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

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Howard Morgan, 98, led Blue Oregon, opposed war

A regular reader of this site e-mailed us last week to observe that Howard Morgan, the former Oregon public utility commissioner who died on April 14, "deserves a better obit" than this. We had never heard of the man, but we've Googled around a little, and prowled through the Oregonian archives on the Multnomah County Library website, and here is what we've found out about him.

Morgan was a colorful and important player in Oregon politics for many years, particularly the 1950's and 1960's. He was born in Tillamook in 1914 but moved to Portland with his father after his parents divorced; he lived in the Albina neighborhood and went to Jefferson High School. A graduate of Reed College, where he was president of the student body, Morgan served in the Navy in World War II. Returning home, he was active in young Democrats' organizations when he was in his early 30's, and he served for a short time in the state legislature. His politics were far to the left for his era.

Early in his career, he and his wife, the former Rosina Corbett, moved to Monmouth and started sheep ranching. Ms. Morgan was the daughter of Harry Corbett, twice acting governor of Oregon and president of the Oregon Senate; thus, she was a member of the storied Corbett family that goes back to the founding of Portland.

Howard ran unsuccessfully for state labor commissioner in 1950. But he became the chair of the state Democratic Party in 1952, winning by a one-vote margin over ex-state treasurer Walter Pearson. Morgan held the chair position for four years. He pulled few political punches, to say the least, and was frequently found asserting his party's views, and his own, most bluntly and forcefully in the newspapers. In 1954, he filed charges that the state's Republicans had engaged in crimes by failing to report campaign expenses, and he was not kind to Tom McCall when the latter was running for Congress that year. McCall later recalled Morgan as "the most brutally caustic man I've ever known." Morgan had mud slung back at him as well, as evidenced by this article dredging up his arrest as a Reed student.

Morgan was there to welcome Sen. Wayne Morse into the Democratic Party fold when Morse switched allegiances in 1955. In 1956, Morgan stepped down from the party chair, possibly because he had made too many foes, and he worked on the Adlai Stevenson presidential campaign. That year, the sitting Republican governor of Oregon, Paul Patterson, died, and a Democrat, Robert Holmes, was elected to fill out his unexpired term. It was the first Democrat in the governor's chair in 22 years. Holmes appointed Morgan as the state's public utility commissioner, a job he had long coveted, and he served as PUC from 1957 to 1959.

In his PUC days, Morgan jumped right in and went after Portland Traction Company, which operated a trolley service from the Portland suburbs. Morgan ordered Portland Traction to provide buses from the east side to downtown after the Hawthorne Bridge was closed to the trolleys. Portland Traction wanted to discontinue the connection over the bridge, which it had maintained for a short while through an agreement with another private bus company, Rose City Transit. Morgan alleged that Portland Traction simply wanted to get out of the passenger business to convert entirely to a freight operation.

At one point Morgan reportedly became convinced that public ownership of the Portland transit system was the best course, but the Port of Portland wasn't interested and Tri-Met didn't exist. The legal hassles between the PUC and Portland Traction made it all the way to the state supreme court, which held in favor of Morgan.

As soon as Mark Hatfield became governor, Morgan was out like a light at the utility commission. The two men were nemeses; Morgan appears to have assembled more than a few. Later, John F. Kennedy appointed Morgan to the Federal Power Commission, on which he sat beginning in 1961, including a stint as vice chair. He quit in 1963, saying his colleagues on the board were too soft on the power industry.

Continue reading "Howard Morgan, 98, led Blue Oregon, opposed war" »

Round mound of renown

Charles Barkley just won an Emmy.

Nurse Amanda sides with cell tower weasels

Some of her grassroots, neighbor-friendly sheen wipes off with this vote. We don't often agree with the Admiral, but he's got this one right:

"Why would one continuously vote to overturn an attorney and a trained administrative law judge who cited against – for the first time in my memory – a wireless carrier and then somehow claim that this may be a path somehow forward for the neighborhoods," he said. "I found those remarks to be rather hollow."

We are voting for Bruce Altizer.

Nolan gets the Indian casino vote

The Native American tribes with a keen interest in keeping new casinos from opening in or around Portland have made their choice in the Portland City Council election. It's their old buddy from their times together in Salem:

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Kiss and make up

Just in time for what promises to be a most tumultuous May Day here in Portlandia, the mayor and the 1% are apparently burying the hatchet.

Is it "green" to burn money within the city limits?

Portland's dopey sustainability center project will turn out to be a bit of a financial disaster even if it never does get built. It's a great reason not to vote for Eileen Brady.

More about living on that freeway off-ramp

We blogged last week about a parcel of real estate for sale right on the I-405 freeway off-ramp at Emanuel Hospital. We reported that it was legally possible to put up to 65 units on the site. Silly us! Actually, it's only 25. And we got the correction straight from the horse's mouth:

Hi Jack,

Thanks for blogging about the N Ivy Development Lots that I have for sale. Most of the information is correct but you mentioned you can put up to 65 units on this site… It is actually 65 units per acre which would make this site eligible for 17 units as is or up to 25 units if you apply for and secure the amenity bonus overlays. These bonuses require a very in-depth review process. I have attached a quick summary for you review. Please write or call with questions.

Ryan O'Leary
National Office and Industrial Properties Group
Marcus & Millichap

Our bad. Here is the summary that O'Leary attached to his e-mail message.

At 680 square feet per unit, it's still pretty cozy.

Zombie hotel will get public subsidy

The latest version of the crazy Convention Center hotel proposal in Portland says that the taxpayer subsidy will be "as little as possible." No word yet on how many millions that "pencils out" to.

Actually, the ideal subsidy would be zero, as in, no hotel. That's still "possible" -- isn't it?

Spinning the street pavement numbers

Some folks say Portland's streets are in terrible shape. The mayor says that compared to those in other West Coast cities, our streets aren't that bad. Now, who ya gonna believe?

It's hereditary

If you've ever heard Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith babbling away a mile a minute about something, and wondered where he got that characteristic from, here's a video that might explain it. Apparently, it's his dad.

Please don't vote for any of the "Big 3" for Portland mayor

As Portlanders look at the overly long list of mayoral candidates on their ballots, we urge them one more time not to vote in this primary election for any of the "Big 3" candidates -- Hales, Brady, or Smith. There are better candidates in the field, and they have been purposefully ignored by the mainstream media and various civic leagues, who have limited their coverage and debate invitations to the three wealthiest contenders. Those folks need to be sent a message that that's not how you want things to be done.

Besides, it's almost certain that the race will be decided in a runoff between the top two contenders this fall. None of the candidates will get a majority in this primary. You won't be throwing away your vote if you cast it for Scott Fernandez or Max Brumm or Bill Dant. You'll be making an important statement.

In fact, you'll be throwing away your primary vote if you don't vote for somebody other than the "Big 3." You can hold your nose and go for the lesser of two evils in November.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's the Pearl poodle poop police!

You can't make this stuff up.

Use only as directed

And it can't hurt to scroll down to the customer reviews, either.

Where's Waldo?

Our ballot has arrived in the "May" primary election. The darned thing is two-sided and 17 inches long. And finding your favorite candidate for Portland mayor, on the back, turns out to be quite the treasure hunt:

Back in the "clean money" days, when Portland taxpayers were being saddled with the costs of politicians' campaigns, we were told that the need to raise private funding kept people from entering into local politics. Let it be noted that there are 23 listed candidates for mayor.

Meanwhile, check out the Fritz-Nolan-Altizer City Council race way down at the bottom of the page, in the corner, with only a thin line separating it from the mayoral wannabe pile. A lot of voters are going to miss that one.

Now, don't forget to write in Bernie Giusto for Congress and Aaron Campbell for county district attorney. Good times.

More cyber-proctology from Capitol Hill

The folks in Congress just can't stop using technology to wipe out what few civil liberties we have left.

Well deserved ridicule for Portland city attorney

The city's kung fu movie defense has them in stitches on Boing Boing.

Go, Tracy!

Tracy Barry, news anchor on KGW-TV, has been nominated for an Emmy award. We know Tracy Barry. We like Tracy Barry. We hope she wins! And congrats to her on being nominated.

Government employee "pension" joke is on you

The "retired" go back to work for government, and collect two public checks at the same time. That includes Tom Hughes, Mr. Disappointment of the Century at Metro. Ted Sickinger, one of the few really good reporters left in Portland, tells the story here. If you don't think the next American revolution is going to be the government employee class vs. everyone else, you're not paying attention.

Taxes are no match for corporate America

The games that corporations play to avoid paying their share of taxes, at all levels, in this country and elsewhere, are breathtaking. The Times uses Apple as an example today, here, but there are many others.

Corporate managers are paid to maximize share value -- that's their sworn duty. If they don't try to beat the tax system, they'll be canned, and might even go to jail. There's something wrong there, but good luck trying to fix it. Just quiet down and pay yours before the IRS shows up with handcuffs with your name on them.

Blazer fans, don't watch

It could wreck your day:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Another killer bus left turn

This time in the 'Couv. A tragic demise for a youngster, demonstrating once again that urban cycling, especially around buses, is inherently dangerous.

Charlie Hales can't stop lying

The tax resident of Washington, voting resident of Oregon gets caught in another one. We're sick of lying politicians. Please don't vote for this dude.

Farewell to Moose

We were privileged to grow up as a Yankee fan during the heyday of that team. Well, one of the heydays, which included the legendary season of 1961, when Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were chasing Babe Ruth's home run record together, in the same murderous lineup.

Coming up behind them in said lineup was a guy who was also a formidable hitter, but he didn't get nearly as much attention from the fans or the media. He was Bill "Moose" Skowron, who played first base and wore uniform no. 14. If you pitched around Mantle, you had to deal with Skowron, which was no picnic. He was a five-time All-Star with a lifetime batting average north of .280 (with five years over .300). He had some game-winning World Series hits, and he combined consistency with power around home plate. He could out-think pitchers, and hit bad pitches out of the park, which he often did.

We'll never forget the sound of Mel Allen coming out of our tinny TVs and radios as he'd recite another double play by the Yankee infield: "Kubek... to Richardson... to Skowron." No doubt Skowron also served up a "Ballantine blast" or two for Allen's telling.

Moose was traded after the 1962 season, and he knocked around on several teams. As a Dodger, he faced the Yankees in the World Series, and he crucified his old teammates, hitting .385 with a homer as L.A. swept the Series. He said he didn't relish beating his former team, and we believed him. But we admired him for doing it.

The son of a Polish garbage man in Chicago, Moose was the kind of guy the fathers of our neighborhood knew well. In his later years, he always showed up for old-timers events and was a p.r. figure for the White Sox, for whom he had also played.

Skowron died yesterday at the age of 81. He'll be missed.

As for Kubek and Richardson, they're still on the planet.

Roving gangs of thugs at it again in Portland

We figured we were due for some violent action in Portland last night. First there was a gang fight and shooting at 130th and Division, with more than 20 people involved. A bullet went through a wall into a child's bedroom -- always a nice touch.

A few minutes later, the scene shifted to a mini-mart at 122nd and Burnside (site of a MAX station, natch), where, as the police tell it:

Officers arrived and spoke with employees who told officers that a "flash mob" of 15-20 African American males and females chased a white female in her late 30s and a white male into the store. As the white female was asking the clerk to call 9-1-1, the group of 15-20 ran into the store and took alcohol, candy and food from the shelves. Employees described having multiple altercations with the group inside the store.

As the group fled the store, one employee grabbed one of the suspects, described as a 17-18 year old African American female, 5'6" with a heavy build. The suspect hit the employee multiple times before fleeing the area. The employee went into the store to find the white female that had been chased into the store fighting with an African American male described as 17-18 years old, 5'11", 170 pounds.

The group returned to the store to get the remaining African American male, at which time an employee sprayed pepper spray at them. Everyone, including the white female and male that had been chased into the store, then ran away in different directions.

Man, what this town needs is a sustainability center -- badly. And let's hold some high school programs hostage to a new school tax. Great idea.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A scoop of something

It's hard to believe that the Portland Business Journal's editor is actually on line claiming a "scoop" with today's story that the Governor Hotel has been sold:

Culverwell uncovered another nice story with her page 3 piece on the recent sale of downtown Portland’s The Governor Hotel, a popular spot for business events.

Neither story came off a press release or other "official" announcement. She got both stories the old-fashioned way: working the phones, talking with sources and using her deep list of contacts.

Would that include reading this blog a week ago?

Have a great weekend

Cue the Johnny Winter

Here is something you don't see every day, but it's being seen in inner southeast Portland these days: a white crow.

Photos courtesy Michael Pratt.

A fantastic mayoral candidate

Alas, this one's in London.

When people were our Pandora

Word has arrived from New York that disc jockey Pete Fornatale died yesterday. He was 66 years old. Fornatale was one of the young people on the legendary WNEW-FM in New York in the late '60s and early '70s, when rock was changing the world. It was back when DJs on the emerging "progressive" FM stations were allowed a lot of leeway to put musical sets together, in "free form," and Fornatale was great at it. His tastes ran toward California sounds -- Neil Young, the Beach Boys, and the Eagles probably got as much play from him as did any other artists -- but he was also deeply attached to the Beatles, both as a group and later as solo artists. Then again, who wasn't? Oh, and Poco! Lots of Poco.

Fornatale, who came to the professional ranks from Fordham University, did not hold down the prime slots on the station, at least not while we were there listening to it religiously. In our time, he had a lot of weekend assignments, and he may have wound up doing lunch hours on weekdays before we split the Big Apple area in '75. Scott Muni, the station's program director, had late afternoons; Jonathan Schwartz, who's still on the radio in New York, on the internet (including iTunes), and on satellite, held down the coveted 6-to-10 p.m. slot; and after him was Alison Steele, the "Night Bird," who went all night. Morning drive time was occupied by Dave Herman. They were all extremely skilled at what they did.

Fornatale wrote several books about rock, and he could be seen from time to time on television specials relating to music of that genre. He still had a show on the Fordham radio station until a stroke took his life.

The music of that era has been our close friend throughout our adulthood, and the music itself had a great friend in Pete Fornatale. He will be missed by many, many listeners, with whom he shared a special bond.

Portland bureaucrats poop on Groupon

The City of Portland's crazy relationship with its taxi and limousine companies has made a national splash this week. And now there's a federal lawsuit to go with it.

You, too, can live on a freeway off-ramp

Here's a prime opportunity for Portlandians -- a buildable lot right on the Fremont exit of I-405 at Emanuel Hospital. And we do mean right on the exit.

They say you can build up to 65 units on that 17,000 square feet. That works out to 261 square feet per unit -- guess you'll have to build 'em mighty tall. And of course, the people who live with the constant roar of the freeway traffic won't have cars, and so you needn't bother yourself with providing them any parking. As for the neighbors, well, to quote The Founder, "they're gonna love it."

Some day soon there'll be a New Seasons Market just a few blocks away. Plus food carts, people! There are food carts nearby. Here's your chance to share the greatness. You can almost feel the state of arousal that the Sustainables at City Hall are in right now, can't you?

Asking price for the parcel: a mere $425,000.

UPDATE, 4/30, 1:57 p.m.: Correction! You can put only 25 units on that site. Details here.

A dearth of drivel

The ballots in the "May" primary will be here any day now, but we've got to say that the flow of direct-mail election porn to our place has been surprisingly low so far. We got a Rod Underhill Holy Card the other day, bragging about what a wonderful job Mike Schrunk has done as county district attorney, and let's keep up the good work. We thought of all the people killed by rogue Portland cops, none of whom have ever been prosecuted for homicide, and we thought, "Sure, Rod." Straight to the recycling bin that one went. We're writing in Aaron Campbell.

Yesterday we got the four-page color glossy pitch for the library tax. Old lady and a little girl on the front, two little boys on the back. Of the 14 people pictured, four are adult males. That's an all-time high for the library folks.

Wonder if the people in the photos support the ballot measure they're being used to sell. Last time, a gal in one of their mailers actually voted no, and was horrified that her image was being used to promote a yes vote.

Anyway, the mailman will be here with the ballot soon. Surely he'll have something more interesting. Where's the Mark Wiener piece for Mary Nolan, ripping Nurse Amanda to shreds?

It's for the children, not

While they're talking about trying out a new local income tax to fund arts instruction in the Portland public schools, it's interesting that the Port of Portland is circulating this:

For a half million bucks, why not hire an art teacher for a while, and you can fill the airport tunnel with the art that the students produce? What's that saying about "Teach a person to fish"?

