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

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June 2012 Archives

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Beyond the call

A hat tip is in order to the off-duty Arizona police officer who jumped in and made possible a nice collar of a bank robber in Keizer yesterday afternoon.

Come here often?

We've always had a mild aversion to the phrase "urinal cake." Just calling it a "cake" is wrong. It's even worse than calling uranium "yellowcake." Who would eat it?

And now urinal cakes can talk. For the moment, they're uttering anti-drunk-driving statements. But surely their repertoire should be expanded. What else should urinal cakes say?

Lessons learned from Fukushima = none

It's amazing how much the nucle-heads get away with in Japan. And don't kid yourself -- it's no different here.

Meanwhile, the cooling systems at the Fuku 4 spent fuel pool are shut down. But hey, no worries, everything's fine.

The latest Metro fake poll

We just went through a new survey from the "Opt In" manipulators sponsored by Portland's "unique" Metro government. This one was about garbage disposal, and the heavily rigged multiple choice questions sure as heck didn't allow us to express our opinion. Wish we could link to it here, but you have to sign up for the "Opt In" charade to get through and see it. And once you've been through it, you don't get another look at it.

This thing badly needs some public records law sunshine. Remind us next week.

Where's the racketeering prosecution?

Portland's anarchists are, quite simply, bad people who need to be incarcerated. Channel 8 video'ed a group of the lowest of them, here. Whatever validity the Occupy movement may have, these people give it a seriously bad name.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Have a great weekend

Fish, Cogen, and the bunker boys

With the Sam Rand Twins leaving Portland City Hall in six months, the real estate developers must have new puppets to take their places. Obviously, Char-Lie Hales is the prime candidate for this role, having done nothing but serve apartment weasels for the last two decades or more. All you need to see to know where Char-Lie is coming from is this election night photo with Homer Williams playing the ventriloquist on the stage behind him.

But other players are kissing up as well. This week Multnomah County chair Jeff "Farquaad" Cogen and city commissioner Nick "Jelly" Fish sent around a press release about how they're going to be a lot smarter about handing out tax exemptions to the builders of junk infill apartments:

In Portland and throughout Multnomah County, we believe that people of all income levels deserve a fair shot. That is especially true when it comes to housing. Everyone should have a safe and decent place to call home, close to where they work, in a neighborhood that provides opportunities for a good quality of life.

Unusually low vacancy rates in Portland’s rental market have driven up the cost of apartments in the urban core. It's getting so that that young families of modest incomes and even young professionals starting out are finding it harder to afford life in the inner city.

"We want a complete community," said Portland Housing Commissioner Nick Fish. "We want all kinds of working people to be able to afford homes in neighborhoods citywide – we don’t want to become like San Francisco, a city of rich and poor."

This afternoon, the Portland City Council will consider updates to the city’s Limited Tax Exemption program. The program grants 10-year property tax exemptions to developers who reserve at least 20% of the units in their multi-unit projects for people earning 60% of median family income, $30,660 for a single person or $43,800 for a family of four, or lower; or for new single-family homes sold at an affordable price to modest-income homebuyers. The exemption applies to taxes on the improvements (usually the building) – the land is still taxed.

"The proposed updates will balance the program’s cost in foregone revenue with the value to taxpayers of affordable housing and other public benefits that the program encourages" said Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen. "The updates align the LTE program with our community’s goals for housing and improve the program’s efficiency, accountability and transparency."

The multi-unit projects would generally be located in dense areas downtown, along transit corridors and main streets citywide, and in regional centers. Tax exemptions are also available for new construction of for-sale homes in distressed areas and for multi-family affordable housing projects owned by non-profits. These ensure that people can afford a home in their current neighborhood while helping to improve the community and the quality of life for its residents.

These tools increase affordable housing stock and work against the cycle of low- and modest-income families being priced out as property values rise. This small but effective program counters prevailing market forces without drawing on deep, up-front government subsidies because it leverages the activity of private developers who are building in response to the market. New apartments are being built all over town, including along major transit lines in Southeast and Northeast Portland.

"Why not capitalize on that," said Chair Cogen. "This is an opportunity for us to get new affordable homes in projects that would be built anyway."

The city and county have been working together for months with people in the non-profit housing community, developers and other stakeholders to iron out the specifics of the new program.

Executive summary: We're using your tax dollars to make sure that the bunkers that are going up in your neighborhood are as cheap and cheesy as they can possibly be. It's for "equity." And for the children.

It's also curious that Jelly says "We want all kinds of working people to be able to afford homes in neighborhoods citywide," but the handouts for the shlock are concentrated "in dense areas downtown, along transit corridors and main streets citywide, and in regional centers." Those winding streets in the West Hills don't seem to be part of the program. Just an accident, no doubt.

Mr. Smith goes to San Diego

He may be running for mayor of Portland, but Jeffer-Sten Smith obviously views himself as some sort of national figure. Just as his dad seems to see himself as Joe Kennedy, it must be that Lil Jeffy (who turns 39 for the first time today) thinks he's JFK.

We pointed this out back in January, when nobody gave him a serious chance against Eileen Brady; Smith was off to Washington, D.C. to meet with supporters there. Now he's going to San Diego, with the same type of smarmy Facebook come-on he used earlier:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 5:00pm

Home of Hon. Kevin Beiser and Dan Mock, 8262 Kaplan Drive, San Diego, CA, 92123

You’re invited to meet Portland, Oregon's progressive mayoral candidate, Jefferson Smith. He's attracted national press as a good government campaigner. Joe Trippi said it's "A Glimpse of What Politics Can Be." Daily Kos called him "a rock star in the making."

Jefferson’s ideology is civic engagement and his leadership is renowned. His decade old non-profit is now a national model of hands-on democracy. His colleagues in the Oregon House elected and re-elected him to house leadership. He gave the University of Oregon’s commencement address in 2012, introduced President Obama in 2008, and helped move Portland’s money out of private banks and into credit unions -- all before being elected citywide.

In the primary, Jefferson gathered more individual contributors faster than any campaign in city history, held 107 house parties, and knocked on more than 49,000 doors. For November’s general election, he needs to connect with even more people. And you can help.

More information -- and a link to donate -- can be found at www.jeffersonsmith.com.
You can follow the campaign on Facebook at www.facebook.com/forwardwithjeffersonsmith

Many thanks to our generous co-host committee and to Elizabeth Leventhal and Hon. Kevin Beiser for making this happen: Hon. Bob Filner, Hon. Marty Block, Hon. Marti Emerald, Hon. Todd Gloria, Hon. Richard Barrera, Hon. Dave Roberts, Hon. George Gastil, Hon. Tim Nader, Hon. Humberto Peraza, Hon. Maria Nieto Senour, *SDCDP Chair Jess Durfee, *SDSPOA President Jesus Montana, Francine Busby, Bruce M. Abrams, Crystal Crawford, Dwayne Crenshaw, Brian Polejes, Stephen Whitburn, Laurie Black, Carol Waldman, Gary Rotto, Scott Silverman, Christopher Ward, Dan Mock, Don Mullen, Johnny Logan, John Falchi, Jerry Ollinger, and Martha Sullivan.

Wow. This guy is running for Portland mayor on out-of-state money; making it obvious that Portland City Hall is his stepping stone to something else; or all of the above. We wish he'd find a gig in San Diego and stay there.

Breaking news: Portland patches two potholes

A bemused reader writes:

After months of waiting for the city to repair the potholes in North Portland, at the corner of Denver and Alberta, the crack pothole repair team arrived, all three trucks, one SUV and four highly skilled roadway engineers. The intersection was closed to all traffic by a yellow-vest-wearing "traffic co-coordinator." Within just short of 2½ hours of shovel standing and meetings of the four engineers on how to best attack the situation, this is the final result of their ever so hard endeavor.

I really wish I were kidding, but I’m not.

Don't let the hipsters see this

Or your Portland neighborhood will soon have a few.

Write in LaVonne Griffin-Valade for mayor of Portland

We've tried and tried, but can't come around to holding our nose and voting for either Char-Lie Hales or Jeffer-Sten Smith in the Portland mayoral election. They're both truly awful candidates who will bring the city further down the road to fiscal disaster and trashed livability.

But yesterday an alert reader said something in a comment here that actually sounds good: Write in Lavonne Griffin-Valade, the city auditor. Griffin-Valade and her staff have been doing a pretty good job pointing out much of the folly of the Sam Rand Twins. They've reported the fact that the city is borrowing its way into insolvency. They've criticized the loosey-goosey accounting shenanigans at the Portland Development Commission. They've called the water bureau out for its mission creep ways and its cozy relationships with consultants. They've blown the whistle on overtime abuses in the fire bureau.

In other words, Griffin-Valade has quickly learned a lot about what's wrong at City Hall, and she hasn't been shy about speaking up to the Bully and his court jester. And so we think she'd make a good mayor. It's our plan to write her name in the blank in November.

Of course, getting a write-in campaign going for her won't be easy, as she's got three names to remember, and they're all easy to misspell. Not to mention the four capital letters in there. But right now, let's start with a first name: LaVonne for Mayor.

Plastic bag ban isn't enough -- pay up

No City of Portland program is complete without nickel-and-diming the citizenry into oblivion. And so it's about to go with the ban on grocery store plastic bags. The visionaries behind this move have just discovered that if you ban plastic bags, people use more brown paper bags. A lot more. And so now they'll make the grocery stores charge a nickel for a paper bag.

Most places we shop give a nickel credit if you bring your own bag, and so this shouldn't be any skin off our nose. But we wouldn't be surprised if the nickels all wound up at City Hall to be handed over to Mark Edlen.

