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

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March 2012 Archives

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Making stuff up -- the Sam Adams way

Get this: Commercial food waste is "clogging our sewers." We'd like to see the evidence behind that claim.

The guy's like a character in a bad cartoon.

"Don’t go to church in your bicycle costume"

Sound advice for the last 117 years.

Even Tri-Met honchos won't ride MAX

An alert reader writes:

A picture is worth 1,000 words. The following image shows 4 TriMet vehicles parked at the JeldWen MAX station for what appears to be some meeting yesterday morning around 9am. Each vehicle had one driver and no passengers, and I'm guessing they all came from the same point of origin. I wonder why they just didn't commute by train to this destination since it's 20 feet away?

Seems like a fair question.

Welcome to Portland, Dr. Helen Caldicott

An internationally recognized voice about the hazards of exposure to ionizing radiation is in town today. She'll be speaking here and here. Straight talk about the high environmental costs of nuclear power and nuclear weapons is always worth listening to.

Who shot Brian Tierney?

This story is both sad and scary. The cops say they've got nothing so far.

Vote early and somewhat often for Bojack

Voting is under way in the Sweet 16 round of WW's Mayoral Madness. We're in a tough race against Felicia Heaton, whose dulcet voice is heard on not one but two Portland radio stations. Apparently they're putting in some kind of enhanced filtering system to try to stop people from voting multiple times, but you know how the kids are with computers. And so your help is desperately needed. Head on over to the Willy and pull the lever for us as many times as they'll let you. We're in the Josiah Failing Regional bracket, which should be going up any minute now if it's not already open. Strike a blow for the Bogosphere over mainstream media!

Justice for killer Portland cops? Never.

Shoot an unarmed man in the back, get a year and a half paid vacation. And the chance to kill again.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Have a great weekend

Another sad Adams administration moment

A Portland police officer has been arrested and charged with sex abuse of a minor. Details are unavailable, of course -- Mike Schrunk's still in command. If we're lucky, we'll get half of the story at some point.

The cop in question works in enforcement of the rules regarding convicted sex offenders. Great, just great. Our police bureau is a real monument. To something.

Despite rain, it's hot in Scappoose

At least in some quarters.

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission. (Yay!)

Sam Rand doo-doo reaches deepest level yet

The collective nervous breakdown has become truly frightening.

This would be a good time to start circulating some petitions in Portland. Set some adult ground rules for the next crew running this pop stand, whoever they are. Against corruption and stupidity this severe, initiatives might actually have a shot.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quotation of the Day

"They all sound alike," Moore says. "I can't tell you the difference between the three."

There are other choices -- among them Fernandez, Brumm, and Whitten.

Kate Brown sliding into cocktail party joke territory

It's really hard to tell what she was thinking. Here's yet another angle on the Salem Folly of the Year So Far. Maybe the radon scared her off from wanting to be governor any more.

For your weekend to-do list

We're still awaiting our shot in the Sweet 16 round of Willy Week's Mayoral Madness tournament. It looks as though our voting won't crank up until Saturday. And that's just when our opponent, Felicia Heaton, will be on the air, filling Portland's car radios with treacle. We'll need lots of help here, people.

This is important. Do you want Portland City Hall to be playing Air Supply in your ear while you're on hold waiting to report the pothole that swallowed your car? Vote for Bojack -- not for "The Pina Colada Song."

Sleep tight, Portland

Following the devastating earthquake, there will be cargo bikes to save us. Those earnest trustafarians will be our lifeline.

At Portland State Patronage Center, room for one more

We kid about how PSU has become nothing but a real estate development firm, but that's not fair. It's also become the elephant graveyard for the Goldschmidt people.

Speaking of which, whatever happened to the Mike Burton scandal?

More City of Portland parking shenanigans

The Portland City Council is jacking up monthly parking rates in the city-owned downtown parking garages. The mayor says it's because the economy is improving and shoppers need more parking spaces -- so we can immediately rule that out as the real reason. There's also a decoy story about a question whether city-operated monthly parking is illegal.

But let's ask the question that the mainstream media won't: Who benefits from this change? Why, obviously, the competition. You know -- the private company that gets to write parking tickets for parking on what appear to be city streets. Those guys.

Sustainability Center falls into zombie state

Speculation is that it's dead, but it's so stupid, and it would make Edlen and the boys such a bundle, that you know it's nowhere near that. Along with the Convention Center hotel, it will be back some dark night. All it takes is for the taxpayers to nod off for a second, or for Earl the Pearl to come up with a modest handout.

The story is mildly amusing if for no other reason that The Scone makes an appearance as some sort of authority on education. Knowing Neil and how to play along still goes quite a way in this town.

What's the deal with Cully Boulevard?

For a while now, we've watched with puzzlement as the City of Portland has thrown money at re-doing Cully Boulevard, on the way to the airport in long forgotten Northeast Portland. It's a neighborhood that could use a break, and the biketopian street improvements there have been at least something. But with the way Portland City Hall operates, there's a lingering odor of scam about the whole thing. Besides, the neighborhood is infested with bad, unpaved roads, which make the shiny new bikey street a little more than comical.

Now we read that the planning children are upzoning a bunch of the street for commercial. And get this -- they're selling it with "It's for the children" and "Maybe it will help the Latinas with day care"! This kind of talk invariably sends our scam sensors into the screaming red danger zone. Fixing up Cully is wonderful, but come on, somebody's got to be cashing in here. Who might it be?

Catchy 'toons

Here's a great practitioner of a noble trade -- punditry by cartoon. Once you're there, click "refresh" for many a fine specimen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The choice is clear

In Mayoral Madness this week, we're up against radio personality Felicia Heaton.

If you tune in to Heaton's soft rock radio show, you are likely to hear Chicago bleating "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," and Phil Collins butchering "You Can't Hurry Love." Plus "One More Night" and Pat Benatar, over and over until your head explodes.

If you tune in to Bojack Radio, you may hear anything from John Coltrane performing "Giant Steps" to Steve Earle belting out "Copperhead Road" to Tony Bennett and Bill Evans nailing "Make Someone Happy" to the Four Tops doing "Standing in the Shadows of Love" to the Shins with "Kissing the Lipless" to Eva Cassidy crooning "Imagine." And far fewer commercials!

Just say no to corporate media. Go for the candidate who plays 'em like he hears 'em.

Fukushima "cold shutdown" is a cruel joke

They finally figured out how much water is in reactor no. 2 at the triple-meltdown site at Fukushima, Japan. They were expecting about 30 feet of water -- instead they found about two feet. Radiation levels are insanely high, of course, and the melted fuel is all over the place. It will take decades to "decommission" this disaster area.

And that's merely the third worst reactor at the site. They can't even get close enough to nos. 1 and 3 to conduct the robotic inspection. But hey, go on about your business. It's all going to be fine.

Meanwhile, it's been revealed that when the national government sent the local government radiation dispersal data in the early days of the meltdown, the local government deleted it all. This went on for four or five days. And so whatever judgments were made about evacuations, they were made without important data even being consulted -- much less released to the public.

It's reassuring to note that this sort of thing could never happen in the United States, which is why nuclear power is our future.

Kate Brown screwed up

Regardless of her motivation or lack thereof, the Oregon Secretary of State has badly bungled the state labor commissioner election, according to just about everyone interviewed for this article (and then some). The pretzel logic that she's using to support her decision to postpone the May election to November is absurd. "If three people had filed, the election would have been in May, but since only two people filed, it had to be in November. That's what the legislature intended, even though they never said it."

It's a foul performance for her in a year when she's running for re-election herself. With Kroger gone and now this, Ted Wheeler's probably thinking about how often he'll stay at Mahonia Hall.

Oregon for sale

Do you think Governor Retread will endorse the transaction? In the old days, it would have to go through Goldschmidt. One wonders what the protocol is nowadays.

Obama and Wyden's America

They're looking out for you -- honest.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sparing no effort

Gang shootings in Portland are up to 30 for the year, and the first quarter isn't over yet. But rest assured that Sam Adams's police bureau is doing something about it.

New Hayden Island plan: The fix is definitely in now

The latest version of paving over bald eagle habitat has been unveiled. The "green" hypocrites of the Portland City Council will surely go for it. It's only 300 acres. The birds and the bees will have to sign up for density infill. As Eileen the Founder, a staunch supporter of the asphalting, would say, "They're gonna love it."

Sweet 16 opponent a little too sweet

We see that we have defeated The Beast. Surprisingly. Improbably. And so it is on to our next opponent in Willy Week Mayoral Madness. We think it's Felicia Heaton, who is a radio announcer. Just our luck. Having overcome challenges by an elephant and a massive man child, we're now faced with a lovely young woman with an exquisite voice and thousands of listeners trapped in their cars every afternoon. Then on the weekend, when Madness voting is the heaviest, she plays music on the soft rock station. You can't go negative on somebody like that without a serious backlash. Plus, she'll have those Mark and Dave guys messing with the audience's mind. It will be our toughest challenge to date.

But there's enough weirdness here that we may have a shot. Guess who she was posing with a week and a half ago. Just guess.

Gloves coming off in MAX expansion battles

The unholy alliance of apartment developers, construction companies, union bosses, and local politicians that is trying to force more MAX trains on the Portland suburbs really has its hands full these days. It's battling local initiatives that would shut off the flow of property tax funds into the light rail maw without a public vote, and at the same time it's trying to get puppets placed or confirmed in local elective offices. The rail mafia seems particularly enamored with Dave Hunt, Charlotte Lehan, Martha Schrader, and Jamie Damon in the Clackamas County commission races.

Lately the rail birds have been throwing around the "T" word, as in Tea Party, to describe the candidates who oppose local spending on more mystery trains. They've got to be kidding with that tactic. Let's be honest, folks -- you don't have to be in the Tea Party to come to your senses about the massive damage being done to the region's transit system, and the area's public finances, by the apartment builders and rail construction types. The Portland area already has enough trains to last us a long, long time. Even Democrats can decide that they've had enough MAX goofiness until real things around here get better.

The "T" word's a bit of a disgrace in Portland proper. But as we've noted before, in Clackamas County, it doesn't get the knee-jerk negative reaction that it gets among the Mississippi hipsters. It's like yelling, "Boo! Loren Parks!" Voters in the boonies could care less. And so the branding isn't going to do much good in the places where the apartment cabal needs the most help.

Meanwhile, the Clackistani rebellion is spreading to Tigard, Tualatin, King City, and Sherwood. Like Clackamas County and Milwaukie, those places are apparently going to have ballot initiatives of their own, requiring a local vote before local money is spent on MAX trains. That will throw a monkey wrench into the Blumenauering machine, for sure.

With the local autonomy movement spreading beyond the jurisdiction of the Clackistani rebels, readers have been wondering how we should refer to the new activist group in Washington County. So far the best we can come up with is something along the lines of the Barburian Uprising.

Grounds for dismissal? Portland cops shoot but don't kill.

Whenever the Portland police kill an unarmed civilian, their defenders come on this blog to tell us that when the cops have a suspicion that someone is about to pull a gun on them, they must immediately unload their own handguns into the torso of the suspect, killing him or her instantly. That's the standard protocol. There is no other option.

Therefore, discipline must be in order in this case, in which the police apparently saw a replica gun before they fired at the suspect, and did not manage to kill him. That's terrible police work -- right, guys?

A farewell from Nate

Not getting the dead-tree version of the O, we almost missed this.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Another reason to vote for Bojack in Mayoral Madness

You can't vote for our opponent, with campaign literature like this.

Why are Portland sewer funds being spent to clean up industrial PCBs?

A good question, which a judge will soon be called upon to answer.

Out in front

We're gratified to see that we're in the lead in our current contest in the Willamette Week Mayoral Madness tournament. We were especially pleased to see several hundred votes come in all at once in the middle of the night from the East Ward of Newark, New Jersey. Vinny's good with computers.

We're a little concerned, though -- the real March Madness is down to four teams, while there are still 32 goofing around in the WW version. At the rate we're going, this will drag on like an NBA season.

In any event, if you haven't voted for us yet, please do. And tell your friends. Portland needs a change in the mayor's office. We have all had enough of this.

Portland food slop stink coming to Wanker's Corner

Some of the folks down that way aren't too pleased. Can't say we blame them, given what's happened in North Plains. What awful things are being done to the Portland area's livability in the vague name of "green."

Health care hash goes before the Supremes

It is not spring break at the U.S. Supreme Court this week -- quite the opposite. They'll be hearing oral arguments in four different cases relating to the 2010 federal health care law. There's a lot more riding on the cases than the question of whether the federal government can penalize people for not having health insurance, although that one's of obvious importance.