Skanner's picks: Rosenblum, Hales, Fritz, Novick

Rosenblum because she "will act in the interests of everyday people on sentencing reform – not special interests that benefit from heightened incarceration rates." Fritz because she "has shown her commitment to bread-and-butter issues such as improving operations at the 9-1-1 call center...."

They're also yes on the library tax and yes on the two incumbents on the Mutlnomah County commission. The whole thing is here.

And he's seen it

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What it's all aboot

They're going into the second overtime of Game 7 in the pro hockey playoff contest New Jersey vs. Florida.

UPDATE, 9:16 p.m.: Jersey prevails! As it should be. Hockey -- in Florida?

"Big 3" offer change talk on garbage pickup

Here's an interesting tidbit from today's three-way bobblehead beauty contest:

Portland's new mandatory composting program also emerged as a surprise issue, although all three candidates agreed it seemed forced on the city from the top down and has so many problems that it needs to be changed or even re-launched. Brady, Hales and Smith all said they support composting, but think the change to every-other-week garbage collection is creating hardships on large familes and people with medical needs.

They know how to read polls, apparently. We'll see if anything changes when one of them assumes the throne.

Portland sewer seeping at Tryon Creek

Down by where Tryon Creek crosses under Highway 43 in Lake Oswego, the City of Portland has a sewage treatment plant, to which it runs a couple of major sewer lines. One of the lines, which runs right along the creek itself, is 50 years old and showing signs of age, and now the city's starting a replacement project. The initial contract, just to plan the thing, is expected to run about $375,000; the bid solicitation document is here. It describes the problem as follows:

The project area is defined by a 2,500 feet long segment of 30-inch diameter steel-reinforced concrete sewer pipe located predominately along the lower segment of the Tryon Creek State Park Natural Area in southwest, Portland. Portions of the sewer pipeline are elevated above grade between the Tryon Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and Highway 43 -- where it then lies underground under State Highway 43 -- then is elevated above grade again from Highway 43 along a riparian corridor parallel to the fall-line of the Tryon Creek stream channel. The elevated pipeline segments are supported by steel-reinforced concrete piers. Several piers are embedded into the hillside and upon the floor of the Tryon Creek stream channel.

The downstream end of Tryon Creek lies under a heavily forested canopy, while the upper reach is developed with residential housing. Low and peak stream flows are estimated to range from between 1-30 cfs (summer) to 30-100 cfs (winter). The sewer pipeline and piers are approximately 50 years old.

Recent field inspections of the sewer and stream channel identified sewer infrastructure issues along several pipeline segments. These issues included seeping sewer pipe joints and manholes, and channel scour near pier footings -- those located within the stream channel.

We watch this area with particular suspicion these days, because the sewage treatment plant is uncomfortably close to the site of the proposed Homer Williams condo village. We would not be surprised if Portland sewer ratepayers got saddled with all sorts of costs to make Williams's latest misguided development dream "pencil out." And so caution should be the watchword.

Rich man wanna be king

A couple of readers have sent us links this morning to stories about this. To us, it seems like just more privatization of traditional government functions, with a Democratic Party spin instead of a Republican Party spin. More corporate ownership of government, without the pretense of democracy. State and local governments have been selling off chunks of their infrastructure for a while now; the Chicago version would simply sell the assets before they are even built.

All the multi-modal news in one place

Here's a helpful special transit issue of one of our favorite publications. Given that bike season is upon us, information about the low-car lifestyle is particularly appropriate.

Latest zombie hotel pitch doesn't convince

The folks who are still pushing the screamingly bad convention center hotel idea in Portland have wheeled out their latest round of arguments. And of course, the local mainstream media dutifully parrots them to the public without contributing even a shred of critical thinking. Here's a look at the new version of the folderol:

"It was really the economy taking a nosedive," said Stephanie Soden, director of communications and strategic development for Metro. "It just made the project not financially feasible at that point."

Maybe in Stephanie Soden's mind. But the Portland Development Commission passed on the project in early 2007, well before the economy tanked. The problem is that Portland is a crummy town for conventions, particularly because of its notorious weather and the fact that air travel in and out of here is expensive and difficult. Nothing about either of those two factors has changed.

And has the economy really "recovered"? Maybe on paper, but in the convention business?

But now, with the recessionary tide beginning to recede, the hotel industry is beginning to emerge with its head above water. According to STR Global, a research and analytics company that follows the hospitality business, U.S. hotels reported increases in occupancy, room rates and revenues at the end of the first quarter of 2012.

Maybe. But how much of an increase? 0.00001%? And specifically, how is convention traffic doing, compared to 2008?

Last year, Travel Portland saw 30 large convention groups – representing a total of 104,259 room nights and an estimated $35 million in community spending – go elsewhere because the city lacked a headquarters hotel.

This is the biggest whopper of them all. Yes, they went elsewhere, but how does anyone in Portland really know why? Is that what they told us when we asked them the reason? Is that kind of response really a reliable gauge of what these groups would do if we had the infernal hotel?

We learned in high school that when you're turned down for a date and you ask why, the girls don't always give an honest answer.

The convention center is a white elephant. Maybe it was o.k. for Bud Clark to build it, but it was Vera Katz's dumbest moment (and that's saying a lot) when she ordered it expanded despite a clear public vote to the contrary. The resulting caverns will always be half-empty or worse. A big hotel with a fat taxpayer subsidy is only going to compound the mistake.

What to do when the FBI shows up

Here the Portland City Council demonstrates its keen sense of preparedness:

Party with the Barburian rebels

The west side version of the anti-MAX movement has scheduled a kickoff event for its various ballot initiatives -- Friday evening at 6:30 at the Sherwood Elks Club. Dinner and drinks at 5:30 are optional. Those of us who have had quite enough Blumenauerization -- and don't want to pay for another pointless train, run down the middle of 99W -- wish them luck.

Latest Portland police brutality tab: $250K

The City Council yesterday approved payment of that amount to the guy who was Tased five times when the cops mistook him for a tagger. This was the case in which the city attorney tried to use the plaintiff's kung fu movie collection as evidence against him. The jury awarded him $206,000; the rest is attorney's fees.

The City Council action on the matter can be seen on this video, at 90:46.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jail Ducks need a good lawyer

The degree to which "student athletes" are exploited by their slavemasters universities seems to have no limits. Here's the latest financial abuse from Bluegene, the new capital of jock excess and hypocrisy. Maybe it's time for a juicy class action, with the players as plaintiffs. [Via UO Matters.]

Late entry

Maybe we should vote for this guy for mayor of Portland.

Keepin' it weird, episode 4829

Just another day in Portlandia.

It's a small town, cont'd

We're fascinated by the timeline of Oregon attorney general John Kroger's latest career move -- out of public office and into the cushy president's chair at Reed College. According to a Reed spokesman quoted by the O yesterday, the transition was put into motion late last summer or early fall:

A 12-member committee of faculty and board members began searching for a new president shortly after Diver announced he was leaving last summer. Reed invited Kroger to consider the presidency sometime in later summer or early fall, a spokesman said.

That's got to be of interest to the Reed community, because as late as last November 22, they were being told that candidates were just then being invited to throw their hats into the ring:

The search process now moves to the active solicitation of candidates. Over the next few months, we will use the position statement, national advertising, the resources of our search firm, Isaacson, Miller, and our own networking to attract the largest and deepest possible pool of candidates.

Kroger's mysterious illness, which supposedly forced him out of public office, was announced on October 18. "Later summer or early fall" probably would have preceded that date. If so, Kroger knew that he was a candidate at Reed before he announced his retirement from politics. Fascinating.

Also mind-bending is the fact that one of the two candidates to succeed Kroger in Salem, Ellen Rosenblum, is herself the daughter of a former president of Reed. Victor Rosenblum, who died in 2006 at age 80, was Reed's leader from 1968 to 1970. Before and after his time at Reed, he was a law professor at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Meanwhile, Ellen Rosenblum's opponent, Dwight Holton, is a close personal friend of Kroger's.

It doesn't get much more incestuous than this, people.

Tri-Met to use condemnation muscle for Mystery Train

Apparently there are some property owner holdouts on the route of the insane Milwaukie MAX line. If they don't play ball with Tri-Met, off to condemnation court they will go.

Super Carole is dismantling KBPS

We have precious little personal contact with the Portland public schools, but we do like to listen to their radio station, KBPS 1450-AM, in the car. During the day, they play music for kids, but after school and on weekends it's an excellent oldies station. From time to time, student announcers break in -- some polished, some not so -- from studios at Benson High. Apparently, they learn a lot about broadcasting, and life, and some of them wind up with actual jobs in radio after they graduate, usually after taking some additional courses at Mount Hood Community College.

This week comes the unfortunate news that the school district is laying off the general manager of the station, Bill Cooper, apparently leaving it to be run on a part-time basis by staffers whose main focus will be elsewhere. The bean counters who are leading this charge don't understand what it takes to run an actual broadcast station. Without adequate adult staffing, KBPS is going to suffer, both as something to listen to and as a training ground for Portland students. It's a penny-wise, pound-foolish move on the school bureaucrats' part, but ain't that the Portland school board way?

Nolan calls 911

In the battle between Amanda Fritz and Mary Nolan for Portland City Council, Nolan's doing what she can to call attention to last year's fiasco involving the computers in the city's police cars. Fritz deserves a good hard ding for that one -- not so much because she created the problem, which was instigated by others, but because she so vehemently denied the obvious shortcomings of the new system. Of course, the Nolan camp, seeking as it invariably does the jugular vein, tries to make the incident come off as some sort of vague tampering with evidence. Which it wasn't. Thumbs down on both of these candidates.

The zombie hotel project rises again

According to the last item in this column, Portland's odd Metro government will be resurrecting the Convention Center hotel project once again, for the umpteenth time, tomorrow. Spending more millions of tax dollars on the city's hopeless efforts to become a convention destination is unspeakably wrong. We won't restate the obvious; for the full diatribe, readers can go here.

But perhaps it's a good thing that Metro's pulling this stunt this week, when people are about to cast their ballots in the local elections. It reminds voters that the Portland developers and their construction buddies (management and union) never stop looting the government treasury. And their cronies include people like Hales and Nolan and Shiprack.

WW picks: Hales, Nolan, Novick

No surprises there, just disappointment. They're also fine with the status quo on the Multnomah County commission. Let the boondoggles roll on.

There are other options. Our picks are here.

New Fukushima problem: groundwater

The dire situation at the triple-meltdown site at Fukushima does not seem to be improving much. Earthquakes in the area continue, keeping observers worried about the spent nuclear fuel pools in the four crippled reactors -- particularly unit 4, whose pool is being held up by jacks. A crack in the facade of unit 4 has just been shown for the first time. And now a new threat to the environment has been revealed: groundwater.

Tokyo Electric reports this week that groundwater seeping into the trashed reactor buildings is worsening the overload of highly contaminated liquid that has been pooling in their basements from the constant dousing of the meltdown messes. And so the company is going to dig wells around the complex and try to route the groundwater around the reactors and straight out into the ocean.

They say they'll be monitoring the water before pumping it to the sea, but that's a slightly absurd precaution given the fact that lots of badly contaminated water has already found its way, easily, into the ocean adjacent to the reactors. They've been spraying the meltdowns for more than a year now, and the makeshift water treatment system they have set up has removed only a small fraction of the radioactive material in the resulting pools. They have only a sketchy idea of where all the water has been going, and what they do know, they're not saying much about.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

No punchline required

This news story does all the comedy work itself.

The curse begins

This morning.

They've got our vote

The ballots will be here within the week, and so it's time to name our picks in the May primary. We're registered D for this one. In the races that are contested, here are our choices:

Oregon attorney general. We were leaning toward Dwight Holton in this race, but after his best buddy John Kroger's recent maneuvering to become president of Reed College, we're mighty leery of what's going on there. That leaves Ellen Rosenblum, who promises to make Hardy Myers look like Lebron James. We may actually leave this one blank.

Oregon Supreme Court seat 3. We're going with the experienced trial judge, Richard Baldwin.

Court of Appeals seat 6. The powers that be are united behind Tim Volpert, and that makes us nervous. James Egan, a trial judge in Eugene Albany, has a lot of support among the litigation attorneys around the state. It's a coin flip, but we'll probably vote for Egan.

Multnomah commissioner. Our district is sitting this one out. If we could, we'd vote for Patty Burkett.

Portland mayor. We promised we'd vote for Max Brumm, and we will. But we're hoping the Mrs. will vote for Scott Fernandez. Bill Dant would also be a decent choice. This one's sure to be headed for a runoff, and so there's no need to hold your nose and vote for someone you don't trust.

Portland City Council seat 1. Bruce Altizer.

Portland City Council seat 4. Scott McAlpine.

Metro, 5th District. None of these looks good. Helen Ying rises to the top of a weak pack, but that Judy Shiprack endorsement she has is scary as all get-out. The guy running against Bob Stacey in the 6th District, Jonathan Levine, also looks good enough. But it's Metro; we're not hopeful that anything good will come of any of the candidates.

Library tax measure. Sure. We like the library, despite the deceitful practices of its supporters in their most recent ballot measure campaign.

Portland charter cleanup. Who cares? Not worth the lead in the pencil.

U.S. Congress, 3rd District. We're writing in Bernie Giusto.

We think that's it, but there are always some goofy contests on the ballot that we hadn't anticipated before it got here. We'll add those in when we find out what they are.

Miracle cure

We're floored by the news that Oregon attorney general John Kroger is going to be the next president of Reed College. Whatever happened to the mystery illness that made him too sick to run for re-election?

And so he lands on stepping stone no. 3 of his time in Oregon. An extremely well paid stepping stone, we might add. Where will he go next? We'll find out in about three years, apparently.

One shining moment

The Willy Week Mayoral Madness tournament has finally wound up, and lo and behold, actor Timothy Hutton is the winner. Which means that our old nemesis Jody Stahancyk finally lost to somebody.

Like a complete unknown.

Like a rolling stone.

If that wasn't the dopiest event in which we've ever been involved... which is why it was so much fun, particularly in the early rounds. Congratulations to Hutton, who of all 64 contestants probably cares the least about the whole thing. He's now the fake mayor of Portland. Bring on the fake scandal!

Pothead politics

Here we are just days away from the primary election, and of course, in Portland we are keepin' it weird. All of a sudden the most pressing issues before us have to do with marijuana. In the Oregon attorney general race, the pot people have it in for Dwight Holton, who as acting U.S. attorney busted their chops with great relish. Meanwhile, Holton's opponent, Ellen "For the Children" Rosenblum, is playing footsie with the hemp folks, citing the majestic dignity of the state's medical marijuana laws.

It's remarkable how this sort of thing might actually affect the outcome of the race. How much involvement does the state attorney general's office have in marijuana enforcement, anyway?

Elsewhere, Oregon secretary of state Kate Brown, under a bit of a cloud for her odd handling on the state labor commissioner election, out of the blue has slapped a massive penalty on a signature-gathering outfit working on a pot legalization initiative. They were allegedly paying their staffers by the signature collected, which is a no-no under Oregon law.

This was one of Brown's noisy enforcement actions, replete with a "make an example out of you" statement. Quite different from when she busted Portland public school officials for abuse of taxpayer funds in a recent initiative campaign. There was nary a peep out of her about that one.

In any event, it's interesting that Brown is busting the pot people on the eve of the election, while Rosenblum's whispering sweet nothings into their bong. The stoners are definitely having their moment in the limelight. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

No-bid Portland spy cam deal is about to go down

One thing you've got to say for the Sam Rand Twins: They're not shy. Just weeks after it was revealed that the mayor was quietly cultivating a no-bid "pilot project" for surveillance cameras on the city's streets, here comes City Council action ramming the deal home.

The public bidding laws of this state are such a joke.

Of course, in this case, there are far more serious concerns. Having Big Brother on light poles on every corner of the city in the name of fighting crime and "terism" is utterly appalling. God help our children, whose every move will be tracked by government goons.

But the backroom deals are almost as disgusting. Where is John Kroger? Where is Amanda Marshall?

Time expired for Ellis McCoy's buddy

Here's an intriguing footnote to the Ellis McCoy Portland parking meter bribery scandal: The outfit with whom McCoy was conducting his shady dealings has been sold. According to a newspaper in Pittsburgh, Cale Parking Systems USA has sold all of its assets to the Swedish manufacturer of the high-tech parking meters at the heart of the scandal. The foreign outfit has then set up a new company called Cale America, which is now wheeling and dealing with cities like Pittsburgh.