Of course, the hype never stops:

On the environmental side, however, Gilliam says there's no doubt the bag ban has cut down on litter. According to his data, 8.5 million fewer plastic bags per month have come from Portland's large grocery stores. In six months, that's meant a reduction of about 52 million bags that are not getting stuck in recycling facilities' equipment or becoming litter on streets, or in waterways or parks.

Come on -- 52 million fewer bags either in recycling bins or on the ground as litter? Somebody's "green" nose is growing.

Planning with Babs

We got a kick out of this story in one of the two silly Portland business papers. In it, former Gov. Barbara Roberts, now a bobblehead on the Metro government board, tells us that she's so happy that the "planners" are really listening to people about what kind of development they want on Barbur Boulevard from Portland to Newberg. If it weren't for Roberts and her fellow Metro drone Carl Hosticka, why, the planners would have made up their minds about what to do before asking for public input:

Rather than telling people what to expect, Metro started the conversation by asking communities what they wanted.

Roberts said when she and fellow Metro Councilor Carl Hosticka were asked to lead the effort she knew there was an opportunity to change the dialogue.

"We both felt strongly that governments too often step up and tell people what they’re going to get, rather than ask them what they want," she said. "Carl and I have done government long enough to know that there is merit in doing it the other way."

She probably actually believes that, but let's face it: If it doesn't involve a light rail mystery train and rows and rows of hideous apartment bunkers, the Metro's, their developer overlords, and especially Earl the Pearl, the bow-tied bike nymph who brings the magic federal dollars, are going to lose all interest in that project.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ladd's Addition, early summer

Char-Lie Hales won't let it drop

Busted for plagiarism, at the very least, the Portland mayoral candidate is now accusing the city's daily newspaper of lying about him in the Tourgate scandal. First it was a volunteer's fault; now it's the Oregonian's fault. When the truth comes to light and it's the opposite of his version of the facts, it's never Char-Lie's fault. You wonder how many other falsehoods he's got floating around out there, in addition to the several glaring whoppers he's already been exposed over.

Not that his opponent is any better. As we all know, he's got plenty of almost-true stories to tell, and a million excuses, too. This city is doomed.

Preying on the weak

Of course handing public water over to Nestlé sounds good to Cascade Locks. The place is starving. A casino would be fine with most of the unemployed workers, too. We're surprised that they aren't talking to the nuclear waste people.

Today Cascade Locks, tomorrow Bull Run. The Portland water system is mortgaged to the hilt, and the way things are going, Cascade Locks-style desperation in Portland isn't hard to foresee. The water bureau already has a catchy slogan and a luxury tour bus. Just switch the logo to this, and you'll never notice a difference:

Cops bust pair in hillbilly heroin heists

They say they've solved the January oxycodone holdups at Fairley's Phramacy.

Creepy gets a toaster

Whoopdee doo, the City of Portland has deposited $2.5 million in 10 local banks and credit unions. That'll show Jamie Dimon!

"Big banks have gotten a lot bigger. Local leadership of these banks is overwhelmingly fantastic, but I have deep concerns about the company-wide practices and policies set by the home office."

You tell 'em, Mayor. You are "overwhelmingly fantastic," too. Although if you had waited until December, the local outfits might have given you a calendar.

She doesn't like Randy's "tone"

The Portland city auditor has a curious message for the city fire bureau's management regarding the obscene amount of overtime that firefighters chow down on every year:

Good stewardship of public funds is more likely to occur in an environment where the "tone at the top" about the use of extra pay is strongly stated, and is effectively and regularly communicated through the ranks. This tone should reflect management's commitment to its public safety mission, but also to safeguarding public resources. In all cases, the culture of a public agency should be rooted in providing service to the community as efficiently and effectively as possible. While procedures for authorization and proper use are important, employees should have a clear understanding of management's mindset on resource management, especially in cases where extra pay is available.

They need to know the Admiral's "mindset"? That may be a challenge.

The whole, odd report is here.

Another new tax idea for the Sam Rand Twins

A reader writes in to suggest that Portland adopt a new tax on strip club customers: A $5 cover charge, as it were, with the funds dedicated to raise money for testing of DNA samples from rape victims. They're trying it out in Houston.

Of course, with Oregon's no-holds-barred free speech rights to flaunt one's genitalia for pay, such a tax may be unconstitutional. But as the discussion in Houston suggests, perhaps strip clubs are the wrong target in any event:

A study Cohen relies upon to make the link states: "Are sexually-oriented-businesses, alcohol, and the victimization and perpetration of sexual violence against women connected? An exhaustive review of the literature says yes."

Several paragraphs later, though, the same study states: "However, no study has authoritatively linked alcohol, sexually-oriented-businesses, and the perpetration of sexual violence."

Councilman C.O. Bradford also called the nexus into question. He said that according to Houston Police Department, apartment complexes are the most common location for sexual assaults, and that sexually oriented businesses are 10th.

Perhaps the fairest solution, then, would be a $5 a month tax on all apartment rents. How about it, Portland City Council?

Obamacare shocker: It's a tax

Chief Justice John Roberts jumps ship.

UPDATE, 7:55 a.m.: The actual Supreme Court decision is here. It's like the health care law itself: a chopped-up mess.

And speaking of jurisprudential disaster areas, here's another opinion today in which they couldn't get five justices to sign the same opinion.

UPDATE, 8:02 a.m.: Here's some funkiness: Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito all sign a dissenting opinion (that is, none of them do).

UPDATE, 8:20 a.m.: For the tax geeks among us, a majority of the Court in the health care case did make some law about the scope of a "direct tax," which Congress is not allowed to impose without apportionment among the states:

A tax on going without health insurance does not fall within any recognized category of direct tax. It is not a capitation. Capitations are taxes paid by every person, "without regard to property, profession, or any other circumstance." Hylton, supra, at 175 (opinion of Chase, J.) (emphasis altered). The whole point of the shared responsibility payment is that it is triggered by specific circumstances — earning a certain amount of income but not obtaining health insurance. The payment is also plainly not a tax on the ownership of land or personal property. The shared responsibility payment is thus not a direct tax that must be apportioned among the several States.

UPDATE, 8:28 a.m.: So, is Roberts the new Souter?

UPDATE: 8:38 a.m.: Consolation prize for the Republicans: Five Justices, including Roberts, did say that Congress could not have passed the individual mandate using its powers under the Commerce Clause. But since it's a tax, that didn't matter in this case.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tick tick tick

The Supreme Court's decision on the Obama-Wyden health care hash is, by all accounts, just hours away.

Brush with greatness

The car parked next to ours in the hotel garage in Eugene:

Maybe they were sick of all the Windows Updates

Whatever the motivation, these folks weren't taking a support ticket.

$60 a year to park on the street in front of your own business

And another $60 a year to park on the street in front of your own house. This is Portland now. We're from the city and we're here to help you.

Streetcar Smith gets one right

This message was posted on F-book this morning by the folks trying to save the West Hayden Island bald eagles from the moneygrubbers at the Port and City of Portland:

Kudos to the Planning Commission last night for insisting that there be a Health Impact Assessment done for Hayden Island and especially to Commissioner Chris Smith for insisting that it be done before the Commission votes. It was disappointing to hear Planning Bureau staff leadership once again trying to railroad this thing through by suggesting that the commission vote before the HIA is completed.

Not all "green" Portlanders are hypocrites -- only the ones on the public payrolls.

Whoa, Domino

Stockton, California is going into bankruptcy. Kate Brown suggests that Oregon counties can't do the same, at least not yet. Well, they'll have to do something.

Chainsaws in the Gorge

This story is more than a little surprising.

New chart says the patient is very ill

The rules about reporting public pension liabilities continue to drift slowly but surely toward requiring states and localities to tell some semblance of the truth when it comes to how much they owe to retirees, and how much they actually have put aside to pay them. The more accurate the financial statements become, the clearer it gets what a mess we're all in.

Crooked houses

Some frightening truths here about our politicians. Executive summary: They're mostly crooks.

Willy Week breaks the Ellen Silence

Now that Ellen Rosenblum is about to be sworn in as Oregon attorney general, weekly newspaper Willamette Week has come to a decision about how it's going to cover her tenure in office, given that her husband is the publisher and co-owner of that paper. In a sidebar to its first article on her since she announced that she was running for the office, WW has announced that all decisions about coverage of Rosenblum's department will be made not by editor-in-chief and co-owner Mark Zusman, but instead by news editor Brent Walth.

Walth answers to Zusman, of course, and he's only worked at Willy Week since April of last year (other than a prior stint from 1986 to 1989). Giving him free rein on covering Rosenblum is better than ignoring the obvious conflicts of interest, but it's certainly no guarantee of impartiality. We suspect that this situation may evolve into something else over the next few years.

Meanwhile, on the substance, the article is all about pot, with which everyone at WW is curiously obsessed. But it casually points out that Rosenblum considers Dave Frohnmayer a mentor. Ding dong, Kroger's bought off, and the Old Boys' money is safe again.

Countdown to the pro hoops player draft

The NBA's annual picking of new rookie players goes off tomorrow night -- in Newark, N.J., of all places. The Blazers will pick 6th and 11th. Given that the team is currently lying in pieces in the ground, anybody good Portland gets, at any position, would be a plus.

But will they make good decisions? Their new general manager just showed up for work a few weeks ago. And although the Blazers have had some good draft days -- 2006, the year they got LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy, was spectacular -- they've had at least three of the biggest busts in history. That would be LaRue Martin instead of Bob McAdoo or Julius Erving; Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan; and Greg Oden instead of Kevin Durant. The list of other bad Portland choices is long: Travis Outlaw, Qyntel Woods, Sebastian Telfair, Victor Claver...

Another possibility is that Paul Allen will ship off the two picks and who knows what else to get Orlando big man Dwight Howard. That would spark a lot of interest out here in the rainy northwest.