There's a states rights issue, a question about whether a big law with an unconstitutional part can take effect with the bad part left out, and even a tax question. A moldy old federal law called the Anti-Injunction Act forbids courts from stopping a tax before it is imposed -- and the way the so-called "individual mandate" is worded, the penalty for not having insurance can be characterized as a "tax." That rule could allow the mandate to go into effect, and put off all the legal challenges until some poor soul has to pay the "tax" and sues for a refund.

Leaving aside the technical legal issues, we won't cry any tears if the health care law is struck down. With no public option, it didn't do anywhere near as much as Congress should have to change the way health care is delivered. It would be a shame to see some features of the law scuttled -- the provisions clamping down on health insurers' nasty "pre-existing condition" practices, for example. But what the Democratic Party gave us -- an ugly hash served up by corporate puppets such as Sen. Wyden (R-N.Y.) -- was a stunning disappointment.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Packy the Elephant -- wrong for Portland

So much of what our opponent does is not safe for work. Even Portland doesn't want to be this weird.

Vote for Bojack in Mayoral Madness

For the love of God, please. Portland's had too many bad politicians in recent years to sign up for more of this:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Vote early and often

It's time to vote in the second round of WW Mayoral Madness -- and we're in it. Please give us your support! It's for the children!

Here's a photo of our opponent that he doesn't want you to see. He isn't so cute after he's had a few:

Latest "urban renewal" come-on: It's for the homeless

The developers and their politician puppets will say anything and do anything to get their hands on public money for their apartment construction projects. Now "urban renewal" is being touted as a way to build cheap apartments. Nick Fish, patron saint of the homeless, is on board, front and center.

You would think Portland would have wised up after the SoWhat fiasco. You would think.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Have a great weekend

Spring break

There comes a time in every blogger's life to stop and smell the roses, as opposed to what's wafting out of the green compost bin. Having been at this relentlessly for many months now, we've resolved to slow down a little over the spring break that begins today. We'll be around, but perhaps not quite as much as usual, over the next 10 days. We trust that our readers will keep each other entertained in the comments -- or at least, not hurt each other too much.

A dirty, dirty trick

It sure is hard to catch a break in this town. Here we are, running against Packy the Elephant in the second round of the Willy Week Mayoral Madness tournament, and look what shows up in the mail:

Now, folks, we've got a call in to Kate Brown just to be absolutely certain, but to our mind, this sort of thing is illegal, plain and simple. Campaigning on the public dime! Metro money paid for this. Decals and everything. Remember the Portland school board mailer scandal? Apparently some people mammals never learn. We may have to bring legal action.

Ladies and gentlemen of Portlandia, look at him! Our opponent doesn't deserve to win Mayoral Madness. Indeed, he belongs behind bars.

The MAX mindscrew

They never let up -- the people who are intent on wrecking the entire Portland metropolitan area with bankrupting, traffic-impeding, crime-spreading, condo-promoting light rail projects. They are going to run another MAX train down Barbur Boulevard to Tigard, and you're going to pay for it, whether you like it or not.

And then they're going to tell you that you asked for it:

Perhaps not surprisingly, many people felt that sidewalks and safer crossings would make Barbur a more attractive place for people to be. Additionally, having more restaurants and retail options ranked high, as did additional trees and improved transit service. A number of people stressed the importance of improving safety for all travelers in the corridor, including bikes, pedestrians and drivers.

A difference in priorities began to emerge in the comments, from improving Barbur as an attractive place to work, shop and live to maintaining Barbur's capacity as a traffic reliever for I-5 backups. People suggested that additional art and greenspace, better connections to the adjacent neighborhoods, and an overall improved appearance would greatly improve the Barbur experience.

In other words, a MAX train and mile after mile of apartment bunkers. That splashing on your shoe? It's rain.

Thank you, Mike Donahue

We have lived in Portland for going on 34 years now, and one constant has been having Mike Donahue on our TV screen, bringing us the news on Channel 6. "The Chipmunk," as a friend of ours used to call him, is a real pro -- a class act. We'd put him right up there in the Bill Schonely category when it comes to being a video icon in this town. There are so many memories of stories that we got from him. Other people were reading us the same news, but it wasn't really authoritative if it wasn't coming from Donahue.

This week we learn that Donahue is retiring in a couple of months, after a most distinguished career. We join a lot of other long-time viewers in wishing him all the best.

Beam may finally get the Burnside Bridgehead

Seven years ago, a big story in the local blogosphere was how the Portland Development Commission, under the leadership of Don "The Don" Mazziotti and Matt "I Have a Little Problem" Hennessee, apparently stole the Burnside Bridgehead project from Beam Development and gave it to an outfit called Opus Northwest. The process at the time seemed rigged.

The whole flap, which went on for months, became completely irrelevant when the economy started to slide. At that point, nobody wanted the Bridgehead deal (on the east side of the Burnside span) any more.

Fast forward to today, and now Beam is back with some activity down that way. At this point, the city will take just about anything on that pathetic site. Let's hope that we taxpayers don't wind up paying for too much nonsense, no matter who's dealing it.

Battling City Hall at every turn

The guy who owns the property at Fourth and Burnside can't seem to get enough of going at it with Fireman Randy and his minions.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hanford waste "cleanup": $12.3 billion for what?

Whatever the nucle-heads are constructing up there, it will probably never work.

Get down with Sustainable Susan

If you're impressed by the new video about Portland's long-range planning effort, you're invited to a "celebration" of it on the evening of April 18 at City Hall. One can only imagine what the program will be like.

Bureaucracy, technology, catastrophe

We've been reading with interest about the computer snafus in the Oregon state child welfare system. We had a brush with those computers just the other day. We got a letter asking us if we were related to a child who is currently in foster care. The child and her parents were named in the letter, and we had never heard of any of them before. We Googled the parents, and quickly discovered that they're in big trouble with the law. The poor kid, we thought.

But getting back to us: How in the heck did child welfare come up with our name as a possible relative?

Fearing that we may be a victim, or soon-to-be victim, of some sort of identity theft, we called the social worker on the case. He couldn't tell us how he got our name -- he sounded as if he honestly didn't know for sure -- but he said he gets a call like ours every other day from a person who receives a similar letter out of the blue. Apparently the state has some sort of computer software that names possible relatives, and it errs on the side of inclusion.

But wow, none of the names rang a bell, and they weren't similar to ours or those of any of our relatives. It sounds like "err" is the key word when it comes to those state computers.

The people! United! Don't want to get wet!

We are not making this up: The Occupy Oswego Lake protest has been postponed until the weather gets nicer. It may be a while. Sheesh, you would think that freedom fighters would show a little more intestinal fortitude.

Ringmaster of Portland debt circus makes a move

In our monthly Oregon bar association magazine, we see that Harvey Rogers, the lawyer who presides over most of the local government borrowing in Portland, has left mega-firm K&L Gates and moved over to another national law outfit, Hawkins Delafield & Wood. His new firm specializes in helping government go into hock; no doubt Rogers brought them a serious book of business here in Portlandia.

Speaking of which, we see here that the City of Portland is planning to run out on April 12 and borrow $12 million to pay back the bridge loan it took out to help Little Lord Paulson build his soccer stadium. Apparently, they're going to be "full faith and credit" bonds, but not property-tax backed. That ought to be interesting.

In the meadow we can build a snowman

Looking out from the deck of bojack.org StormCenter 9000.2, we see snow -- snow! -- on the roofs of the neighbors' houses. And so if you're climbing up on the roof at any time in the next couple of hours, we urge you to exercise the utmost caution.

Oh, no! This can't be happening.

Here at Blog Central, the rain has turned to snow at this hour, and it's sticking, even on the street a little. The thermometer on the front porch says 34.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Have a seat

Stick with a laptop

Some people aren't ready for an iPad.

Thirty-two skidoo

For what it's worth -- and that's questionable -- we survived the first round of the WW March madness mayoral tournament, defeating Greg Oden. Yes, it's unfair to beat on a cripple, and we're not proud of it, but that's what happened. We didn't ask for it.

But this week, we're screwed. We're facing a farookin' elephant. As any performer can tell you, when you're onstage with an animal, nobody sees you. Plus, he's turning 50 this year -- the pathetic carrot birthday cake, the whole thing. We may be seeded higher (3 vs. 11), but barring some kind of miracle, we're instant toast.

That's not to say we're going down without a fight. For one thing, Portlanders should remember that the elephant is the symbol of the Republican Party. Packy's campaign is probably taking money from Loren Parks.

And besides, Packy (not his real name) is a sellout -- performing for his Metro masters at taxpayer expense. If he had any leadership skills, he would have orchestrated a stampede of his fellow captive pachyderms long ago.

Not only that, "Packy" was also the nickname for Bob Packwood, who used to serve women box wine and tongue-kiss them even if they weren't into it. How can you vote for someone like that?

If those legitimate arguments don't work, we may have to resort to dirty tricks. We have experience with this sort of thing, and we have friends who could make a lot of trouble for him. So although we're starting out at a huge disadvantage, don't count us out just yet.

The ballot in our regional bracket apparently won't be ready for voting for a while. When it surfaces, vote early and often for the non-elephant!

Another apartment bunker for Division Street

The real estate sharpies of Portland have never encountered neighborhood character that they don't instantly want to wipe out. That's surely happening along Division Street in the southeast part of the city. The street is experiencing a renaissance, and like clockwork some guy is ready to slap up some awful, oversized, out-of-place monstrosity. This one is supposed to be 31 units, with only 10 parking spaces. Apparently there's an 82-unit job going in somewhere close by with zero parking spaces.

The same thing is happening in the Hollywood District in northeast Portland. These guys never stop, and they're being completely egged on by the Blumenauer car-hater cult at City Hall. Just another reminder of the real shame of what they're doing to Portland. Oh, well -- off to the suburbs go the people with lives.

Never mind -- the O wants 19 cents an issue

When someone takes a poll, the results are only as good as the question asked. Yesterday we asked readers whether our local daily newspaper was worth a nickel a day for a subscription. And by a 54%-to-46% vote, respondents to the poll said yes.

But in comments to our post, an alert reader pointed out that we weren't being offered that price by the O. Way down in the fine print on the mailer we got, in teeny weeny print that old newspaper guys used to call "agate" type, it is revealed that the $19.99 annual subscription that we are being offered is only for the Sunday and Tuesday papers, which contain all the grocery store coupons. And so the price per issue is actually more like 19 cents an issue, not 5 cents.

That's an offer not worth asking our readers about. Who wants the news delivered only two days a week? And who would pay 19 cents for the O? Certainly not us.

It's got to hurt morale in the newsroom that the paper is now being actively hawked just for the coupons. That lowers it to the level of paper known as a "shopper" -- a publication whose news and editorial content is usually thrown away, with the subscriber keeping only the ad offers. How far the Pulitzer winners have fallen.

Anyway, our apologies. We should have read the fine print -- and it sure was fine -- before troubling readers with our question. It's off to the recycling bin with the mailer.

Nurse Amanda says she's still way ahead

The Portland City Council incumbent has announced the results of another poll that she's taken, and she says she's as sure as she was last fall that she's far out in front of challenger Mary Nolan. We must admit that Nolan, who's well connected with the Goldschmidt clan, hasn't been making much of a splash with all the money she's raised. No Google ads, no Facebook ads, no TV ads, nada. By now, we would have expected to see a lot more.

Nolan still has something like $169,000 in the bank, though. Most ballots won't be going out for another month; maybe she's waiting until April 1 to start spending her war chest in earnest. The incumbent has around $42,000 to play with, and she had to lend her campaign $50,000.

In any event, polls that candidates release are not terribly convincing. We'll believe that Nurse Amanda's way ahead, if and when the real votes are counted and that's what they show. We may vote for her as the lesser of two evils, but we think she's grossly overestimating her popularity. And if Nolan's up for attack ads, they are practically going to write themselves.

Isaac says Kate Brown got it wrong

Is the upcoming election for Oregon labor and industries commissioner in May or November? Until the other day, we all thought it was in May, but Secretary of State Kate Brown has re-read state law and now says the election can't be held until November. A lawsuit ensues.

Portland's own pseudonymous legal pundit, Isaac Laquedem, has taken a look at the law in question, and he opines that Brown's misreading the statute in question. He's got us convinced, anyway.

Willy Week endorses Hales

Well, not exactly. Not yet, anyway. But this moderately unflattering portrait of their former fair-haired boy, Jefferson Smith, strongly indicates that they won't be backing him. And given their constant roughing-up of Eileen Brady, it seems almost a certainty that they'll ultimately support Hales. "He's got the experience," yada yada yada.

Of the three major mayoral candidates, only Smith has created something that is distinctly his. Hales ran city bureaus and worked in private business. Brady has management and marketing experience but has not run anything.

