention Milwaukie MAX, bike sharrows on every street, a sustainability center, eco-districts...

So let's cut back on police protection. Maybe later we can have a vote on a property tax increase for more police.

Half-fast cleanup wholly done

The toxic Zidell site in the Portland's failed SoWhat District has been "cleaned up," according to its owners, and they're shouting loudly about all the money they've spent to remediate the environmental mess they made. According to the Portland Business Journal (motto: "Who needs critical thinking skills?"), Jay Zidell "will tell Portland’s City Council that the $20 million project has resulted in a cleaner 30-acre site."

Now he can build some more apartment bunkers. Whoopee.

What he won't be bragging about is how much nasty stuff the state has allowed him to leave on the riverbanks. It's been covered up, not removed:

The city of Portland and the Audubon Society protested the decision to cap contaminants in the river instead of dredging and removing them. The National Marine Fisheries Service, which ultimately approved the project, also preferred dredging initially. But Zidell said it would cost more than $80 million.

Zidell's solution: smaller, more fish-friendly rock -- no bigger than 2 1/2 inches instead of 6 inches -- to make up 6 inches of clean fill. The fisheries service gave it a green light.

In all, Zidell will cap 16 acres with 154,000 cubic yards of clean fill. Along the banks, 15,000 shrubs and 200 trees will be planted.

For Bob Sallinger, Portland Audubon's conservation director, Zidell and others are squandering a rare opportunity to fully restore this part of the lower Willamette.

"Once those contaminants are sealed in, there's no way in hell you're coming back in 20 years and uncapping it and recapturing that opportunity."

Going the cheaper route may hasten the condo-ization of the area, but it's not particularly good karma. Brownfields with a thin green cover may well result in trouble down the road.

They were part of our religion

Archeologists in Jerusalem are puzzling over strange, recently uncovered V-shaped ground markings. As a public service to these scientists' counterparts centuries in the future, we provide an important explanatory link, here.

Water, sewer lawsuit hits City Hall where it hurts

The long-awaited lawsuit by angry water and sewer ratepayers against the City of Portland must be driving the spendthrifts of city government bananas. They have now had to amend their sales pitch for new city bonds to acknowledge the lawsuit. About the only thing City Hall does consistently these days is borrow money, and so having to interrupt the steady flow of IOUs to Bank of America and other Wall Street overlords must really stick in the bureaucrats' craw.

One big revelation is that the bureaucrats and politicians estimate the potential damages at $50 million or more -- that's how much water and sewer revenue the city may have spent illegally on unrelated pet projects like "voter-owed elections," the Rose Festival headquarters, and the "green" construction demonstration house.

But even better is this passage in the revised disclosure:

The City will vigorously defend the lawsuit and believes that it is unlikely that the plaintiffs will prevail on the majority of the claims alleged.

Notice: Not all of the claims are meritless -- just "the majority." Meaning, we suppose, that the city's already conceding partial defeat. It's hard to read that sentence any other way.

Portland's solar economic future gets dimmer

All the king's handouts and all the king's pork can't keep the solar energy equipment market from falling apart. Supposedly SoloPower's going to create hundreds of new jobs in Portland, with the help of massive subsidies. Well, they'd better hurry.

Should others step down in Urban League fiasco?


There's big trouble over at the Urban League of Portland. The nonprofit group's president, Marcus Mundy, has resigned amid charges that he "racked up $44,000 in charges on the League's credit card that had no documented business purpose" -- reportedly including groceries, a junket to China, a wig, and his children's cell phone bills. So now he's out of a job.

And just in the nick of time. Multnomah County, which provides a lot of the Urban League's funding, is not happy. Last week, it threatened to pull its money from the organization. And although the county is surely gratified to see Mundy hit the road, it's still not satisfied with the Urban League's accounting controls:

County spokesman David Austin said officials would keep looking into the league's finances. "Our position hasn't changed: We need to see by next week what the Urban League's response to these serious fiscal issues will be," he said. "If tight fiscal controls and a serious accounting of the dollars spent are not part of that, then the league's funding could be in jeopardy."

It's not a new story. The organization has a history of fiscal mismanagement, which has led to one executive departure after another. Mundy joins in a tradition. One tidbit that hasn't been reported in the mainstream media: Last year, someone at the Urban League -- probably its outside accountant -- blew the whistle on about $2,000 of questionable credit card spending by Mundy. The board required that he pay it back, and according to the organization's most recent report filed with the IRS, somebody (it could have been Mundy) was assessed a $500 penalty tax on account of the "excess benefit transaction."

But what about the directors of the organization -- don't they also bear responsibility? Charles Wilhoite (above left), Urban League treasurer, and Lolenzo Poe (right), chair of the board -- this happened on their watch. Didn't they know what was going on? If they didn't, why didn't they?

If Wilhoite and Poe were just some good-hearted guys with limited public responsibilities, maybe they'd deserve a pass. But they aren't. In addition to his Urban League board position, Wilhoite is chair of the OHSU board of directors, a commissioner on the Portland Development Commission, and the Sam Rand Twins' appointee as chair of the Portland police bureau budget advisory committee. His day job is apparently as a business appraiser for a national financial analyst firm, but he seems to have a lot of time on his hands to show up as a face card when public money is being spent. For him to be the treasurer of the Urban League at a time like this raises a lot of questions.

Poe is what the unkind among us might refer to as a political hack. He's been on the public payroll for a long time. Currently he works for the Portland Public Schools as a "partnership development director" and "chief equity and diversity officer," at last report making $110,000 a year. Before that he worked for the county as a "senior policy adviser" to former chair Ted Wheeler, after leaving his position as director of the county's "Department of School & Community Partnerships." For eight years he was director of the county Community & Family Services Department, where one of his achievements was sneaking the methadone clinic onto SE Belmont Street without the Buckman neighborhood noticing. Eventually Diane Linn canned him from that gig. Poe was elected unopposed to the Portland school board in 2001, and he was co-chair of the board for a year and a half; he didn't run for re-election in 2005, as we recall. Apparently, he can deliver a lot of votes, and that is doubtlessly a good part of why his is another face of the status quo in local government. But as a manager? Let's put it this way: The Urban League mess does not speak well of him.

The local media tiptoes carefully when it writes about the Urban League, for obvious reasons. But let's hope they don't let the organization's board off the hook too easily. One hopes that the IRS also steps in and takes a good look around.

Puppies only

There were only a few small winners for the players in our charity pro football underdog game yesterday. And tonight's game is off the board. With 14 weeks down, and 3 regular season weeks and 3 three playoff weeks to go, here is how our standings shape up:

Continue reading "Puppies only" »

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Occupy Portland moves to the docks

The Occupiers are planning to shut down shipping ports on the West Coast tomorrow, including in Portland. Protesters are expected out at the Port of Portland facilities near Kelley Point by 6 a.m. to act up and disrupt business throughout the day. The Port police, who are mostly devoted to safety miles away at the airport, will be around, but they are not expected to be out in numbers to keep things moving. For that detail, they apparently rely on the City of Portland police.

Many in the city police rank-and-file have been champing at the bit to put a whooping on the Occupiers, and given the remote location, the darkness before dawn, and the waning public attention to all things Occupy, tomorrow could be a day when things get ugly. In any event, it won't be a short walk to the booking facility at the Justice Center downtown. From the Port facilities to the jail is a good 20 minutes by paddy wagon -- longer if there's traffic.