In any event, let's hope tomorrow night is at least a modest success for Portland. The beleaguered Blazer fans deserve it. And to check in with said fans over the next few crucial days, there is no better place to go than here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Skinner Butte

A nice walk -- even better than as captured by a crude cell phone camera:

The thrill is gone

Reports are that President Obama is coming back to Portland next month. Given the many letdowns he's provided over the last four years, no doubt the crowds will be smaller and less adoring. We certainly won't be paying much attention to whatever prepared message he has this time around. He's a somewhat better choice than Romney; that's nothing to get excited about. Then again, it may be the last time he ever sets foot in town, which may be an attraction, if a somewhat depressing one.

Can we bring pie?

If so, we'd like a front row seat for this guy's speech.

Maybe we should bring two pies -- one for Char-Lie Hales, who answers to his beck and call.

Dear ninnies

A peeved reader copied us on an e-mail message he sent to the five members of the Portland City Council over the mayor's latest insanity, his war with Tri-Met over youth passes. The reader wrote:

It really is time for the Portland City Council to stop the insanity.

A 2,000 percent rise in fees charged to TriMet is an indication that the couuncil is composed of a bunch of two year olds having a temper tantrum when they can't get their way.

Grow up.

It is PPS' obligation to provide transportation for its students. PPS, to my knowledge, like every district in Oregon, receives dedicated dollars from the state education department for transportation of every student, whether kindergartner or highschool senior.

Perhaps a more fruitful expenditure of Council's energy would be to determine what PPS actually does with the dedicated dollars from the state for transport of high school students.

I will urge TriMet to immediately cease payments to PBOT for the Portland Streetcar in the event this silly fee increase goes through.

If you want to run TriMet, ask the Governor to appoint you to the Board. Steve Clark, now living and working in Corvallis, is ineligible for TriMet Board membership, and there is at least one opening there.

If you want to run PPS and decide on funding for student transportation, run for the PPS Board.

As Mayor and City Councillors, your jobs are actually the provision of core city services.

High school students' transportation is not part of that core mission.

Interesting observation about Steve Clark, by the way.

Meanwhile, the blue sheep bleat along with their hero here.

Fast people and lots of rent-a-cops

We're blogging live from Track Town USA, a.k.a. the UC Nike campus in Bleugene, where some of us try to conduct normal business in the presence of the U.S. Olympic trials in track and field. Today's the first of two "rest days" down here, but there are still a lot of skinny runner types milling around town. We wish we knew which were the famous ones -- we can't ask them all for autographs.

The athletes may be taking a breather, but the security around Hayward Field is in full force and effect. And do we mean security -- we'd forgotten how fraught with danger is any event with the word "Olympics" in its name. It's reminiscent of the scene around the White House. We think we heard a bomb-sniffing dog bark at one point.

In any event, wandering around the rest of the campus, we saw a lot of old brick buildings that look like they will fall down in a big earthquake. Quite the contrast with the giant sports palaces that have come to define the place. It's like the University of Alabama, only with constant drizzle.

Granted, it does bring to mind deck chairs

Still, it's interesting that the O's late take on the Tri-Met office move boondoggle focuses on the furniture.

Portland police, brought to you by Mattress World

Don't laugh, it could happen.

For college football, a national playoff system

Think it will eliminate the annual controversy over who's no.1? Probably not every year. But in a lot of years, it should provide a satisfactory answer -- and of course, lots of money for a select few college athletic departments to burn.

O website's new look debuts

Same old skimpy stuff, repackaged. Is the change somehow related to ceasing publication of a daily dead-tree edition? Only time will tell.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Somebody, please adjust Adams's meds

The last months of the Sam Rand Regime are becoming excruciatingly painful to watch. Now the mayor has decided he is going to run Tri-Met. Our prediction that he may self-destruct before his term is up may come true after all.

Pity the poor city attorney's office, which has to act as though everything's on the up-and-up. Those people must be drinking heavily.

Public-private partnerships wrecking cities

The kind of shenanigans in which Portland City Hall specializes -- pledging tax revenues to prop up favored developers and businesses -- is leading to severe financial problems for municipalities from coast to coast. This story lays it out pretty well, and we found this passage more than a little amusing:

The "full faith and taxing power" of communities, a solemn pledge, was being used to guarantee revenue bonds for nonessentials like solar-power projects, apartment buildings and a soccer stadium — things bailout-weary taxpayers might walk away from if the guarantees were called.

Moody’s cut several communities' own credit ratings to junk, briefly making New Jersey the nation’s leader in junk-rated municipalities. (Now Michigan has that distinction.) The gritty town of Harrison, just across the Passaic River from Newark, had its rating cut a rare eight notches in a single year, when it couldn't honor a promise to pay debts connected with construction of the Red Bull soccer stadium.

Harrison had to borrow from Hudson County to get through the crisis, but that in turn raised doubts about whether the county's taxpayers would honor their guarantee of yet another project's debts — $85 million for a faltering waste-disposal system.

So much worthless junk, strapping local government and depriving a future generation of basic public services. We hope the historians name names.

Supreme Court sticks to its corporate guns

They're not going back on Citizens United. Corporations have the same speech rights you do, and states have no power to declare otherwise. Oh, the brilliance.

Can you imagine the Court with some Romney people added to the mix? Maybe Donald Trump would be available to serve as a justice.

No leaf tax required

A City of Portland street sweeper crew has now made a couple of passes up and down our street today. Sweeping up absolutely nothing.

Maybe those workers should be doing something about this, which we noted here last week. Let's just hope that Char-Lie and Jeffer-Sten have some grownups available to take the street bureau back from the infants.

Another wheel comes off Vestas

They're closing a factory in China, and dumping a plan to build one in England. Remember when Mayor Creepy said that maybe they'd pay back the massive loan that Portland taxpayers gave them ahead of schedule? Too funny. The loan wasn't made to Vestas, anyway -- it went to City Hall puppeteer Mark Edlen's firm, which owns the Vestas headquarters building. Funny thing -- Vestas will be gone soon, but Edlen wil still be around, doing just fine.

Sunday Parkways spreading to Clackistan

Should be a nice place for a bike ride, if it isn't too hot on August 19. Depending on the size of the cyclist crowd, it might even be a good route to walk that day.

Questioning the Portland "food desert" hype

Here's a critical look at one of City Hall's fads du jour.

Surprise! Mystery Train prompts Tri-Met office upgrade

The shinola in Portland never stops. All of a sudden, light rail to Milwaukie means big office remodeling pork for Hoffman Construction. Oh, and guess who Tri-Met's going to rent a bunch of new office space from. Give up? The Saltzmans! Tax looting at its finest. No wonder they cancelled your bus.

Storm season arrives in Fukushima

The new big worry for the tottering triple-meltdown site: the possibility of tornadoes, like the one that passed through south of there last month.

Ninth Circuit catching Fox News heat for Hawaii confab

The last time we checked, Hawaii was a state, and in the Ninth Circuit. But the toupees from places like Iowa and Alabama don't think it's right for the circuit's judges to go there for a conference, ever. Gee, maybe New York or San Francisco would be cheaper.

A good sign for Obama

If "it's the economy, stupid," he's going to lose. But a poll shows that most Americans don't expect the economy to improve no matter who wins. That leaves social policy, and the tighty righties aren't going to win with their agenda on that stuff. Then there's the Supreme Court...

Vestas jobs a stump point for Obama

The President's campaign is selling the wind tax credit hard in Pueblo, where Vestas, the troubled Danish wind power company, has its U.S. production jobs. Vestas's offices are here in Portlandia.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


The Mrs. has a sharp eye for bargains. Every now and then she'll take a flyer on a cheap bottle of wine at Trader Joe's. (That place is a chick thing.) Sometimes it's a hit, other times a bust.

The other day she came home with a red wine called Flying Heart. Gack! Way too sweet. But it seemed to us that it might be a good base for a sangria. So we corked it back up until this evening, when we tried to remember what the Portguese bartenders in Down Neck Newark put in the pitcher.

We were right about this wine. Sangria may be all it's good for, but it's excellent for that purpose. Now we're sipping away on some divine stuff and picturing ourselves on a balcony overlooking the beach in Nazaré. And dinner is all fresh seafood, which adds to the atmosphere.

Here's the recipe for the sangria:

Combine in a glass pitcher:

2 shots Fundador brandy
1 shot Triple Sec
4 oz. or so orange juice out of a carton
1 tablespoon table sugar

Fruit, all cut up fairly small:
Half of a lime, juice squeezed into the mix
Half of a golden delicious apple
Half of an orange, unsqueezed, with some of the rind trimmed off
3 brandy soaked cherries out of a jar, and a splash of the brandy they were soaking in

Ice cubes
1 bottle Flying Heart red wine

Stir with wooden spoon. Let it fester for a while. Serve on the rocks in water glasses; make sure some fruit spills in.

It's potent stuff. Sip and don't drive. Before eating the fruit, remember what you're supposed to do tomorrow morning.

No idea too dopey

Portland's mayor is really serious about his $35-a-head "income tax" (not) to fund arts and music in schools. Aside from the illegality of it -- readers have pointed out to us not one but two apparently fatal flaws -- we learn from his written come-on to the rest of the City Council that the thing would cost $525,000 up front to set up, and another $500,000 a year to run. Of course, we are at the liars' budget stage, and so those costs are probably understated. Not to mention the expenses of the litigation that would surely erupt if the thing were to pass. What a goofball.

And it's not like the city's taxpayers aren't already pungling up for the arts. This article in the O a few days ago seems to indicate that Portland taxpayers just forked over a $400,000 match to "local arts and culture groups."