All three of them are unacceptable. We suggest a vote for Scott Fernandez or Max Brumm.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Yes, but he's *our* useful idiot

The label is catching on.

Fetch the slop bucket, Mama

I think I'm going to be ill:

Our unbelievable city. Can you imagine what this thing is costing us?

Trick yourself into being happy

We don't know if we're ready for this.

Hanford: It's still there

... and it's still a disgrace.

Tri-Met's money, five years later

Here's a flashback to 2007 that makes pretty interesting reading today.

"There is a finite supply of operational funding, and anyone who says otherwise is not telling the truth," Newman said.

Also, TriMet is under pressure to invest in bus service to reverse a decline in spending, frequency and ridership in recent years. Some transit advocates fear that devoting all the increase in payroll taxes to rail projects will leave bus service out in the cold.

"First and foremost, bus service should be improved," said Jim Howell, a former TriMet planner and member of the Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates.

Now, isn't that a cruel joke.

"Public involvement"? Well, sort of.

The City of Portland now has some sort of requirement on the books that there be "public involvement" before big projects get started. But here's an amusing spin on those rules: The "public involvement" in a big city contract can be just several companies' bidding the job.

They all come out to groove about

The other day Portland commissioner Nick Fish personally sent us a copy of his new brochure touting the city parks bureau's summer activities program:

Now, the cranky old man in us immediately recoils from this sort of propaganda -- full cover, six full-size pages, on card stock -- and part of us finds it a real shame that the city can't afford summer parks programs any more without getting major corporate money involved.

That said, it's hard not to like supervised playgrounds, lunches for needy kids, movies, and concerts, especially when they're all free to the parks patrons. Portland's a better place for having all of it, and whoever's rallying the troops to donate deserves everyone's support.

But getting back to the brochure, we're wondering why Hizzoner had to give his mug the prime placement in the whole thing. When you open up the cover, this is what you get:

Fish isn't up for re-election for another couple of years. Could he be running for something else?

Reader poll: Is the O worth a nickel a day?

Wow, they're getting pretty desperate at the O. Now we've been offered a whole year of their paper for just 20 bucks. That's just a five cents a day for the dead-tree version of the local Newhouse goodness. We haven't seen that price since the Newark Evening News in 1964. And with all that news pulp lying around, we can line our sacred Portland slop bucket and compost cart to our heart's content.

Not to mention valuable coupons!

This town can't afford to have its daily newspaper go down, but then again, we can't imagine that our measly Jackson would make much of a difference. So -- should we go for it?

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It's that time again

Those of us who help other folks cope with our nation's (and state's) absurd system of taxation are really in the thick of it now, with just four weeks to go until the big deadline. Right about now, with the daffodils in bloom, the federal government indicts some relatively high-profile figures for tax crimes. The resulting publicity is supposed to strike the fear of God into any taxpayer who's thinking about cheating on their taxes, or blowing the system off altogether.

This year, our area's lucky winner (or perhaps the first of several) is Chester Davis, the president and owner of ESA International, a software and engineering firm in Gladstone. He's looking at potentially five years in the federal pokey -- and the rest of us had better be looking for those receipts.

Remember Wesley Clark?

SoloPower -- Portland's next "green" economic savior (honest) -- has just put him on its board of directors.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Innocent-looking, yes -- but deadly

They're in your home -- in your child's room, perhaps -- and they're going to kill you.

We're talking about an extreme menace here. Take precautions.

Recircling the scam wagons

The condo mongers who built Portland's epically failed SoWhat District say they're busy these days coming up with a new plan for the east side of Lake Oswego. But they need more time to show the details. In other words, the wallets of that city's taxpayers are safe for a little while longer.

The Ishtar of Portland eateries

A friend of ours who browses around commercial real estate sent us a link to this listing the other day. This is the super-high-end RiverPlace restaurant that was built and opened just in time for the crash. Still languishing, and with 100 parking spaces yet!

Our buddy also pointed out that we should scroll down to see what's happened to the price of retail space in Portland lately. Yikes! A buyer's market.

Where a C-minus grade puts you in the top 30%

We're talking government ethics, of course. One thing we wonder about is whether the ranking group took into account what level of resources each state devotes to ethics enforcement. When last we checked, here in Oregon, the government ethics commission didn't have enough person-power to censure a bedbug. One can only hope that the state's elections group has more to work with.

Another young dude running for mayor

The media's refusal to cover lesser known candidates for public office makes many of us uncomfortable. Neighborhood Notes is making an effort to get around on the mayor's race. Here's an "armchair mayor" interview with one of the names on the list of those who says he would like to be the real mayor of Portland: Cameron Whitten.

Vestas wearing out kneepads in D.C.

The Danish wind power equipment manufacturer on whom Portland and Oregon are blowing so many tax dollars is still begging Congress to extend the federal tax credit for wind energy production, without which it will soon be laying off even more workers than it already has. An account of the latest maneuvers, which include our own Gatsby, is here.

It's awfully hard to get tax legislation passed in an election year, and with the Solyndra debacle still fresh in politicians' minds, it's a particularly hard sell. The Senate may pass a bill, but the House is a different story.

Meanwhile, we caught an Exxon TV ad during the ballgame yesterday, touting the proposed Keystone Pipeline through the heart of America. "It's all about jobs." Ah yes, but many jobs are devoted to harmful ends.

It's gonna cost ya

We've been checking out the City of Portland water bureau budget. We believe that the current state of that document is here. For a person who pays a Portland water bill, the money page is here. Oh yes, the city's been let off the hook for expensive water treatment and reservoir covers, but your bill is still going up by 11%, because the Admiral and the boys have dredged up "deferred rate increases" from as far back as 2006 -- and now's our time to pay, apparently.

That, and it's going to cost $2.2 million a year to switch to monthly billing, even for customers who don't want it.

Meanwhile, it's full steam ahead to blow $53 million this year toward an underground reservoir on Powell Butte; $21 million for a new dam tower for fish at the Bull Run reservoir and Randyland theme park; and $16 million for the first year of a teardown and rebuild of the water bureau maintenance facility on Interstate Avenue. Are all of those projects absolutely necessary, this year? Don't ask, Grandma, just pungle up.

Please do not show this to anyone at Portland City Hall

You just know they're going to want them. You just know.

They'll probably show up somewhere along the line of the Milwaukie Mystery Train.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Good Old Boys really don't want Holton

It's surprising to us how little media coverage is being given to the Democratic Party primary race for Oregon attorney general. In reality, it is the general election for that office, as the Republicans have given up the ghost. Part of the silence stems from the fact that one of the candidates, retired Judge Ellen Rosenblum, is married to the publisher of Willamette Week; as a result, that publication is not covering the race at all.

One of the things that reporters like to do these days is dig around campaign finance documents to see who's giving money to whom. One of Rosenblum's main knocks on her opponent, former acting U.S. attorney Dwight Holton, is that much of his money is coming from out of state. Indeed it is. A check of his campaign finance pages on the state's Orestar system -- where out-of-state contributions are outlined in pink -- is like a visit to the Susan Komen website. More than two-thirds of his contributions are from addresses outside Oregon.

But to us, Rosenblum's money sources are even more interesting than Holton's. Her list of donors is like a who's who of retired Oregon politicians and other power brokers -- including some prominent Republican names:

Richard Meeker $4,000
Al Jubitz $1,000
Jim Winkler $1,000
Uptown Developers, LLC (Goodmans) $1,000
Albert Menashe $500
Ann Fidanque (wife of ACLU director) $500
David Frohnmayer $500
Jack Roberts $500
Jeanne Newmark $500
Norma Paulus $500
Phillip Margolin $500
Arlene Schnitzer $250
Earl Blumenauer $250
Henry Hewitt $250
Kris Olson $250
Paul Bragdon $250
Rich Busse $250
Jewel Lansing $250
George Eighmey $200
Bob Stacey $101

Wow. There's some serious clout on that list. Holton may have most of the county DA's on his side, and he's slightly ahead of Rosenblum in contributions raised (each is in the $200,000 range). But he is up against what seems like the entire establishment.

Why? Granted, Judge Rosenblum is a fine candidate. But she is probably helped by the fact that a prosecutor type like Holton makes the Old Boys quite nervous. It appears that the Kroger era in Oregon politics could well be heading into its final two months.

They're down to the twicky 24

Our lone bracket entry in the men's college basketball tournament has taken many hits so far, but our Final 4 is still intact, at least. Today we definitely need victories from Florida State, North Carolina, Georgetown, and Michigan State. If Purdue could pull a big upset over Kansas, that would also be peachy. Today's other contests, wild as they may be, are strictly for funsies from our perspective.

The heat's on Gatsby

Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) seems to be losing friends fast.

Our only surprise is that it's taken so many people so long to notice that on most issues, he's working for the 1%. He's been that way for many years, dating back to his trying to help W. get rid of the federal estate tax. That was more than a decade ago. Then there was the health care debacle of 2009, in which he derailed the public option. Now he's privatizing chunks of Medicare, and in the process wrecking his party's message on health care for the upcoming elections.

He gets a pass in Oregon, but since he neither lives nor works here any more, the cold shoulders he's getting on the East Coast have got to hurt. If we had to bet, we'd wager that this is his last term in Congress -- after which Oregon could become just a fond memory.

Censored in Portland

The last installment of the week of Doonesbury that the O didn't let its readers see is here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Quotation of the Day

The Portland Loo symbolizes intelligent municipal government.... The Loo shows how government can become a profitable resource rather than a net spender.

It also symbolizes illegal governmental spending of ratepayer dollars. Or so a judge will soon be called on to decide.

At the little big dance

We have been having trouble figuring out what the heck Willy Week's mayoral bracket contest is all about. But today we discover to our surprise that we're in it. We're a 3-seed, and we're up against Greg Oden, the 14-seed. Not sure what happens if we win that one; 15-seed Felicia Heaton may be our next opponent.

Greg Goodman's funky vibe

There's a certain detachment from reality in this puff piece. When Goodman and Edlen and the boys tell you they're all about the next Clinton Street, it's to laugh. "We want to keep it a 'hood." Sure. Sure you do.

Nobody's perfect

Friday, March 16, 2012

Have a great weekend

License plates are so 1980

Guess who's building solar panels here in Oregon.

Federal prisoners.

Apparently Uncle Sam is set on both subsidizing and competing with alternate energy equipment manufacturers. Mind-boggling.

Latest from City Hall: "Don't worry about protein"

Your tax dollars are always hard at work in Portland.

Coming soon: airline pricing for parking meters

The car-hating social engineers at Portland City Hall will be having a field day with this. Gouge everybody in the name of keeping parking "available." Available, that is, if you want to pay $17 to park to go shopping. Guess there'll always be eBay, or the mall.

What is it with Nick Fisch and speling?

The other day that, now this:

PDC loans: better, but still loosey-goosey

The City of Portland auditor has taken a look at the tens of millions of dollars in sweetheart loans that the Portland Development Commission has been doling out in recent years. And although its administration of all that money has improved since the last audit, which was abysmal, the PDC still is not exactly running a tight ship.

As an example, the auditor pointed to $18 million of loans that the PDC made to the mysterious Portland Family of Funds, a private, nonprofit "public benefit" company that was somehow "spun off" from the PDC years ago. (The PFF board includes Don "The Don" Mazziotti, former PDC honcho and architect of the failed SoWhat District.) According to the audit report, PFF never made the quarterly reports that it was supposed to make to the PDC about the small business loan program to which the PDC funds were applied:

The small business loan program was defined in an agreement between PDC and PFF. Loans were to be approved by a loan committee consisting of a PDC manager, PFF legal counsel, and community members, and loans were to be serviced by PFF. PFF was charged with reporting quarterly to the PDC on the effectiveness of the small business loan fund and technical assistance activities for the seven-year tax credit compliance period. However, no quarterly reports were provided by PFF, and PDC’s involvement with the small business loan and technical assistance programs appears to have lapsed shortly after the PDC loan was made....

Based on the limited information provided, and without the required monitoring and quarterly reporting, it would be difficult for PDC to evaluate whether the program met the initial goals of benefiting small businesses.

Although the PDC was supposed to be the managing member of the joint venture with PFF for making loans and handing out tax credits to bankers who made additional loans, in fact it stopped playing that role. The PDC response to the audit explains:

Since the joint PDC/PFF NMTC allocation in 2003, the NMTC regulations have changed to require that the Controlling Entity and the Managing Member be one in the same. PDC is no longer able to participate directly in the NMTC program given the need for the Managing Member to hold equity and the State prohibition of governmental entities holding equity. In the case where an unrelated party is providing a NMTC allocation to the developer as part of a project that is receiving PDC funding, this information is covered in the documentation provided to [the PDC board finance committee] and the subsequent Board documents if Board approval is required.