It's not clear why the Occupiers are targeting shipping. Disrupting import and export activity doesn't seem to match up too well with the prevailing public sentiment. Yes, it's corporate business, but at least it's straightforward, and it deals in real goods, unlike the smooth criminals in banking and the rest of Wall Street. Sure, exports are a symbol of corporate excess, but the people doing the work out there are some of the last blue-collar employees in the country who aren't flipping hamburgers or scrubbing toilets. And who sent your job to Asia? The decisions weren't made at the Port of Portland. It was done by people like Bill Clinton and Ron Wyden, who won't be there in the morning.

If you want to tell the 1% what you think, and the Port is on your mind, the glitzy new Port office building out at the airport would seem a much better venue in which to make a statement. More than one of the Port bigwigs are definite 1%-ers, and they can be pretty arrogant when they want to be, which is often.

One thing's for sure -- tomorrow's happening probably isn't going to turn into a Michael Jackson dance party. It's Monday morning, and besides, there are no good hipster bars around. The demonstrators seem likely to be far fewer, and less inebriated, than those protesting in the downtown parks. But they'll probably also be more upset and more persistent than the downtown crowd. Let's hope they all get it off their chests, they get arrested if that is what they want, things peter out by noon, and nobody gets hurt.

Yee haw!

The New Miss Rodeo America is from right here in Vernonia, Oregon.

Spreading the propaganda

The unholy alliance between Portland City Hall and Portland State University gets tighter by the month. They're now both firmly controlled by the local development mafia -- so much so that PSU resembles a real estate firm more than an educational institution. The school's academic departments preach the gospel of smart growth, streetcars, condo bunker infill, and the like, and are always at the ready with a consultant to promote the latest building project on which the local taxpayers will be taken to the cleaners. This serves City Hall, which has the same goals, quite well. And when the politicians and bureaucrats burn out or get bounced from their City Hall posts, PSU is always waiting to welcome them with open arms, and some sort of tangential job.

And so it comes as no surprise that when the city's water bureau produces a book revising the history of the city's water system to more closely match the current party line, Portland State is at the ready to teach the official version to impressionable young minds. Here's a list of everyone to whom the city has given a free copy of the book. Aside from dozens of copies to Admiral Randy, for whom it was like an authorized biography, the city also handed out an electronic copy to a professor at PSU, apparently with the understanding that she could disseminate as many copies as she wanted to her students. Just think how many dozens of young people will be sent out into the real world with the City Hall mantras on their lips.

We know about the book deal because Floy Jones, the meanest watchdog in town when it comes to shenanigans with the city's water system, sent us the list today. It seems she's miffed that they're making her pay for her copy of the tract, while letting so many others have a free ride. More importantly, she's outraged that the book left out and carefully spun the water bureau's many screwups over the last decade or two, as well as sanitizing details from the more distant past.

This time, she's upset about nothing. The real history of Portland government is not being written by the people in City Hall. For all their tweets and twists of the facts, they're fooling fewer and fewer residents each year. It will probably take many more years, but when the rebellion finally comes, being on the free book list will be a badge of dishonor.

Chilly 'dogs

We're coming up on the solstice, and that means a lot of the underdogs of pro football are fighting for their lives today. Here are who the players in our charity game think will prevail:

16.5 INDIANAPOLIS at Baltimore - Biggest Cubs Loser, Annie
14 CLEVELAND at Pittsburgh (Thursday, unsuccessful) - Gordon, Bayou Baby
11 OAKLAND at Green Bay - Weavmo, genop, genop's gal
9 KANSAS CITY at New York Jets - Bob, Broadway Joe, Drewbob, Gary
7.5 WASHINGTON vs. New England - Grizfan, john dull, Eric W.
7 MINNESOTA at Detroit - Paul, mna, umpire, Bad Brad, Ricardo
6 BUFFALO at San Diego - Rudie, NoPoGuy, Larry Legend, Carol, Usual Kevin, PDXileinOmaha, John Cr.
3.5 TENNESSEE vs. New Orleans - Michael K.
3.5 CHICAGO at Denver - Tommy W.
3.5 ARIZONA vs. San Francisco - Pete Rozelle
3 CAROLINA vs. Atlanta - AKevin, jmh
3 NEW YORK GIANTS at Dallas - Money Maker
3 HOUSTON at Cincinnati - John Ch.

Note: This post was put together in the wee small hours of this morning, and is being posted by robot. It reflects all the picks that were turned in as of early today. There doubtlessly will have been a few stragglers between then and the 10:00 a.m. Pacific deadline, and I will post said stragglers' picks when I get back to the keyboard later today.

In the meantime, good luck, everybody, and enjoy the games!

UPDATE, 1:37 p.m.: Sunday morning pickers added -- list is now complete.

UPDATE, 1:41 p.m.: Houston beats Cincy for the only winner in the first round of 'dogs. Three points for John Ch.

UPDATE, 5:36 p.m.: The Cardinals with an "s" take the Niners down a peg, earning 3.5 points for Pete Rozelle. One player in our game's got the G-Men tonight; tomorrow night's game was off the board because no line appeared before our Thursday deadline.

UPDATE, 9:01 p.m.: The New York Football Giants prevail, adding 3 points to Money Maker's season total.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Unsung benefit

Portland's new mandatory food composting program increases the overall level of empathy in the community.

Woof! Woof!

Players in our charity pro football underdog game, don't forget to get your choice for the week in to us by the 10 a.m. Pacific deadline tomorrow. It's Week 14 -- time to get serious, people.

Oden Follies continue

Ooops! Greg Oden has "suffered another setback" and won't be ready to play for the Blazers any time soon. And so they're not going to pay him $8.9 million this year, but they are going to pay him an undisclosed amount, no doubt north of a million.

Why? Oden has not played basketball in two years. He'll never be a force in the NBA -- from the looks of things, he may never even play another game. He's got the body of an old man. Why are the Blazers paying him? Either Paul Allen has lost his mind, or there is something shady going on. Count us in the latter camp, of course -- it's our nature.

Rather than being as bad as the Sam Bowie No. 1 draft pick, the selection of Oden has turned out to be even worse. Oden is to Bowie as Fukushima is to Chernobyl.

A sense of arrival

They've got the corner of NE Grand and Hancock all ripped up again. No doubt another piece of "gateway" art is about to be installed. They recently finished putting one of these in over in the Parkrose neighborhood, where Sandy meets I-205. Unlike the ugly stuff that often passes for public art these days, the Parkrose immigrant statue is kinda cool.

But newcomers to Portland need something more to let them know that they've arrived in a special place -- a welcoming monument of some kind with the immortal words of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson:

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.

"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat. "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."

"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.

"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

If they take up a collection for something like that, we'll be at the front of the line to donate.

Friday, December 9, 2011

All-out gang war in North Portland

They're shooting it up left and right. Hey, Reese and Adams! Are you doing anything about this other than bleating some nonsense about gun control? If not, why don't you step aside and turn things over to somebody who knows what he or she is doing?

Have a great weekend


Five great years

Morbid Time Killer o' the Week

In case you needed it, here's an interactive map of nine years' worth of traffic fatalities in the United States. Go ahead, click -- you know you want to.

Equitable, sustainable...

... buses!

Not trains.

You can stop all that Christmas shopping right now

Here's the perfect gift for everyone on your list: the City of Portland 2012 Sustainable Stormwater Management Calendar.

When it rains, stormwater that isn’t properly managed can wash over streets, roofs, parking lots and other hard surfaces, carrying dirt, oil, metals and chemicals into our rivers and streams.

And that ain't all. Can you say "Mr. Hanky goes swimming"?

Anyway, just hit "Print" and give this to your loved one. Voilá! A painful trip to the mall is averted.