Leaf tax, head tax, garbage snitches -- Portland under the Sam Rands has become quite a petty little place.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The 1% sound a little nervous

We got a second version of this in the mail the other day:

The first one showed up a couple of months ago. This time, the estate tax haters say their message, once again signed by ex-Gov. Vic Atiyeh, is "urgent." They say they've gathered "tens of thousands of signatures," but they've got to make it to 87,233 valid ones and there are "only a couple weeks remaining until the deadline."

Somebody's got a lot of money to play with to be engaged in this expensive campaign. If they can afford this, their kids can afford to pay into the state treasury when the old folks die.

Sam Rands and the Coliseum: epic fail

Maybe it's time to pull the plug on this one until the next mayor and City Council get here.

It's worse than you think

Inequality of wealth in America, that is. [More here.]

Nuke trouble on Lake Michigan

Here's a creaky old plant that ought to be shut down for good.

Ooooh, baby, baby, it's a wild world

And that should be big part of the debate in the Presidential election.

Why are apartment bunkers being built in Portland?

There are number of factors, including massive city subsidies. But a lot of it is because so many college-educated young people with no real job prospects have decided they want to to live in "cool" Portlandia. They'll stay until they grow up. In the meantime, they'll park in front of your house.

Life in Oregon

With and without health insurance.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A little bit of computer hell

We've had a rough 24 hours on our desktop computer (don't laugh, it's running Windows Vista). All of a sudden Google Music wouldn't play music. And when it tried to, YouTube videos wouldn't have any sound. After a while the YouTube came back, but Google Music remained fubarred. Some other flash movies also had no sound. These problems existed across four different browsers.

It's a problem with Flash Player 11, a true POS from Adobe. Even they admit it's screwed up. We finally uninstalled Flash Player 11.3 and reverted all the way back to 10.3. Problems solved, at least so far.

High-tech dolts.

Joshua Berger is home

The Portland artist and designer who took a nasty fall from his bicycle last month is finally out of the hospital. He's at home with his small, young family, and on a long, slow path to recovery from a traumatic brain injury. His medical bills and home care and rehab expenses are going to be enormous, and insurance isn't going to come anywhere close to covering them. And so his many friends continue to chip in to help Berger. So far, they've raised $18,000, but the goal is $60,000. The donation site is here; we threw in a few bucks and urge our readers to join in. Just because it's a good person in need.

The monsignor is guilty

To quote LeBron James, "it's about damn time" that somebody in a Roman collar went to jail over pedophilia. And it should not stop with one guy.

Have a great weekend

Polishing the deck chairs

The Portland water bureau has some slick new web pages. You can enjoy the fruits of your hard-earned water bill here. Think of it as your virtual luxury tour bus. And ooooohh -- it's in "beta"! Sexy.

Apparently the whole city web presence is being converted over to the new look. Oh so pretty, on the surface.

Jeffer-Sten's Tweeter

Carla Axtman, a long-time figure in the Portland blogosphere, has joined the ranks of Portland's small army of paid Tweeters. She was reportedly paid $12,000 as a "social media consultant" to the mayoral primary campaign of Mr. ADD. If he becomes mayor -- and he's got an even shot at it at this point -- we suspect she may be appointed as the new Amy Ruiz at City Hall.

Nurse Amanda is ready for some dirty money

The queen of "clean money" -- who said that she couldn't run for office unless the taxpayers paid for it -- is now willing to take $250 per contributor. That's up from the $50 limit she set in the primary.

Fritz has reportedly contributed more than $180,000 to her own campaign. Her opponent, a former high-level City Hall bureaucrat and a long-time member of the Goldschmidt party, has tons of money from all the powers that be in Portlandia. We'll probably be holding our nose and voting for Fritz in November, but we won't cry too hard if she loses, as we have long predicted she will.

Here's one way to beat the public employees unions

Declare a state of emergency. Heck, the Portland City Council passes so many "emergency" ordinances that this one ought to be right up their alley.

Char-Lie Hales busted again

He lies about his state of residence, lies about his record on the City Council, and now it's revealed he makes up stories about touring police precincts with prospective constituents -- plagiarizes the stories, in fact.

As if we didn't have enough campaign lies from the mayor we have now. Portland never learns.

Portland summer

Wasn't it great?

Party in South Beach

Well, the Miami Heat are the champs of American pro hoops for the asterisk season of 2011-2012. We're happy for Juwan Howard, Pat Riley, Dwayne Wade, Portland boy Erik Spoelstra... pretty much everyone on the Heat team, except you-know-who.

As for Oklahoma City, they weren't as hot as we thought they were. Granted, the referees made their lives difficult, but they didn't come close to rising to the challenge. They've got so much talent, but the chemistry seemed a little off. Westbrook and Durant are a fantastic one-two punch, but they're not sufficiently in sync to go all the way. At least not yet.

NBA commissioner David Stern seemed a little scattered at the post-game trophy ceremony. At a couple of points, it almost seemed as though he was losing his place on the script. Wonder who will succeed him.

Except for the really hard-core hoops fans, who will now obsess about such trivia as draft picks and trades, it's time for a couple of sleepy, shining months of baseball, soccer, tennis, and the Olympics. England swings like a pendulum do...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nuke "die-in" for Japan in Portland tomorrow afternoon

They're planning to suggest to the Japanese powers that they ought to leave their nuke plants turned off until the earthquake danger passes -- in other words, indefinitely.

"Creative class" spiel was pure hot air

But you knew that all along, right?

Bike share: It's a white male thing

So where's the equity in City Hall paying for it?

Another month, another $70 million of debt for Portland City Hall

The City of Portland's going to the well to borrow more tens of millions of dollars this week -- $73.7 million for "urban renewal" malarkey in the "River District," which looks to be the Pearl and vicinity. Around $33.2 million of it will refinance bonds issued back in 2003. The other $40.5 million or so will apparently be used to pay off back-room "line of credit" deals already made with Wells Fargo and one or more other lenders (if we had to guess, Bank of America). The official sales pitch is here.

The new bonds carry a Moody's rating of A1. That's the fifth rung down on the Moody's rating ladder -- four down from Aaa and popularly translated as "upper medium grade."

The city's long-term debt, counting bonds, lines of credit, and unfunded pension liability, is now about $11,000 per resident, and rising.

Meanwhile, if you think the municipal bond world is on the up-and-up, you might want to put a little time aside to read this fascinating tale of woe. There are snakes under every rock.

Portland sewer barons drain everyone dry

No one's money is safe, it seems, so long as Portland City Hall is running a sewer system. Now the customers of a bunch of drainage districts out by the Columbia River are feeling the suction.

Busy New Seasons + heavy bike traffic = worry

The cyclist crowd is giving the City of Portland's plans for Williams Avenue some mixed reviews.

Iberdrola on the brink

It sounds as though the Spaniards are putting their U.S. wind business, based in Portland, up for sale:

Recharge indicated that Iberdrola Renewable's parent company, the Spanish utility Iberdrola SA, was looking for strategic alternatives for its U.S. business.

That usually means a takeover, which could well mean that the Portland office jobs will soon be gone. Another bad bet of taxpayers' money by the Portland Development Commission -- bad for everyone except Iberdrola's local landlord, of course.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bernancke prints up some more money

They call it an "asset purchase program." That may be the ultimate lie. What assets? Federal government IOU's are not "assets," folks, except to the banker types who own them. For the average guy, it's Wall Street sucking the life out of the country's future.

Meanwhile, people's savings earn nothing. Our poor kids. What should we tell them? It's stupid to save money. Maybe you shouldn't go to college. What a screwed-up mess.

It's time to let a few banks and a lot of businesses fail, and cut the Jamie Dimons and Merritt Paulsons loose. It would be awful, but maybe in 10 years or so we could recover from that. The craziness we're engaged in now is going to have far worse effects in the long run. It's self-destructive.

Just in time for the Duck dynasty

Football may be on the way out.

Sunday Parkways -- on Terwilliger?

There's something about crowds of inexperienced bicyclists on a notoriously long and sometimes-steep hill that makes us nervous.

Something is very, very wrong

There's no way on earth that this should have happened in this day and age. These kids have been injured, and some day they may pay a high price for adult stupidity. Somebody, please figure out how to prevent a recurrence, with any child.

Portland Smart Park really starting to smart

Check out the new rate structure coming the week after next at the downtown Portland Smart Park garages. You can currently park for four hours for $6. But under the new menu, that will cost you $7. Math majors out there will note that that's a 16.7% increase.

And with Fareless Square gone and Tri-Met going to a $2.50 fare, you'll spend likely spend $5 getting downtown and back that way starting September 1. Depending on how far you go, the current fare could be as little as $4.20 -- and so that is a 19% increase.

You're not getting any new services out of this, of course -- you'll actually get less -- but hey, it's all going to pay some retired bureaucrat's pension, and so apparently it's worth it. You don't really want to shop or eat somewhere with a free parking lot, do you?

Come see the Columbia Gouge... er, I mean Gorge

As expected, the Portland City Council passed the hotel occupancy tax increase today -- $3 a night on a $150 room. But only in big hotels. And the money will be handed over to something called a "public-private agency." Never heard of that one before -- but the smell is familiar. Somebody's nephew with a p.r. firm is about to get some nice make-work.

Travel Portland will use the funds to enhance marketing efforts and raise the city’s visibility with out-of-state visitors.

The new fee applies to hotels with 50 [or] more rooms and is not levied on emergency shelters or people traveling on government business.

And how will the hotel operator know whether visitors are traveling "on government business"? Take the traveler's word or it? Better hire a few more city bureaucrats to check up.

Coming soon to Portlandia

The latest in "smart trips," a.k.a. "active transportation." For health, sustainability, equity, and the children.

The garbage audit we'd really like to see

The Portland city auditor released an audit report yesterday on the rates charged for garbage service in town. It's a fairly bland document, officially posted here and summarized by the O here.