In addition to the quietly changed deal, it's interesting that the PDC says it can't own equity in private firms. Lately it's been handing out seed money to startup companies, buying stock as an investor in this private fund -- apparently that's kosher, but when it comes to keeping tabs on PFF, it walks away, citing state law.

Anyway, that giant sloshing sound you hear is tax revenue flowing and swirling and splashing into and out of the PDC. Probably no one can honestly tell you where a lot of it goes. But if you see any of it actually improving the city's moribund economy, please let us know.

Did killer slip through justice system cracks in Portland?

A crazed gunman in Pittsburgh killed one person and wounded six or seven others before himself being killed by police last week. The man had had a run-in with police over the holidays in 2009 when he lived in Portland. But the Port of Portland police or the Multnomah d.a.'s office may have dropped the ball on his criminal case. As the Pittsburgh paper tells it:

According to an arrest report from the Port of Portland police, on Dec. 29 of that year, someone reported Mr. Shick, then known as Mr. Scolskan, to authorities because he was seen "exhibiting strange behavior" on the Commercial Roadway at Portland International Airport. Three officers responded and told him to show his hands. He refused and when officers approached him, he pulled a large flashlight from a bag strapped around his neck and tried to hit one of the officers with it. As they wrestled him into cuffs, he kicked another officer in the head.

An officer zapped him with a stun gun, but it "had no affect," the report said. Mr. Shick was charged with attempted assault and assault on a peace officer, both felonies. He also was charged with misdemeanor assault, disorderly conduct and two counts of resisting arrest. Police banned him from the airport for 90 days. Following his arrest, he was taken to a hospital for a mental evaluation.

Robert Leineweber, the Multnomah County deputy district attorney assigned to the case, said police then petitioned a court to have Mr. Shick committed, with the arresting officer testifying at the hearing. A judge ordered him into psychiatric treatment for up to 180 days, but it's unclear how long he remained in treatment.

Mr. Leineweber said when he learned of the commitment, he called the arresting officer to see how they should proceed with charges. He said he never heard back from the officer and Mr. Shick was never prosecuted.

Assault on a police officer could have resulted in some jail time. Would it have changed the course of events? An academic question at this point.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fallout from Caldwell scandal spreads

Now one of his wife's friends has lost her job at the O for trying to cover up the circumstances of his death.

Portland is such an incestuous place. People really lose track of their values here. The results are often quite tragic.

Cirque du Bombaste skips Portlandia

Disappointment for Portlanders who were hoping that the Republican Presidential race would show up next week for a debate on the banks of the Willamette. And it might have benefited from a stop at OHSU for treatment of anemia.

Correction! $2.50 Tri-Met fare will be good for two hours.

In our relief that Tri-Met isn't chopping off our bus to downtown, we missed the fact that it is also abandoning, at least for now, its proposal that fares be one-way only. And so if we head downtown and do a quick turnaround, one $2.50 fare will be all it takes. Sorry for the confusion, and thanks to several readers who pointed out the mistake.

A senator who can't vote in his "home" state

This is interesting. At least Gatsby owns a house here.

Can you say "Hasheem Thabeet"?

How about "Mehmet Okur"? They, Shawne Williams, and Jonny Flynn are reportedly on their way. Marcus Camby and Gerald Wallace are gone.

Mr. Unemployed Sonic

Nate has left the building.

In real ink

We got a Kindle for Christmas, and all of a sudden we're doing more pleasure reading. But it was a hard copy of this novel, which the Mrs. had lying around, that caught our eye a few weeks ago:

She hadn't gotten into it yet, but a friend of ours, who's a novelist himself, had gone out of his way to speak highly of it. And so we turned the Kindle off for a while and dug in the old-fashioned way.

It's a beautiful book, even breathtaking at times. But dark -- so very dark -- the work of an Irish writer, to be sure. We're glad we picked it up, and we won't soon forget it. To say more would wreck it. Go for it.

We now return to the pixels, which are a lot of fun.

Tri-Met saves the 9

It appears that Portland's "transit" agency is easing off on some of the harshest cuts to bus service that they're being forced to make as a result of many years of financial mismanagement. Our neighborhood's last remaining bus to downtown, the 9 Broadway, may actually continue to make it all the way downtown after all. But it will be $2.50 each way, and no fair using the same ticket for a return trip, even if you head back just a few minutes after arriving downtown. All in all, our occasional transit ride will likely become even more occasional when the changes take effect.

UPDATE, 4:33 p.m.: Under the revised cutbacks, riders will still be able to use a ticket for a return trip if it's within two hours of the ticket being issued.

The unrest spreads -- wonderfully so

The victories of the Clackistani rebels, who are stepping up and saving their towns from the perils of "urban renewal" and Blumenaueration, are inspiring other folks who are looking down the barrel of Portland-style developer welfare. Now comes word that the folks down Barbur Boulevard, in Tigard and beyond, are preparing ballot measures that would require streetcars, trains, and other taxpayer-funded real estate boondoggles to be put up for a public vote before they are implemented. Our hat is off to them. Make it happen, peeps.

Shocker: Portland compost program was botched

Both Washington County and the state environmental quality department have found all sorts of violations at the stinky food waste processing plant in North Plains, and they've forced the compost mongers to slow down and clean up their act.

Last April, Dave Dutra, Recology’s general manager for northern Oregon, said Nature’s Needs would be ready for the start of Portland’s residential food waste pickups — in the spring 2012. However, Portland Mayor Sam Adams wanted the curbside program to start sooner, Dutra says. Dutra figured he had four months’ lead time and promised Recology would be ready by Halloween.

It wasn’t.

So they've thrown the nearby residents a few bones, but will the problems ever really go away?

Recology needs to run the plant at full capacity to make Nature's Needs profitably pencil out, Dutra says. Recology will need the county to lift the 150-ton daily cap once the spring peak season begins, when Portlanders start mowing their lawns again.

Ah, yes. It has to "pencil out" for some guy who made a backroom deal with Sam Adams, even if the community's livability is sacrificed. Ain't that the Portland way.

Oregon chardonnay?

The Times crew tasted a bunch. And they actually liked some of them.

Siltronic, big water user, packs 350 jobs out of Portland

The mayor's goofy international junkets sure aren't producing much. Now comes the news that Siltronic is laying off 350 workers in Portland and sending their jobs to Germany. The crazy increases to the rates charged for water must have made the decision easier for the company, which is the city's largest water user:

Though unrelated to the layoff announcement, Fahey said the city's rising water rates have put the Portland plant at a growing competitive disadvantage with other Siltronic plants.

Fahey said since 1999 rates have increased more than 200 percent. Though Siltronic has reduced water consumption by 25 percent, its costs have still risen by 140 percent.

"We've testified at many different city council hearings on the proposed water rate increases and been very vocal about that," he said. "I’m not sure the city council members have ever gotten it outside of Amanda Fritz. The others, I don't [think,] really understood the competitiveness issue associated with that."

Another great moment in the Sam Rand administration. Only 291 more days to go in the collective nervous breakdown.

One has to wonder how many dollars the water bureau chipped in toward Adams's fruitless Germany trip. Next up: The Vestas and SoloPower collapses?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Death rattle for Blazers' season

And it's no doubt head coach Nate McMillan's last. But hey, Steve Blake's coming back! Pity the season ticket holders.

Cutting down the nets

A couple of readers have copied us on the big news down in Klamath Falls:

The O-I-T men's basketball team, The Hustlin' Owls, just won the NAIA Division II national b-ball tournament (for at least the 2nd, maybe 3rd time) defeating Northwood Seahawks of Florida.

Trivia, fun question:

OIT b-ball coach Danny Miles has been there about 40 years...in that time how many of his players did NOT graduate?


Last spring the Hustlin' Owls women's softball team won the NAIA Division II national softball championship.

Go, Oregon Tech! They're planning a big parade for tomorrow, late afternoon.

Missing out

The O won't show you this week's Doonesbury, but it's one of the best we've seen in quite a while. Here's the third day.

New Custom House owners are from Boston

No word yet on what they'll do with the Portland landmark. It says here they're into retail and offices.

Portland off the hook for treating Bull Run water

So now the city water bureau will cut its capital improvements budget, stop borrowing tens of millions of dollars for unnecessary planning and construction, and ease up on its huge planned increases to the rates it charges residents for water, right?


Be careful ordering your Irish beer this weekend

The phrase "black and tan" is a bit loaded.

Forget the garbage bins

How about a separate sewer system just for your trash?

Mid-week meditation

Dim the lights, remove your shoes, and stare at this, taking slow, deep breaths:

After a while, you'll feel it -- the awakening. You'll realize that food composting, bike paths, apartment bunkers, and streetcars are the essentials for a happy future. And have a wonderful day.

This says it all

Maybe it's a joke. It must be. A reader sends us this, purportedly from the Portland parks bureau:

If this thing it's real, it's an instant classic, in that it sums up the current conditions at Portland City Hall perfectly.

We start with incompetence. This is the city with a veritable army of paid public relations flacks, and yet it can't spell "necessities"? They weren't even close.

Then there are the warped priorities. They're talking about cutting out trash pickup and closing the restrooms in the parks, but they've got money for this?

Last but not least is the hypocrisy. Not far from the scene of this upcoming eco-love festival, the city recently allowed Tri-Met to clearcut several blocks of nice, mature street trees for the infernal Mystery Train to Milwaukie -- a train that the city actively supports.

What a town. Please, Nick Fish, tell us that this is a spoof.

Win a grand by making a pithy statement

The Freeway Blogger needs your help to come up with a new placard to display along I-5 up and down the West Coast. It needs to be a "get out of your car" message -- perfect for Portlandia. And he or she is offering cash prizes for the best entries. So far, we're told, no spectacular entries have come in. The deadline is tomorrow. The details are here. (Of course, not knowing who the blogger is, we cannot give much assurance that the prize promises are on the up-and-up; enter at your own risk.)

A volume business folds

This is truly the end of an era. We can remember researching in these books, watching door-to-door salesmen trying to sell them to our parents, and listening to Jiminy Cricket sing out the spelling so that we could remember it. Then in high school, we learned the Greek roots of the word: "kuklos," meaning the whole round world; and "paedeia," meaning learning. Nowadays you need to know what "wiki" means -- something else entirely.

NoPo shooting involves WashCo sheriff's deputies

Sounds like a highly funky situation.

UPDATE, 3:30 a.m.: Here it is in the O, including this gem: "The Washington County team was called to help serve the warrant because Portland's SERT team was out of town training, Simpson said." The incident will no doubt be used as a justification for the new $15 million police training center.

Clackistani rebels gain more ground against "urban renewal"

Voters in the lovely burgs of Estacada and Damascus passed ballot measures yesterday that would require public votes before "urban renewal" shenanigans are foisted on their towns. In Estacada, the city government tried to confuse voters with a competing measure, but just as with Clackamas County's attempt to do that in a recent election, the decoy measure failed.

"Urban renewal" is a ripoff. Congratulations to the groups that got these measures on the ballot, where they passed easily.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Oregonian censorship gets more absurd by the day

Here's Day 2 of The Doonesbury That the O Didn't Want You to See. What in heaven's name were they thinking?

Portland cops unveil Netflix defense

Here's a wild case -- a guy who was punished for suspected vandalism with a good, old-fashioned Tasing. Daniel Halsted has just won another in a long string of judgments against Portland police for brutality, this one for $206,000. But the craziest part of the case was the city's line of attack on the victim's credibility in court:

[Deputy City Attorney James] Rice tried to discredit Halsted, asking him about his collection of Kung Fu movies, and suggested during his closing argument that Halsted kept resisting because he was likely intoxicated.

Asked him about his collection of Kung Fu movies? Wow. Just wow.

Caldwell story goes international

Readers around the world are now being drawn to this tawdry tale. We've been trying to lay off, but so many people seem fascinated by it. Why?

The real Lake Oswego scandal

It's not the failed streetcar scam.

It's not the lake access controversy.

It's not racism at the high school.

It's this: We just bought groceries at the Lake O. Safeway, and the checkout clerk put them in a plastic bag and handed it to us!

Linchpin among the lychee

Looks like light rail is coming to Honolulu. Not everyone's enthusiastic.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

A reader sends in these photos from northeast Portland:

Trolling for swag?

It's almost as if the mayor wants to stock up on cool free stuff before he takes a serious pay cut in January.

Bull Run cabins: the official version

David Shaff, the director of the Portland water bureau, has sent us a response to our posts of Saturday and yesterday regarding the city's renovation of a house and a cabin on the site of the Bull Run reservoir. Here it is, in relevant part:

As you noted in your two posts on the subject, there are two sites in the watershed that have historic structures.