Apparently, the switcheroo eliminates the involvement of George Levey, the Cales guy who allegedly bribed McCoy, the Portland parking meter coordinator. Levey and his old firm have never been charged with any crime. Some of the employees of the tainted old company are now working for the new one.

McCoy was charged by the U.S. attorney's office when Dwight Holton, who is currently running for state attorney general, was running that office.

The official line from City Hall is that the McCoy scandal is an isolated incident. Sure. Sure it is.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Amerika 2012

This is just incredible. Now they're doing random searches of people riding city buses?

Unlike the bobbleheads running Tri-Met, we are all for security on transit. But pat-downs for no reason by the TSA goons? Wow. Obama sure hasn't turned out to be quite the civil libertarian that he seemed to be.

Maybe the Supreme Court will... uh, never mind.

They never learn

The real estate sharpies of Portland are not spiritual people. They think nothing of wiping out history to make room for their bunkers of greed, even though that kind of destruction tends to bring some seriously bad luck.

It's particularly bad when they knock down beloved, old-time gin mills. When Tom Moyer and his crew put the wrecking ball to the old Virginia Cafe, they set in motion a chain of adverse financial events that have culminated with a huge, embarrassing hole in the ground on a prime block of downtown real real estate. The glitzy offices, the chi-chi condos, never got built, and whatever rent the Virginia was paying is long gone.

Tri-Met and the pushers of the Mystery Train to Milwaukie are doing the same thing presently with the venerable old Candlelight Room over by Portland State. Many a night have the gods of the blues and soul smiled down on that gritty music venue, and now it's been obliterated for a train system that nobody wants or needs except the real estate types and their transit puppets. We won't be the least bit surprised if disaster ensues. There are some things you just shouldn't mess with.

Portland cop union wants Jeffer-Sam Smith

They must like having as mayor a loose cannon who will be easy to blackmail.

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

You've been warned

If you're driving on close-in East Burnside in Portland on Wednesday at lunchtime, you'd better stop for that person trying to cross.

It's a small town

The O has endorsed Dwight Holton for Oregon attorney general. They say he's got management experience and political skills that his opponent lacks, which sounds more or less correct, but they also throw in a couple of clunkers:

For example, Holton helped the city of Portland rejoin the Joint Terrorism Task Force, no small feat in a community that is famously wary of police power.

"Rejoin"? Portland did everything but "rejoin." The haggling dragged on for months, and what they ended up with was a strange-smelling hash of a deal.

He also built trust among Muslim leaders after a mosque in Corvallis was set on fire.

"Trust among Muslim leaders"? We have two words for you: Pete Seda.

Do you think the O's editorial board's opinion might have been influenced just a teeny bit by the fact that Holton's opponent is married to the publisher of the local weekly newspaper that gleefully needles the O at every opportunity, of which there are many? Or is nobody supposed to say anything about that? Portlandia, the real place, is hilarious when you think about it.

That sinking feeling

Our sympathies go out to the people who live on Kelly Avenue near the Ross Island Bridge in the Lair Hill neighborhood of southwest Portland. Once upon a time, it must have been a nice little residential street, but for many decades now it's been nothing but a glorified on-ramp for the bridge. The traffic runs 24/7/365, and during afternoon rush hours, the avenue is a parking lot full of idling cars with anxious drivers itching to rev it up and get flying across the river to Powell Boulevard.

On Thursday, a sizable sinkhole opened up under Kelly, clogging the traffic up even further. No doubt the drivers sat even longer, with more fumes coming out of their tailpipes and their ears. Supposedly the powers that be have got it patched up temporarily, but more work is on tap to try to stabilize things.

We're not surprised to hear about the hole. We lived just a couple of blocks west of there for several years in the '90s, and a pretty scary one opened up in the yard of the nice little house we were renting. The soil in that part of town is not the most stable.

In fact, it's interesting -- if you go to Google Street View to get a look at that stretch of Kelly, you see it ripped up by a crew working underground:

Wonder what that construction was all about.

And of course, this past winter, crews have been busy building a pedestrian and bike bridge across I-5 just east of there. The supports for the new span probably required quite a bit of digging. We're no soils engineer, but not knowing more, we certainly wouldn't bet against that having something to do with the current troubles.

Anyway, a shout out to our former neighbors over that way. They'll never be free of the traffic -- and when the bicycle entitlement set starts whipping through there, gunning for the new bridge, it's going to get even crazier -- but at least may the earth stop moving under the residents' feet.

It can't be a good high school without condos

At last Tuesday's rush-rush "open house" about the rush-rush "education urban renewal district" at Portland State and Lincoln High, there was a fair amount of shilling going on for the real estate scammers who are promoting the district. The mayor and car-hater chief from the PDC were on hand, along with the guy running the PSU Real Estate and Patronage Center. But a few interesting things were said, among them:

The NW corner includes the underutilized Portland Public Schools parcel where Lincoln High School is located....

Due to the nature of a new urban renewal area, resources available for projects increase over time. However, in the first five years there will be less money and therefore less investment activity for PSU building improvements and other PSU economic development activities. For students this means a better campus and less pressure on resources they provide (tuition)....

The Draft Education URA Report identifies $74.5 million in foregone property tax revenue to the State School Fund over 32 years....

PDC staffing and overhead makes up approximately 15% of the total resources, which is consistent with other urban renewal areas. PDC has financial and oversight responsibilities set by state law and will work in collaboration with PSU and other partners to provide its expertise in the following ongoing work: business and industry collaboration, pre-development, small business assistance programs, cluster industry connections and growth, supply chain economics, and master planning and real estate development....

You talked about the 10 acres of surface parking lots -- if you redevelop those, where will people park?

This is one of the most transit rich areas in the city. A combination of increasing transit use (aided by the addition of the Orange MAX Line) and more efficient use of parking will help the city meet its goal of less single-occupancy trips and more efficient parking for those who drive. Certainly, any redevelopment that occurs in the URA won’t happen all at once, so these available lots won’t be taken off the grid immediately....

When people consider moving to Portland they often use Lincoln High School as a judge of the PPS district because it is in the central city. This is a great opportunity to build out an underutilized site....

What arrogant people we have running this town.

While we build the Mystery Train to Milwaukie...

... with $250 million borrowed against state lottery funds, we find this disgraceful situation in our court system. What a wicked, little place 21st Century Oregon is turning out to be.

Wal-Mart: They really *are* sleazebags

This is going to make trouble for those guys for many years. May the 1% heads roll.

It's too late to turn back now

Tri-Met held its "Big Pour" for the new Milwaukie light rail bridge Friday night. From the looks of things, it went exactly as planned.

Canadian pennies going the way of the dinosaur

We still haven't gotten around to issuing the final report on our pennies project, but while we dawdle, history marches on. Canada's going to stop making pennies this month, and at some point every price up there will be rounded to the nearest (or more likely, the next highest) nickel.

The United States will probably follow suit at some point, although we still haven't gotten the hang of dollar and two-dollar coins. It's a sad time for those of us who prize the $0.01 piece. God save the Queen.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Another nuke nightmare in Japan

There's nothing like a little lightning at a nuclear waste and nuclear fuel facility.

Quotation of the Week

From a friend who's got a big week ahead of him: "There is no job too big or too small for the father of the bride."

As good as it gets

Jack Nicholson turns 75 today.

A wrong turn in Brazil

Good thing there were some friends nearby.

Just when it was getting good

Southeast Division Street has definitely come on as a happening neighborhood in recent years. And alas, it's predictable that the apartment bunker guys are all over it now. Not only will they wreck the look and feel of the place, but they'll also make it impossible to find a place to park, which isn't going to help businesses thrive and is going to give the existing residents heartburn. Then the City Hall vultures will move in with parking meters, and voila! The happening is over.

We've got to hand it to the City Hall and Metro "planning" types who foist this stuff on Portlanders. They've got the bulk of the population eating out of their hands. Comments like these are commonplace:

Glenn Lamb, another longtime resident in the Division Street area, said he also is concerned about traffic congestion issues as they relate to development. But he believes planning for greater density is important in the long term.

"If we don’t accommodate higher densities into our city I know it’s going to pop out into our farmland and forestland, which is some of the most productive in the world," he said.

It sounds smart, but when you think about it, it's false reasoning. The population inside the Portland city limits isn't growing quickly at all -- it's right at 1% a year, and has been for a decade or more. Faster population growth is occurring, but it's all in the suburbs. What's protecting farmland, if anything, is the urban growth boundary, which is set by law. Wrecking Division isn't going to save Yamhill County; it's just going to make some real estate sharpies a lot of money.

Needed in Portland

This story brings it all together: beer, recycling, and mulch.

Shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart

We have nothing but admiration for Bruce Springsteen, and it's been that way for 38 years. A new album from him is like a visit from a close childhood friend every few years, and the significance of what's said during such a visit usually unfolds slowly over a long period of time. And so with no concert-going opportunity on the immediate horizon, and a lot of other things to think about, we were in no hurry to sit down with Springsteen’s latest CD, Wrecking Ball. We heard a snip or two of it on the internet, but did not actually play the CD until last week. That made us about six weeks late to the party.

We've now been through it several times, and if ever we were going to review it, now seems like the time. Our discussion of Springsteen's music is never up to the task – the subject is too loaded for us – but we write about nearly everything else on this site, for better or for worse, and so we may as well give it a try. This music matters a lot to us.

Wrecking Ball finds its author, now 62 years old, surveying a depressed America. Two of his bandmates, who were with him from his early days as a brash Jersey Shore rocker, have passed away. He's preached tirelessly for decades on behalf of liberal causes, and for all his efforts, he has been mightily disappointed by the country that the politicians of his generation, our generation, have created. He is cranky and lashing out.

Lyrically, it's a strong outing. As usual, the liner of the CD contains all the lyrics, and flipping through them, one can find quite a few instant classic lines and stanzas. The first several tracks -- what would be Side 1 on an LP -- contain blast after blast against the wealthiest Americans, on behalf of the downtrodden middle class. Singled out for particularly nasty venom are the bankers.

These are not new themes for Springsteen -- he's been on the bossman's case since the Nebraska album 30 years ago -- but this time there's a sharp edge to the message. And not a lot of hope. On two tracks, the narrators mouth words of mild optimism, but in the end talk about getting a gun and killing someone, maybe themselves.

The thousand-pound gorilla in the room is that Springsteen is no longer a scrawny kid straight off the Asbury Park boardwalk. These days he's filthy rich. He probably clears more than a half-million dollars a show, and if he's managed his earnings well, his net worth has got to be well into nine figures. They don't call him The Boss for nothing. When he incites people to go rub out the rich, it's more than a little ironic. He's probably got all kinds of security around himself and his family. But Springsteen's fans, most of whom are decidedly not rich, are happy to shrug this off. It's as though the songs are more for them than for him.

The second half of the album takes a mild turn to the light. The title track is a tribute to the old Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, and it's a celebration of both the history of the place and its future. As he did on the Rising album, Reverend Bruce then marches into gospel territory, promising salvation in the next world. A studio version of "Land of Hopes and Dreams" is included; long an upbeat closer in Springsteen concerts, it benefits from being recorded in a studio, where one can hear oneself think. And the album ends with a remarkable track, in which the dead speak and profess eternal life.

The material is beyond engaging; it's almost exhausting. Except for a lone throwaway song about a lover, there's not a lot of fun being had anywhere from start to finish. If there's one phrase to describe these poems, it's deadly serious.

Musically, however, there's a lot less here than meets the ear. The structure of most of the tunes is pretty simple. And the sounds are familiar, maybe overly so, to those who already own and prize the Springsteen catalog. The opening track, "We Take Care of Our Own," is characteristic of his hard rockers from the last decade; it's got lots of bombast, even a couple of faint hooks, and it's on the verge of greatness. But in the end it seems somehow incomplete. It would greatly benefit from another bridge, or a second part, or something. ("Radio Nowhere," on the otherwise splendid Magic CD, was the same way.) One shouldn't expect a full-blown "Jungleland" or "Kitty’s Back" from E Street any more, but something more than a metronome with a key change would be great. One listens to a generic melody like "Easy Money," and the song’s title seems appropriate in more senses than one. (The same thought popped into our mind with "This Depression," which is so dark that it veers into Toni Childs territory.) These days, the absence of the late Clarence Clemons's saxophone solos makes the plainness more evident.

Continue reading "Shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart" »

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I'm goin' down, down, down

Sometime this evening, the folks who rent our web server to us will be running some tests on it, trying to detect gremlins. We may be down for about an hour, but will get back up and running as soon as we can.

Where's the substance?

The evangelism comes through loud and clear, but can somebody please tell us what they're actually planning to do?

The "deeply sustainable practices" of the Memorial Coliseum -- is that unbleached hot dog wrappers?

Little shaker under the 'Couv

There was a 1.5 earthquake up by Vancouver Lake about a half hour ago. They had a little swarm up by Bellingham on Thursday. Could be something -- could be nothing.

Anti-gay and anti-tax

This week we wrote about a mailer we had received from something called Common Sense for Oregon, strongly urging us to sign a petition that would put on the ballot a repeal of the Oregon estate tax -- or the "death tax," as its opponents like to call it.

As it turns out, other readers got the same pitch in the mail, but with a different return address. One of them writes:

For fun, I (a gay partnered, liberal Democrat) am on the Oregon "Family" Council's mailing list. I was surprised to receive, instead of the usual anti-gay political campaign information, the nearly identical anti-"death tax" solicitation as you. There probably isn't much difference between anti-tax conservatives and anti-gay conservatives, but they seem to be careful about branding.

It's an interesting reflection of what's wrong with politics, in Oregon and elsewhere. Having just two major political parties blends economic issues and other social issues in an unhealthy way. If you're "progressive" about abortion and gay marriage, then you have to go for "urban renewal" with it. If you oppose gay marriage, then you're supposed to hate wealth taxation, too.

We'd be better off with 10 parties, with various mixes and matches of positions on various issues. In the corporate realm, investors have said quite clearly that they don't want conglomerates -- they want the managers of a firm to stick to the knitting and let the investors assemble their own portfolios. It would be great if voters made the same statement about their politicians.

I had too much to dream last night

After functioning on not nearly enough sleep yesterday, we went into one of our occasional Rip Van Winkle-like deep slumbers last night. Fourteen hours later, we're up at the crack of noon and ready to enjoy what looks like the nicest day of the year so far in Portlandia. What did we miss while we were out cold?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Have Governor, Avalon Hotels been sold?

From the looks of this, at least the Governor has changed hands. The address of the new owner, in Stamford, Connecticut, appears also to be the address of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Maybe there's been a foreclosure? Or maybe RBS put together the sale deal.

The new owner appears to have been formed last summer. The two Portland hotels -- one new, the other old -- were reported to be up for sale together last fall.

Have a great weekend

Lunch with Jody

At our readers' urging, we had lunch today with Jody Stahancyk, the take-no-prisoners divorce lawyer who vanquished us in the WW Mayoral Madness contest a couple of weeks ago. Stahancyk is currently in the final round against actor Timothy Hutton, and although she really, really wants to win, she took time out from her busy campaign schedule to feed us and schmooze.

Lunch was held at her small office building near the old Mallory Hotel and Lincoln High School, and as readers predicted, the food was prepared by Stahancyk's law firm's private chef. And it was good.

To say that Stahancyk is a character would be putting it mildly. A rugged native of Prineville, she's the center of a sizable universe. In addition to a handful of other attorneys, her firm includes a small army of impeccably dressed, well spoken 20-somethings who attend to all of the boss' needs, including running a DIY divorce website and lots and lots of marketing. They were all on hand for lunch. They do this every day. They have their own chef.

Stahancyk and we told each other stories and asked each other questions for the better part of an hour and a half, with her doing about 80% of the talking. She is proud of her practice, which seems to include several unorthodox features, and she touts her relationship with the many young people with whom she surrounds herself. Of course, like many attorneys, she's not the least bit shy about sharing her philosophy -- about law practice, divorce, work-family balance, and any number of other topics. She'd make an excellent blogger, and she's got plenty of people around to help her do it.

It takes all kinds to make a world, and Stahancyk is definitely one of a kind. Some would say that's a good thing, although she does appear to have many admirers.

Anyway, this was not your father's law firm, that's for sure. If we hadn't seen it with our own eyes, we would not have believed it.

Portland boy makes good

Peter Baum from Lincoln High is making quite a name for himself playing lacrosse at Colgate.