Unfortunately, the audit didn't answer, or even ask, a lot of questions about the Portland garbage ordeal that we'd like to see addressed somewhere, by somebody. Like these:

1. Exactly where does the money we pay to our garbage hauler go? To which government does he or she pay fees? To which private companies? How are those rates set?

2. What do transfer station operators and landfill operators pay or receive for their part of the process?

3. Is it true that most or all the compost material currently being generated in Portland is being trucked all the way to Seattle and Yakima for processing?

4. How many more (or fewer) truck miles are being logged as a result of Portland's new food waste program?

5. Which private companies own the compost they produce from Portland yard debris and food slop? Where do they sell it? How much of a profit are they making on it?

6. Is organized crime a major influence over garbage collection and disposal in Portland, the way it has always been up and down the East Coast?

Addressing these issues might win an enterprising auditor or reporter a Pulitzer Prize. Then again, it might get his or her kneecaps broken. Don't hold your breath waiting for answers.

Another fine mess: Adams's Burnside

We scoffed last night at the Portland mayor's latest delusional claims about traffic safety and infrastructure maintenance. Among his misguided comments were these:

I have worked for a long time to make West Burnside safer and less of a barrier to Downtown Portland and the Pearl District. Since my first weeks as an elected official, I have wrestled with the problem of humanizing Burnside.

A reader who shares our disgust at these statements writes: "Have you seen West Burnside recently? The crosswalks on West Burnside are in terrible shape." And the reader sends along links to some photos to prove it: here and here and here. Here's what it looks like these days crossing Burnside at Powell's:

A big reason that many Portland streets are in such bad shape is that the city transportation budget has been diverted for bicycle and streetcar toys. Among the many things the mayor can't do too well is lie about that. But that doesn't mean he'll ever stop trying.

Fox news

Technology makes an interesting find up on Mount Hood.

More on the Portland Christo Building

Our post of yesterday about the shrink-wrapped, abandoned apartment building at I-205 and Woodstock -- in whose current plight the City of Portland has played a major hand -- drew a couple of fascinating responses. One comes from a neighborhood activist in Lents, who writes:

I'm kind of at wit's end with PDC. Their contract management skills are nonexistent; they don't have any capacity to recruit new business to East Portland, and when you ask them to do so they say it's not their job.

With the Christo building, two years ago they helped the new owner -- who has a pretty good track record -- get some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in city fines stuck to the property waived. The owner still had to reimburse the city for relocating its prior tenants (with the prior owner bankrupt, the taxpayers had to pay for relocation from the not-up-to-code building). Nobody has answers on what's going on with the building. PDC doesn't know. The owner hasn't returned calls. And so it just sits there.

Right up the street, a storefront improvement project to rip the siding off of one of our only retail spots -- four pads, two available -- is now six months old, and three months behind schedule. Did the PDC include any penalties for late construction, or incentives for early completion? Nope. The project gets done when it gets done.

Three buildings in the town center are to be demolished this summer. It's starting to feel like Lower Albina.

Meanwhile, the PDC is happily jumping on the bandwagon of the Foster-Powell area, which they cherry-stemmed into the urban renewal area a few years back and is starting to take off. I would suggest the most likely scenario is they dump cash into the Foster corridor west of 82nd, see it start to look like Alberta or Mississippi, and claim success -- even though the market is already driving the renaissance without their help. To our east, the fine folks in Powellhurst-Gilbert are seeing no benefit from urban renewal, which sucks for Lents, because people east of the river have a tendency to only shop west of where they live. A growing Foster-Powell doesn't help us. A healthy 122nd Avenue corridor does.

Another reader writes to invite us to revisit the owner the Woodstock property: It's a company called Woodstock Crossing, LLC. We've previously tied the property to developer David Emami, and it turns out that the registered agent for the LLC is his wife, Diana Emami, at the same residential address in West Linn as David. As the reader points out, Diana is a member of the state real estate board. "The members are all appointed by the governor," writes the reader. "I guess when you have friends in high places, you can be allowed to keep a huge building (which you bought for pennies on the dollar) shrink-wrapped for two years, contributing to blight in a neighborhood."

Guess so.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mayor Creepy: Outer Powell is the next Pearl District

Apparently his medication needs another adjustment. Only 195 more days of this.

NBA Finals are over

The Miami Heat have taken a 3 games to 1 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder, and no team has ever come back from that deficit in the pro hoops finals. The two principal causes of the Thunder's losses have been the undisciplined play of Russell Westbrook, an enormous talent who works miracles but also shows poor judgment at times; and the officiating, which has been blatantly slanted toward a Miami victory. And so the league will finally get to bestow a championship ring on Lebron James, as it has longed to do.

It's gone from an honest competition to a staged show for about a week now. You'll excuse us if we turn it off at this point and get on with summer. We're certainly not interested in enduring Lebron's victory speech. But it will be a fitting ending to the NBA season of greed.

Oswego Lake public access lawsuit gets more interesting

There are several startling revelations in this document, filed in federal court earlier this month.

Best of the worst

Public employee retirement benefits in Oregon are really starting to cut into the quality of life here. More and more tax revenue is going to pay retired politicians and bureaucrats, and as a result less and less is available for basic public services. Ted Sickinger of the O, who's one of the few reporters in town who understands all this, writes about it here.

For those who like happy talk, meanwhile, you can read this, which natters on about how Oregon is actually relatively better off than most other states. Who was it that talked about being "the last to die for a mistake"?

With two completely different versions of the story floating around, guess which one the Portland Business Journal picked up. Just guess.

W. Hayden Island process "complete sellout of the environment"

The activists who have been opposing the pave-over of bald eagle habitat for a proposed Port of Portland shipping terminal on West Hayden Island are madder than ever now that they've had a little time to digest the hundreds of pages that were dumped on the public last week, with the usual rush-rush timeframe, by the powers that be. Even the most rudimentary cost-benefit analysis shows that the costs of the proposal are high -- both to humans and to wildlife -- and the benefits are dubious. Among the costs:

• Air Pollution Impacts on the Local Community: North Portland currently has the highest levels of diesel emissions in the state -- approximately 20 times the public health standard. A West Hayden Island Marine Industrial facility would add to the existing high-risk conditions by bringing idling ships, trucks, and trains close to at-risk communities. It would potentially add significant particulate matter to our air from grain and other bulk material terminals.

• Lack of a Health Impact Assessment: Despite repeated requests and more than four years of public process, the City and the Port have not performed the most basic analysis of the potential health impacts of the development on local communities. With millions of public dollars invested in the process to ensure the Port’s needs are met, the health, environment, and livability concerns of North Portland communities are ignored continually and completely by avoiding a Health Impact Assessment.

• Transportation and Road Infrastructure Impacts: The new facility would add an additional car to the local road network on average every 20 seconds and an additional truck every 2.8 minutes. The City is proposing to convert North Hayden Island Drive into a major truck route. Cost estimates for new road infrastructure range from $30 million to $100 million in public financing----at a time when the city cannot afford to fill potholes. In addition, the transportation analysis assumes that the CRC will be built as planned as of January 2012---A dubious proposition at best.

• Turning West Hayden Island Into a Contaminated Waste Dump: The Port has already begun filling West Hayden Island floodplains with contaminated materials from the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. Approval of industrial development will bring additional millions of cubic yards of contaminated fill to Hayden Island.

• Loss of an Irreplaceable Natural Area: West Hayden Island is a jewel in our local system of natural areas. Bald eagles nest right in the middle of the area that the Port would convert to parking lots. The Port of Portland continues to reject any reasonable mitigation package to compensate for the loss of this treasure.

On the benefits side:

The ECONorthwest Reports confirm that there is adequate land in Vancouver to meet regional port development needs. Rather than building duplicative facilities that will sit half empty and lose public money, political leaders should insist that the Columbia River Ports work together to develop approaches that will avoid destroying important wildlife areas and local communities.

Think the Goldschmidt people are listening? Of course not.

A timeless monument to greed and stupidity

It's been close to two years since we posted about this monstrosity -- a mixed-use bunker, on Woodstock Boulevard near I-205, that nobody wanted. It was quite the eyesore. And an alert reader down that way wrote us on Sunday to remind us that it's still there, as bad as it ever was:

The reader noted:

I just took these pictures today. The only difference from 2009 is that the plastic wrap is tattered, and they took down the sign proudly announcing it is a PDC [Portland Development Commission] project.... If you want to talk about ruining a neighborhood and blight, look no further. The sidewalk has been closed and the place enclosed in chain link fence. Makes you want to invest and settle right in as a neighbor -- so much for all that multi-use housing demand along the light rail line. I wonder how much money down the rat hole, between transit-oriented development and PDC, has put together this mess.

The infill nobody wants. We should start running tour buses down there for progressive Portlandians to look at it.

Hales takes a bite of the big Wiener

The once invincible, now merely powerful Portland political consultant has a new client, and it's in the close Portland mayoral race. They'll have their hands full with their opponent -- he used to be an enfant terrible, now he's just a terrible.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Portland "youths" going wild

On top of a frighteningly violent week at Laurelhurst Park, tonight we get news of a police officer assaulted at a MAX station in Gresham and a golfer held up at gunpoint on the Heron Lakes Golf Course. It's not even summer yet, but already Portlandia's looking like a rough place. A rough place with streetcars.

Bad sneakers

Adidas has gotten itself into hot water with these. The controversy is so obvious that we wonder whether they did it on purpose.

I feel so much safer

The City of Portland keeps flogging the story that in a big disaster, cargo bikes are going to save us. You have to wonder how many tax dollars we're burning putting this particular bird on it.

You don't know squat

Not like he does, you don't.

City can't get SoWhat ped bridge opened

Apparently, there's an elevator involved, and they can't get it to work. And so this weekend's planned grand opening of the Gibbs Street bridge has had to be postponed. Portland's goofy transportation bureau writes:

[T]he bridge opening has been rescheduled to July or August, with a specific date to be determined in the coming weeks.