There are three log cabins at Bull Run Lake that were built in the early days of the Water Bureau -- around 1917 when the Water Bureau built a small dam at the outlet of Bull Run Lake. One of the cabins, the most prominent one that overlooks the lake, was badly damaged when a tree fell on it during a winter storm before I came to the bureau in 2005. We received Council authorization to restore that cabin in 2007/08.

Here is a picture of the cabin with the tree on it and a picture of the cabin before the restoration work began:

Also included are a couple of pictures of the work in progress and the final product (although the chimney has still not been restored). The other two cabins continue to slowly deteriorate. We have no plans to restore them at this time.

The other site is at dam 1. There are two "cottages” remaining out of the several structures that were built to house the workers who constructed the dam in the early 20's. The one that you have in your first post is called Bear Creek House and was where the supervising project engineer lived during construction of the dam. The second one is frequently called Little Bear Creek House or Bear Creek House No. 2 and is about 50 feet away from Bear Creek House. Bear Creek House is used as a stopping point for our tours and education program and is occasionally used for meetings. Little Bear Creek is in poor condition and isn’t in use.

During the time I have been Administrator, the interior of Bear Creek has been painted and a retired bureau carpenter built new kitchen cabinets and tiled the kitchen countertop. It has a stove and refrigerator. The bathroom sink and toilet were replaced and the floor was re-tiled (there is no tub or shower). He also rebuilt the fireplace hearth. One of the two bedrooms contains a desk, phone and some historic wooden distribution pipes. The other contains a conference table and chairs. We purchased two sofas and a coffee and end tables and some lamps for the living room. The art consists of pictures taken in the watershed by employees over the years. Our carpenter also replaced the porch decking and we constructed a short concrete ramp that is ADA compliant to enable wheelchair access into the house. A more complete description of the work performed (and the history of the two houses) can be found in the documents Andrew included in his comment on your first post.

Continue reading "Bull Run cabins: the official version" »

Batten down the hatches

Here at Blog Central, there is now snow mixed in with the steady, sometimes heavy rain that's been falling for many hours. Snow! The dreaded Portland snow. The stuff that the media people go ga-ga over. The stuff that many Portlanders don't know how to drive in.

And the temperature on the front porch is down to 36.5 degrees Farenheit. At 3:00 yesterday afternoon, it was around 50. Up at 400 feet, at Lewis & Clark College, it's down to 32.4. With the clocks now sprung ahead, sunrise isn't until 7:25 in the morning, and so the commute is going to be a sloppy, slushy mess at best.

It will be interesting to see, in a few hours, which institutions are stalwart and which are wimpy. And the response by local government never fails to amuse.

Monday, March 12, 2012

*This* was too heavy for The Oregonian?

Come on -- they can't handle this? No wonder they are going out of business.

UPDATE, 9:25 p.m.: This post is not about the sordid death of Bob Caldwell. It's about pulling Doonesbury. Caldwell's dead. He had issues, apparently. Let him rest.

Portland braces for another round of deadly snow

The brutal winter we've had -- it just. Will. Not. Let. Up.

The weather forecasters say it may snow yet again tonight in Portlandia. Bone-weary of the harsh dustings and treacherous traces they have endured so far, the city's residents are huddled together in prayer, hoping against hope that this new Arctic blast will pass us by.

The City of Portland has both its snow plows operational, and they will be springing into action tomorrow no later than 10 a.m. Just to be on the safe side, Tri-Met's bankruptcy lawyers have announced that they will be opening two hours late. The Portland public schools are withholding any announcement about closures and delays until 5:30 a.m., and in an emergency session to prepare for the brunt of the storm, the school board has sold Lincoln High School to Homer Williams.

At Jelled--When? Field, Portland Timbers fans are getting soaked, much like the city's taxpayers.

Keep it right here at bojack.org StormCenter 9000.2 for all the latest weather language. Complete team coverage. We look out the window, so you don't have to.

Everything's fine, cont'd

An alert reader sends along a link to this disturbing news from, as he put it, "Fort Fukushima, Nebraska."

Travels with Charlie

A reader with a keen interest in Portland's upcoming mayoral election writes:

Given your most recent post, I thought you'd enjoy the 2007 interview with Charlie Hales I've copied below. It's him, pitching streetcars as the solution in Madison, Wisconsin.

And he's still pitching, btw, while running for mayor. Here's a story from just two weeks ago, in Kansas City, Missouri:


You should Google "hales streetcar hdr". He's been like a pied piper for streetcars:

* Salt Lake City
* Rhode Island
* Los Angeles
* Grand Rapids, MI
* Winston-Salem, NC
* Cincinnati
* Sacramento
* Des Moines
* Scottsdale, AZ

Tireless! The guy never quits. Well, hardly ever...

The Madison interview is here.

Portland State kicks the tires

The Big Three mayoral candidates in Portland will be kissing up to the "planning" mafia (and the real estate developers who own them) at the PSU Patronage Center Wednesday evening. Hales is clearly their best bet, but Brady will likely try to say the things they want to hear as well. Smith will doubtlessly make the audience seem like level-headed pragmatists by comparison.

Apparently not invited was the rest of the candidate field, including Scott Fernandez and Max Brumm, who'd be better choices than any of the invitees.

IRS sniffing around 501(c)(4) groups

The federal tax agency is reportedly checking up to see whether "social welfare" groups, exempt from tax under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, are really that, or just political action committees by another name -- especially since the 501(c)(4)'s can keep their donors secret, while PACs can't. The Tea Party groups that have been contacted are screaming discrimination, but even The New York Times thinks it's time that these organizations, all across the political spectrum, are reformed.

The Huffy had a piece on this on Friday, and another one on March 1, and we found these passages pretty interesting:

The tea party was first widely emblazoned on the public's mind for their noisy opposition to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul at congressional town hall meetings in the summer of 2009. Support from its activist members has since helped nominate and elect conservative candidates around the country, though group leaders say they are chiefly educational organizations.

They say they mostly do things like invite guests to discuss issues and teach members about the Constitution and how to request government documents under the Freedom of Information Act. Some say they occasionally endorse candidates and seek to register voters.

"We're doing nothing more than what the average citizen does in getting involved," said Phil Rapp, executive director of the Richmond Tea Party in Virginia. "We're not supporting candidates; we are supporting what we see as the issues."...

The tax code requires 501(c)(4) groups to be operated "exclusively" for social welfare purposes -- which does not include intervention in political campaigns. The IRS has allowed the groups to engage in political activity as long as it was not their primary purpose. But for many of these groups, it's hard to see what other purpose they could possibly have.

It's also hard to see why a political group would file under section 501(c)(4) instead of under Section 527 -- the part of the tax code explicitly designed for political groups including PACs and super PACs -- other than to hide its donors. Like the C4s, the 527 groups are allowed to raise unlimited funds and pay no taxes. They just have to disclose who donates money.

Hmmmmm... 501(c)(4)... associated with a particular candidate... same office address as his campaign office... says it's "getting out the vote"... think it's worth the IRS taking a look?

So, who's buying the Custom House?

We were supposed to find out by now who agreed to pay $4.74 million for the old U.S. Custom House on the North Park Blocks in Northwest Portland -- nearly twice the amount bid on it in a deal that cratered last year. According to this story, the deadline for plunking down a deposit was last Thursday. We were thinking some local government entity or another, but a reader suggested that it was a wealthy philanthropist who's going to fix it up as an art museum.

More on the Bull Run resort

On Saturday, we posted a couple of photos of a nice-looking old house right on the reservoir at Bull Run. We quoted a reader who said it was the "cabin" over whose renovation the city water bureau is currently being sued. As it turns out, that was a mis-identification. The building pictured is called the Dam House, or Bear Creek House. But it is owned, and was restored, by the Portland water bureau, and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit have indeed listed renovations to the house as an alleged abuse of ratepayer funds.

According to city water commissioner Randy Leonard, who left a characteristically nasty comment on our post, no one is allowed to stay overnight in this house, or anywhere else in the watershed.

Leonard did not deny that the home is used by water bureau personnel or their VIP guests for day use. Nor, of course, did he address the policy point we made with the post, which is that the water bureau has spent far too much money, including restoration of that house and the purchase of a six-figure luxury tour bus, turning the reservoir into a tourist attraction. But it gave him a chance to rant about our lies, half-truths, yada yada.

Getting back to the "cabin." There are, in fact, three cabins on the reservoir site -- at least one of which is about 100 years old -- and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit also list cabin renovation as an alleged misspending of water bureau funds. Yesterday, the reader who sent us the photos of the dam house sent us these additional shots, of the cabins:

Continue reading "More on the Bull Run resort" »

Spring is almost here

The plum trees on our block have begun to bloom. The daphne's taking its sweet time, though -- probably senses one more dusting of snow ahead.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Portland falls behind Seattle for transit use

Maybe killing off convenient buses driven by visible operators, and replacing them with cattle rail cars with no driver or security presence, isn't such a good idea.

Letting downtown go to pot, nickel-and-diming every business in sight, and chasing employers to points all over the outskirts, isn't helping transit use, either.

Portland's boast of "smart growth" gets more ironic every month. Why people in the Emerald City act as though they have to compete with us is a real mystery.

Has it really been a year since we last did this?

Tough weekend for Portland mainstream media

We give the Portland TV, radio, and newspaper people a hard time -- almost as bad as we give the politicians. Being a former newspaperman, however, we have a soft spot in our heart for all of our local journalists as people. Believe it or not.

Today we read that Robert Caldwell, the editorial page editor of the O, has died, suddenly, of a heart attack, at age 63.

Yesterday we learned that one of the four men missing and now presumed dead off the coast of Washington State is Jay Bjaranson, 38, the brother of Blazer commentator and former KGW reporter Adam Bjaranson.

Condolences to the loved ones and co-workers of the two deceased men, both of whom leave families behind.

Another Bat Signal goes up

The Portland mainstream media has been all over the fact that tighty-righty moneybags Loren Parks has thrown some change at the anti-light-rail ballot measure currently being placed on the September ballot by the Clackistani rebels. Ooooh, Loren Parks! From Nevada! Foe of all things Portlandia! On BlueOregon, he gets branded as a "millionaire sex weirdo."

Yes, here in Multnomah County, affiliation with Parks is the kiss of death for any ballot proposition. But the election in question now is in Clackamas County, where the dynamic is entirely different. Down that way, a Parks endorsement is at worst a neutral factor -- it may even be a plus.

More light shines on Oregon bureaucrat pensions

The O has wrested control of some more fascinating data on who gets what from Oregon's outrageous public employee pension system. You can browse the heftiest 800 or so eaters at the trough here, and the paper's smartest reporter, Ted Sickinger, writes up one aspect of the problems here.


OnlineSchools.org presents Japan One Year Later Japan One Year Later

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The 1% answers back

We've been watching with interest the growing movement to strike at the banks who fill our snail mailboxes with junky credit card come-ons. It's been suggested that the recipients mail back the accompanying business reply envelopes, either empty or with something in them. Either way, the annoying bankers get to pay the return postage, even though they don't get a new customer, and maybe after a while they'll catch on and stop sending the relentless junk mail.

Yesterday, the Mrs. got yet another unwanted credit card solicitation. It was the same old spiel, but we noticed something different: On the business reply envelope, there was her return address, neatly printed out. Guess if the Occupiers want to keep fighting back using the mail-back technique, they'll have to get the scissors out first.

"Don't tweet everything you think"

A cautionary tale from our neighbor to the north.

Dig we must

Site monitoring courtesy Clicky.

Our tireless technical director, Jake of orty.com, will be working his magic with this blog over the next night or two. (Unlike some city governments we know, we still work on maintaining basic infrastructure.) If you manage to swing by when we're disconnected or on the move, please bear with us and come back later in the evening or the next morning. And thanks for being here.

The Admiral's guest house

Among the possible reasons your Portland water bill is so high is that the water bureau is rumored to be renovating a "cabin" that it maintains up at the Bull Run reservoir. An alert reader who's seen the place writes:

I took the Bull Run tour a few years ago. Here are some photos of the cabin before the remodel. We were told the cabin needed to be remodeled to accommodate meetings and overnight VIPs.

Maybe it's time to stop running Bull Run as a tourist attraction under the control of the water bureau.