Adams on transportation: Everything's peachy

Here's a sloppy self-congratulation from Portland's mayor. He's so unusual! But this time, he went beyond a mere tweet:

We hear daily from Portlanders who value the ability to walk, bike, or take transit to meet their daily needs, and who want us to make it even easier and more convenient. At the same time we’re sensitive to the need to keep streets in decent condition for road users, and figure out how best to use those roadways to move freight throughout the city.

As you look over the past year’s transportation accomplishments, you will see that balance of safety, reliability, and sustainability throughout.

- The City's Bridges: We invested in building and rebuilding several bridges to create better connections for all modes of travel, including safe access for heavier freight trucks.

- Neighborhood Greenways: We invested in Neighborhood Greenways as a less expensive way to help people on bikes move safely around the city—and in the process, created streetscapes where it’s safer to walk and easier to cross busy streets.

- Transit Improvements: We looked for (and found) signal efficiencies that reduced trip times for people who drive and improved pedestrian safety.

Translation: We blew mega-millions on marginal stuff, and sent a guy out to change the timing on a couple of red lights. Even the token gestures for drivers are called "transit Improvements." Mission accomplished!

Good money after bad

The Blazers are about to sign center Greg Oden to a one-year, $8.9 million contract. Mind-boggling money -- plus, he gets a handicapped parking space.

The guy has been on the Blazer payroll for four years now. During that time, the team has played 328 regular season games. Oden has been well enough to play in only 82 of them, and for only 22 minutes per game on average. His playoff career consists of a grand total of 95 minutes.

The last game he played in was more than two years ago. And he's still not capable of suiting up. He's talking to his doctors -- uh huh. If Portland's lucky, he might be able to play in late January. If his recent history is any indicator, they might get 20 games out of him, at 20 minutes a game, before he goes down again. That would come to $445,000 a game, $22,250 per playing minute, or $370.83 per second. Mind-boggling.

Maybe Occupy Portland needs to show up at a Blazer game. The protesters could chant out the dollar amount for each second that Oden's on the floor: "370! 740! 1110! 1480! 1850! 2220!" O.k., the math might get too advanced, but you get our point.

It's a good thing the Blazers have Paul Allen as their owner. He's got no money sense, and he doesn't need any. What a message for the kids in the Blazer fan corps: Life ain't fair.

Oh, well. We'll probably wind up following pro basketball again at some point after the Super Bowl. Until then, we sincerely wish the Blazers well as the goofy partial season gets under way.

In how many regular season games will Greg Oden play this coming season?
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pollcode.com free polls 

If you blog it, they will come

To say that this blog has a regular readership may be a bit of an understatement. Thanks to the guys at Clicky, here's the traffic to this site yesterday as compared to one week earlier:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The O loses last pretense of neutrality

It's hard to believe. Today, in a comment to his gushing "news story" about the foolhardy taxpayer-subsidized bike rental program coming to Portland, O "reporter" Joseph Rose wrote: "It's also important to remember that driving is one of the most subsidized activities in the nation."

And with that, friends, it is official: Portland doesn't have a daily newspaper any more. It has a daily governmental press release digest. How the editors over there can look at themselves in the mirror in the morning is beyond us.

Thursday's 'dog is full of woe

We've been out holiday partying -- in groovy Dunthorpe, no less -- but this afternoon, before we hit the road, these picks came in to our charity underdog game:

14 CLEVELAND at Pittsburgh (Thursday 5:20 p.m.) - Gordon, Bayou Baby

Final score: Pittsburgh 14, Cleveland 3.

Everybody else, picks are due Sunday at 10 a.m.

Cha-ching! $2 million in taxes for Portland bike sharing

So ludicrous. Such a waste. But Mayor Creepy's determined.

And the O's resident transportation wunderkind just takes the press release and posts it on the internet:

Urban planners increasingly see bike sharing as the mark of a world-class city. Thousands of commuters a day already use rapidly expanding networks in Washington, D.C., Miami, Minneapolis and 12 other U.S. cities. Meanwhile, a new British study shows bicycle sharing provides a wide range of health benefits to urban residents.

Uh huh. Sure, Joe.

In a year, half the bikes will be gone. And then it will be time for another $2 million of public money. Here in Portland, we have the concept of "too stupid to fail." Lather, rinse, repeat until the municipal bankruptcy.

Another thumb down on Starbucks jobs pitch

Here's a writer who's as dubious about it as we are.

Pop Stand City

Here's a goofy one, straight outta Portlandia: If you write down all the times that you went somewhere in Portland over the last 15 days without driving by yourself, the region's "unique" Metro government will enter you into a series of drawings to win a $50 Fred Meyer gift card.

Is this a legitimate exercise of governmental power? Is it an appropriate expenditure of tax dollars? Whatever its propriety, it certainly doesn't seem like something that a world-class city would be doing.

All that news that isn't happening

Today's Trib puts an odd spin on the newly filed lawsuit charging the Portland water and sewer bureaus with illegal expenditures of ratepayer revenues. The paper declares that in addition to the projects actually challenged in the litigation, one could also complain about the subsidies given to low-income water and sewer customers, and about the utility fees that the city's general fund charges the water and sewer operations.

That's all interesting, but the folks who have stood up and sued the city have apparently decided not to quibble about those. And they would probably have good reasons for such a decision. The low-income subsidies are not real expenditures of money -- they're just price discrimination in favor of the poor. And if the court struck them down, Portland voters would reinstate them in an instant.

As for the utility fee, of course it's ridiculous -- the city is basically charging itself, moving money from one pocket to another. Any label put on that sort of intramural transfer of funds is a bit of a joke. But tracing where the fee goes once it hits the city's general fund would be quite a rat's nest, and it might tend to distract a judge or jury.

So let's discuss the lawsuit in terms of what it's clearly about -- the laundry list of abuses set forth here. It's almost as if the Trib is trying to derail the case by talking around the basic issues. Maybe that's because it was pretty much the last media outlet in town with the story of the actual court filing.

East side streetcar goes Wapato

Now that Portland's east side streetcar tracks have almost all been laid, the spendthrifts at City Hall are noticing that, hey, um, guys? We don't have the money to operate this thing! Now they're killing off new parking meters on the central east side for a while -- purportedly because the businesses over there don't want them, but that can't be right, because when has that ever stopped them? In any event, something bad has happened in Condo Land. Something very bad.

The loss of more magic Ellis McCoy Dollars® leaves quite a hole in the operating budget for the streetcar. In essence, the whole east side extension is insolvent at this point. It's so bad that they might actually make the downtown streetcar riders pay a fare, abruptly upsetting many Pearlies and hipsters' legitimate expectations. This in the city of 200 planners. You'd laugh if it weren't so pitiful.

Of course, the same thing is happening with Tri-Met's Mystery Train to Nowhere. Earl the Pearl and the Goldschmidtters in Salem have come up with enough money and promises to get the ripping up of the land started, but by the time the Milwaukie MAX is ready to roll, Tri-Met may very well be in bankruptcy, trying to get out of its obscenely under-funded obligations to its retirees. And forget about operating funds, which are nowhere in sight -- even the basic construction funds aren't lined up, as the Clackistani rebels continue to block every attempt to tap their wallets for the thing.

But build we must -- and how about a streetcar to Lake Oswego, too? The politicians and bureaucrats with the irrational antipathy toward cars and buses never stop to think; they just go along as their real estate developer patrons, who know how well train tracks sell condos, dictate the program. It's so painful to watch.

Breaking news: Reality bites.