The opening was rescheduled to accommodate a new timeline for certification of the bridge’s elevator. Having a certified elevator that is open to the public is the top priority for PBOT staff and contractors working to complete the project.

The Transportation Bureau thanks Portlanders for their patience as we work to reconnect Lair Hill and the Willamette River with a pedestrian and bicycle bridge that is both functional and attractive. Details on when and how the bridge will open – possibly opening the bridge with signs indicating that the elevator is not in service – will be communicated as soon as possible.

An elevator? They've got to be kidding. You can imagine what the inside of that thing is going to be like after a few months of use by the folks who frequent the underbelly of the nearby Ross Island Bridge. They put the "p" in "pedestrian."

Parking meters coming to Portland central eastside

The industrial district between the infernal streetcar and the river is about to get further Blumenauered.


This morning we had the 7 millionth unique visit to this blog, as counted by SiteMeter. That's a lot of visits since we started this hobby nearly a decade ago. The pace continues to increase: The latest million visits came in over a period of 269 days, whereas the immediately preceding million took 307 days. The average unique visits per day over the most recent timeframe was 3,717, as opposed to 3,257 per day over the preceding period. However you slice it, readership's up about 12% to 14% over the last year.

As we said at the last million-visit milestone:

We're truly grateful to have this blog. For us, it's an outlet and a lifeline and a lot of other things. Thanks to our sponsors, lurkers, tipsters, correspondents, advisors, and especially our commenters for making it happen.

We're gearing up for a 10th anniversary in a couple of weeks, and open to suggestion about how we should mark the occasion.

Forget the Indy 500

This event, coming to lovely Estacada on the Fourth of July, eclipses all other motor races.

Metro "Opt In" and "Oregon's Kitchen Table" are from same people

We wrote the other day about the new survey site "Oregon's Kitchen Table," which we thought smelled suspiciously like the "Opt In" survey site operated by Portland's "unique" Metro government. Sure enough, it's the same meat byproduct from the same people, as this e-mail message, which we got the day after our post, confirmed:

As if the "smart growth" apartment developer puppets care what you think.

The whole charade is being orchestrated by a p.r. outfit called DHM Research. No doubt it's costing a pretty penny. But if DHM can really create the appearance that the average person in Portland knows and supports what the "planning" cabal is doing, Bicycle Rex and the boys will be so happy they'll probably pay that firm a bonus.

Portland street punks, please don't hassle the food carts

Aggressive panhandlers have been making downtown Portland an unpleasant place to be for a decade or more. Local merchants complain, but the city acts as if its hands are tied -- civil liberties, you know. But funny thing -- when the street urchins start making trouble for the sacred food carts, suddenly the city seems interested in doing something. The cops will probably just move them to different locations, and just for a while. And the beat goes on.

Oregon has 4th highest state income tax per capita

The State of Oregon collected $1293 per resident in individual income tax in fiscal 2010, according to this study. That's in large part because we have no general sales tax, but the other four no-sales-tax states collected much less state personal income tax per capita than Oregon did:

Delaware: $952
Montana: $724
New Hampshire: $63
Alaska: 0

The highest state income tax collections were in New York, at $1796 per person; California was no. 5, just behind Oregon, at $1229; Idaho was no. 31, at $684.

Portlandia waits patiently

We have vegan strippers, we have backyard chickens, and we have plenty of fakers, but the ultimate vegan fake chicken strips aren't here yet.

Doing the garden, digging the weeds

Paul McCartney turns 70 today.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

It's Supreme Court Obamacare rumor time

Here's an educated guesser, but even he's not sure exactly how much of the health care hash will be scraped down the disposal. He does think the so-called "individual mandate" is going down, and we'd be shocked if he was wrong about that. But there are lots of other provisions in the law, including some tax rules, and it's anybody's guess what will happen to them.

So when will the Court's decisions come down? A really bright law professor's scholarly view of the timing is here. We should have all the answers by the 28th, which is a week from Thursday; maybe they will be out as early as the 25th, a week from tomorrow. The Court can take the case into overtime, or let it rip this week, but those possibilities both seem unlikely.

Also interesting is what's to happen with the Montana case trashing Citizens United. The Court may do something with that one tomorrow morning.

It's all coming together

They're starting up the nukes again in Japan. And Mother Nature's starting the earthquakes back up. What a combination.

Blogging and blood pressure

We were buying some strawberries at a roadside stand the other day, and we eavesdropped on a couple of older guys standing in the sun, off to one side of the truck. The one fellow was saying that his doctor told him not to watch the news, or listen to it on the radio. "Especially not the local news," he added. "It puts 4 to 7 points on your blood pressure.

"So I stopped watching any of it," he said. "I go around in my own little world now."

On a pleasant drive home, soaking up a gorgeous morning, with classical music on the radio, we thought about what the man had said. We follow the news pretty closely, particularly the local stuff. Could it be doing us bodily harm?

Maybe not, we concluded. Because we don't just read the news and stew over it -- we write about it and get our reaction off our chest. That's got to make a healthy difference, we said, hopefully.

A little while later, we came across a news story that seems loosely related. It's about gossip. Sure, we all badmouth gossip and its mongers, but it's actually a necessary thing for the functioning of society -- a good thing, in wicked sort of way. Take a look at the story here, and see if you don't agree.

But man... 4 to 7 points. We're still stewing about that one. Maybe we ought to turn this into a blog about meditation or something.

Bust a move

These images are wonderful.

Happy Father's Day

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Scenes from a drug bust

The Portland police released some pretty interesting photos this afternoon to go with what would have otherwise been a fairly routine press release about the arrest of an alleged drug dealer. The photos are here:

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8

The words:

On Wednesday June 13, 2012, investigators from the Portland Police Bureau Drugs and Vice Division (DVD) were conducting follow-up on a recent heroin overdose investigation.

Investigators contacted the resident of 6624 Southeast 72nd Avenue and obtained consent to search his vehicle and residence.

Investigators recovered approximately four (4) pounds of heroin, one (1) pound of cocaine, one (1) pound of methamphetamine, $180,000 in cash, two (2) handguns, and two (2) vehicles, a 2003 Honda Odyssey van and a 2003 Dodge Caravan. Additionally, investigators recovered various scales, packaging material and other evidence to suggest that the suspect was heavily involved in drug trafficking.

Uniquely, investigators recovered several fire extinguishers that appear to have been used to smuggle narcotics into Oregon from California.

The estimated street value of the narcotics is $120,000.

33-year-old David Caserez-Arredondo was arrested and charged with Delivery, Possession and Manufacturing of Heroin, Cocaine and Methamphetamine, and Money Laundering.

This investigation started on June 4, 2012, when Portland Police responded to a Southeast Portland home on the report of a death. Investigators determined that a 22-year-old woman died of a heroin overdose.

Caserez-Arredondo was booked into the Multnomah County Jail.

Lake O. apartment bunkers would be for "equity"

It's pretty clear where the O's sudden interest in the distribution of low-income housing is leading: It will help the apartment bunker construction Mafia make further inroads into the suburbs and tap their untouched pots of public money. Now Steve Duin is on the bandwagon, pushing the lame duck mayor's agenda in Lake Oswego.

It would be foolish for the population of that town to buy into the "equity" message. Little or no low-income housing is ever going to be built in L.O. But lots of market rate and luxury units will be, with budget-busting taxpayer subsidies to the Homer Williams types, if residents aren't vigilant. And "equity" is a red flag. The promise of helping the poor always gets the camel's nose into the tent. But then you wind up with disasters like the SoWhat District, where low-income people are an afterthought, and even the rich find themselves roughing it.

Walking away from the lies

The pending pave-over of bald eagle habitat on West Hayden Island by the Port of Portland is obscene on several levels, but one of them is the fake public process that's being conducted around it by the "green" hypocrites in Portland City Hall. Yesterday a representative of the Audubon Society quit the citizens' advisory board on the project, calling the public involvement aspect of the plan a "sham."

The citizens' committee was ambushed with detailed documents that its members weren't given adequate time to review before they were supposed to pass on them. It's so typical of the "planning" crowd, and Portland process in general. And so dishonest. We don't blame the Audubon guy for not letting them use his name any more.

The whole process is a bit absurd. This project is a done deal. The fix has been in between the city and the Port for years. Nothing that happens at any advisory committee meeting is going to make any meaningful difference now. The only people left in the charade are guys like real estate sharpie and internet troll Brian Owendoff. Forget it, Jake, it's Sam Rand Town.

The pickin's have been lush

We held the regular poker game in the hut last night. The same seven of us have played for many years, in several locations now, but we always come back to the hut. The gods of fortune smiled, and I won $63. That's a record for me -- and definitely one of the highest in the history of our low-stakes game. Of course, the true reward was enjoying the Mrs.' cooking and spending quality time with friends we really like. But hey, winning 63 bucks is not a bad thing, either. Hand after hand, it seemed, I couldn't lose. I was in some sort of zone.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Have a great weekend

Where in Oregon is this thing?

The owner of this property really did put a bird on it, but it's not in Portlandia -- is it?

Bring the Japanese tsunami dock to Portland?

And put it in Waterfront Park as a sound stage? Sounds like an incredibly stupid idea -- which makes us worry that the rumor is true. Remember the Sauvie Island Bridge? Total Sam Rand.

Chain chain chain, chain of saws

One of our most read posts on this blog has to do with our next-door neighbor's plum tree, which drops sticky unwanted fruit all over the place in late summer. Googlers come across that post from far and wide. Last year, we wrote about a neighbor down the street a ways who talked the city into letting her cut down an old plum in front of her house; that tree was way past its prime. Now the folks on the other side of her have received a similar dispensation, and yesterday, their plum disappeared:

We've still got the tired old one next door to us, though, waiting to knock our power out some icy winter night. Maybe when we're all wiping plum juice up off our rugs next month, we'll suggest to those folks that they join in the clearcutting and plant something small and tidy.