Dave Hunt cries "Tea"

Parks, and Kremer, and Mannix, oh my! The former Oregon House speaker has sent around an e-mail message pointing out the obvious fact that one of his opponents is getting campaign money from the tighty righties:

The problem, of course, is that Hunt has several other opponents. Even if voters don't like the Tea Party and think it is behind John Ludlow, there are several alternatives to choose from.

Mug shots on dead trees

The Oregon Voters' Pamphlet arrived in the mail yesterday from Secretary of State Kate Brown. Some years, this booklet gets us excited, but in this primary, not so much. There are quite a few uncontested races and unimportant housekeeping ballot measures to flip through, and relatively few contests worth looking at: Holton-Rosenblum, Portland mayor, two City Council seats, two statewide judicial races. Nobody filed a statement against the Multnomah County library tax levy -- not even a nut or a prankster! Anyway, all those photos of local politicians have left us feeling mildly nauseous.

It seems like years

Could we really be pushing 80 degrees on Sunday?

Speaking of political junk mail

In response to our post of yesterday about the latest direct mail attack on the Oregon "death tax" [insert scary music here], a reader notes that she got an interesting come-on in the mail yesterday as well. Guess the issues people are trying to get in just ahead of the candidate porn that should be showing up in our mailboxes, along with the ballots, in about a week. Anyway, the reader writes:

Today we got a letter and a card AND a postage-paid envelope encouraging us to send in the card saying we would absolutely love to have a coal handling facility in Columbia County!

All courtesy of Morrow Pacific. "A pathway to jobs," it says...."25 family wage jobs and 105 overall." Oh goody! ..."developed the Oregon way."

I may sick up!

Now, now. You other readers who didn't get the mailing: Don't feel left out. You can get on board for coal dust and acid rain, too -- just by going here. Don't miss the photo of the teacher in the classroom. It's [cough, cough] for the children!

It's been warm in Omaha

And so the fair-weather bicyclists have come out early.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Just a fine and fancy ramble

The summer zoo concert lineup is out, and there are quite a few fine-looking dates on it. Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang together; Rosanne Cash and Madeleine Peyroux; Robert Randolph; k.d.; Ladysmith Black Mambazo; Ziggy... and Chicago! Haven't seen them on stage in around 40 years.

Time to break out the calendar, Honey -- we've got to catch at least a couple of these shows.

Or you could just wear Adidas

To buy Nike shoes, you may have to Tweet.

An urgent plea on behalf of the 1%

The mailman brings us such interesting stuff. Today we got this package from Salem:

It's a petition to repeal Oregon's estate tax, which the tax-hating Republicans like to call the "death tax." The "death tax" -- oooh, it sounds so ominous. Heaven forbid that the Phil Knights and Gert Boyles of the world should pay Oregon any tax on the unrealized appreciation on their stock.

All the usual -- and misleading -- arguments are there: double tax, forcing the sale of family farms, job killing, yada yada. Dave Hunnicutt, the instigator, even got Vic Atiyeh to co-sign his cover letter. It will be interesting to see how many average Joes they can get to take the bait. Probably quite a few.

Fowl play at the Coast

Here's a disturbing lawsuit involving a KFC restaurant in Seaside.

Apples and oranges

Here's a pie chart that illustrates well the odd argument that the Portland water bureau has been making in favor of its massive rate increases over recent years:

Water is the barest necessity of human life, and in this case, it is provided by government. But somehow, as long as consumers aren't being gouged as badly as they are for private cable TV services, the city should be allowed to jack up the water rates as much as it wants? It's a line of reasoning that reveals a bankruptcy of sensitivity or ethics.

Realtors urged to seal tax victory against City of Portland

We noted last month that the City of Portland had finally lost its case against most realtors around town about whether the realtors owe the city's business license tax. Many of the real estate folks who have been paying the tax all these years (some for decades) are entitled to refunds. But there's a statute of limitations for seeking those refunds, typically three years, and it's not clear when it's going to run out for some of those years.

The Oregon Association of Realtors has been trying to get a formal answer from the city as to how long its members have to file for refunds going back as far as 2008, but a clear directive, in writing, has not been forthcoming. Just in case, the OAR has warned its members to get cracking on filing their refund claims. A recent e-mail from that group to its members declared in part:

While the statute of limitations for refund claims is generally three years from the time the return is filed or two years from the date the tax is paid, whichever period expires later, the City advised in its website posting that it would extend the statute of limitations by "a period of not less than 60 days once a final decision by the court has been made." On March 8, 2012, the Oregon Supreme Court issued its order denying the City's appeal. The City noted this fact on its website on March 13, 2012, and informed real estate brokers that the City Attorney and the City Revenue Bureau would be meeting to determine next steps and that additional guidance may be provided by the City at the end of March regarding refund claims for past tax years.

To date, the City has provided no such guidance. It is unclear whether the Oregon Supreme Court's order of March 8, 2012, is considered a "final decision" so as to trigger the running of the 60-day period that the City has afforded in which to file refund claims. This is true because the Oregon Supreme Court has not issued its concluding judgment in the case. While the City Attorney has informally stated to OAR's counsel that he believes that the order is not yet a "final decision," OAR is sending this notice to its members to inform them that it is conceivable that the City could later take a contrary position that the 60-day clock is, in fact, ticking. If the City were to argue that the Oregon Supreme Court order dated March 8, 2012, was a "final decision," it might also argue that refund claims are due no later than May 7, 2012. OAR is therefore sending this notice to inform members that they should immediately consult their tax or legal advisors as to whether they should file a tax refund claim at this time.

Not trusting oral assurances from Portland City Hall bureaucrats? Can't say we blame them.

Let it flow

The wonderful troublemakers known as Friends of the Reservoirs sent the "leading" Portland City Council candidates a questionnaire soliciting their views on a variety of issues facing the city's out-of-control water bureau. Only Mary Nolan blew them off entirely, but several of the others decided to be highly selective in which questions they would or wouldn't answer. The results are here.

We wish they wouldn't have succumbed to the disease of leaving out the "minor" candidates. Especially since one of them is Scott Fernandez, with whom they are closely aligned. In any event, the candidates' answers (and non-answers) make for some fascinating reading.

Jail Ducks' weed habits make national headlines

But we locals knew it all along -- or at least, ever since the famous "We smoked it all" incident.

A tale of two missiles

This one's o.k.

This one isn't.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Levada slaps down the nuns

The former Catholic archbishop of Portland, now a big hat in the Vatican, tells the few remaining female religious in the United States that they'd better stop asking questions if they want to stay recognized by the church. Why they still want anything to do with the organization is beyond us.

Just keepin' it weird

On the Banfield Freeway this morning:

Photo by Amy Faust.

Instant denial of the obvious

It didn't take long for the Multnomah County elections people to scurry under a rock when asked about Charlie Hales's residency when he filed his most recent Oregon voter registration card. "Why... Charlie says he was an Oregon resident, and he didn't register in Washington. That's good enough for us!"

No mention of his Oregon income tax returns, on which he swore that he was not an Oregon resident. Anyone who mentions that fact is being frivolous!

Next stop is court. We wish the complainant good luck there. Obviously, he'll need it.

UPDATE, 5:10 p.m.: The county letter is here. A similar letter from city auditor Lavonne Griffin-Valade, who also washed her hands of the matter, is here.

Where the jockey was the smoothest and the music was the coolest

It's truly the end of an era with the news that Dick Clark has died. We have watched that guy on the telly for more than 50 years. Back when we were five years old, Clark's "American Bandstand" show, out of Philadelphia, was on the ABC affiliate in New York every weekday afternoon at 3 or 4. We'd watch it faithfully, committing the week's Top 10 countdown to memory.

At our parents' suggestion, we wrote Clark a brief fan letter. A while later, a note of reply arrived -- along with an autographed picture, if memory serves correctly. Clark went on to become one of the giant moguls of the entertainment industry. But we'll never forget him from the days when he wasn't such a big shot, and we were just a little kid watching the 45's spin around on the Victrola. Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee, Bill Haley, and Danny & the Juniors -- with live black-and-white video of those cats brought into our living room by Dick Clark.

Crowding out the bald eagles

The latest draft of the "study" document is floating around for the Port of Portland's inane plan to pave over most of the open space on West Hayden Island for a mystery shipping terminal. The draft is here. One doesn't have to read too far into it to realize that the decision has already been made to build the thing. The writers of this manifesto are in full justification mode.

They acknowledge that there are bald eagles nesting on the island, but they claim they'll comply with the laws protecting the birds:

The USFWS removed Bald Eagles from the endangered species list in June 2007 because their populations recovered sufficiently and the State of Oregon removed Bald Eagles from the Oregon Endangered Species List in 2012. However, the protections under the Bald and Golden Eagle Act continue to apply. When the Bald Eagle was delisted, the USFWS proposed regulations to create a permit program to authorize limited take of Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles where take is associated with otherwise lawful activities. The permits will authorize limited, non-purposeful take of Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles; authorizing individuals, companies, government agencies (including tribal governments), and other organizations to disturb or otherwise take eagles in the course of conducting lawful activities such as operating utilities and airports. Most permits issued under the new regulations would authorize disturbance in limited cases, a permit may authorize the physical take of eagles, but only if very precaution is taken to avoid physical take. Removal of eagle nests would only be allowed when it is necessary to protect human safety or the eagles.

There are nesting bald eagles on West Hayden Island. The Port has established a 600 foot buffer as outlined in the USFWS Bald and Golden Eagle Act guidelines to prevent activities that would disrupt nesting activities and rearing of young.

Do you think the eagles are going to want to live next to a shipping terminal? From the looks of things, more than half of the current wildlife area will be sacrificed. The "green" hypocrites are at their worst here.

Oh, and don't miss "economic equity" on page 69! We have to chase the eagles away. It's for "equity."

More jock abuse at UC Nike

Documented well, as usual, by UO Matters.

Portland's "green" money pit

It is truly breathtaking: Even if one believes the official Al Gore story about human-made climate change, and even if one believes that swift moves like composting food slop is actually doing something to help the situation, should the City of Portland be burning so much time and resources producing glossy malarkey like this? It goes on and on and on. For what purpose?

There's no money to pave streets for the next five years. The police say they don't have the resources to fight the rising tide of gang violence effectively. The county is broker than broke. But we're going to sit around and write glossy reports about carbon footprints all day? To say that Portland has twisted priorities is quite an understatement.

The O leaves Hunt out in the cold

Portland's daily newspaper has endorsed a candidate for county commission chair down in Clackistan. And it ain't Dave Hunt, the former Oregon House speaker who rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Nor is it the incumbent, Charlotte Lehan, with her deaf ear for public sentiment. The O chooses Paul Savas, who in their view is middle-of-the-road. Nice and bland.

Perhaps most comical is their rejection of anti-light-rail advocate John Ludlow:

... Ludlow declares the current commission to be at war with voters but in the same breath declares a war of his own on regional planning, growth management and urban renewal. His positions would throw the Clackamas commission into some full reversals, when what it needs is a steady, consensus-building hand at the tiller.

Given the anger of the rebels down that way, "full reversals" sounds about right. It should be a most interesting election.

Talking back to the 1%

And in language they can understand! Let's hope this is just the beginning.

Hales residency flap could get him disqualified

We've noted here for many months that Portland mayoral candidate Charlie Hales either wrongly claimed Washington residency for income tax purposes, or wrongly claimed Oregon residency for voting purposes, when he was living in Stevenson, Wash. He can't have it both ways, because both the Oregon income tax law and the Oregon voter registration law base one's residency on the single concept of "domicile."

Now a wiseguy in town has filed complaints against Hales, arguing that he isn't legally registered as a voter in Portland, because when Hales last sent in a voter registration card in Portland, he was domiciled, as he claimed on his taxes, in Washington.

If Hales isn't properly registered to vote in Portland, he can't legally run for mayor.

According to WW, which broke the news, the complaints have been filed with the city auditor, the Oregon secretary of state, and the Multnomah County elections bureau. Would any of them have the guts to disqualify Hales? It would be the news of the century so far if it happened.

Hales likes to play dumb about his inconsistent positions, but whether he knew what he was doing was wrong isn't really relevant. He could be a resident of only one state at a time. If he was right on his tax return, then his voter registration was invalid. If he was right on his voter registration card, he owes a ton of Oregon income tax.

It's curious that Hales didn't try to make this issue go away last year by re-filing his Oregon income taxes for past years and taking the position that that he was an Oregon resident all along. But according to WW, that would have cost him about $30,000 in Oregon taxes, plus who knows how much in interest and possible penalties? Anyway, with ballots set to be mailed out in a week or two, he's in quite the pickle. Go by streetcar, buddy.

UPDATE. 5:23 p.m.: As predicted, the elections bureaucrats aren't going to touch this with a 10-foot pole.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Attention, passengers

The airport security theater people want to see your naked body, but only on their little X-ray vision peep screen -- not directly.

Gonna have some pun tonight

Cousin Jim presents quite a collection.

Corporate America has arrived

The last traces of the great Kettleman Bagel joint at NE 22nd and Broadway are gone:

The Einstein chain has moved in with its inferior product. No doubt they're expecting to ride on the goodwill generated by Kettleman, but it probably won't turn out that way. This outlet wasn't open that long -- its first day was Groundhog Day last year -- and the backlash from the takeover is going to dig into the customer base that it did manage to assemble. The neighborhood needs a good eatery on that corner, but it will be surprising if Einstein is there for a long run.

Not for the little people

This blog keeps getting visited by someone at http://wifivip.portlandoregon.gov/login.html. Is the City of Portland now running a "VIP" wifi network? Who's got access to it, and where? Not us, not here.

Japan almost completely nuke-free

Hard to believe, but Japan currently has only one nuclear reactor running, and when that one goes down for maintenance in three weeks, the number will be zero.

Meanwhile, the dire situation at the triple-meltdown site at Fukushima has been raising alarms, especially the consequences should another earthquake collapse reactor no. 4. Here's an apocalyptic view of that possibility, all the more worrisome for us sitting ducks directly downwind from the hideous disaster.

Oxymoron of the Week: Tri-Met Customer Satisfaction

Here's an internet exchange between a Portland motorist and a Tri-Met flack over bus drivers allegedly running red lights in the St. Johns neighborhood in NoPo:

---------------------- Message -----------------------

As is distressingly common your driver of the bus identified [below] continued driving when the light for N. Lombard at the intersection had turned yellow and though your driver CLEARLY had time to stop (I was the second car behind your bus) entered the intersection on the red.

Had a driver on either direction of St. Louis been timing the light to roll into the intersection as they gained the right of way THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A COLLISION. Please reprimand this dangerous driver or ideally fire that person. Don't wait until they kill a cyclist, pedestrian or motorist.

------------------ Employee Info ---------------------

Comment type: Complaint


Employee description: The person driving bus number 2708 today, April 14 at 1:54 pm on N. Lombard St., in St. johns

----------------- Time and Location ------------------

Bus or rail line: Not applicable

Date: 04-14-2012

Time: 1:54pm

Location: Intersection of N. St. Louis & N. Lombard

Direction of travel: West

Vehicle ID: 2708

* * * * *
On Apr 16, 2012, at 4:23 PM, TriMet Customer Service wrote:

RE: Conf. # 380084

Dear *******:

Thank you for taking the time to contact TriMet with your comment. I sincerely apologize for the incident that you experienced. We do endeavor to provide safe, quality, & professional service, and I am very sorry if we did not meet your expectation on this. I have personally turned this into the direct Manager. I can assure you they will review this report & take any necessary action needed. I might suggest however that you might have been following the bus to closely to safely see if the signal was red, yellow or green. Leaving space enough to see the signal would be the in the best interest of all motorists.

Thank you,
Jamie S.
TriMet Customer Satisfaction
(503) 238-RIDE (7433; Option 5)

* * * * *


1) I have NEVER hit and killed a pedestrian in a vehicle I was operating. Can Tri-Met say that?

2) I have NEVER run a red light. Can Tri-Met say that?

3) I told you in the F***ING comment I was the SECOND car behind your negligently driven bus. And your response is to accuse me of tailgating it? Oh right - that's the point where I RAM the car between us into the bus so I can get too close to it.

I was more than 2 car lengths behind your bus. THAT is precisely why I COULD see the light turn green to yellow. That is why I COULD see your bus NOT SLOW DOWN AT ALL. That is why I COULD see the yellow light turn red BEFORE the front of your bus reached the pedestrian cross-walk. That is why I COULD see your bus NOT SLOW DOWN and proceed through on a RED. As I saw it happening I actually looked both ways on N. St. Louis hoping to NOT see a car rolling to the light to time it. Luckily for Tri-Met there wasn't such a car.