Where equity leads us

The nickel-and-diming from Portland City Hall never stops. For a while we have been worried that the City Council would put a turnstile on our front door, and charge us every time we left the house. It's not quite that bad yet, but a reader warns that we're about to head in that direction. He writes:

From time to time your readers send you documents from inside city government, and some of them are pretty ominous. Still, nothing you've received so far is as scary as this secret internal memo. I received it from someone on the inside who knows Randy. It's from Mayor Sam Adams about the latest program to generate revenue. We've seen bio-fee plans before such as the leaf removal fee, but I think you'll agree, this takes it to a whole new level:

"From the Office of the Mayor:

"We are currently instituting a new program called Bio-Beat that will enhance our communities by generating more revenue for city projects. The concept is simple and demonstrates the kind of sustainable bio-diversity we all search for in these troubled economic times.

"Starting this summer, each Portlander's heart rate will be monitored continuously through a chip implant, and they will be charged for the number of times their heart beats. At first we were just going to charge everyone the same amount, but why should people sitting on their sofas in high density condos be charged as much as joggers using our city paths to exercise? And if an overweight person's heart beats rapidly when they're at rest, they still face a greater chance of using our roads to seek medical help. Plus, these people are often thirsty and that brings us back to the burdens on our water supply.

"The key word is equity. If Portlanders are going to pay for their heartbeats, we have to be fair and charge extra for those with more. It's simple: When their heart rate goes up, so does ours. This can be broken down into a monthly statement based on yearly estimates, and if someone's heart stops during a payment period, the remainder of the estimated bio-beat fee will be set aside for a scholarship in cardiology.

"I need all of you to get busy coming up with a good marketing slogan for this. My personal favorite so far is, 'Your heart may skip a beat, but you better not skip a payment.'

"Thank you,
"Mayor Sam Adams."

So there you go, Jack. I thought you should know.

The O censors "Doonesbury"

Next week should see an enormous spike of interest in Gary Trudeau's cartoon strip, but it's too heavy for Portland's monopoly daily newspaper, and so you'll have to see it here.

We built this city

Answer just 10 questions and you can have one, too.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Have a great weekend

An anthem for 2012

Tasteless, and definitely not safe for work, but those with an interest in the drama of urban bicycling may find this amusing.

It can't happen here

Here's a California city that's actually bringing in some outside experts to suggest cost-cutting measures. Can you imagine the City of Portland trying that? Ha! Ha! The consultants would wind up floating in a bioswale somewhere, and there would be so many suspects that the cops would never solve the crime.

Bunkermania in Eugene

Downtown Eugene is about to get 1,200 U.C. Nike students in a gigantic new private apartment complex. They're calling it "13th & Olive," but goodness, that's far too drab. They're getting a $16 million property tax handout, and so the least they could do is come up with a more interesting name for the thing.

We're thinking along the lines of "The Terraces at Belushi Manor." Readers, please help them out down with some suggestions.

Portland biogas plant will bomb, says competitor

Granted, this guy has an obvious ax to grind, but whom are you going to believe -- him or Sam Adams?

List of alleged Portland water, sewer abuses keeps growing

The folks who are suing the City of Portland over blatant misspending of water and sewer revenues have been keeping a list of all the expenditures that seem unrelated to provision of water and sewer service. If in fact they are unrelated, they're illegal. As of a few weeks ago, they were up to 32 potential categories of violation in the water bureau, and 19 in the sewer bureau. Here's a letter that lists them all -- it's five pages long, but definitely worth a read by anyone who's been paying the astronomical bills that Portland water and sewer have been sending out.

The obvious ones are in there -- "voter-owned elections," Portland "loos," Rose Festival headquarters, the "water house," "green streets," parks arborists, and the like -- but there are a few that we hadn't thought of before. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are now raising questions about scholarships; international travel by commissioners, staff, and consultants; concert sponsorships; bike racks; public opinion polls; renovation of a cabin at Bull Run reservoir; nearly $2 million spent to send water bureau employees to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; "green" fuel purchases; bike safety video production; and time spent helping other city bureaus.

Perhaps most intriguingly, the water critics are now also complaining about transfers of water and sewer funds to something called the "city discrete budget." It sounds like one of those slush funds in which Portland City Hall specializes.

With all these rocks being turned over, one can only imagine what sort of dark, moist, squirmy creatures are going to be exposed to the light of day for the first time. Let's hope that the judge gets as outraged as so many of us already are.

Useful information from Portland State

You newcomers to the Portland scam scene: If you're looking for a catalog of some of the biggest real estate development looters in Portland, it's all right here at the website of the Portland State Patronage Center. Check out the motley crew that's picked up the "urban pioneer" awards over the years, and you're well on your way to knowing what's gone wrong, horribly wrong, in Portland. Gerding Edlen, Williams Dame, Tri-Met, Vera Katz, Neil Goldschmidt, Mike Lindberg, Tom Moyer, Fred Stickel -- that's a big part of why the city govermment's broke, having been looted for condos and government Shangri-La's.

Here's a funny page from five years ago, before it all went so obviously bad:

Grand Sponsors of the 2007 Urban Pioneer Awards dinner are Williams & Dame Development, Gerding Edlen Development, Terry Bean and Bean Investment Real Estate, Hoffman Construction, GBD Architects, Howard S. Wright Constructors, Ticor Title Insurance, Portland Family of Funds, Geo Design Inc., Realty Trust Group and Dunn Carney Allen Higgins & Tongue LLP.

Follow the money.

Wonder who the Portland State Realtors will give this year's plaques to. It's about time to honor Earl the Pearl and Merritt Paulson, don'tcha think? And Randy Leonard, with the presentation by Judy Shiprack's husband.

Pay for power you didn't get? Hey, it's "green."

Even discounting for the Fox News spin, it didn't take the wind farmers long to figure out the meaning of the word "farmer."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Definite charrette material

If Lake Oswego ever does get a streetcar, it might be a good idea for it to have kayak racks.

Jack attack in Forest Grove

Make up your own joke on this one.

Supremes bless realtors' tax victory over City of Portland

We've received a report that the Oregon Supreme Court has ruled in favor of realtors and against the City of Portland in the ongoing dispute about applying the city's business license tax to associate, as opposed to principal, realtors. Our sources tell us that the state high court today entered its order denying the city's petition for review of the adverse decision that the state court of appeals issued in September. We blogged about that earlier ruling here.


Like Commissioner Gordon illuminating the Bat Signal, this comes to us from the Network Formerly Known as Goldschmidt:

Slow going in the 'hood next week

They'll be closing Northeast Ninth Avenue between Halsey and Broadway in Portland all next week for road repairs. That's a pretty congested little spot right there normally; with construction, it could get really messy. There's a liquor store in there, and it's week before St. Patrick's Day! Hooch hounds of Irvington, plan accordingly.

Cogen hops in bed with "urban renewal"

Why would the chair of the Multnomah County commission go along with allowing real estate developers to skim off huge amounts of property tax revenue, starving essential public services? It's because he gets money for a new building for his own empire out of it. More bureaucracy and greed, working hand in hand here in Portlandia.

Vestas cancels a building in Massachusetts

"Green" plans have turned to brown back east, despite government handouts. Will Portland be next to receive such news?

Oregon Republicans give up the ghost

We are never going to belong to the Republican Party, but it seems a shame that they don't even give it the old college try in some statewide elections any more. Nobody in the GOP is going to take a run at Ted Wheeler for state treasurer, for example. And whoever wins the Democratic nomination for state attorney general will also face no opposition from the Republican ranks.

That is unhealthy.

Even token opposition would be better than none at all. It's tough enough to keep politicians honest when there's meaningful debate, much less without any. Perhaps a somewhat coherent third party will emerge in this state at some point. One can only hope.

At least there'll be some fireworks down in Clackamas County, where all the commissioners who are up for re-election have opponents. Which of the candidates are with the Clackistani rebels? Knowledgeable readers from down that way, please give us the word.

More money tangles in Jefferson Smith web

Here's a funny one in the O: Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith, who is leaving the Oregon legislature, billed the state taxpayers $200 a month for office space for himself at the same address as his campaign headquarters, and his famous "Bus Project." The place isn't even in his district -- not even close, at seven miles' distance -- but supposedly he used the location for doing legislative business.

Smith said Tuesday that all three offices were in the same building but stayed separate from each other and that the campaign office and district office were distinct specifically to make sure state dollars weren't paying for campaign activities.

Sure, buddy. You kept all that straight.

As outlined on this blog in the past, the "Bus Project" is actually three different organizations: a nonprofit charity, a 501(c)(4) organization, and a political action committee. Notorious for sloppiness (or worse) with details -- he has been temporarily kicked out of the state bar multiple times for failing to pay dues, and has blown off the state's motor vehicle laws on several occasions -- Smith does not inspire much beyond guffaws with his claims that all of these entities and offices are "separate." In his mind, maybe. When it suits him.

We count five different Smith-related installations in the same location: Bus charity, Bus 501(c)(4), Bus PAC, Smith campaign, and Smith legislative district office. And prowling around the internet, we find several other occupants listed at that address: Tazo Tea, Moore Co., Peter's Pro Shop, Accent Marketing, Pareto Global Consulting, Lifeline... All those "separate" offices for Smith must be mighty small.

"It made it workable for me," Smith said. "When you're in the Legislature trying to hold down a full-time job, if you can be careful about commuting that helps. Having a legislative office that was nearby to my day job [at the Bus Project] made a lot of sense."

The most recent filing of the 501(c)(4) "Bus" organization, whose real name is New Progressive Network, shows Smith working there only 10 hours a week.

Oh, well. It's only 200 bucks a month, right? And nobody with any authority is going to question anything here unless it's an enterprising IRS agent. (Who could probably have a career week dropping by for a visit.) But this latest caper adds to the lengthy volume of frightening data about Jefferson Smith, rules, and money. It's Sam Adams with a Harvard Law diploma. Portland voters, run -- don't walk.

Latest from Portland: Private parking tickets on city streets

And private parking meters, too. The City of Portland has completely lost its mind. There is nothing that this City Council won't hand over to their rich buddies -- in this case, the Goodmans. And just another "Gotcha" for anybody who drives into town any more.

Flooded Nebraska nuke plant is still down

It's been nine months now since the Fort Calhoun reactor started being inundated by the raging Missouri River. It's still shut down. And some folks back there are starting to think that maybe it shouldn't ever be cranked up again.

Meanwhile, at Fukushima, 167 workers at the triple-meltdown site have reportedly reached their lifetime radiation limits and can no longer assist in the fight to keep the still-dangerous situation from deteriorating further. At some point, they may run out of people who know what they're doing and are crazy enough to get involved.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Oswego Lake is already public"

Like a kayak over troubled waters, WW lays it down.

It doesn't add up

Ten weak attacks on Eileen Brady don't equal one solid one, but the chaps at Willamette Week keep the trifles coming. We can't wait to see the look on their faces when their boy Crazy Jeffy comes in 3 points ahead of Trey Arrow. And when Brady's mayor, will she hold a grudge against the Week? Could be entertaining to watch.

Another scoop

You read it here first.

Sizing up the Tri-Met mess

Here's a media report that documents the Portland "transit" agency's problems, soft-pedaling them only by a little. With good photos of several of the players.

Northern Lights tonight?

We've never seen them. Maybe this time.

New Pearl playground -- get out your magnifying glass

After years of building cold, artsy moonscapes, the Portland parks people are getting ready to install something that resembles an actual park. In the Pearl District, of course. And they're making a big deal about how there's going to be a playground in it. It's a sad statement, but Portland hasn't shown much interest in building playgrounds in a long time.

Young mayoral candidate Max Brumm has taken a look at the plans for the new park, and he argues that the children's play space is way too small:

Look at the size of the children’s area compared to the rest of the park. What families want is more room to play. The downtown center no longer has any large spaces for school age children or sports fields. Families have to drive out to the edges of Portland or (god forbid!) across the river to play in parks where there is more room. They are building Fields Park to be tailored for adults and dogs. Families with school-aged children are barely even in the equation. Build baby build! But we need to be building the right infrastructure to make sure we have a tomorrow. Not just empty condos and offices that only the rich can afford. During the summer I looked into putting multipurpose sports fields right on that very spot, as well as a few vacant lots around the city of Portland. It could have been done if PDC would be willing to anger their “favored” developer friends. But they are choosing not to.

Looking at this plan, it's hard to argue with him about the size of the playground. Sheesh, could they spare it?

At least they've got a big open green space in this park -- a place in which you could actually run around and play. There'll probably be some turf battles between the humans and the dogs, whose owners will try to make the whole park a de facto off-leash area, but with any luck, that will settle down. Then make way for comedy, as the Pearlies come down out of the bunkers to hang out.

Still paying for Thumper Humphreys

The City of Portland is trying to get its insurance company to pay for the city's defense in the James Chasse police killing case and eight employment-related claims. The city says it's owed nearly $1.5 million -- amounts that it paid to its lawyers in the cases. The catch? The lawyers were in-house lawyers on the city payroll. Were their salaries "defense costs," which the insurance company was supposed to pay, or just day-to-day overhead expenses? A judge may have to decide.