We [heart] Merkley

City kicks gang enforcement up a notch

And from the looks of things, not a moment too soon, as gang shootings are way up this year (although miraculously, fatalities in such incidents are down).

Here's an interesting map of where the gang activity has been going down. A lot of action along that MAX train line to Gresham.

More on Gatsby's hemp crusade

A thoughtful reader, ruminating about Sen. Ron Wyden's (R-N.Y.) courageous stand in favor of legalizing industrial hemp, asks a good question: Wouldn't it compete with wood fiber, which Oregon already makes a lot of? Another observation that the reader makes is that this is an interesting topic for Wyden to be obsessing about as people are losing their homes and his party is about to take a beating at the polls.

Take a load for free

Here's a "green" story that you just know will be coming soon to Portlandia. In Scotland, they're going to recycle dirty disposable diapers and other used "incontinence products" into park benches, garden furniture, decking, roof tiles, and other things. So see? The only reason you aren't allowed to throw them in the blue recycling bins is because City Hall is way behind on the sustainability learning curve. Get with it, Portland! It will give a whole new meaning to the phrase "crap infill apartment buildings."

Terwilliger turns 100

And it appears there's going to be a party to mark the occasion.

The V-word

In some places, you're not allowed to say it. The censors, of course, are a bunch of wieners.

Thank goodness that sort of thing would never happen in Oregon. We're the Beaver State, and proud of it.

Breaking news: Oil companies gouge seasonally

When spring arrives, they jack up the price of gasoline at the pump. They say it's supply and demand, but learned people who have studied the statistics say it's greed.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A sixth mugshot for the Ashley scrapbook

Here's the booking photo of the fifth alleged accomplice in the fatal hit-and-run-and-run case involving the allegedly drunken fan driving home from the Timbers game. It belongs to a fellow named Jose A. Torres. Unlike the alleged driver herself, Jose had time to clean up nicely for the camera before turning himself in. The Sam Adams glasses are a keen grooming statement.

"Me, too! I'm for jobs, too!"

The politicians in Salem are funny. Yesterday the secretary of state, who's running for re-election, staged an event and released an audit report to show her dedication to job creation. Apparently, the state labor commissioner, Brad Avakian, who's also running for re-election, felt a little shown up by this. As well he should -- he's the labor czar, after all. And so he issued his own press release and had his own little photo op event. Tit for tat.

And although Avakian didn't have a fancy audit report to show off, he did point the media to another press release he'd issued, back at the end of April. That's two press releases to the secretary of state's mere one. And thus, unlike her, he also showed off a love of recycling.

Swallow your coffee before clicking on this link

Because it will come out your nose when you take a look at the first graph on this story. Viral, here it comes.

When you stop laughing, though, you realize that it's closer to the truth than the second one.

State won't stop food slop stenchfest in Lents

The Sam Rands' wonderful new garbage setup will include stinking the neighbors in the embattled southeast Portland neighborhood out of their yards. That's what they get for daring to stand up to Admiral Randy and his BFF Little Lord Paulson three years ago. The City That Won't Leave Normal People Alone strikes again.

An invention that's already been invented?

The O reported the other day about this. But a reader points out that the world already has this. He adds: "My mother, who had been in hospice care for the last three months, had one to prevent bed sores on her feet."

Oregon looks relatively decent in unofficial money survey

For several years now, a group called the Institute for Truth in Accounting has been doing important work, trying to think critically about the financial condition of the nation's 50 states. They don't take as gospel the sugar-coated messages delivered by the politicians and bureaucrats; they dig into the numbers to try to assess how far in hock the states really are. Their latest report, released this week, is based on the mid-2010 financial reports released by state governments. It's a large pdf file that we've posted here.

In the report, Oregon comes in as the state with the ninth least debt per person, or $900 per household. This number is calculated by taking the state's liabilities and subtracting out assets on hand that are realistically available to pay them, then dividing by the number of federal tax filers in the state who had a tax liability.

In contrast, Washington State comes in at no. 27, with debt of $9,800 per household. Idaho is no. 13 at $2,600 per household; California comes in at no. 44 with $21,400 per household.

One can certainly argue with the methodology used to produce the rankings, but if nothing else, the report carries out the salutary functions of reminding us that financial accounting has a lot of art to it, and urging us to think about government finances in ways other than those pushed on us by the state capitol. We'd be interested in seeing how the City of Portland would stack up under their calculations. By our reckoning, the city's long-term debt is now more than $11,000 per person, but that does not include an offset for assets realistically available to pay them.

Scam odor surrounds new Multnomah County courthouse

The old Multnomah County Courthouse is going to fall down when the next big earthquake hits, and the county commissioners have talked themselves blue in the face for decades about replacing it. But they found money only for a new jail instead -- a new jail that they built, stocked with lovely art, and immediately abandoned before ever using it.

There have been some odd turns in the courthouse saga. A few years ago, the county took millions of dollars of "urban renewal" slush money from the Portland Development Commission, supposedly to redo the off ramps on the west side of the Hawthorne Bridge, supposedly to make way for a supposed new courthouse. The PDC money had been borrowed at relatively high interest rates, and as far as we know, the county still has it safely invested in accounts that pay far less interest. This is their way of helping city taxpayers get their money over to Jamie Dimon.

But we digress. This week, all of a sudden, they're talking new courthouse again, and now they've paid for a study touting the central eastside industrial district as a good place to put it. That crazy idea sounds like a nonstarter to us; surely any new courthouse would be built on the west side of the river. There's also some talk in there about renovating the old courthouse, but that obvious alternative has never gained any traction in all the years that the issue has been discussed.

But most alarmingly, the new talk includes much discussion of a "public-private partnership." That usually means that a developer has probably already made a pitch or two in some backroom somewhere, and it's time for the charade of public discussion to begin. No doubt big bucks are to be made by putting a tower full of condos or apartments on top of the new courthouse. And the consultants are egging the county on to a rush timeline:

The main step for saving time in the project planning is the preplanning or programing process. With the early selection of a developer, the public agency can begin detailed project planning, programming, and scoping with the developer team much earlier in the project schedule, and in turn, shorten the duration to complete the total project.

This abbreviated process provides the selection of the private group based on experience, team members, developments fees, and/or lease back cost ratios for the delivery of a project. This process would provide a general description of the project goals and objectives. Rough budget numbers would be established with desired timelines for completion. All aspects of the project would be completed with the developer, including establishing all deliverables for the project.

Once a selection process is complete, the developer will manage all aspects of the project from funding, site selection, programming, functionality of design, quality, and management of the project budget. The developer would work with the county team to determine the building design solutions. They would then present a preliminary budget and features to the county so the county can determine if it is what they require for their project and can be afforded.

The Latest Kafoury is the county face card on this one. She, and it, bear careful watching.

Portland water bureau wants to keep its secrets

The dudes running the City of Portland's water supply (and the pet project pork barrel that goes with it) really, really don't want to talk about how much of ratepayers' money is going for non-water-related projects. You know, like the "green" construction demonstration house, "clean money" campaign money handouts to amateur politicians, and setting up a new headquarters for the Rose Festival, among many others. In the pending lawsuit challenging the legality of these and other spending sprees, the city is asking the judge to deny the outraged plaintiffs any answers to the factual questions they've raised about these projects.

It describes many, if not most, of the requests for information as a "fishing expedition" that would take an unreasonable amount of time and expense to accommodate.

This is Portland City Hall's view of accountability to the public -- it's all just an unreasonable "fishing expedition" that should be dismissed.

But hey, at least there's some comedy included in the package:

The [city's] motion also includes a footnote that dismisses a previous letter of advice issued by the city attorney's office. It said the city charter requires that water and sewer funds should only be spent on programs directly related to water and sewer services.

The letter had been cited by attorneys for the plaintiffs suing the city as support for their cause. But in the footnote, the city now writes: "[t]he advice of the city's attorneys ... is entitled to no weight or deference from the court in interpreting the charter."

Or from anybody else, apparently.

Portland arts tax: not just illegal, but also unworkable

Our post of last week about the proposed $35-a-person tax on Portland residents to pay for arts programs has drawn some interesting reader reactions. Blogger Isaac Laquedem, who knows a thing or two about Oregon law, thinks it would violate the state constitution. And another reader writes in to point out that there would be numerous problems in actually implementing it:

Here are some thoughts:

1. The tax is not an income tax. It's a head tax. In other parts of the world, it's called a poll tax, but in the U.S. we associate poll taxes with the Jim Crow laws requiring voters to pay a fee before voting. More on this later. Since we are in polite company, we will call this a head tax.

2. How will the city collect the tax? This is big. Proponents have made it clear that the tax is per person, but means tested. It is not an income tax. At the same time, it will have to rely on some measure of income for the means testing of who pays and who doesn't.

-- Who has the obligation to pay the head tax? With the income tax, my wife and I a jointly responsible for paying. With the head tax, do I have an obligation to pay my wife's head tax? When my kids turn 18, but still live at home, do I pay their head tax or do they? Think of that -- a city tax return for every single adult living in the city. We'll burn through the $35 on collection costs alone.

-- My wife is a stay-at-home mom. She has no income. Does she pay the head tax? I say no income, no tax.

-- Do part-year residents pay the full amount of the tax? Do illegal alien residents pay the tax (we know the city allows them to sign street-renaming petitions)?

3. The big, big, big question: How will the city enforce collections? Remember the tax is per person; it's not an income tax.

-- Sure, we can use state tax returns for enforcement. Seems like a huge violation of privacy. Between the mayor's garbage snitch program and the art tax collections, Portland may become the most progressive police state in the world.