You might suggest? I might suggest that your drivers FOLLOW THE LAW. How about that?


Another satisfied taxpayer.

Scott Fernandez in the house

Here's a nice interview with our favorite candidate for Portland mayor. The guy makes so much sense. A vote for him would make a statement not only to the "Big 3" candidates, but also to the lame mainstream media, who are steadfastly ignoring Fernandez and other good candidates. Don't hold your nose this time -- vote like you feel it.

Lawn sign (abuse) season is here

With ballots in the May elections going out in a couple of weeks, the campaign signs are popping up all over. Yesterday we saw a bumper sticker that said "Charlie [Hales] rides a bike." Well, that settles it.

Hales's leading opponent in the mayor's race, Eileen Brady, is also on a first-name basis with the folks passing by her lawn signs. They say "Eileen" in big letters, and everything else is fine print. Meanwhile, state attorney general candidate Rosenblum is going with simply "Ellen." They're all like "Adele" or "Prince," apparently.

As the signs pop up like lawn weeds around town, some of them are invariably placed in locations in which they don't belong. A reader who gets cranky about such things wrote us yesterday to complain:

Over the past weekend (April 13 - 14) there has been an eruption of Mary Nolan "lawn signs" in the Multnomah and Markham neighborhoods in SW Portland. Many are posted illegally.

As an example, one is prominently displayed on the NE corner of SW 26th and Barbur, where 26th goes under Barbur and I - 5. That sign is smack in the middle of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) right of way, in apparent contravention of both Oregon state law and City of Portland (CoP) ordinances. See attached photo.

A second is in the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) right of way at SW Garden Home and SW 30th. That one, too, appears to be in violation of CoP ordinances. Photo attached.

A third is at the NW corner of SW 26th and Taylors Ferry Road, in the PBOT right of way. Apparently illegally. Photo attached.

A fourth is in the ODOT right of way on SW 35th Drive, east side of 35th Drive, in the 9600 block. That property, down to Falling Creek, is ODOT land, part of the ODOT Baldock Maintenance facility. Photo attached.

I hope that these are the result of an ignorant and overzealous volunteer. I hope that Ms. Nolan will get these apparently illegally planted "lawn signs" removed, immediately, and review all lawn sign plantings to assure that there is no repetition.

Ms. Nolan has been in the elections / campaign business for years. There is no excuse for this stuff. That a campaign of a candidate for Portland City Council can't, or won't, abide by City Code regarding political sign placement speaks volumes about Ms. Nolan's fitness for elected office in Portland.

If Ms. Nolan can't educate or control her campaign and her campaign staff and have them act within the provisions of state law and city ordinances, there is little reason to believe that as a City Councillor she will abide by the City Charter or city ordinances.

Oh, the joys of campaign season.

Local income tax on its way back in Portland

A Portlander who read this post on our site last week dropped us a line yesterday with this field report:

Got polled yesterday on the arts tax. They seem very concerned about going up against the library tax measure in the fall and a possible PPS bond measure. The proposal turns out to be for a city income tax that would raise enough to pay for 70 teachers and have a chunk of change left to support arts organizations. Sold heavily as funding art and music education in the schools. They asked whether capping the tax at $35 per person would lead me to vote more favorably.

We were just thinking the other night what a relief it is not to be dealing with the awful Multnomah County income tax brought to us by Mother Vera and the Mean Girls. It sounds as though it (or something similar) may be resurfacing soon. It's for the children!

Skanner endorses Hales

They go for the "experience" hook:

For this crop of endorsements, we at The Skanner News put a premium on individuals who know how their prospective elected offices work, because our region doesn’t have time for learning curves right now.

Does it have time for more streetcars and developer giveaways?

Nurse Amanda also gets the nod.

Talk nerdy to me

Here's an event that may be of interest to the more dedicated denizens of the internet in Portlandia.

Perfect timing

It's the night before the income tax filing deadline, and the Postal Service's online postage calculator is down.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Another noteworthy Pulitzer

This one also well deserved.

Gatsby goes to Fukushima

And he's come back writing letters telling the Japanese and Hillary that golly, it's really messed up over there. No kidding, dude. At least he's started paying attention.

Car sharing: What could go wrong?

Your lawyer will explain it to you, at $250 an hour.

Sunday in Clackistan

Mom got Tased after driving the Accord around on the city hall lawn.

Will "urban renewal" favor Lincoln High at other schools' expense?

Here's an interesting take on the Sam Rand Twins' crazy new "urban renewal" district that would surround the Portland State University Patronage Center and extend its clutches all the way over to Lincoln High School: The parents and others who have been busting their tails trying to secure better funding and programs for Portland public schools are worried that the district would doom any attempt to raise money for renovations of schools throughout the city.

"Urban renewal" works against these parents' interests in an obvious way: It steals property tax revenue from schools and other basic public services, diverting it to politicians' pet projects and their developer overlords' bank accounts. For example, in the case of the "education district," or whatever label they stick on the thing, intelligent observers know what the plan is really about: building the dopey "sustainability center" to make Mark Edlen a bundle, and handing over the Lincoln High School site to some real estate sharpies for apartment bunkers. The Homer Williams types have been drooling over that land for years.

But it's the Lincoln feature that is really sticking in the school activists' craw. As part of the deal to turn the existing site into a condo jungle, Lincoln would be moved to a shiny new location, somewhere over where there used to be actual industry in deep northwest Portland. If Lincoln is taken care of in a backroom deal, it's feared that the powerful Lincoln constituency -- all the West Hills money -- will give lukewarm, if any, support to a tax levy for renovations district-wide.

If schools CEO Super Carole and the school board really cared and were smart, they'd be opposing any and all "urban renewal" expansion in Portland. But they seem to be going along as this plan gets super-fast-tracked and shoved down the taxpayers' throats.

Speaking of shoving, people continue to howl about how fast this particular "urban renewal" plan is going down. Apparently, the actual plan just hit the streets late last week -- a slick brochure had been floating around for a while previously -- but there's going to be a wham-bam open house tomorrow night, and the Portland Development Commission is going to take its vote on the deal just two weeks from today. The whole shebang is set to be approved by the Portland City Council just a month from today.

It stinks to high heaven, doesn't it? That's Sam Rand Portland, and it's only get worse as the Twins realize how quickly their time at the helm is running out.

Wuerker wins a Pulitzer

Political cartoonist Matt Wuerker, whose cartoons have begun appearing on this blog, has copped journalism's top prize. Wuerker is an alumnus of Lewis & Clark College here in Portlandia.

A tax loogey from Tri-Met

It's the thick of tax season, and we're up to our eyeballs in tax forms -- our own and others'. Here's a nasty wrinkle we stumbled across over the weekend, and it comes from none other than Tri-Met.

It's not breaking news that Tri-Met imposes a tax on the net earnings of self-employed people. It's been doing it for around 30 years. The tax is modeled after the much steeper federal self-employment tax, which finances Social Security and Medicare, and like the federal tax, it's a backup to the Tri-Met payroll tax. The Tri-Met tax is less than 1 percent -- roughly 7/10ths of a percent, but rising in recent years.

If a taxpayer is involved in more than one business, and there's a loss on one and a profit on the other, the feds let the taxpayer net one against the other to determine the base of the self-employment tax. But not Tri-Met -- they give no credit for the losses. Not against this year's profits from other businesses, nor against any future year's profits from the business that's lost money this year. It's particularly vicious, but hey -- that's Tri-Met and its money.

One wonders if the transit agency hasn't overstepped its authority under state law on this point. Does anyone out there know if it's ever been challenged?

Now that they've chased Siltronic...

... the Sam Rand Twins are busy alienating the Widmer brothers.

Hales: "I'm not a maintainer"

Back when he was quitting the Portland City Council in 2002 to make money selling streetcars around the country, now-mayoral-candidate Charlie Hales actually told the Trib: "I’m a change agent, not a maintainer," he said, "and I like to make things happen." It's hard to think this fellow would do a darned thing to stop the deterioration of Portland's infrastructure. He'll just keep building the same kind of shiny shinola that Sam Adams and Vera Katz have been slapping up for the past decade -- spending like a drunken sailor, ignoring maintenance needs, and then running away when it comes time for the taxpayers to pay the piper.

Speaking of which, we've updated our debt clock to reflect the higher debt figures issued by the city earlier this month in connection with selling the $12 million of property-tax-backed bonds to finance the construction of Little Lord Paulson's Jeld-Wen Field. Those bonds sold last week. For 12-to-15-year money, with interest payments only until big balloon payments kick in at the end, the yields seem to be in the range of 3.05% to 3.45%. Despite the pledge of the "full faith and credit" of the city's general fund, the bonds were rated Aa1 -- one notch below a top rating. The loan deal closes tomorrow.

Another thumb down for paving over Hayden Island

In the end, he seems to be using it as some sort of wedge to gripe about the Interstate Bridge replacement project, but O columnist Steve Duin makes the right call on ripping up bald eagle habitat for another Port of Portland boondoggle.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring fling

Two weeks ago today, we were on a boogie board on Maui. Today we were on a different kind of board -- snow skis -- on Mount Hood. There was a surprising wealth of snow still on the ground, and surprisingly few people taking advantage of it. Thanks to a generous gift from a family member, we were up there all weekend. Friday was a little iffy, but the weekend proper was bluebird all the way. Life is good.

Lister quits the O

Former Portland City Council candidate Dave Lister informed his friends today that he's decided to stop publishing opinion columns in the O. The decision came after the paper pulled one of his columns and made a noisy retraction concerning Lister's comments about current council candidate Mary Nolan's giant campaign warchest. Lister named a bunch of big-money supporters of Nolan's, and the column implied that they had contributed to her current council candidacy. In fact, some of them had contributed to older campaigns, when Nolan was running for the legislature. The O made a big show of trashing the column, and Lister with it.

Then Willy Week, which will almost certainly endorse Nolan and has never missed an opportunity to goof on the O, played the retraction as a news story, no doubt making Lister's face a little redder.

It was an easy error to make, if indeed it was an error on Lister's part. The Secretary of State's website lists contributions by individual candidates, regardless of which public office they're currently running for. Unless one knows the exact date on which the politician announced for a new gig, it's hard to tell who was trying to bribe them in their old job from who was trying to bribe them in their new job. In Nolan's case, the lines are even more blurred, because she was running for City Council while the legislature was in session. If someone wanted to buy influence from Nolan in the most recent legislative session, a contribution to her City Council campaign might have been a way to try it.

In any event, it's too bad for the O that Lister has left their building. But we can't say that we blame him. We submitted a few opinion pieces to that paper years ago. Only one got published, and the editors screwed it up. They added no value -- in fact, they subtracted. That was the end for us.

And nowadays, quite frankly, who needs them? You can reach thousands of people in Portland every day on a blog. You get to say whatever you want, without passing it through the Newhouse filter and dealing with the bureaucracy over there. Lister's writing would be welcome on this site any time.

In this case, the O editors, so busy touting their inane "PolitiFact" expertise, didn't bother to fact-check what Lister wrote -- they have no staff left to do that sort of thing -- and then when somebody noticed an inaccurate suggestion on Lister's part, they went nuclear and pulled the whole piece. Probably Nolan complained, in her inimitable sweetheart voice, and the editors treated Lister poorly. They'll miss him more than he misses them.

Gangster teenagers running wild in Portland

Portland, it's time that we admit as a community that we have a serious problem with teenage gangs. Packs of kids robbing stores, beating people on the trains, shooting each other in schoolyards -- it's all happened over just the last several days. And it's not even summer yet.

Politicians making speeches and passing meaningless gun ordinances are not making a difference. The police seem incapable of doing anything -- or perhaps scared or unwilling to take serious action. The heart of the city is being lost to lawlessness and violence while we ban plastic grocery bags.

The saddest part is when you think about the upcoming municipal elections. Few of the candidates are acknowledging the depth of the problem, much less proposing solutions with any real promise. We pay a lot in property taxes. It's high time these people spent the money on something important. Like making a dent in gang violence.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Welcome to the Hotel SoWhat

The Usual Suspects want to buy a parcel of land in Portland's failed SoWhat District and put a hotel on it. No word yet on how much public subsidy they'll get, but given the track record for them and the Portland Development Commission, it will no doubt be huge. And who would want to stay there when the Nines, another PDC special deal, is giving away luxury rooms as it goes under?

Dirty business

The Wyoming and Montana coal that's going to roll through Portland on its way to China -- and then come back as acid rain -- is going to be tough on the environment in both directions. Here's a warning from the federal EPA about the coal dust that's going to be stirred up on the outbound journey:

EPA's letter pointed to diseases caused or aggravated by breathing coal dust and diesel emissions. Coal dust is also an environmental concern, the letter said, "because it may settle on water, soil, or vegetation and impair biological processes such as photosynthesis."

The current flap is about a proposed export facility in Boardman, Oregon. But there are proposals for other, similar ports around the region.

Familiar nuke refrain from the O: Don't worry, be happy

It turns out that our post of yesterday about Fukushima fallout in Portland was right. The O sent a young reporter out to do something with it. Of course, she interviewed a bureaucrat in Salem and dutifully parroted back that there is nothing to be alarmed about -- the usual comparison to chest X-rays or MRIs tells you all you need to know.

Interestingly, not only did "the outskirts of Portland" show the nation's highest recorded levels of radioactive cesium from the accident, but rainwater east of nearby Camas showed the nation's highest levels of radioactive iodine-131. In other words, Portland was dosed by Fukushima as much as, if not more than, anywhere else in the country.

Any level of exposure to ionizing radiation increases one's risk of getting cancer. There is no completely safe dose. Unless you're getting a benefit from it, you don't want it, at any level. And Fukushima gave us some.

Ominous notice

Here's news that Portland's sewage treatment plant in the Foothills section of Lake Oswego was leaking bad stuff the other day. This is the sewage treatment plant that will have to be moved if Homer Williams is to build his precious condo complex in that vicinity. We can probably expect to hear a lot in the coming months about how old and dangerous the sewage plant is. It will behoove us Portland sewer users to pay to move it! Uh huh.

Packy's 50 years -- of hell

Here's food for thought as the Portland zoo makes merry over the half century of its most famous resident.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Have a great weekend

Apartments -- better than nothing?

The conversion of the old Washington High School, in Portland's Buckman neighborhood, into apartments is moving along, albeit hesitantly. The neighborhood is going along with it, apparently because they've been given no other choice besides continued abandonment of the facility. At one time, we thought, there was talk of a community center being installed there. That would have been neat, but we guess there's no money for it -- it's all going to Little Lord Paulson's hot dog vendors and the Portland State Patronage Center.

On moving the Blazers to Seattle

We've speculated for years that Paul Allen might move the Blazers to Seattle. Readers have written in and told us that we were all wet -- that Allen would never be allowed to do that. Two reasons have been given: (1) He owns the pro football Seahawks, and NFL rules don't allow someone to own both a pro football and a pro basketball team; and (2) Allen has personally signed an agreement with the City of Portland that forbids him from moving the Blazers.

Well, you can scratch reason no. 1 after this morning's news that New Orleans Saints (football) owner Tom Benson just purchased the New Orleans Hornets (basketball). Apparently the only rule that the NFL (football league) has about this is that an NFL owner can't own a major sports team in the market of another owner's NFL franchise:

"Our cross-ownership policy permits the controlling owner of an NFL team to own a team in the NBA, MLB, or NHL in his or her own NFL market. So there is no cross-ownership issue here," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to USA TODAY Sports.

And so while under league rules, Paul Allen couldn't move the Blazers to Jacksonville, for example, he could move them to Seattle. Our readers were wrong about that.

That leaves Allen's personal deal with the City of Portland as the only obstacle to a move to Seattle. How iron-clad do you think that is? Has the public actually ever seen it?

Tri-Met riders herded to trouble

A reader, who works with the gal who was hassled by police for letting a MAX train pass her by on a station platform, writes:

Who does Trimet hate more than commuters? Timbers supporters! City of Portland, I ask you this: Why have a Free Zone that ends 1 stop before Jeld Wen Field? Do you have any idea how many supporters (soccer term for fan) use the MAX to get to matches? Oh wait, you do, because you harassed us and handed out $175 tickets like candy at last Saturday's match against Chivas!...