Interestingly, on the insurance lawsuit, the city has hired outside counsel. The brutal beating of Chasse, which required a $1.6 million settlement to go away, just keeps hurting.

Is Portland violating its bond covenants?

The current lawsuit against the City of Portland for illegal spending of water and sewer revenues is turning up some fascinating documents. Here's a good one -- a memo written by the city attorney's office in June 2010 in response to an inquiry by the city auditor. The topic: What are the rules of the road for the city in spending water and sewer funds?

As one might expect, there are several sets of legal restrictions on the expenditure of these revenue streams. There is state law, and there is the city charter. But not to be overlooked are the city's bond covenants -- the promises it makes to lenders when it goes out and borrows nine or even 10 figures on sewer and water projects. All of the rules are important, but the bond covenants are particularly significant, because if Wall Street detects something amiss with the city's use of the revenues that are supposed to pay the bonds back, the city's ability to raise cheap money through borrowing could dry up faster than you can say "Rose Festival headquarters."

We'll let the city attorney's memo, written by a couple of in-house City Hall lawyers, do the talking. On sewer:

The Charter authorizes sewer user fees "for purposes relating to design, construction, acquisition, operation, maintenance and contract requirements of sewage treatment or purification facilities and related facilities." This limited authorization to raise money is match by a limited authorization to spend money "for any matter connected with the sewer or sewage disposal or treatment system of the City, and bonded debt and debt service related thereto." Taken together, these provisions authorize collection and expendíture of money for purposes directly related to operation of the sewer utility....

Additional authority to impose charges for sewer service (including stormwater drainage) is found in ORS [Oregon Revised Statutes] 454.225. This statute contains a requirement that sewer charges imposed under the statute's authority be "just and equitable."...

[A]s a practical matter [state law] results in a mandate that sewer charges imposed throughout Portland be based upon reasonable cost-of-service sewer utility ratemaking principles. For our purposes, those principles require that customers only pay rates that can be tied to some sewer "service" actually provided in return....

And as we've mentioned on this blog more than once, if sewer charges are unrelated to actual provision of service, they could also be reclassified as a "tax," which could cause all sorts of legal trouble for the city.

On water:

[T]he City Attorney's Office has for decades interpreted the [City Charter] to constrain indirect transfers of Water Bureau monies to serve non-water purposes. According to an oft-cited opinion, the Charter limitation is intended to "prevent the City Council from using the City's water revenues to carry out General Fund projects."... Water Bureau money cannot be spent on matters "unrelated" to the Water System.... "Expenditures that are 'related' to the water works and system are expenditures: (1) whose primary purpose is to promote the objectives of the water... services of the City, and (2) are reasonably calculated to promote those objectives."...

Since Water Bureau expenses can only be incurred if they "relate" to the water works, the limit on expenditures also effectively constrains Council discretion to raise rates for purposes unrelated to the water system....

And that brings the memo around to the bond covenants:

Bond covenants also impose constraints on the City's management of the sewer utility, including some general guidance on imposition of charges.... The bond covenant provides:... "The City shall cause the System to be operated at all times in a safe, sound, efficient and economic manner in compliance with all health, safety and environmental laws, regulatory body rules, regulatory body orders and court order applicable to the City's operation and ownership of the system...." The bond covenant could, for example, lead to questions whether particular expenditures would be viewed by bondholders as "sound, efficient and economic" costs for a municipal sewer utility to incur....

Finally, in selling Water Bureau revenue bonds, the City typically makes certain representations and contractual commitments to the bond purchasers. For instance, the disclosure statement for water bonds to be sold this spring declares that proceeds will be used to "fund various capital improvements to the Water System...." Our bond counsel advises us that this announcement represents the City's commitment to use the proceeds only for projects "related to" the water system. The relationship must be "clear and direct." A less conservative interpretation could adversely affect the credit rating of Water Bureau revenue bonds. In addition, the City covenants in selling bonds that it "will operate the Water System in a sound, efficient, and economic manner...." One way to meet that covenant is to insure that water funds are spent only for water related purposes.

Is the city in breach of its bond covenants? Now, that would be a financial fiasco of a magnitude that we never dreamed even the Sam Rand Twins could bring about. But the matter's in court, and if the disgruntled water ratepayers win their case, unhappy bondholders may not be far behind.

Z-Bo in escrow

A knowledgable reader reports that former Jail Blazer Zach Randolph's palace in West Linn -- well known to the local constabulary -- has been sold. The reader says that Damon Stoudamire's house around the corner is back on the market as well. A different kind of turnover.

Narrow Williams Avenue to one lane for motorists?

That sure seems to be the plan.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Adams whispering sweet nothings to Cogen

It appears that the pushers of the new PSU-OHSU "urban renewal" scam zone are hoping to buy off opposition by Mutnomah County with a bribe of building a new county human resources building somewhere in the new "education urban renewal" district. In exchange for $19 million for a new personnel palace, the county would go along with the real estate weasels' looting tens of millions in property tax dollars from schools and public services around the region and the state.

Is this what "urban renewal" is about -- building government buildings? The City of Portland will rake the dollars away from the schools, and hand them to the county for construction? Can that be legal?

Speaking of legality, whatever happened to the $9 million in "urban renewal" funds that the city handed over to the county, supposedly to reroute traffic coming off the Hawthorne Bridge to make room for a new county courthouse? Those funds were borrowed by the city, and transferred to the county, nearly four years ago. Since nothing has been built, and there are no plans to build anything there any time soon, shouldn't the county be paying the money back? Certainly the folks who bought the "urban renewal" bonds weren't told that the proceeds would be transferred to another government entity, to be spent on any old thing or allowed to sit idle indefinitely.

Charlie Hales: "I am a Portland treasure"

If you value your computer screen, swallow your coffee before reading the latest from a guy who claimed he was a Washington resident for tax purposes while an Oregon resident for voting purposes:

... myself and most other things that are great about Portland....

OHSU has added thousands of jobs since 2009....

$3.4 billion has been invested by private businesses along our streetcar lines, leading to thousands of new jobs (PolitiFact Oregon, Oct. 23, 2011). The extension of light rail to the airport, a project I worked hard to finish on budget and ahead of schedule, led directly to the opening of Cascade Station -- a thriving business development....

The jobs for tomorrow will come from smart planning today.

SoWhat is a success. WES works. And the Kool-Aid is being served in the back.

Atlanta gets a sermonette from guess who

Streetcars are so wonderful. They're catalysts! They're linchpins! Did you know the SoWhat District would not have been built if it hadn't been for the streetcar? Honest! This guy has told us so.

You’re also going to have some detractors. When we started, we had them, too. They were afraid that it would be too expensive and people wouldn’t ride it. We don’t hear that so much these days.

Really? Maybe he would if he knew how to listen.

Running the last real industry out of Portland

It appears the naive children at Portland City Hall want to yuppify the central east side, just as they did the SoWhat District and the Pearl. People who make and build things are no longer wanted -- it's all about marketing and political consulting companies now. God forbid there should be any blue-collar people left in our town full of hipsters.

Adams sheds a tear for Edlen

The folks in Salem have wisely refused to throw money at the "sustainability center" boondoggle in Portland, and so the mayor must show his real estate masters how disappointed he is. "Partisan, election-year politics trumped progress." Thank heaven for democracy.

Clackistani rebels turn in signatures

They say they have the 9,378 signatures needed with nearly another 2,500 to spare, and so it appears that there will be a public vote in September on Clackamas County's participation in Tri-Met's badly misguided Mystery Train to Milwaukie project. Tri-Met continues to say that it will sue to force the county to pay $25 million toward the rail construction, even if the ballot measure passes and the county is barred by its voters from playing along. That ought to be tied up in the courts for many years.

But first, of course, the pushers of the train will do what they can to invalidate the signatures that the opponents have worked so hard to gather. The vote against the MAX will be another in a long string of embarrassments for the Portland transit agency, and it would like to avoid it if it can.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Kevin Pratt

... is a very cool guy.

Portland to throw another $15 million on plastic

This time it's for a new police training facility out on Airport Way. The bonds will be "tax revenue" bonds, meaning that property taxes will be used to pay them. The "full faith and credit" of the city (such as it is) will stand behind the IOU's, which will run for 10 years. The city is budgeting debt service of $1,785,000 a year on the bonds, which works out to an interest rate of 3.29%.

The official press release is here.

The police currently train at the otherwise empty, never-occupied Wapato Jail. Apparently that is not good enough. Wonder how many gang prevention and gang enforcement people that $1.785 million a year would buy.

The city's long-term debt, not counting unfunded retirement obligations, is about $3.3 billion.

Cha-ching! Ken Rust is now a lobbyist.

Wow, that was quick. Ken Rust, who for many years was the City of Portland's top administrator, particularly in money matters, has surfaced as a lobbyist at City Hall just eight months after he stepped down. His first project: Trying to get the city to blow sewer revenues on a "biogas" plant for Rust's private client, Columbia Biogas.

Rust oversaw a breathtaking run-up of debt by the city, and the city auditor's stinging report on that massive debt load was, in a sense, an indictment of his role in creating it. Now he's turning up the heat, asking for a rush-rush deal. What's the big hurry? The biogas plant has been on the drawing boards for more than a year; if it were financially viable, it would have been built by now. Maybe the Sam Rand Twins are buying, but the other three members of the City Council ought to tell him to calm down or show himself out the door.

Today Stockton, tomorrow Portland?

The public pension morass in California is definitely worth watching up here in Portlandia. Our city has an unfunded pension liability that sucks more and more tax revenue every year. It's going to come down, if it hasn't already, to a choice between paying for enough public safety officers to protect us now, and paying retirement and medical benefits to the ones who retired at age 50.

Late and over budget

The Portland eastside streetcar can't seem to get up and running.

They're talking about snow again

In a related story, Fireman Randy says the TV crews aren't allowed to use duct tape to reserve a spot on the Sylvan overpass.

Liberation, or glib oration?

Our multi-talented buddy Bill McDonald has come up with a musical message for the bombastic politicians of our day.

OHSU-PSU "urban renewal" scheme revs up

Portland taxpayers, get ready for more "urban renewal" shenanigans. Your tax dollars will once again be stolen away from basic public services and handed to real estate developers for apartments, and once again, the med school will take a cut. This time, Portland State is in on the action as well -- Portland State, which at times appears to be more a haven for real estate scammers and a patronage dispenser for retired local government hacks than an institution of learning. They're all part of the mayor's new "education urban renewal district," which will also likely suck up the land under Lincoln High School and hand it over to greasy condo builders.

There are 301 days left for the current city administration -- and its members seem hellbent on doing as much damage as they possibly can during that time. The taxpayers have blown hundreds of millions on "urban renewal," and it's done nothing for the local economy but enrich developers and construction companies. The city's finances are a wreck, and yet the scoundrels keep on coming, with their politician puppets in front of them. It's sad.

The Swedish meatball of housing

And it was designed by an Oregon firm!

He doesn't get it -- he never will

Portland’s daft mayor gave his annual "State of the City" speech on Friday. Can you say "nervous breakdown"? Everything was so rosy, the City Club faithful gave him a standing ovation at the end. Or maybe they were applauding the fact that they are now done having to listen to him.

One of the fine announcements he made was that he’s going to spend tens of millions of dollars in sewer funds to build some private company a "biogas" plant in the northeast part of town. Is he kidding? Maybe he didn’t notice, but the city is currently being sued, quite capably, for its frittering away of water and sewer revenues on projects that have little or nothing to do with providing water or sewer service.

Tone deafness is such an awful thing.

In the mayor’s "unique" mind, there’s enough of a connection between the biogas plant, which would run on Portlanders’ reeking bins of food scraps, and sewer service to justify blowing eight figures in sewer revenues on the thing. One can only hope, desperately, that the brains of the judges of this state are wired at least somewhat differently from his. If the City Council passes this, somebody needs to go to court and get an injunction against it. It’s not only bad policy, but also illegal.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A voice of authority

For Lloyd Center, the ultimate bunker

The guy who bought out Hank Ashforth's Lloyd District empire a while back says he's planning to spend $250 million of San Diego real estate money on four new apartment towers in the area. Judging from the artist's rendering, one would be about 30 stories tall.

The new complex would add 750 new apartments to Portland's inventory. No word yet on how much of a taxpayer subsidy the developer, Scott Langley, will be getting. But at a minimum, he'll receive the nifty handout that you get for building a a bunker near the pointless eastside streetcar, thus fulfilling the Blumenauer Prophecies.