Willy Week goes on and on this week about the scarcity of apartments in Portland. The reporter's got lots of statistics and anecdotes, but there's something about the story that's less than convincing. It comes off sounding like whining from some of the many young, "creative," and foolish people who have moved to Portland with no money or legitimate job prospects and are now discovering that, golly, you can't get a nice place to rent in the middle of town for $500 a month:

In September, Zac Thayer, a 20-year-old punk-rock musician, started trolling Craigslist for a house or an apartment to share that would cost him no more than $500 a month. It took two months, including weeks spent sleeping on friends’ couches.

That is supposed to prove what, exactly? That Zac doesn't want to live in Parkrose or Oregon City? Our heart bleeds for him, but it is no surprise he'll have to have more than $500 a month to live where all the area's hippest stuff is.

"We got really frustrated," Bozanich says. "We’d draw out a map of different neighborhoods and just start bickering about just having to live farther out, and I would be like, 'I don’t want to spend money to live in a place I don’t really like.'"

Such as the real world, apparently.

The WW treatment is understandable. Without the 21-to-35-year-old set -- the people who regularly go to bars to hear local bands -- that paper would probably go under. And so of course, the journalists there are inclined, perhaps subconsciously, to portray that demographic group as victims.

But there's more going on here than that. The WW assessment of the situation seems suspiciously like another thinly veiled sermonette about the gajillion people who are moving here any minute now, and how we'd better wreck all the close-in neighborhoods with high-rise apartment bunkers to accommodate the future unemployed and baristas who will soon be arriving.

Folks, the population of the City of Portland increased by only about 2,100 people last year. During that time, there were hundreds of apartments added to the city's supply. Many owner-occupied houses were converted to rentals. Things are roughly in balance, if somewhat on the tight side.

Yes, it's gotten much more expensive to rent inside the city limits of Portland. And why's that? Nowhere mentioned in the story is the fact that landlords' expenses have shot up drastically over the last few years -- especially water and sewer bills and property taxes. Those get passed on to renters, which is why the $500 crash pad, or even the $800 apartment, ain't coming back. Nobody's going to build or operate cheap, or even middle-class, apartments in town without a massive government subsidy. And don't think that's not part of the sermonette -- that we need to give Winkler and Edlen and Homer and the rest of the Usual Suspects more public money. For "workforce housing." In a city that has no place for the "force" to work.

City commissioner Nick Fish certainly seems to be completely on board with the program:

"If we care about people having choices about where they live, if we don’t want to concentrate poverty on the edges of our city, then we need a range of housing choices in each neighborhood," says City Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the Housing Bureau. "We’re limiting people’s choices about where they can live and raise a family."

He makes it sound like a freedom march, with Dike Dame in the role of Martin Luther King. Hey, Nick, we'd like to raise our family in Dunthorpe, but funny thing, it's out of our price range. That's the way it works in most of the world -- you live where you can afford to live, and the rich folks don't let the poor folks get too close. But apparently, in the "spirit of equity" -- the new content-free sales pitch that goes hand-in-hand with "sustainable" -- we've got to achieve the impossible by mowing down some decent old buildings and slapping up some more particle board apartment bunkers. Oh, and having the city's taxpayers pay for it:

According to the Housing Bureau, the city since 2006 has paid $150 million to help add 4,500 units of affordable housing through construction and aid to renters making down payments when they buy a home.

Fish says the subsidized units go to households that make 60 percent or less of Portland’s median family income. That means a family of four that makes less than $43,200 would qualify. A single person needs to make less than $30,240.

And where does the subsidy money wind up? Buying nice new BMWs for our own little 1%. Who then toss some money into the campaign coffers of politicians like, well, Fish.

In any event, the facts that vacancies are down and rents are up are certainly noteworthy, but they're hardly as horrible a thing as the WW story suggests. As we found out back when we had only $500 a month for housing, you can't always get what you want. Some people have to live in Gladstone or the 'Couv.

In Japan, an unspeakable debate

In baby formula, how much radioactive cesium is safe?

Night of the St. Bernard

Players in our charity underdog game, don't forget that there's a game on this evening -- the Cleveland Browns are 14-point 'dogs at Pittsburgh. A great pro football tilt, in the traditions of Terry B. and Lou G. (pictured). If you think the Brownies can pull off a big one, you'll need to get your pick in by kickoff, which is at 5:20 p.m. Pacific time.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

White smoke from Delta Tau Chi chimney

Apparently a new president has been selected for U.C. Nike.

Portland City Hall bigwigs clearing out their desks

Word is out that both Portland city personnel chief Yvonne Deckard and city attorney Linda Meng are bailing. That's pretty scary, in that it provides the lame duck Sam Rand Twins the chance to fill the positions with their favorite hand-picked lackeys. Given that the city's rushing headlong toward fiscal disaster, is being sued for misspending of funds, and has one prominent figure currently under federal indictment, it will be interesting to see what kinds of people the successors are.

TV news assignment editor alert

Please warm our holidays. We want footage of this, and lots of it. If not live coverage, then at least an hour-long special.

Will Tri-Met board let Boring secede?

We will probably know by this time next week.

Portland City Hall Outrage of the Week

Word from close-in southeast Portland is that the award-winning-high-satisfaction-yada-yada Parks Bureau wants to close Buckman Pool to save money. After all the controversy when the bureaucrats tried to do that in 2005, you would think they'd stop using that neighborhood, and that pool in particular, as a punching bag. Buckman always gets the shaft from City Hall -- always.

Don't tell me -- the chainsaws run on bio-diesel

Portlanders claim to love the trees, but when the chips are down, they often don't walk the talk. Having recently watched as Tri-Met mercilessly clearcut a section of the southwest Portland "urban forest" for train tracks to enrich the condo pushers, now we see that the transit agency is whacking Mother Nature pretty badly down in Milwaukie as well. At least some neighbors that way are standing up for what's right. Good on them.

Hereby required to appear and defend

Interested in the gory details of the important new lawsuit brought against the Portland water and sewer bureaus for spending ratepayers' money on mission creep frivolities? You can read the complaint here. May this long-awaited effort bear fruit.

Are Portland taxpayers getting Winkled?

We've been noticing a strange odor coming from the Killingsworth Station condo bunker at the corner of North Interstate and Killingsworth in Portland. That project seems to have broken the record for piling on the most different types of local taxpayer subsidies to make the money "pencil out" for a private developer -- with highly questionable public benefit.

Now we see that the same developer, Jim Winkler, was sucking on the public udder over on the other side of town as well, with this outrageous scheme -- a public housing project for people making $97,000 a year. The stink rising from the financial side of the project, Headwaters Apartments, is so strong that the city bureaucrats seem too embarrassed even to talk about it.

We remember Winkler as a likable enough guy when we knew him 25 or 30 years ago. But we didn't like him well enough to wink at the craziness that he and his City Hall connections have been involved in lately. Maybe it's time for said craziness to stop.

UPDATE, 12:55 p.m.: Today city commissioner Nick Fish says he wants to get Headwaters back on the tax rolls. Sounds nice, but it probably means the city would sell it to some favored developer, like Winkler, for $1.

Get out your calendar

Is your holiday schedule filling up? It's time to mark down a couple of upcoming seasonal goings-on on this blog, if you don't mind. Buck-a-Hit Day -- our ninth annual charitable giving fest -- will be held all day and night on Tuesday the 20th. That's as late as we've ever had it, but let's hope that it will get folks into the spirit of the season. Over the years, faithful readers and our family have given more than $40,267 to worthy local charities through this event on this day. Our record for any single year is $10,115, which we reached in 2008. We're going to try to beat that this year; more on our plans over the next week and change. Call your rich uncle.