My fiancé and I live by the train station, which is inside the current Free Zone. (Don’t get me started on Trimet eliminating the Free Zone, that rant will come.) I work across from Pioneer Courthouse Square, which is inside the Free Zone. The ONLY time either of us EVER go outside the Free Zone is when we are lucky enough to possess tickets to a Timbers match, which takes place ONE STOP outside the Free Zone. So back to my tale… we are both pumped for the match, wearing our matching jerseys as the train pulls up to the Jeld Wen stop. We are the first ones off! Immediately we notice that a string of gates is set up on the sidewalk herding supporters like cattle, we’ve never seen anything like this before. I thought to myself, "Hmm, that must be for some VIP people or something." We move along until we find a bigger opening to make our move towards the field.

Once we’ve passed through the gates, an upset Trimet Officer #1459 aggressively questions my fiancé for his ID, which he did not have on him (I was carrying both our ID’s). He says he doesn’t have it. Immediately Trimet Officer #1459 threatens to call the police! At first, neither of us understand why we were being threatened and harassed, until the Trimet Officer continues to question us belligerently for fare and ID’s. Aha! So the gates were a ploy to catch people not paying… Ok, so I give Trimet Officer #1459 my ID and ask politely that he write me the citation (being the nice law abiding citizen I am- afraid that if we took off and ran this crazy guy would call the cops on us). Whatever, I just want to move on and get out of what seems to be a quickly escalating situation. Not good enough, he continues to antagonize my fiancé in a very hostile way until I hand over his ID as well.

Continue reading "Tri-Met riders herded to trouble" »

Dwight vs. Ellen takes an ugly turn

From Oregon attorney general candidate Dwight Holton, we got an e-mail message just now, which says this about his opponent, Ellen Rosenblum:

Ellen is knowingly misleading voters about my work in Oregon, running a false and deceitful negative ad in her husband’s weekly newspaper. I suspect this is just the beginning of her endgame strategy of attacks. Worse, just yesterday, she called my friends, supporters and colleagues – great Americans who have been fighting in the trenches to elect great Democrats for years – "Karl-Rove-type out-of-state political operatives."

I am disappointed by Ellen’s mudslinging – but I’m not disheartened, because with my experience and track record, and great friends and supporters like you, I know that voters will see through the attacks.

Has Oregon Department of Revenue website crashed?

We are having trouble getting through to it this morning.

UPDATE, 10:27 a.m.: It's back up.

There's something about Ernie

Former Duck basketball coach Ernie Kent reportedly got, and then immediately lost, the head coach position at Colorado State this week.

Lister hearts Nurse Amanda

Dave Lister, the Portland area businessman who years ago ran for City Council against Erik "Opie" Sten, has been a strong supporter of city commissioner Amanda Fritz. Four years ago, he appeared in her campaign's TV ads, and now he's written this piece supporting her re-election bid.

Lister's not the only one. The Skanner newspaper has also thrown in behind Nurse Amanda.

We agree that compared with her primary opponent, Fritz is the lesser of two evils. But this time around, we're not planning to vote that way. We're leaning toward this guy, who probably can't win, but at least is talking sense and hasn't been part of the problem all along.

Worst Fukushima fallout in United States was in Portland area

This is really distressing. And why are we learning about it from some sketchy report on a blog somewhere? Where have the Oregon health officials been who keep telling us that everything's fine?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A brave leader

We have always liked this guy. Now a little more so.

Mmmmm... all-natural fish strawberries...

Sometimes this great nation of ours disappoints.

LaMarcus's body starts to give out

He's going in for hip surgery. After being played 39.6 minutes a game by Coach Nate last season, and with this year's grueling greedfest of a season pounding away at him, it's a wonder he didn't have something like this happen sooner. He is 26 years old.

Legend Dan understands litigation

The lawsuit challenging Portland's crazy diversion of water and sewer revenues to the Sam Rand Twins' pet projects continues to pay dividends. Activist litigation seems to be the only kind of public involvement the politicians and bureaucrats of Portland actually respect. They need to see more of it.

Portland school nickel-dime: two school photos a year

A concerned reader copied us on an e-mail message she sent to the Portland school board yesterday. It read in part:

My daughter G. came home today with a flier notifying us that "Spring portraits are coming." As G. is a kindergartner, her first instinct was "Mom, something's happening at school, so we need to sign up." It is hard to explain to a 5-year-old why we would not sign up for round two of school photos (in the same year).

Initially I thought she was referring to make-up pictures. Then I read the flier from Dorian Photography letting us know a second picture day is coming to *** Elementary: "Spring Portraits"...

I must say, this marketing effort infuriates me, and shame on PPS for allowing it. I don't have to tell the board how much money parents in the district have to spend to raise funds for programs and opportunities that, once upon a time, were included as a part of a public education.

My husband and I make a point of supporting the school plant program, the dining for dollars program, the scrip program and all of the other ongoing fundraising efforts throughout the year which supplement our daughter's education. And there are many (dozens and dozens).

I will not be giving Dorian Photography money for a second round of school pictures. And I expect that next year, I will not be asked to to do.

Good luck with that.

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Surprise! OHSU lied about SoWhat District.

The surprise is that anyone in Portland's mainstream media dares to call them out on it, but here it is. Of course, there were many more lies than those documented in the article. The thievery surrounding SoWhat has been going on for more than a decade. And the concerned people who argued against the project were dismissed as kooks. Well, they told you so.

Among the giants

We took a ride to the state capital yesterday for a special event. The Oregon Supreme Court was honoring one of its greats from the past, and it was someone we know. Judge Alfred T. Goodwin, currently a senior judge on the Ninth Circuit, was feted for his service on Oregon's highest court for roughly a decade, the 1960s. The immediate occasion was the donation of a history of the judge's work on the court by Stephen Wasby, a political science professor at the University of Albany. Wasby is a long-time student of the laws and politics of Oregon; he got his graduate degrees in Eugene when Judge Goodwin was on the state appellate bench.

Yesterday's ceremony was grand, attended by many of the living legends in the state's judicial history. Assembled were many federal judges, state judges, and prominent lawyers from up and down the West Coast, and there were even a few stragglers like ourselves who had been lucky enough to serve as a Goodwin law clerk at one point or another. The judge himself was on hand, still going strong at age 88, and as beloved by the group as ever. He is an unassuming man, and as usual he brushed off most of the accolades, but they were heartfelt, and he was obviously grateful for them.

Wasby spoke about several of Goodwin's opinions from his Oregon Supreme Court years. Among them were the case that established public access to all of Oregon's beaches, and another striking down the erection of a large hilltop cross on City of Eugene property on Skinner Butte. Much of that history had taken place in the very room in which we all sat, more than 40 years ago.

The Supreme Court courtroom is an impressive place, although perhaps not as intimidating as it seemed to us when we were younger. Its huge ornate stained-glass skylight lets in lots of natural light. As the afternoon weather varied, there were subtle changes to the colors of the room, a reminder that we were indeed in Oregon, and it was an unsettled spring.

One of our fellow attendees, a senior judge who once sat on the Oregon high court, took us aside and let us in on some insider information. He showed us where some of the judges, in slow moments during oral arguments over the years, had penciled in their names in a desk drawer in the podium that they sat behind. Historic graffiti, as it were. Among the doodles were the names Goodwin, and Kulongoski, and "Bobby Jones."

The ceremony was short, and afterward some of us adjourned to a local watering hole for a drink. We hobnobbed away with the present and soon-to-be chief justices of Oregon, and several other accomplished and impressive people. At one point, we looked over, and there were Goodwin and Hans Linde, another major player in the state's legal history, sitting together, just the two of them, catching up. You don't see that every day, at least not in this millennium.

We came home from Salem resolved to keep trying to contribute to the life of the state, in whatever ways may materialize before us. Despite its flaws, it's a pretty fine place.

Here comes a Portland arts-in-the-schools tax

A reader writes:

First, let me offer my condolences at your recent political defeat. It would have been marvelous to have a mayor with common sense!

Second, I got a call from a public opinion poll tonight (obviously not a local outfit…the poor lady kept stumbling over "Will…uh…mat?"). The subject of the poll was whether I would be likely/unlikely to vote for a city-wide income tax to support art and music in the public schools (didn’t say if it was only Portland Public or if it included David Douglas & Parkrose as well). It would be $35/year, and low-income residents would not be required to pay it. (There was also a mention of an opt-out clause…?) The fund might also be tapped to pay for sports, but that was unclear at this time.

The truly scary part of this poll came when she asked how I would feel if the City Council simply passed a resolution mandating the income tax (although at that point I suppose it would be considered a "fee").

When I heard of the latest proposed budget cuts at PPS, my first thought was, "When’s the next tax levy vote?" Well, here it is.

Thanks for keeping us informed (and at times entertained as well!).

$84 a month, ignore every parking meter in Portland

Our story of yesterday about how Cars2Go rental cars are allowed to park free in any metered space in Portland prompted this response in Willy Week. Apparently the private car rental firm pays $1,009 a year per car for that privilege. That's supposed to make it o.k., apparently.

But hey, that works out to just $84 a month -- $84 a month for unlimited parking in any metered space anywhere in town! Surely there are hundreds, if not thousands, of downtown commuters who would like the same privilege at that price. Why does Cars2Go get such a sweet deal? And more importantly, keeping in mind that this is Portland parking, a better question might be whom they had to bribe, and how much, to get it.

City of Portland doing poor job of collecting debts

So say these outside auditors:

Our review of the City’s collections process, including the flow of fees, fines, liens, and collection activity, found a process that is complex, difficult to follow, fragmented, and duplicative. Varying objectives among bureaus, differing views of roles and responsibilities, and disputes between the Revenue Bureau and the City Auditor’s Office make it difficult for the City to provide an effective collections process.

Can you believe it? Portland City Hall has problems with money.

They single out Fireman Randy's permit bureau for particular criticism.

Streetcar Smith starts to realize he's been used

Now he gets it, sort of:

Recently we have expanded high-capacity transit and commuter rail at the expense of frequent and local service. We may not have intended it, but we are failing in our aspirations because we overcommitted operating revenue based on forecasts that were not accurate.... [W]e need to pace the construction of transit capital projects and maintain adequate operating reserves for a prudent range of economic assumptions.

His solutions are pretty funny, though. Instead of having the Tri-Met board appointed by governor, they should be appointed by the Metro clones -- Tom Hughes, Rex Burkholder, and the like. Wow, that'll start a revolution.

Message to Benny

Here's a good one.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Musical interlude

Open your mind, indeed.

Sam Adams's Mars mission

We had to laugh last week when we read that Portland's mayor was resurrecting another totally absurd idea -- burying Interstate 5 on the east side of the city.

Here's a region that's blown $200 million on "planning" to replace the interstate bridge, with pretty much nothing to show for it. And now it's going to do a big dig through the inner east side? Sure. Sure.

So why is The Creepy One dredging this up? The only reason we can think of is that he's trying to burnish his "planner" profile in preparation for assuming a patronage job as some sort of professor at Portland State next year. (Heaven help the students.) When his political godmother Vera finally gets off the public pad, there'll likely be a nice, warm seat in the Portland State real estate development company for Adams.

The freeway burial pipedream reminds us of Bush Jr.'s proposal, toward the end of his presidency, that the U.S. start working to land a human on Mars. As Nathan Lane put it on Letterman one night: "Bush says he wants to go to Mars. Let him go."

But upon reflection, we realize that actually, we should get behind Adams's plan. It would be great for the lame duck mayor to get absorbed over the last 264 days of his political career with chasing after unicorn-pooped rainbows. It's that much less time that he would have to destroy Portland in other ways. Yes, Sam, you smart growth genius, you -- make this your legacy!

Trouble in Gatsbyland

Mrs. G.'s hired help is getting restless.

Life is mysterious

Burgerville, SE 122nd & Stark.

Portland parking meter gouge doesn't hit everyone

A reader who leaves in the Pearl District writes:

In the Pearl (of course), we now have a deal or opportunity by which one can rent a car and leave it any old place where parking is allowed for an hour or more, and without paying the regular meter fee (no citations for these guys). Perhaps the parking meter charge is included in some favorable rate paid by the company to the City of Portland on some basis other than that charged me when I park on the street.

I know this little bit because I asked the fellow who got in the car this evening as he left his work at, you guessed it, car2go over at 1100 NW Glisan. As he explained it, he drives the rental home and then returns it to work in the morning, and he pays NADA because he works for the company. Ain't that sweet? Almost as good as the Honorary Consul scam.

Free parking anywhere on the city streets -- for a car that somebody commutes to work in every day? In "green," sustainable Portland? Say it ain't so.

Portland polishes its "urban renewal" shinola

That awful odor you're smelling is rising from the proposed new City of Portland "education urban renewal district." It's on the super-fast track, and it's going to be rammed down residents' throats before they know what hit them.

This goofy district, gerrymandered to the max, will include the Portland State area, but it will reach all the way over the freeway to suck up Lincoln High School, whose land will be turned over to condo weasels as the high school is shipped out to what used to be industrial northwest Portland. As always, the area is being declared "blighted," even though it isn't really, and on that premise, perfectly good property tax revenue will be stolen from basic services and steered away to pet projects that line the pockets of the chosen few.

An alert observer has posted the proposed spending of the skimmed property taxes in the district, here. It's quite a list. Most of the money will go to the usual suspects in the real estate overlord community or to the hefty staff at the Portland Development Commission, in one guise or another.

Some of the funds will be handed to Multnomah County to buy that entity's silence, and public housing projects will be included, to help Nick Fish feather his cap and secure his vote for the rest of the foolishness. It also appears that the city will blow $25 million on building up Portland State University. (Meanwhile, City Hall will throw a few meager bones to the neighborhoods, with this dubious program, and maybe the neighbors will be dopey enough to miss the much larger fact that "urban renewal" is robbing them blind.)

Most interesting to us, though, is that many millions of the "urban renewal" funds are purportedly going to be handed to Lincoln High School, in a "strategic partnership," presumably for relocation after the school falls to the wrecking ball for the apartment bunkers. Is that legal? We thought that under Measures 5 and 50, the city couldn't spend tax money on schools. Then again, many of our expectations about the legal and tax systems have been trashed by the actual operation of "urban renewal" in Portland. It's largely a pork pot that seems to invite corruption, and obviously, it's not helping the average Portlander much, if any. The latest version just makes a bad joke worse.

The first PDC meeting on the district is this afternoon; it will be slam-dunked by that body and sent on to the eager City Council on April 30.

Thumper Humphreys running for sheriff

The violent man who brutally murdered James Chasse may soon be the sheriff of Wheeler County, Oregon.

According to the city's public safety fund, Humphreys was off duty from the Portland Police Bureau and collecting disability benefits between Jan. 27, 2006, and Jan. 3, 2007, and again from Nov. 27, 2009, through April 6, 2012....

Humphreys said Tuesday he used the time off to obtain counseling, and now is feeling good and eager to give back to the Wheeler County community, home to five generations of his family.

God help them over there.

The main reason Charlie Hales should not be mayor

He's a quitter and a developer shill, but it's worse than that: He has problems telling the truth. WW hits the nail on the head in the sidebar about two thirds of the way down this page:

Hales' tax returns show his Washington state residency saved him an estimated $29,900 in 2008 and 2009, the years covered by the returns Hales released to WW.

Claiming you’re a nonresident for tax purposes, the Oregon Department of Revenue says, requires declaring you no longer live in Oregon.

"You’re a nonresident if your permanent home was outside Oregon all year," the department’s guidelines say.

Meanwhile, Hales kept voting in Oregon, a privilege state law says is reserved for residents.

Records show Hales voted eight times, from 2004 through 2009, in Oregon elections. He did so using a Hayden Island address, even as he told Oregon tax officials he actually lived in Washington...

When WW asked Hales in June about his residency, he made false statements. He said he never declared Washington as his residence for tax purposes. "I am and have always been an Oregon resident," he said.

Today, Hales says he was mistaken in his statements to WW because he had forgotten that he had filed his taxes as a Washington resident.

"I haven’t spent the last 10 years walking around thinking about my tax returns," Hales says now. "Mea culpa. I’m not an accountant."

Not credible, Charlie. Don't vote for him, folks.

Major quakes off Indonesia

An 8.6, an 8.2, with tsunami warnings -- it could get mighty ugly.

Blazers' trainers -- incompetent?