The official City Hall line, dutifully regurgitated by the youngsters at the O, is that since apartment vacancies are way down, people are "craving" to live in apartments. Actually, people are craving to live in detached houses, but the city hardly allows anyone to build those any more. In a way, the city is setting itself up for failure, because no one with anything on the ball wants to move to Portland, Oregon to live in an apartment tower in a rough part of town. And that's exactly what this Lloyd plan is proposing.

Adams said the project would create 3,000 construction jobs. Langley said... it is currently in the design and entitlement phase.

Ah, the "entitlement phase" -- quite humorous. For the condo weasels in Portland, entitlement is not a phase, it's a lifelong career.

Hard drive salad surgery

We've had a couple of choppy days on this site from a technical standpoint. Our ace internet wizard, Jake of orty.com, informs us that the hard drive on which this blog resides is starting to give out. We'll be performing some maneuvers late this evening that will take us down for a couple of hours. If you happen to swing by and we're not home, please come back a little later. We'll hang out on Twitter while we're in exile.

UPDATE, 3/5, 5:06 a.m.: We're over on a different server now, and with any luck, we'll have smooth sailing.

Week 2 of the Good Guy revival

We're pleased that the folks running the revived version of KISN Radio have signed on as a sponsor of this blog. They have definitely delivered on their promise to play a broader spectrum of oldies than any radio station heard in these parts in many years. Several of the old chestnuts they've played so far have floored us -- even with our own extensive archives, we haven't heard those tunes in decades. And a few that they've played are so rare that we don't even remember hearing them in the first place. But hey, we were in New Jersey and they were out here at the KISN window on West Burnside. Maybe they were all hits out here.

Surrounding today's ads with come-ons and announcements from the past is an interesting tactic. Some of us spent enough time with the transistors that we can sing along with the '60s jingles, and we guess that opens us up a little to the current sales pitches.

Of course, we'll look a gift horse in the mouth and mention a few things that we'd like to see the Good Guys add. One would be to get their stream going on iTunes, or at least graduate somehow to a feed that we can pick up on our phone. And when the DJs are actually live in the studio (which we assume is a lot of the time), they should say something once in a while that proves that they're really live and not canned. Sprinkling the Monkees in liberally when the news broke that Davy Jones died was a fine way to make that kind of statement. But a comment or two from the jocks would be a nice touch.

Anyway, even before they pungled up for an ad on this site, we were listening. And honest -- sponsor loyalty notwithstanding -- it's been good.

Oregon State prof sweeping Fukushima under the rug

It's "really, really minor," says Kathryn Higley. Some other folks would beg to differ, and they question Higley's objectivity. That's the way it is with all things nuclear -- you can't seem to get a straight answer to any question. But anyone who's "partnering" with the nuclear power industry gets zero trust from us.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I told you 'bout the fool on the hill

We had a fun time this afternoon showing our older daughter how to operate a turntable with vinyl records. We started with a side of Whitney Houston's debut album, which we had lying out since the day she died. "She was beautiful," said our child. Yes, she was. But she got into drugs and drank too much. "And she had a bad husband."

We moved on to Ella Fitzgerald with Nelson Riddle, because that's where the child's name comes from. Wonderful noise. Then came some music that her music teacher has been showing her. "Here Comes the Sun" from Abbey Road, and the first two sides of the Beatles' white album. "Wild Honey Pie" elicited a puzzled response. "What is that?" It's John Lennon being crazy; Paul may have been in on that one, too. They liked to do things to surprise people. Yoko's line in "Bungalow Bill" got the same reaction. That was John's wife. Yes, that's pretty much the way her voice sounded. A lot of Beatles fans didn't like her. The band started to drift apart after she showed up.

Playing that record for someone who hadn't heard most of it before, we drifted back to the first time we had heard it. Without a doubt, our young minds were blown. The Beatles always had "something new," but this was newer than new. One song after another, gems all. When we got to the end of Side 1, we all looked at each other and wondered what could possibly be coming next. There were three more sides to go!

Back in 2012, when "Julia" finished -- so lovely, so haunting -- our machine turned itself off, and there were errands to run. But the reverie persisted. The stories flowed. Eventually, the "Paul's dead" phase came up. We pointed out a number of the clues, although our turntable these days won't let us spin the records backward. Later on, at the grocery store, the two of us noticed that there was Paul, still alive, on the cover of the new Rolling Stone.

We hear Ringo's coming back to town. Maybe we should go.

It's legit

The new issue of Street Roots is out, and yesterday we bought a copy for a buck from a vendor outside the OnPoint credit union in the Lloyd District. A bright guy, he and we chatted a while about the lead story -- the push for greater civilian supervision of the Portland police.

When we got the issue home and opened it, we were amazed at how much journalism it contained. We remember a time when this publication had only about five pages of news content, wrapped around twice that much filler in the form of directory listings. No more. These days there is genuine food for thought on each of the 16 pages.

Some people buy Street Roots out of a charitable impulse. The street vendor gets to keep 70 cents on the dollar, and it usually looks as though he or she needs it. But at this point, it's actually a fine deal at a buck. Next time, we might even leave a tip.

"Throw the book at the Ducks"

Here's a writer who predicts that the U.C. Nike football team will get out of its current recruiting scandal with a slap on the wrist -- and who argues that the penalties should be more severe than that.

Another Portland planning triumph

We're only $200 million into the endless "planning" of the new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River, and it just occurred to the geniuses involved to ask the Coast Guard how high above the water the bridge needs to be. And guess what -- it needs to be quite a bit higher than all the plans have contemplated so far. Throw another $100 million on the fire, honey.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Have a great weekend

You made your bed, now sleep in it

It appears that after the City of Beaverton buys the office building at the disastrous Round site, it may move City Hall and the police department in. This is what the scientists call "fail convergence."

Portland composting question

Do we throw the dead rat in the green bin?

Coming soon to Portland east side: coal dust and traffic tie-ups

It's that Wyoming coal, on its way to China through Spokane, Portland, and Coos Bay via train.

U.C. Nike goes cop crazy

Even before they get guns and start shooting, the campus police at the University of Oregon are burning through money like there's no tomorrow. Check out these campus safety budget figures from that faculty troublemaker at UO Matters:

2002-03 $1,607,012
2003-04 $1,612,250
2004-05 $1,733,536
2005-06 $1,789,688
2006-07 $2,427,713
2007-08 $2,166,847
2008-09 $3,073,604
2009-10 $2,831,690
2010-11 $3,811,421
2011-12 $4,287,098

$2.6 million growth over 10 years, nearly tripling their budget.

Sheesh. Even if you subtract what they've spent the last few years playing nanny to thuggish football players, that's an obscene amount of money for security guards on a college campus of 25,000 students. It works out to more than $170 per student per year. The annual compound growth rate is around 10.3%.

Sounds like empire-building without cause. And just imagine the pensions.

Thank you for your patience

We have been having some technical difficulties this morning.

L.O. steals 180 jobs from Salem

Apparently it's the "coolness'" factor.


The Blazers got blown out. But a hard-nosed sports pundit got blown away by something bigger than the game.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fallen comrade

Outside Blog Central this morning:

It has begun. Good boy, Billy!

More little white lies from the Adams people

They always have a story. It's rarely true.

Lake O. access: See you in court

No surprise here: The City of Lake Oswego isn't going to open up the lake to the public voluntarily. But it's just a matter of time before those pesky environmentalists test out their "public trust" theories in court. Look what they did with the Portland sewer system. It will be a most interesting battle.

Plenty more where that came from

Although developer Mark Edlen may not get the taxpayers to finance the "net-zero" sustainability center ("net-zero" likely signifies the financial risk that Edlen would be taking), a smart reader points out that he's still got a Plan B -- The Barn. If it's as "green" as the other project, it will be appropriately named from an olfactory standpoint.

Anyway, The Barn, to be located in what is now Portland's Central Eastside Industrial District, would not be filled up with thriving private businesses. No, it would be haven for nonprofit groups. Surely many of them would be handing over government grant money to Edlen as rent.

They're already at the "charrette" stage, which is the signal for taxpayers to grab their wallets and hold on tight. We suggest that the planners take their time on this one, because if Vestas gets folded or sold, which seems more likely all the time, Edlen's going to have a fancy tax-subsidized building in the Pearl District that would be just right for some charitable tenants.

That wasn't a motorcycle

A reader brightened last evening for us with a report, which even if it isn't entirely true, is wonderful. In reaction to yesterday's news that the wacky Oregon "sustainability center" probably won't get funding from state bonds, the reader wrote about another public building, recently completed, that's been endlessly touted as super-"green." (We think it was certified LEED Plutonium.) Says the reader:

It is odd: The Port of Portland headquarters building at the airport received all of these GREEN awards, but the smell of recycled waste is not über-friendly. They have had to create "meeting" rooms, because all of the space is so open, you can hear your colleague's intimate personal hygiene issues.

Now they are cutting trees; seems like they planted ones prone to disease.

How green is brown anyway?

If we had to bet? It's all true.

Cops get all lovey-dovey with Occupy Portland

The Portland police had nothing but kind words to say about yesterday's Occupy protests. Nice, mellow overtime -- they loved it:

Today’s F29 rally, march, and demonstrations were well facilitated, generally peaceful, and largely non-contentious. While today’s events were promoted by organizers as peaceful demonstrations of free speech, some information obtained by the Police Bureau leading up to today’s events had caused concern because it suggested that there would be large scale, possibly aggressive or violent, direct action resulting in significant disruptions in the downtown core. Luckily, that behavior did not materialize and concerns for safety and peace were largely relieved.

And Willy Week must have taken a survey or something that's told them to add Occupy to marijuana as their top priorities. They're positively fawning over the Occupiers these days. March around, block traffic, and shout at each other in "mike checks" -- it's all well and good, but is it really "leadership"?

Of course, F29 Eve wasn't too pretty. The mindless anarchist types in the Sunnyside neighborhood trashed three bank branches and a Starbucks. What is it with Portland that we never seem to bust these people?

But just remember, we've got no money in the city budget for a Republican Presidential debate. No, that's too much for the taxpayers to bear.

Is state paying for Sean Riddell's ethics defense?

We get all sorts of e-mail. Here's one that came in yesterday:

My name is Scott Upham. I was the elected DA for Washington County from 1982 -1999. I have been following the [Oregon] DOJ miscues with much dismay. Yesterday I learned that AG [John] Kroger hired an attorney at taxpayer expense to defend Sean Riddell on his pending ethics matter. The K [contract] is for up to $50,000 @ $300 per hour. Maybe times have changed but I was repeatedly told during my tenure as DA that the State of Oregon would never pay for an ethics defense for any AG or DA.

Riddell is the deputy attorney general who got in trouble over tactics he used in the failed Cylviagate investigation, involving the governor's girlfriend's contracts with the state Department of Energy. To us, it seems as though there were bad guys on both sides. But if the state is paying for something that it never paid for before -- especially in the current money-tight climate -- it's news.

Apple has its eye on Fifth and Yamhill

We'll never forget the day, around 20 years ago, when we were in the Saks Fifth Avenue store in downtown Portland, trying (unsuccessfully) to buy a reasonably priced necktie. In sashayed then-Mayor Vera Katz in one of her colorful power outfits. The salespeople fell all over her, and she was positively aglow with the fact that it was she, Vera, who had brought Saks to Portland. It was all so very New York -- like buttah, as they used to say on "Cawfee Tawk." She had probably just had lunch with her beloved Homer Williams, and her head was bigger than the ladies' fitting room.

Well, the Saks store didn't last, and now there are other plans for the site, which had been an old farmer's market when we first moved here. (Yes, local! Sustainable! And ironically, impossible nowadays.) Anyway, lo and behold, Apple Computers wants to knock down what used to be Saks and build a big, shiny retail store there. It would be wonderful if it happened, but when the Apples tried to site a store on Northwest Trendy-third several years ago, the Randy Gragg types on the design commission killed it. Let's see if that crowd has taken any smart pills since then.

Fortunately, the construction probably couldn't be finished until after a new mayor and City Council members are seated next year, which means that the ribbon-cutting ceremony wouldn't be nearly as nauseating as it would be today.

OMG! It's actually snowing!

Here at bojack.org StormCenter 9000.2, we just looked out the window, and by golly, it's snowing! And with a temperature of 34.5 degrees, it's just a few degrees above freezing! If the temperature drops and it keeps snowing, the snow could stick, and if it does, there will be snow on the ground. This could make for a treacherous commute, because the snow could make the road slippery. So slippery that your car might not be able to stop, and you could get into a wreck.

It's hard to tell what to do in a dire situation such as this. For now, stay safe by staying indoors and keeping away from all windows. Hydration is important. And don't forget your elderly neighbors! You may want to call them and wake them up to tell them about the snow.

Stay tuned to the StormCenter for complete team coverage.

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