And then on Thursday the 22nd, we'll have our annual cyber-office Christmas party. We're not sure how many of these we've thrown now, and even if we did remember, we wouldn't say. Because what happens at the cyber-office Christmas party, stays at the cyber-office Christmas party. We'll crank it up in mid-afternoon that day. Please plan to come as you are.

It's Bob Ball Week

Not only is the Portland developer getting ready to throw up another jumbo apartment bunker in the North Pearl, but he's also being promoted to commander in the Portland police reserve, in which he's been active for many years. At one time he was running for mayor, until Lyin' Sam threw him under the bus. We suspect his name will show up on a ballot near us at some point.

Adventures in Agnewland

Here are some public-private real estate development partnerships that have been in the news lately back east. Interesting reading, indeed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book review

One of the great benefits of being a parent is getting to read the books that the children bring home. Some of them are exquisite. Like this one:

Scorsese has a movie version out, and maybe we'll make a rare journey to the movies to see it, but we're extremely glad to have experienced the book first. It's something.

I'm looking at the 'dogs, reflections of my mind

It's Tuesday afternoon, and time for this week's lineup in our charity pro football underdog game. It includes a few big boys:

16.5 INDIANAPOLIS at Baltimore
14 CLEVELAND at Pittsburgh (Thursday 5:20 p.m.)
11 OAKLAND at Green Bay
9 KANSAS CITY at New York Jets
7.5 WASHINGTON vs. New England
7 MINNESOTA at Detroit
6 BUFFALO at San Diego
3.5 TENNESSEE vs. New Orleans
3.5 CHICAGO at Denver
3.5 ARIZONA vs. San Francisco
3 CAROLINA vs. Atlanta
3 HOUSTON at Cincinnati
1 JACKSONVILLE vs. Tampa Bay

No Eagles/Dolphins or Rams/Seahawks yet. Happy pickin', players!

UPDATE, 10:03 p.m.: Add this one:


Feds fine PacifiCorp $3.9 million

A reader sends along this document, with a funny observation:

Since The O relies on journalism by press release and for some reason PacifiCorp did not issue a press release, you may want to break the news that PacifiCorp was just fined nearly $4 million.

The penalty relates to PacifiCorp (formerly Pacific Power) operations in Utah in February 2008. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that the company flunked the agency's reliability standards for power transmission.

Federal judge says bloggers aren't journalists

According to U.S. District Court Judge Marco Hernandez here in Portland, who has held a blogger liable for defamation, bloggers are neither journalists nor media. Among the judge's comments:

Defendant contends that she does not have to provide the "source" of her blog post because of the protections afforded to her by Oregon's Shield Laws. I disagree. First, although defendant is a self-proclaimed "investigative blogger" and defines herself as "media," the record fails to show that she is affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system. Thus, she is not entitled to the protections of the law in the first instance....

Defendant fails to bring forth any evidence suggestive of her status as a journalist. For example, there is no evidence of (1) any education in journalism; (2) any credentials or proof of any affiliation with any recognized news entity; (3) proof of adherence to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking, or disclosures of conflicts of interest; (4) keeping notes of conversations and interviews conducted; (5) mutual understanding or agreement of confidentiality between the defendant and his/her sources; (6) creation of an independent product rather than assembling writings and postings of others; or (7) contacting "the other side" to get both sides of a story. Without evidence of this nature, defendant is not "media."

This case is sure to prompt a great deal of discussion in the blogosphere, for obvious reasons. [Via Lars Larson.]

More car hater propaganda from Portland City Hall

In with the bills in yesterday's mail came the latest piece of bike porn from the Portland transportation bureau (motto: "Only one guy charged with a felony"):

It's another four-pager, full color, 8½ by 11 inches. It includes 21 color photos. The number of photos showing a moving motor vehicle, or a person in a motor vehicle: 0.

It's pretty clear that the two thirds of the population who use a car as their primary mode of transportation simply don't matter to the "behavior changers" in city government. This is an illustration of why we are going to get a new City Council soon.

Eileen's green -- clean?

Beth Slovic of the O calls Portland mayoral candidate Eileen Brady out on a $10,000 contribution she just took from an outfit with a keen interest in matters before a state board on which she's sitting. Well, that's kind of slimy-looking, now, isn't it?

But then again, has Slovic taken a gander at the contributor list of Brady's rival, Jeffer-Sam Smith, or that of City Council candidate Mary Nolan? Those two sit in the legislature and have held influence over far more political decisions than Brady ever has. Are any of their campaign gifts a quid pro quo for past favors? Don't expect an answer to that question -- or even for that question to be asked -- any time soon.

From Salem, the sound of crickets

Come next year, Oregon is going to have a new state attorney general, and two new justices on the state Supreme Court. These are both really important positions. Why is there so little buzz about them?

Rumor has it that one of the court spots is already "spoken for," but by whom? Denizens of the courthouses, do tell.

A most untimely publication

It's always a little scary when government bureaucracies set out to revise history. Events and people of the past have a way of disappearing when that happens. And so we read with amusement the news that the Portland water bureau had hired a guy to update former Frank Ivancie's 1983 history of the city's water system. They even had a fancy book signing the other day.

We haven't had a glimpse of the new version of events yet, but even without looking, we'd bet there are quite a few significant events that are omitted from, or downplayed in, the new edition. There have been so many embarrassments -- the reservoir cover eBay fiasco, the lost lawsuit over shenanigans with revenue bonds, the city's complicity with the federal rulemaking that wound up jacking water rates out of sight, solar-powered outdoor toilets for street drunks, the massive increases in spending on consultants, the hush-hush deal to let Carollo Engineers build a commercial testing facility on top of the Columbia wellfield, the birth control drugs in the well water, the nasty battles with ratepayers and neighbors over covering the reservoirs, the obscene increases in rates... Maybe some of that stuff is in there, but probably not much, and you can bet it will be spun exactly the way Admiral Randy wants it, or it wouldn't see the light of day.

"The billing system failure has been called a debacle, a fiasco, an example of government inefficiency," the book explains. "But such events were not limited to the Water Bureau, nor to the public sector. Local privately-owned utilities also had unsuccessful billing system implementations around the same time, which also cost millions but received very little public scrutiny."

Wow. Not all the E. coli is in the water, folks.

Whatever the accuracy of the latest revisions may be, the new book is obsolete already, because one of the most important events in water bureau history is only now about to happen. Today's the day that outraged water customers sue the city for wasting water revenues, running many millions of dollars, on non-water-related projects such as the Rose Festival headquarters, the "green" demonstration house, the building of parks, and many others -- including vanity publications. The breathtaking mission creep, fueled by boundless arrogance, is about to come to an end. Remedying this problem is long overdue, and it will probably merit a book of its own by the time it's done.

Portland City Hall approval rating is way down

Ah, LaVonne, LaVonne. The Portland city auditor released the results of the annual city resident satisfaction survey yesterday afternoon, and the trends are pretty much as one would expect. The overall rating of City Hall's performance is 48% positive, down from 62% positive two years ago. Opportunity to influence government decisions is down from 32% to 26%, and the police rating dropped from 71% to 59% positive since 2009. City efforts to improve the attractiveness of downtown slipped from 66% positive to 58%, and street maintenance went from 39% positive to 35%.

During July and August, we asked Portlanders about their views on a variety of City services, and thousands of residents responded....