We've felt for a while now that the Blazers' training and conditioning staff should be fired for allowing so many of the team's players to play their way right into major injuries. It's a miracle that LaMarcus Aldridge hasn't joined the list of the maimed and injured, especially given the way Coach Nate overplayed him. In any event, our opinion is confirmed by this Dwight Jaynes story, which probably won't get too much play from the team's cronies in the mainstream media.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Big Friend is watching

Facebook is losing some of its luster.

Reader poll: Lunch with Jody?

After a nasty battle in the WW Mayoral Madness poll, our victorious opponent, Jody Stahancyk, has invited us to lunch with her and some of her staff later this week. She says they are "fascinated" by what we do. Given that a large part of what we did for the past week was rank on them, we're nervous. Should we go?

Should we go to lunch with Jody Stahancyk?
pollcode.com free polls 

Sneak preview

The folks who oppose the Clackistani rebels' upcoming ballot measure requiring a public vote on light rail sent a couple of people to the county commissioners' meeting last week to read the case against the measure. They show up at about 1:27:45 of this video. Bottom line: The Mystery Train to Milwaukie is "green," it creates jobs, and it's for the children.

Portland State is out of money -- for education

We went to the dentist yesterday. Unlike most people, we don't mind a regular trip to that office. But our dentist's office is downtown near Portland State, and getting there is quite a chore, what with all the makework construction going on over there.

Streetcar, light rail, giant solar panel displays, apartment bunker after apartment bunker, throngs of young unemployable "creatives" walking around -- why, it's a regular Earl Blumenauer wet dream. All those young people are being indoctrinated with the party line, of course: that highrise apartments are the key to making Portland great. And they're being indoctrinated by some of the best sellers of "green" hypocrisy -- Vera Katz and many other City Hall castoffs leading the charge.

Anyway, it's more than a little amusing that PSU is now cutting back academic staff, crying the blues about its budget. It's got tons of money for limitless political patronage positions and real estate developer welfare, but nothing for professors. What a place.

Another alternative to business as usual at Portland City Hall

At a reader's suggestion, we went back and looked at the video of the candidates' forum in the race for Nurse Amanda's seat, and we agree with the reader that Bruce Altizer is a viable alternative to both the Nurse and her leading opponent, Mary Nolan. A review of the tape shows that Nolan is even more objectionable than we originally thought. Amanda is clearly the lesser of two evils, but why vote for someone who doesn't deserve it? If the election were held today, we'd vote for Altizer.

In the smoke-filled back rooms of Portland City Hall

Here's a deeply disturbing story about Portland city government. In it we find the mayor appearing to make a sweetheart deal with Cisco Systems, a private company that wants a mega-contract to put security cameras on the city streets. If the company would agree to sign up to be a tenant in the Mark Edlen white elephant project known as the "sustainability center" (or maybe just act interested), the city would give it a "pilot project" to start putting up the cameras at selected locations.

This is troubling on two different levels. First, it shows the desperation the city is experiencing in getting any business into the absurd super-"green" office building. But more importantly, it shows that the city has learned nothing from the ill-fated "pilot project" involving its "smart" parking meters. That deal has landed the city's former parking meter manager under federal indictment on bribery charges, and it's a twisting, if not an outright breaking, of the public bidding laws.

This is exactly the way business is done in East Coast cities, where the corruption is openly acknowledged. Naive Portlanders who think their city is free of such evils need to wake up and smell the food compost.

Sadly, the daily newspaper doesn't seem to want to do much with this story. So there's a Pulitzer that reporter Beth Slovic won't be allowed to get.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Of course!

With Easter behind us, Mother's Day is right around the corner. Our mom tried having a computer in the house -- Web TV, actually -- but she didn't like it. And so she had it taken out. We try to tell her what she's missing, but at age 85, she knows what she wants.

She does love her DVD player, though. If only there were a way to... hmmmmm...

More "green" hypocrisy in Portland

100-year-old elm trees vs. apartment bunkers. Guess who wins.

Down in flames

We've been eliminated in the WW Mayoral Madness tournament -- defeated by the residents of that strange universe known as Jody Stahancyk. It's been a really interesting experience dealing with them, and we are glad that it's over. Thanks to all our supporters. And now, for a nice, long, hot shower.

One reason to vote for Nurse Amanda

The mayor who set Portland on its current path to self-destruction has endorsed her opponent.

On a roll

We're down but not out in Mayoral Madness. Here are some more endorsements that we picked up over the weekend:

Multnomah County Government Employees League
Portland Chamber of Commerce
The Bust Project
League of Consternation Voters
Guffman Peak Oil Society
Former Portland Commissioner Mildred Schwab
Occupy Dunthorpe

There's still time to pull this one out of the fire. Please take a few seconds to go here and help us make it to the Final Four!

UPDATE, 12:39 p.m.: This just in -- we've been endorsed by Jefferson Smith's brother, Hoover Smith.

Portland's own 1%

Do these people deserve this kind of money? Of course not. Nobody does.

Another affordable housing breakthrough in Portland

Put this baby next to one of the Admiral's loos and you're all set.

Put aside an hour or two

Finally, somebody held, and recorded, a political forum to which all of the Portland mayoral candidates were invited. It's here. It has its highs and lows, but it's far more revealing than the soundbite competitions that you typically get from a half-hour with just the "Big 3."

They did the City Council, too. The Nurse Amanda race is here; the Steve Novick race is here.

We came away from the forum with a couple of names to add to our list of viable alternatives to business as usual at City Hall. One of Novick's challengers, Scott McAlpine, looks pretty good. He's first up on that video. In the mayoral race, we'd add Bill Dant, also first up, to our list with Scott Fernandez and Max Brumm.

The flying monkeys are here

Over the weekend, a reader complained that Jody Stahancyk's campaign was paying people on microworkers.com to vote for her over us in WW's inane Mayoral Madness contest:

The reader gave a pretty authentic-looking link, but if you joined the microworkers site and looked for it, any such posting was gone by yesterday.

Now some clown has posted another job on that site, purporting to be from us, in which people would be paid to to vote for us:

We would never do such a thing, and people should be aware that if you get paid for voting, it won't be by the Bojack camp.

Please vote against all this vicious stuff here. We've fallen way behind, but perhaps we can stage a Monday surge. This round of the contest ends, mercifully, at 8:00 tonight West Coast time.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

We're getting killed in Mayoral Madness

We're not sure exactly how she's doing it, besides buying votes, but one of the most controversial divorce lawyers in Portland is generating nonstop love in her face-off with us in the WW Mayoral Madness tournament. We were ahead by 100 votes yesterday, but now we're 300 votes down. If you haven't already done so, please go here and cast a vote in our favor. It will take a miraculous comeback over the next 24 hours to emerge victorious.

Goldschmidt's next victims

The folks who are trying to save West Hayden Island from an impending pave-over by the Port of Portland and the City of Portland went out there today. Here's their report:

Today we went out and watched the bald eagles that are nesting on West Hayden Island. Their nest is right in the middle of the area that the Port plans to turn into 300 acres of parking lots. At one point we could see three bald eagles soaring over the grasslands and a fourth sitting on the nest. The Port continues to insist that this area has minimal habitat value. Somebody should tell that to the eagles. It looks like somebody built a shrine for the eagles nearby. Hopefully that will keep the bulldozers away!

The "green" hypocrites of Portland government will burn for what they're about to do out there.

Once in a lullaby

One of the many things we discovered on our recent vacation in the Sandwich Islands was this album:

It's a spectacular recording of Hawaiian music by this gentleman. Israel "IZ" Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole made it in 1993. It's been enormously successful -- the best-selling record by a Hawaiian artist, ever -- but being the last to the party, we're just discovering it. At the time of its release, we probably heard the label "Hawaiian music" and turned away.

IZ died in 1997 at the age of 38, but he left a lasting mark. This recording will no doubt be played and enjoyed for many decades hence.

Jody, friend of animals, if she wins

Our opponent is starting to flash money around in the WW Mayoral Madness contest. If she wins this weekend, she says, she'll give $500 to Metro for the elephants at the zoo.

What will she give if she loses? Nothing?

Please take five minutes, go here, and vote for us. This is supposed to be a fun thing. We'll do something nice for charity even if we don't prevail. But we won't try to buy your vote.

From the whole crew

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gang shooting spreads to groovy northwest Portland

But don't worry, the Sam Rand Twins are right on top of it. Go by streetcar!

UPDATE, 4/8, 3:24 a.m.: The latest police update makes no mention of gang involvement. They have a suspect, and robbery detectives are on the scene. Maybe it wasn't a gang shooting -- just a shooting. They'll likely tell us more later today.

Springtime in Sam Rand Portland

It's a beautiful day. Too bad about this.

Campaign excess

We appreciate our readers' support in the Mayoral Madness race -- if you haven't voted yet, please go here and do so -- but please! No defacing our opponent's property:

A bright moment in a bleak year

Last night, collapsed on the glider with a Manhattan after an interesting re-entry week, we happened upon the end of the Blazer game. They were in Dallas, playing the world champions. There was some golf and baseball on as well, but the score in the hoops game was close enough to make us stay there.

We turned the sound off immediately, as the Blazer TV announcers are insufferable, but the game itself was fascinating. Dallas has so much talent -- their third or fourth option on offense, Shawn Marion, was doing his usual great job of driving Portland nuts. And yet the Blazers took the Mavericks to overtime. And in the extra period, at the very end, Blazer big man LaMarcus Aldridge took and made the game-winning shot. The buzzer went off as the shot was on its way.

Well, hurray for Aldridge. He's never been the go-to guy at the end of games, but with the ragtag collection of players he has around him now, he hasn't much choice. Being the hero in Dallas is particularly sweet for him, because he's from down there and his peeps show up to see him play there. Whatever else happens at the end of this dismal NBA season, he'll have that moment. Nice going.

Game on

The voting is open in the Elite 8 round of WW's Mayoral Madness. Please take five seconds to go here and get us one step closer to being ersatz mayor of Portland. We'll never win a real election, but fake is almost as good!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Have a great weekend

Strike a blow for freedom

Before voters go to the polls tomorrow in our ongoing Mayoral Madness tussle with the local divorce lawyer Jody Stahancyk, there's something they ought to know. Were you aware that our opponent once prosecuted the Aladdin Theater for showing the movie "Deep Throat"?

She lost, of course, but she tried to interfere with our access to the thespian talents of Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems! Think twice before voting for someone who is so willing to restrict our important civil liberties. This weekend, use your head and vote for Bojack. What would Pee Wee Herman do?

Happy Passover

Meet the staff

Tomorrow's the start of the voting in our latest round of the WW Mayoral Madness tournament, and as a public service, we're giving the voting public a chance to see the cabinet that we'd put together if we win. Now, keep in mind that we're not counting our chickens (or soy-substitute chickens) before they hatch -- we haven't extended any formal invitations to these prospective staffers -- but here's an idea of the kind of folks we would seek to bring to the party. They're a bit different from the current crop of Portland mayoral staffers:

Chief of staff:

Bill McDonald
Arts and culture director:

Esperanza Spalding

Public safety liaison:

Phil Stanford

Communications director:

Amy Faust

Parks and recreation director:

Dwight Jaynes

Environmental services director:

Who else?

Personal bodyguard:

Chris Snethen (file photo)

Our leadership team would be unsurpassed. Vote for Bojack, early and often, tomorrow through Monday!

Headline of the Week

I hate it when this happens.

Taxpayers stay on the hook for Paulson stadium

Back when Little Lord Paulson was pitching the remodel of PGE Park into Jelled-When Field for his soccer team, there was a lot of discussion about where the city's $12 million contribution to the construction bill was going to come from. The official line in the City Council resolution went like this:

The source of repayment of the Bonds is expected to be the revenues and resources of the City’s Spectator Facilities Fund. In addition, the Bonds will be secured by the full faith and credit and Available General Funds of the City. If Spectator Fund revenues and resources are not sufficient to pay the debt service on the bonds, resources of the General Fund may be required to pay debt service.

The city took out a bridge loan to come up with the money, but now it's time to go to the banks and get permanent financing -- a 15-year deal, with interest only for the first 11 years and four big annual balloon payments starting in 2024. The official sales document for the bonds is here.

When you get to the part about how the bonds are going to be paid off, there's a lot of talk about property taxes. The spectator facilities fund is hardly mentioned at all, and it's obviously of minor importance:

The City has pledged its full faith and credit to pay the 2012 Series A Bonds, and the City is obligated to pay the 2012 Series A Bonds from Available General Funds as defined in the Bond Declaration pursuant to which the 2012 Series A Bonds will be issued (the “Bond Declaration”). “Available General Funds” is defined under the Bond Declaration as revenues which are legally available to pay the 2012 Series A Bonds and not prohibited for such use under the charter and ordinances of the City and Oregon laws, and includes all taxes and other legally available general funds of the City. The City is not authorized to levy additional taxes to pay the 2012 Series A Bonds. Certain City revenues credited to the City’s General Fund are legally available to pay the 2012 Series A Bonds. A principal source of these General Fund revenues is the City’s permanent tax rate property tax levy. In FY 2010-11, revenues from that levy (including current and prior year collections) were approximately $192.4 million, after delinquencies....

The 2012 Series A Bonds are expected to be repaid with revenues of the City’s Spectator Facilities Fund. Revenues of the Spectator Facilities Fund are not pledged to the 2012 Series A Bonds.

In other words, the taxpayers of the city are on the hook for this debt, and that's what the bondholders are looking to for repayment. Colors of money, my eye.

Moody's is rating the paper Aa1, and since the cash was spent for the benefit of a private company, interest is not going to be tax-exempt under the federal tax laws. It will interesting to see what kind of interest rate we have to pay. The sale is scheduled for next Thursday.

Also noteworthy: The city's showing long-term debt (not counting pensions) of $3.32 billion -- about $20 million higher than our debt clock projected. And it is planning to borrow another $256 million by the end of the summer -- $152 million for "urban renewal" nonsense, $24 million for the police training facility, and $80 million for additions to the Admiral's grand water empire. By the time the Sam Rands hit the road, the city will be pushing $7 billion in long-term debt. It's nothing short of stunning.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Brady has big plans for PDC

Here's an interesting exchange from this morning's radio confab of the "Big 3" Portland mayoral candidates, none of whom are worthy of your vote:

Brady said the Portland Development Commission, the city agency in charge of urban-renewal policy, should act as an economic development corporation by putting its real-estate portfolio to better use. By managing the city's properties differently, Brady said Portland could create new revenue to put to job creation. "It will give us flexibility," she said.

Hales said making Portland a property-management agency was "not a good idea," because government "ought to do what we're good at, which is basic services."

Brady then jumped on Hales' statement as an example of "old" thinking. "We need to rethink government," Brady said. "We can't just rely on the same revenue sources."

For Streetcar Charlie Hales to start preaching about "basic services" is an absolute scream. It's almost as disingenuous as when Jim Francesconi tried the same line of baloney in his fruitless run for mayor. To these guys, "basic services" are to provide cash to Mark Edlen and Homer Williams and the rest of the City Hall real estate puppeteers.

Meanwhile, Brady's goal of "managing the city's properties differently" for new "revenue sources" is scary. It would behoove the city's voters to find out specifically what the heck that is supposed to mean.

Tri-Met security follies never end

A concerned reader sent along a couple of e-mail messages she received from a co-worker yesterday. The exchange left the reader scratching her head:

Did you know that if you let a train pass you, as in to catch the next one (as I often do, to ride in with S. -- sometimes I'm a few minutes early for "our" train), you can be given a ticket for loitering and be banned from TriMet property?

Well, you can! Thankfully I got off with a warning this morning, but I had no idea this was an issue. I let one train pass right after I bought my ticket, knowing S. was on the next one, and two cops stopped me and read me the riot act about it.

I guess you should just wait across the street if you ever have this issue, and hope you don’t get cited for something else!

Our reader asked if the MAX rider got the transit officers' names, and she replied:

I didn’t. They were actual police officers, they told me if they had been TriMet officers I would NOT have gotten off with a warning. His exact words were "traffic cops write traffic tickets and TriMet officers write citations and ban people from TriMet property."

I only skipped ONE MAX and was standing there, minding my own business, playing games on my phone! He took my ID, wrote my name down, questioned my address and the distance I was getting on the train from my address (which I explained because I drop my son off at daycare before boarding the MAX at 181st), and asked if I’d ever been banned! I was like, ummm, NO, I ride the MAX every day to work, the same one, so I can spend that hour-long ride with a co-worker. They let me go but not until I was freaking out and feeling like some sort of drug-dealing reprobate!

Tri-Met sure seems to have more issues than its management is capable of handling.

If the Willamette River could talk, what would it say?