Most Portlanders we surveyed felt positively about their city and their neighborhoods. While the majority of residents viewed some City services, such as Parks and Recreation, Water, Police, 911, and Fire and Emergency Response as very good or good in 2011, other services received less positive ratings. Residents reported less favorable ratings of the City’s street maintenance, sewer and storm drainage services, housing and nuisance inspection services, and planning for future land use.... Most residents we surveyed had not participated in a community project or public meeting during the last 12 months, and the majority of residents felt either neutral or negatively about their opportunities to influence government decisions.

We sent the survey to 10,150 randomly-selected households, and 38 percent were returned. We calculated the citywide survey accuracy to be ± 1.6 percent.... In comparing the demographic information provided by survey respondents to 2010 Census data, we found that our survey respondents are older and more educated than the population as a whole. We also found that females are over-represented and minorities are under-represented among those who returned our survey.

There are hundreds of numbers to spin, but overall, resident satisfaction is down at least slightly in nearly every category compared to two years ago -- the parks bureau being a notable exception. Curiously, the report frequently mentions the results from five years ago, but it cites only 2007 data; when last we checked that was four years ago, not five. Anyhow, the whole thing is here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Above the law

The pro football player who crashed his car downtown on Friday night allegedly lied to police about it. One person who apparently was a passenger in the car says she was in fact injured enough to require stitches, and a second was also reportedly injured, despite Ndamukong Suh's recorded statements to police that everyone was fine. In addition, there was apparently no taxicab involved in the incident, contrary to Suh's version of the crash.

And the Portland cops are washing their hands of the whole thing? What a dirty little town. Mike Reese, Sam Adams -- please step down. You're embarrassing yourselves, along with the rest of us, in front of an entire nation.

More biased reporting from the O

Today, in the second paragraph of this story, O reporter Larry Bingham decides to toss in his opinion that the Alameda Elementary School is "affluent." Not only is it inaccurate, but that adjective has no place in a news story.

On the merits of the argument presented by the article, of course the neighborhood association is right. For example, you could hit the Alameda School from our house with a rock, but under Super Carole's latest boundary change plan, we would be reclassified as in the Sabin School zone. Other neighbors, five blocks from Alameda, would be sent to Irvington School, 13 blocks away from them. And pretty soon Super Carole will be telling all of us that our kids are going to Jefferson High School.

Meanwhile, they're busing kids in to Alameda from 57th and Stanton, which is more than 30 blocks away. All of this unnecessary drama is a good part of why our two children have never set foot in a Portland public school classroom, and probably never will.

But back to the slanted reporting: This happens at the city's daily newspaper with alarming frequency these days. Somebody at the O needs to sit its dwindling corps of reporters down and break the news to them: When Steve Duin dies, one of you will get to express your opinion in the paper. Until then, you're reporters, not opinion columnists. Lose the adjectives.

Include the fruitcake!

Stenchy, the Portland food slop rat, gets into the holiday spirit.

A couple of open letters re: Occupy Portland

Dear Portland City Council:

What's with the schizo behavior regarding Occupy Portland? Yes, I know, you have your precious discretion to let them hang out in the parks or not, and you're trying to walk a tightrope between bleeding heart "progressivism" and authoritarian rule. But exactly what sense does it make to send the cops out in their Ninja Turtle outfits to break up an encampment in the park, locking up a couple of dozen people, only to have the riot forces abruptly march away and let the hipsters return and party all night? If you're going to clear the park, wouldn't it make sense to hang around and see that it stays cleared, at least for the rest of the night? The park is either closed, or it isn't.

It seems as though the police remain on the scene just long enough to rack up enough overtime to buy a new flat screen TV. Then they disappear, and the obnoxious party cranks right back up.

And what's with allowing so many streets to be obstructed by all the unpredictable, unannounced marches? Somebody's going to get run over -- that can't be what you want. People who can't stay on the sidewalks need to be given some sort of incentive to do so. When last I checked, it was your responsibility to figure out what that should be. So far, you've fallen down on the job.

If you were to decide one of these nights to get serious -- to arrest everybody out there who's making a nuisance of themselves, and keep them locked up all night -- some of us would support you on cost-savings grounds alone. Until somebody is actually punished for breaking the law, they'll just keep doing it, and it will be overtime shift after overtime shift. Maybe setting up a mass arrest night, with Tri-Met buses and a processing center far from downtown in a school gymnasium, is in order. But continuing what you've been doing so far seems pretty pointless.

A lot of folks are coming around to your stated view that the "movement," if it can even be called that any more, must "evolve" into something more productive than all-night blowouts and REI tent shows. But until you give the slightest indication that you know what you're doing on the law enforcement side, you'll continue to receive flunking grades from the taxpayers who are paying the millions of dollars that these events are costing the city. Please come up with a rational game plan for the future, and let the residents of the city hear what it is.

Jack Bogdanski

Dear "members" of Occupy Portland:

What little credibility you guys may have had before this weekend, you pretty much lost with your pathetic "Thriller for White People" dance party on Saturday night in the Park Blocks. You kept a bunch of elderly and disabled people awake all night, you cost the taxpayers more hundreds of thousands of dollars, and you slowed down and otherwise screwed up downtown holiday activities for all sorts of folks whom you purport to represent.

What does that have to do with economic injustice and corporate crime? Admit it -- nothing, really. One of you was on the tube last night talking about "reflecting" on your "successes." Exactly what in heaven's name would those be? You've showed that a lot of people are angry -- wonderful, that was six weeks ago. What else have you done? Nothing productive, as far as I can see.

If you want to party on the cheap, find a dive bar somewhere with no cover charge and a decent sound system, and dance the night away. If you want to camp out, there are many campgrounds in the region that are empty this time of year. And if you really want to deliver a political message -- which looks more improbable by the week -- march around all you want from 7 in the morning until 9 at night.

On the sidewalk.

At the beginning, I was glad to see you out there; I had been surprised that you hadn't appeared sooner. I didn't care about the money spent on police overtime, because sometimes democracy is messy. But you've had quite a while to come up with a workable agenda, and it hasn't appeared.

You want a just and fair society -- how long do you think that will take? My guess is 30 years at a minimum. Are you going to be out in the park blocks doing the "Thriller" dance for that long?

America has a short attention span, friends, and you're missing your window. In a few more weeks, no one will be watching you on TV, no matter how much you act up. If you're unhappy about how the cops treat you now, you're really not going to like how they act when nobody cares any more.

There'll always be some anarchist in a mask and a blue Mohawk out in the streets wanting to tear everything down. But how much of your life are you going to waste gyrating around getting nowhere? Get this thing focused, or give it up.

Jack Bogdanski

Two words

On his radio show on Saturday, musicologist Jonathan Schwartz urged us listeners to think about the following phrase: President Gingrich.

From the Fukushima theater of the absurd

They're making a big deal over in Japan about the fact that they've found some nasty radioactive water leaking from the blown-out Fukushima nuclear reactors into the ocean. Folks, the basements of those buildings have been leaking the same stuff into the groundwater and the Pacific since March. It's a nuclear power plant, next to the ocean, that exploded after extensive damage in a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami. They're dumping water into it constantly to keep the situation from getting much worse. Yes, all sorts of radiation is pouring into the ocean. And yes, it's terrible. But no, don't kid yourself, it really is not news.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Occupy Portland chased off -- by drug dealers!

Silly Occupy. Of course camping's not allowed in city parks -- that's gangster territory.

Livable Portland -- quite the town it's become.

Wild 'dogs run fast

There was plenty of excitement in our charity pro football underdog game today, and several players scored with this week's four winning 'dogs. With today's results, all of our players have points. And there's a new leader in our standings. Since nobody picked tomorrow night's game, those standings are final for the week:

Continue reading "Wild 'dogs run fast" »

Occupiers were allowed to camp all night after all

If they hurt the Shemanski Fountain, Sam Adams and Nick Fish should have to pay for the restoration out of their own salaries.

Lucky 'dogs for Week 13?

The Big Daddies of pro football go after it again today, and we've got the feeling there'll be some upsets, including a bigger one. Here's what the players in our charity prediction contest say:

20 INDIANAPOLIS at New England - Annie
13 ST. LOUIS at San Francisco - Gary, Biggest Cubs Loser, Eric W.
8.5 DETROIT at New Orleans - Bob, NoPoGuy, Ricardo, genop's gal, Money Maker
7.5 KANSAS CITY at Chicago - Rudie, Larry Legend, Paul, Gordon, Broadway Joe
7 NEW YORK GIANTS vs. Green Bay - mna, genop, Drewbob
6.5 CLEVELAND vs. Baltimore - Pete Rozelle, Tommy W.
6.5 CINCINNATI at Pittsburgh - Bayou Baby, john dull, Bad Brad, Grizfan, John Cr.
4.5 ARIZONA vs. Dallas - AKevin, Usual Kevin
3.5 CAROLINA at Tampa Bay - Carol
3 OAKLAND at Miami - PDXileinOmaha, John Ch., jmh, Weavmo
2.5 SEATTLE vs. Philadelphia (Thursday, winner) - Michael K.

Just to keep the competitive juices flowing, here's a reminder of our prize structure this year:

First prize - $510 to player's favorite charity
Second prize - $165 to player's favorite charity
Third prize - $105 to player's favorite charity
Fourth prize - $75 to player's favorite charity
Fifth prize - $55 to player's favorite charity

Still plenty of time for any of our players to climb into the "money." Have a great day and enjoy the games, folks!

UPDATE, 5:32 p.m.: Carolina, Arizona, and Kansas City(!) come through for our players. AKevin takes the lead, and Larry Legend leaps into second place. Complete standings tonight after the important Detroit at New Orleans.

The perfect stocking stuffer

Don't tell us that you still don't have a Bojack bumper sticker:

This lovely item will make a fine addition to your car, bike, skateboard, Segway, pickup, wheelchair, private jet, horsedrawn wagon, trike, pet carrier, or yacht. There are thousands of potential uses. And dirt cheap at only $1.50 for one, $2.00 for two, or $2.50 for three.

But wait.

Act now and for the first nine customers, we'll throw in, absolutely free, a much coveted "Weird Isn't Working" bumper sticker to go with your bojack.org. That's a $5 value, and definitely a conversation starter.

Don't delay -- do it today. Order here.

UPDATE, 7:31 p.m.: We've sold nine bumper stickers today, and so we're out of the "Weird" ones. But there are still some Bojacks -- get yours now!

Headline of the Year

This sums up an entire story.

Another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody

The PoPo locked up another 19 Occupiers last night, this time in the park behind the Schnitzer Concert Hall. The average age of those taken in was 31, up nearly three years from the bigger throwdown in the squares last month.

So far we haven't read any reports of serious violence, although the demonstrators messed up holiday shopper traffic downtown for a while by marching and standing in the streets. One guy climbed on the City Hall roof and briefly pitched a tent there.

From media accounts, it sounds as though it mostly devolved into a free outdoor dance party by people too young or too broke to get into a bar on a Saturday night. The 2011 version of cruisin', as it were. But the attempt to establish another tent city was reportedly terminated with extreme prejudice.

The police did their usual thing. They come in, make a big show with their batons, push some people, arrest some people, chase the rest, then leave -- so that the mob can re-assemble in the same place a few minutes later. This is what they did in the Pearl, in the squares, and apparently again now behind the Schnitz. Odd strategy.

Meanwhile, in a press release, the police tattled on some bad behavior by some of the Occupiers:

Officers noted during the clearing of the park that there were some children, ages ranging from approximately 8 to 12, near the front line of the demonstration. Officers advised to the parents to get the children out of the park but in one case, a small child was pushed to the front by an adult in apparent attempt to use the child as a human shield. There are no reports that any children were injured or had police contact and they ultimately left the park with adults....

Officers walking the area after the park closure located a cluster of spent shell casings on the east sidewalk of Southwest Park Avenue, along the back side of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The shell casings appeared to be .22 caliber and 9mm (photos attached). There were no reports of gunfire and it is unclear why they were on the sidewalk in an area that demonstrators had been standing. In an earlier demonstration (different date), officers reported that someone in the crowd threw empty .223 shell casings at the police officers. It is not clear why or who is bringing empty shell casings to a demonstration.

Gee, do you think the cops being all dressed up in their Ninja Turtle costumes every time inspires any of that? Anyway, while we geezers cozied up at home, the young 'uns were keepin' Portland plenty weird.

Faces come out of the rain

When you're strange.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Put a 'dog on it

Players in our charity football game, you may be busy putting up your tree (or watering a tree in one manner or another), but in any event, don't forget your underdog, due at 10:00 tomorrow morning Pacific time.

Sing along with Occupy Portland, all night long

Mike Check
[to the tune of "Sleigh Ride"]

Just hear that bull horn static
And get dramatic on cue
Come on, it's lovely weather
For a mike check together with you

Outside we're occupying
Our mob's defying curfew
Come on, it's lovely weather
For a mike check together with you

Giddy-yap giddy-yap giddy-yap let's crow
"Hey, hey! Ho, ho!"
While mounted police put on their show
Giddy-yap giddy-yap giddy-yap let's vent
We'll sit in a tent
While chanting along with the throng
Of the 99%

Our cheeks are nice and rosy
And comfy cozy are we
We're all chained up together
Like some goats on a tether would be

The pepper spray's dismaying
But we've got a saying or two
Come on, it's lovely weather
For a mike check together with you

When the cops march in with nightsticks we'll yell "Shame on you!"
If you ask us "Whose park is this?" we'll say, "Ours, that's who!"
All the slogans we hear, we shout them back, and we won't knock it off
Not stopping until the tear gas makes us cough
Cough! Cough! Cough!

We say "People over profits" and "We got sold out"
Ending evil corporate greed is all we talk about
Though the message is loud and boisterous, it seems a little vague
And back in the camp we all hope
That nobody else gets the plague

Just hear that bull horn static
And get dramatic on cue
Come on, it's lovely weather
For a mike check together with you

Outside we're occupying
Our mob's defying curfew
Come on, it's lovely weather
For a mike check together with you

Pants-less politician pulls out

Leno had a funny line last night: "Herman Cain has requested Secret Service protection -- from his wife!"

Suh wrecks his car downtown

So report the Portland police this morning.

UPDATE, 12:43 p.m.: The cops add:

According to the police report, Ndamukong Suh was driving his vehicle southbound on 3rd Avenue crossing West Burnside when he tried to go around a stopped taxi. Suh lost control of his car and the back end spun out, coming to rest on the southeast corner of 3rd and Burnside after hitting the curb, tree, water fountain, and light pole.

No citations were issued. The Portland Police Bureau does not perform traffic crash investigations on non-injury, non-DUII crashes.

No cost estimate of damage is available at this time.

To obtain a copy of the police report, email the Records Division at: PoliceBureau.Correspondence@PortlandOregon.gov and make a Public Records Request for Case #11-104451. Applicable fees will apply.

Ever so helpful.