Now, there's a provocative title for an event.

To answer the question, the river would probably say something like, "I've taken enough s**t from you people."

A bumpy ride on Hawaiian Airlines

On our recent trip to the Sandwich Islands, we used Hawaiian Airlines. The in-flight service and entertainment were first-rate, but we had some real problems with the corporate machinery of this airline that are worthy of internet notice.

First, Hawaiian Airlines employed a blatant bait-and-switch in getting our business to begin with. Long in advance, we signed up and paid for direct flights in both directions between Portland and Maui. But many weeks after our booking and payment -- after all the other airlines' seats on direct flights were gone -- Hawaiian broke the news to us that we were changing planes in Honolulu on the way home. We didn't like that -- hours of R&R time taken away from us without compensation -- but what could we do?

Strike 2 came when we started getting odd, pestering e-mails in the dead of night cheerily reminding us that we could check our reservation any time on line. We figured there was no need -- we had a confirmation number, assigned seats, and an itinerary -- but when we finally gave in to the e-mail messages and checked, we found to our disappointment that Hawaiian had reassigned our family to new seats on one of the flights, and they were no longer all together. When we called to straighten this out, we were jerked around for a long time. It took harsh words and a lot of transfers of our call to get us four seats together.

Some of the people who answer the phone at Hawaiian are not easy to deal with. They give off a seriously passive-aggressive vibe. When you try to get a straight answer from them, suddenly they are seized by the aloha spirit, so much so that useful information is not forthcoming.

When we checked in for the flight home, Hawaiian had a faulty printer that would not produce the baggage claim checks for the person behind the counter to stick onto our suitcases. The attendant, for whom English did not appear to be the native language, spent five minutes staring at the machine in confusion. Then she started typing away for an eternity on a keyboard, refusing to speak to us or make any eye contact with us, even for a second. After 10 minutes of standing there, we got luggage tags, but no explanation of any kind, much less an apology. We boarded the plane thinking that it would be a miracle if we saw our bags when we landed in Portland. (They did make it, though.)

The final insult was that on the long flight home, from Honolulu, two of us had been given seats that did not recline. This was an adjunct to the bait-and-switch maneuver that brought us to Honolulu in the first place. Of course, we weren't told about the nonreclining seats at all -- we discovered them as we sat down in them.

Oh well. They got us there and back, and as we say, the service and entertainment was great. But if we're lucky enough to head out to Polynesia again sometime, we'll definitely be seeing what the other airlines have to offer.

Here come da judge elections

Of the two upcoming vacancies on the Oregon Supreme Court, one's been locked up. As we've previously predicted, nobody's going to run against Dave Brewer, the chief judge of the state court of appeals, for the one seat.

But there's a three-way race in progress for the other one. The candidates are Richard C. Baldwin, Timothy J. Sercombe, and Nena Cook.

There's also a three-way contest for one of the seats on the Oregon Court of Appeals. The candidates are Allan J. Arlow, Timothy R. Volpert, and James C. Egan.

The state bar is taking member preference polls on these races; the real voting is a just a few weeks away. Readers who can enlighten us about any of these candidates, please do.

Come together

Being up against divorce lawyer Jody Stahancyk in the Elite 8 round of the insane, inane WW Mayoral Madness tournament is quite an experience. We're receiving unsolicited, unflattering stories about our opponent from many different quarters. It's hard to know how many of them, if any, we should repeat in our quest to make it to the Final 4. But suffice it to say that if we get a vote from everybody with an ax to grind with Ms. Stahancyk, we will have quite a tally come Monday night.

There are apparently still a couple of days before the voting in our contest starts in earnest, and so for today, let's just say that we're a uniter, not a divider.

Our opponent:




Could the choice be any clearer? A vote for Bojack is a vote for a kinder, gentler Portlandia.

Baseball fever in Hillsboro

All the 'burbs seem to want to take a swing at it.

Sticky Wiki

Here's an odd one. Look at what happens when you enter the name of Neil Goldschmdt's rape victim into Wikipedia:


Ironically, she's not named on the page itself.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Eileen Brady is loaded

She's released her tax returns to the O, and there are some huge numbers on them. She and her husband are set for life.

Will Charlie Hales release his returns now? That would be some interesting reading -- especially for the years he claimed he was a Washington resident for tax purposes even though he was voting in Oregon.

With Jeffy Smith, we wonder if he even bothered to file. To him, rules are for the little people.

UPDATE, 11:44 p.m.: The Willy Week crew says they have returns from Hales and Smith as well as Brady. But they haven't posted them -- all they're showing at this hour are summaries, which they said they wrote with the help of an outside accountant.

Renegade Portland City Council starting to get message

We've said for a while that the current lawsuit against the City of Portland for flagrantly illegal misspending of water and sewer revenues is the best thing that's happened to local government in many years. This story affirms our opinion.

Litigation is the only type of citizen input that the City Council ever really listens to. Portland needs a good government league, to instigate this type of court action whenever City Hall breaks the law -- which over the past decade has been often. It would probably take about $1.3 million in the bank to do it right.

New "urban renewal" scam is on super-fast track

The so-called "education urban renewal" district in Portland is going to be rammed down the public's throats as quickly as the Sam Rand Twins can get away with it. Portland State is "blighted," don'tcha know, and so it's time to let Edlen and Homer and the boys build a condo tower over Lincoln High School. A reader reports:

I was in a meeting today with the mayor and PDC staff. At the meeting they presented a timeline for the "Education" Urban Renewal Area:

April 11: PDC Board Hearing

April 24: Planning & Sustainability Commission

May 9: City Council first reading (public input allowed)

May 16: City Council vote (no public input)

SamRand bought Fish's vote with the lure of affordable housing, so the fix is in.

Quote of the day from the meeting from PDC director Patrick Quinton: "Lincoln High School has always been a redevelopment site for the city."

Bankrupt City, here we come.

Two peas in a pod

Guys who see personal entitlement in public office do stick together:

Just what we need -- another Admiral.

Passing the hat for Sunday Parkways

Portland's budget cuts have prompted City Hall to take up a collection to keep the summer bike events rolling.

Don't look down

A reader who's been thinking about the proposed interstate bridge on I-5 sends along this compilation of the highest bridges in the world. And man, some of them are darned high.

Marvelous toy


The Kindle we got for Christmas continues to open doors for us. On our recent Hawaii trip, just for fun we downloaded a small group of Jack London short stories about Hawaii -- for free. It turned out to be perfect for the long flight home.

On vacation, we had spent some quality time with a first novel written by a friend of ours, Jack Walker. It's called The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria, and it is surprisingly good. Walker's a smart guy. He's got a fine understanding of people and an ear for their language, and he spins a great tale. We were sorry when the e-reader told us we had read 100% of the text. May there be many more of these.

It's funny how we've reached that age where we're often reading books written by people we know. An interesting stage in life.

Lately we've also been fooling around with Dante's Divine Comedy. Without an English Lit test coming up, or Cliff Notes nearby, one has to be genuinely ready to concentrate to get what's going on there, but taken a little at a time, it's a rewarding pastime. What would the author say if he could see us reading his words on such a gadget, 700 years after he penned them? We're nearly as amazed as he would be.

The perfect analogy

Charlie Hales : leadership = Oregonian : journalism

UPDATE, 2:16 p.m.: This is hysterically funny. A newspaper that's become a parody of itself.

This could get ugly

This week's Elite 8 round in the Willy Week Mayoral Madness tournament is showing some dark signs, even before the voting has begun. We've been getting multiple visits on our website over the last 24 hours from the offices of our latest opponent, divorce lawyer Jody Stahancyk. Our referral logs (courtesy of the most excellent dudes at Clicky) inform us that we got 21 visits yesterday from links on "watercooler.stahancyk.com." They were stalking us from that site from 10 in the morning to 7 in the evening.

But if you try to go to that web address, they won't let you in. It's a super-secret page that only Stahancyk's inner circle has access to. Who knows what they're saying about us over there?

And several times yesterday, we received sock puppet comments on this blog from one "Unsuspicious name," and then from a "Duke Remington." Both were posting pro-Stahancyk propaganda from the Stahancyk offices. Can you imagine? You have to wonder which client they're billing their time to.

As the week progresses, there's no telling what the opposition camp might do. We're keeping an eye out for flying monkeys.

Mitt is it

Obama vs. Romney -- two champions of the wealthy, one slightly more hypocritical than the other. Weep, America, as the rest of this sad little dance plays itself out.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More trouble for Vestas

Just what they don't need at this point.

A phrase I'm sick of

"The built environment." They can stick that one up their charrette.

Be there Friday morning

Our gal will be doing a show. It will be streaming here.

Is Portland loo marketing campaign illegal?

The folks who are suing the city think it is. They make the case for their position in this letter.

In your letter to me of March 19, 2012, you said that for the two last fiscal years, the Water Bureau's capital investment for construction of the Loos was $101,436. O&M expense for that period was $75,000 and budgeted O&M for the curent fiscal year is $60,000. General fund and PDC contributions added up to $650,000 for these street toilets. Because the marketing agreements look to the Director of the Water Bureau as the person who will determine the sale price and other details of any sale contract, it appears that the Water Bureau will be integrally involved in the sale and manufactue of any of the Loos that are marketed....

[W]e respectfully request that you inform your clients, including the city commissioners, that if the Water Fund is used to support this enterprise, we will amend our complaint and include in the declaratory relief requested therein a judicial determination that such a use is in violation with the City Charter and, therefore, illegal.

The coal trains are coming

Don't think for a moment that they aren't.

Your Warmed-Over City Hall Press Release of the Day

The DJC spits it right up, just like it went down.

One step closer, to something

We're not entirely sure what it means, but we're one of eight contestants left out of the original 64 in the Willy Week Mayoral Madness tournament. Thanks to all of our readers (including dead ones) who put us over the top in the Sweet 16.

Our next opponent is Jody Stahancyk, a take-no-prisoners divorce lawyer in town. A Bogdanski-Stahancyk matchup sounds like a race for mayor of Krakow rather than Portland, but whatever, it's going to be a challenge. We've gone from fighting soft rock to the queen of hard knocks!

We'll be back in a day or two with an official campaign strategy, but right now we're working on focus groups. What do you think of this: "What God has joined together, let no one put asunder"?

Is Sam Adams doped up?

There are some moments in these two videos in which the mayor of Portland seems to be on some fairly strong medication. Check out "the opportunity to do" at around 0:45 of the top one. Then nearly slurred speech at 1:10. Stumbling for words at 1:35, then rambling like a guy who's been at the bar all afternoon. On the bottom one, 30 seconds in, he can't get the word "extensive" out of his mouth. Then nobody in his office has the good sense to keep these videos off the internet. Something's not right.

OMG! Brady drives car in TV ad!

Between that and the heavy makeup, she's definitely going against the Portland grain in this one. Even though she shows up for a second or less on the mandatory bicycle:

You thought Citizens United was bad

This is an even worse one. If you were looking for a reason to vote for Obama again, this is pretty much all you need.

Scenes from an amazing spring break

It took a lot of planning and scrimping, but we managed to get the family to the island of Maui, Hawaii for spring break. The trip was so action-packed and enjoyable that it will take some time for the highlights to sink in. (When the credit card bills get here, other aspects of the vacation will also sink in, no doubt.) Anyway, as we were faxing it in to the blogosphere, here are a few random cell phone shots of our real life over the last week and change:

At Mama's Fish House and Inn, just past Paia.

"Birth of Maui," incredible mural at the Grand Wailea Resort.

Our girls and their friend are way out there getting a surfing lesson, just east of Lahaina.

Dinner is underneath, Old Lahaina Luau.

We came home to some dead smoke detector batteries and a couple of wicked Windows updates, but otherwise everything was as it should be. We found a household item that we've been looking all over for for a couple of weeks, and the daphne's finally in bloom. Not to jinx it, but despite its tribulations, our life is good.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Countdown is on

The voting in the Sweet 16 round of Mayoral Madness has only about three hours to go.
Please head over here and give us a shout-out to move us on to the Elite 8.

One more clue to our spring break whereabouts

Here's the second and final clue as to where we've been goofing off the last week and a half: We were hanging out with the backup singers from "Farewell to Tarwathie."

Wrapping up our R&R time

We're on our way back to Portlandia after 10 blessed days on the road. As usual, we've blogged from an undisclosed location, for security reasons, even though our housesitter is a black belt with several guns.

At time like this, we often ask readers to guess where we've been. If you already know, don't say. Here's the first clue: Google Street View doesn't work here.

Rim shot

A reader sends along what he calls the ultimate ethnic joke:

An Englishman, a Scotsman, an Irishman, a Welshman, a Latvian, a Turk, a German, an Indian, several Americans (including a Hawaiian and an Alaskan), an Argentinean, a Dane, an Australian, a Slovak, an Egyptian, a Japanese, a Moroccan, a Frenchman, a New Zealander, a Spaniard, a Russian, a Guatemalan, a Colombian, a Pakistani, a Malaysian, a Croatian, a Uzbek, a Cypriot, a Pole, a Lithuanian, a Chinese, a Sri Lankan, a Lebanese, a Cayman Islander, a Ugandan, a Vietnamese, a Korean, a Uruguayan, a Czech, an Icelander, a Mexican, a Finn, a Honduran, a Panamanian, an Andorran, an Israeli, a Venezuelan, an Iranian, a Fijian, a Peruvian, an Estonian, a Syrian, a Brazilian, a Portuguese, a Liechtensteiner, a Mongolian, a Hungarian, a Canadian, a Moldovan, a Haitian, a Norfolk Islander, a Macedonian, a Bolivian, a Cook Islander, a Tajikistani, a Samoan, an Armenian, an Aruban, an Albanian, a Greenlander, a Micronesian, a Virgin Islander, a Georgian, a Bahaman, a Belarusian, a Cuban, a Tongan, a Cambodian, a Canadian, a Qatari, an Azerbaijani, a Romanian, a Chilean, a Kyrgyzstani, a Jamaican, a Filipino, a Ukrainian, a Dutchman, an Ecuadorian, a Costa Rican, a Swede, a Bulgarian, a Serb, a Swiss, a Greek, a Belgian, a Singaporean, an Italian, a Norwegian and two Africans...

... walk into a fine restaurant.

"I'm sorry," says the maître d', scrutinizing the group one by one and barring their entrance into the restaurant.

"You can't come in here without a Thai."

If you don't support more MAX train lines in Portland...

... you must hate old people. They can't ride buses. We have to build them trains. And streetcars.

Lake O. gets ready for lake occupiers

It looks as though the city council bobbleheads in Portland's neighbor to the south are going to toughen up city park rules to try to keep the unwashed from sullying the sacred waters of Sucker Lake. By negative implication, they're admitting that it's currently legal to launch a boat from a city park into the lake. Too bad about the weather lately.

More water bureau money on nonsense

It's bad enough that Portland is building eight-figure underground water storage tanks that aren't needed. But in keeping with the Admiral's tendency to drift off mission whenever his magic mirror tells him to, we're also getting an interpretive center and a custom caretaker's home.

Portland is quite the microcosm of America. People earnestly believing they're doing good but not paying attention while their children's future is being mortgaged away to enrich some shadowy characters they never even heard of.

The best stupid thing you'll do all day

Please help us make it to the next round of Willamette Week's Mayoral Madness contest. We're anticipating a surge of votes for our opponent this afternoon, and so we need all the help we can get by 8:00 tonight Pacific Time. Please take five seconds to go here, scroll down just a bit, and vote for Bojack.

They're apparently accepting only one vote from any given IP address, but if you voted over the weekend from home, now would be a good time to give it a shot from work or another location. If we are selected as Portland's ersatz mayor, there'll be a chicken, or appropriate soy-based substitute, in every pot.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring break mindset heading into overtime

The calendar says that spring break is coming to a close, but we're going to push the envelope for one more day. We'll remain in semi-detached mode for another 24 hours or so.

Thanks to everyone who's been moving us ahead in the WW Mayoral Madness poll. The voting stays open until 8:00 West Coast time tomorrow, and there's bound to be a rush of voting tomorrow evening. Thus, we're taking nothing for granted. If you haven't cast your vote yet, please take five seconds and do it here. Scroll down just a bit. Thanks!

Help! I need somebody...

An urgent call to our readers: We're currently trailing by a substantial margin in this week's round of Mayoral Madness. Please take a moment to go here and give us your vote. We have no idea why this seems so important, but it just does. We can still do this, people, but not without everybody's help!

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