Another carol for Occupy Portland

They Came Upon a Midnight Clear
[to the tune of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"]

They came upon a midnight clear
To haul us off to jail
We left behind some trampled grass
And feces in a pail
Tomorrow morn we shall return
To occupy a bank
But now in custody we adjourn
With guys on smack and crank

Friday, December 2, 2011

Have a great weekend

Holiday singalong with Occupy Portland

For a while it looked as though Occupy Portland was taking some time off for the Christmas season. But no, they're planning to camp out at another downtown park for the next two weeks starting tomorrow night. Good luck with that, kids.

Now to combine the message of the movement with some traditional holiday cheer, here's a festive song that we hope readers will join in on:

Cops on Horses in the Park
[sung to the tune of "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing"]

Cops on horses in the park
There's no camping after dark
They will club you in your tent
Servants of the 1%
You go limp, your feet are draggin'
Throw you in the paddy wagon
In their face you have your say
Then you get the pepper spray
Cops on horses in the park
There's no camping after dark

After the dead Duck, who will be the head Duck?

Down in Bluegene, it's a wild scene these days. The latest battle in the war between the U of O faculty and the state chancellor bureaucracy is over who will be the acting president of the university in the wake of the unceremonious canning of Richard Lariviere. Apparently many of the ticked-off professors are worried that the bureaucrats will choose the provost, Jim Bean, to take over. Some of the profs point out that Bean is currently on a sabbatical from his $320,000-plus gig, reportedly on some sort of medical grounds. But all of a sudden, he can be president? Hmmmmm.

The digging for dirt also reveals that the U of O pays Bean $775 a month as a car allowance. No wonder he fits right in with the chancellor, who gets two free houses and just about every weekday meal covered by the poor students and taxpayers. Real team players, those guys -- on Team Schmendrick.

Worth a thousand words

We've been wondering for a while now just who is this Jack Hoffman guy. We know a few things about him. He's the mayor of Lake Oswego, a lawyer in a big bucks Portland law firm, and a big pusher of the infernal Portland-to-Lake-O. streetcar project, whose sole purpose is to enable a Homer Williams condo bunker cluster on the east side of State Street. The Williams deal would be heavily subsidized by taxpayers on both ends of the planned streetcar line, and there would be precious little public benefit to go with the massive public risk.

Hoffman's been publicly accused of serious conflicts of interest in connection with the project, but he plows right ahead with a straight face. Most recently, an official city survey on the streetcar came back with a stinging thumbs-down from the Lake O. taxpayers. But the mayor simply won't let this particular zombie die.

So when we saw a link to a Channel 2 video about the latest streetcar-related shenanigans down that way, we eagerly clicked to see if we could get a look at the guy. And O... M... G. Look at what popped up on the screen at about 1:45 into the clip:

Yes, it's the dreaded Blumenauer bicycle pin -- a sure sign that you're about to get some bad apartments, all in the phony name of "green." Bought and paid for by your local real estate sharpies. There's one big difference, though -- Earl the Pearl's job is safe. Hoffman's City Hall gig is getting shakier by the week.

Is Jeffer-Sam Smith bending another set of rules?

We've been looking through the campaign finance reports of some of the Portland mayoral candidates, and there's all sorts of interesting stuff there. One little tidbit that's cropped up is interesting -- since Jefferson Smith declared his candidacy in late summer, his campaign has paid $2,400 to the Democratic Party of Oregon, of which his stepmother is chair. In what's supposed to be a nonpartisan race, that raises our eyebrow.

Will indicted Portland cop get off easy?

There was a quick blurb on KGW News last night about the case of the indicted Portland police officer, Dane Reister, who shot a suspect with live ammunition instead of beanbag rounds. He's been facing felony assault charges, and all we caught from the TV story last night was that a new charge has been added in connection with the incident. Perhaps it's the negligent wounding count that the district attorney's office has been so hot to add.

Negligent wounding is a hunting-related offense, which is why the judge overseeing the extraordinary grand jury proceedings in the case didn't allow it to be brought there. The fine upon a conviction would be $500 or less, but there is also up to six months' jail time possible. In contrast, assault in the third degree carries a fine of up to $125,000, and up to five years in the slammer.

No doubt the DA would like to give Reister an easy way out -- plead to the misdemeanor. They're certainly not handling him roughly. So far there has been neither a perp walk nor a mug shot. And he's on paid leave awaiting his court date, which could keep the timetable nice and relaxed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Thursday night 'dog

In our charity pro football underdog game, only one player, Michael K., has chosen Seattle at home vs. Philadelphia tonight. And at the moment, he's ahead, 24-14.

UPDATE, 8:18 p.m.: The Seachickens win -- the collapse of the Eagles is now complete -- and that picks up 2½ points for Michael K., who's in third place out of the 33 players in our game.

In Hanford-land, lower property taxes

Can you imagine your property tax bill ever going down, by action of the politicians? Ha! But up in Kennewick, they've actually cut the tax rate by a penny nickel per thousand dollars of assessed value.

Salem paper also throttles comments

We just noticed that in addition to the New York Times changing its reader comments policy, so too did the Salem Statesman-Journal, as of this morning. In Salem, they've gone full-blown Facebook, as has the rest of the Gannett newspaper chain, of which they are a part. Hey, it's their funeral.

We use Facebook, but there's something about its pervasiveness and invasiveness that gives us a mild case of the creeps. And without a place to post anonymously, a lot of useful things that are currently being said simply aren't going to be said. It's like the saying "The terrorists have won," only in this case, it's the trolls.

Talking back to Stenchy

Here's an amusing conversation currently in progress on the topic, "Should composting be mandatory in U.S. cities?"

It's beginning to look a lot like Groundhog Day

Elephant in room successfully ignored

The folks at Neighborhood Notes wowed us a while back when they sent our friend Bill McDonald out to interview Portland mayoral candidates Max Brumm and Charlie Hales. Those were two of the best local interviews we've read in a long time.

But they took a major step backward with their session with candidate Jefferson Smith. They benched McDonald in favor of a less formidable interviewer, and the result isn't too interesting at all. It does show Smith to be an enormous bloviator, out of whose mouth flows an endless stream of half-truths, buzzwords, and nonsense. But we knew that already.

The reporter never asked him a thing about his history of personal problems, which in our view makes him woefully unfit for the mayor's office. In that regard, Neighborhood Notes clearly missed the boat. If we wanted to read a publication playing footsie with politicians, we could just click over on the O.

Milwaukie Mystery Train pushers never give up

It's insane the lengths to which the county commissioners in Clackamas County will go to bring the soul-killing, bankrupting, billion-dollar-plus Tri-Met MAX train to Milwaukie (pop. 21,000). Now that they can't create or expand any "urban renewal" district to pay their $25 million share toward the thing without a countywide public vote (which they'd probably lose), the commissioners are apparently just going to promise to pay out of property taxes, straight up, without the "urban renewal" ploy. They say they want to issue "full faith and credit" bonds, which means the county would have to pay from any available source. Translation: property taxes.

They're dressing up the p.r. on this by pointing out that the Clackamas Town Center "urban renewal" district is supposed to expire in 2013, and that will free up some property taxes that can be used to pay for the train bonds. Sounds nice, but it doesn't change the fact that those are taxes that can and should be spent on public safety and other essential county services.

Whatever the commissioners do to try to raise the money for MAX, they can bet there'll be a group trying to force a public referendum on it. It's pretty obvious that voters down that way have had enough Blumenauering, and they seem to be wising up so much that none of the commissioners' many maneuvers are working.

What they really need, of course, is a new set of commissioners.

Our beloved maintream media

If you're going to use a metaphor, it helps to understand its derivation.

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