-- By my guess, there are about 475,000 people over 18 in Portland, but about 280,000 state tax returns are filed in the city. Right off the bat, you have to track down almost 200,000 people. So, even with the violation of privacy, you'll likely to come up short.

-- Using tax returns only gets us so far. Remember, it's a head tax on residents, not a household tax or property tax. So, using things like the water bill or property tax records won't give us the information we need and/or will give us the incorrect information for collecting the head tax. So now what?

-- Of course… we can use the voter registration rolls. That counts people, not households, and it gives an address. Bingo! But, according to the city auditor, in the November 2008 general election, there were 352,041 registered City of Portland Voters. That's about 125,000 people short. Even so, it's better than nothing, right?

-- Wrong! Remember Jim Crow? You see, once you use voter registration rolls to enforce collection of a tax, you have effectively instituted a poll tax. Anyone who registers to vote in the City of Portland would automatically subject themselves to the art tax. I bet there would be quite a few people who would be willing to give up their right to vote to avoid paying a city tax on voter registration. I'd love to see the Institute for Justice get a hold of this one.

4. Remember Margaret Thatcher? Her head tax proposal sent her popularity through the floor and caused riots in the streets. She resigned as Prime Minister within a year of introducing it.

It's a shame that the city council is giving the CAN group false hope that this idea would work. Even if it gets on the ballot and approved, there is a very real chance it'll get thrown out by the courts. All that money and energy wasted on a pipedream.

As we said at the outset, the people who are pushing this have got to be kidding. They ought to formulate a less laughable proposal, or give up.

Fuku operator knew big tsunami would be disastrous

It was actually part of the training that newbie plant workers received. Improvements could have been made that might have averted the tragedy. But they would have cost $25 million, and so Tokyo Electric didn't undertake them.

Meanwhile, it's gradually dawning on people that nobody really knows where the radioactive water is going after 15 months of steadily dousing the Fukushima triple meltdown. It's escaping into the ocean, but the leak locations can't even be spotted, much less fixed.

The runaway dock from Japan is scary, but the runaway cesium and strontium is also scary.

Obama sells out some more

If he goes down in November, we'll cry, but not too hard:

Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings.

The terms run contrary to campaign promises issued by Obama and the Democratic Party during the 2008 campaign.

Even Wyden's acting p.o.'d.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bike helmets -- five bucks

There's no excuse for not wearing one.

Obscenity of the Day

This guy ought to be in prison somewhere. Instead he's telling the politicians how high they need to jump. We're glad our job does not involve teach American civics to children. We couldn't do it with a straight face any more.

Tri-Met enters death spiral

After an acrimonious meeting of whoever's-on-its-board-of-directors-this-month, Tri-Met looks like a goner for sure. Old Bruce Warner may be riding another one into the ground.

Two more guys busted in Ashley's alleged hit-and-run-and-run

This brings to five the number of people accused of covering up for Ashley Chavez, the suspect in the hit-and-run killing of a 63-year-old pedestrian on West Burnside on March 31. Chavez, who was allegedly driving drunk after attending a Timbers game on the night in question, was finally hauled into a Portland courtroom today.

Portland City Hall: Keep your garbage can clean

Our unsolicited hard copy of Portland Curbsider arrived in the mail from Portland City Hall the other day. Nothing says "green" like a four-page, full-color, 11-by-17-inch printed document. In it, the city keeps every residential mail customer educated about all the news relating to garbage pickup. In real cities, there is no news -- the garbage just gets picked up. But in Portland, there is always news, because garbage has become an enormous ordeal, and the city has an army of p.r. flacks hired to make it look like fun, or a religious experience, or something.

They seem to have run out of garbage news, because this time about a page and a half of the mailer -- more than a third of the content -- isn't about garbage, but rather is other propaganda relating to the city's endless quest for "sustainability." Farmer's markets, solar power, the almighty "Portland Plan," yada yada yada.

The one really important news tidbit is buried halfway down page 3: Garbage pickup fees are going up $1.20 a month, effective in a couple of weeks. But without food slop composting, they'd go up even more. Honest. Given that three different trucks now pick up our mess on a regular garbage day, that one's awfully hard to believe.

Probably the funniest section is this one -- what the average person is supposed to do to cope with the unmerciful stink that comes from having dirty diapers, dog poop, meat packaging, and other good old garbage picked up only once every two weeks:

If you show this to friends and family out of town, they'll refuse to believe it's real. One of our friends asked, "Are you still allowed to shave and use deodorant out there?" So far, yes.

In a real city, the populace would rebel. But this is Portland, where nonsense is the norm, so long as it's washed in "green." And so we soldier on through the unhealthy stench, all to keep the Arlington landfill free of biodegradable material. Styrofoam only! Go by streetcar!

The new Old Boy?

From the looks of this photo, and the rush-rush process, it's certainly possible. (It's also pretty funny that Ryan Frank's charges at the student sort-of-a-newspaper can't spell Frohnmayer's name right.) [Via UO Matters.]

At the U of O, the ultimate absurdity

Its graduation speaker this year is Jeffer-Sten Smith. No, we are not making that up.

What should be his theme? Driving while suspended? Passing the New York bar but never being sworn in? Failure to show up for court dates? Getting suspended from the Oregon bar repeatedly for nonpayment of dues? Setting up a rat's nest of tangled political organizations, including one that purports to be a nonprofit charity? Billing the state's taxpayers for rent for an address that also happens to be a campaign office? Being shown the door at a law firm job after a year or two of apparent goldbricking? Hiding behind Daddy?

It speaks volumes about UC Nike that this is whom they're wheeling out to inspire their graduates. And not good volumes.

Fireman Randy goes after skateboard "bombers"

And the Zoobomber bicyclists are worried that they're next.

Things get bloody at the O's sister

The New Orleans newspaper, the Times-Picyaune, owned by the same folks as Portland's Oregonian, laid off about a third of its workforce yesterday. Of the 173 people in the newsroom, 84 were let go. It was announced a few weeks ago that the paper would be cut from daily publication to three days a week.

Clustering with Kate

The Oregon secretary of state's audit showing a sudden interest in jobs, jobs, and more jobs was released on schedule today. It is here.

Another chance to get co-opted

We've been greatly amused by "Opt In," the survey website operated by the Portland area's "unique" Metro government. It purports to be a place where average Janes and Joes go to express their views to Waylon Jennings Tom Hughes, Bicycle Rex, and the other bobbleheads running Metro, but of course, the questions are terribly loaded, and the answers will be given greater or lesser weight depending on whether they agree with what the Metro bureaucrats have already decided to do.

Now here comes another one -- "Oregon's Kitchen Table." Ah yes, pull up a chair, Mr. and Ms. Everyday Oregonian, and sound off on the important issues of the day. So who are these people? It's not entirely clear, but here's the "advisory committee":

Steve Bass
Greg Chaimov
Adam Davis
Verne Duncan
Carol Ford
David Frohnmayer
Susan Hammer
Michael Jordan
Phil Keisling
Steven Kull
Tom Kelly
Lynn Lundquist
Greg Macpherson
Ron Saxton
Beverly Stein
Faye Stewart
Carl Talton
Linda Tamura
Robin Teater
Bill Thorndike
Larry Wallack
Bill Wyatt

Heavens to Betsy, it's like a Goldschmidt reunion. Chaimov's the mayor City Council "president" of Milwaukie and a big tool for the MAX line to nowhere. Talton runs the shadowy Portland Family of Funds with The Don's old crew from the PDC. Jordan used to be the COO at Metro. Wyatt is the Goldschmidt Party bigwig running the Port of Portland. Frohnmayer is still sucking big money out of the public treasury after a big-time cash-in at the U of O. Macpherson's going to get the condo bunkers into east Lake Oswego. The list goes on, but do these people really care what you think? Or do they just want to use you to reinforce an agenda?

We hope that some of our readers will sign up for the thing and keep us posted on what these folks are up to. We've got no time to play along ourselves.

Vestas layoffs may come "in a matter of weeks"

So claims The Latest Udall.

One down, three to go

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook spanked Lebron James and Dwayne Wade last night to win the first game of the pro basketball finals. Durant and Westbrook looked like Jordan and Pippen, and the crowd in Oklahoma City reminded us of Portland in 1977. Indeed, the TV announcer remarked that the championship Blazers had the youngest starting five ever in the finals; the Thunder have the second-youngest. The Miami Heat may figure it out and come up with an answer, but they had better hurry. Last night they were shown up by a more athletic, more talented team.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Neighbors beat back cell tower weasels

At least for now, Eastmoreland and Alameda are off the hook. As well they should be. Congratulations to them for winning their fight for livability. Heaven knows the bobbleheads on the City Council were pretty much useless.

Gridlock with a backbeat

If you thought the evening commute on MLK and Grand in Portland was a chore, wait 'til Plaza Palooza starts. This is a Thursday evening outdoor concert series that the Convention Center is going to put on in a lot across the street, between MLK and Grand, beginning July 12. The shows are to start at 5 and end at 7, and admission is going be free of charge; they'll be quite popular. Being in a car or on a bus anywhere within a mile or two of these events is not going to be pleasant.

The "now" is not so hot

These two photos of the corner of SW Third and Morrison in downtown Portland sure are telling. Once upon a time (top), there were lots of thriving businesses there, and all sorts of people on the busy streets. Nowadays (bottom), you get a sterile Nordstrom Rack, an empty storefront where a Borders used to be, and precious few pedestrians in sight. Maybe Portland's precious "planners" aren't doing such a great job after all.

New finance czar could transform Europe

The money crises in the Euro Zone could reshape the notion of national sovereignty, according to this think piece:

According to a report in German magazine Der Spiegel, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso are drafting a plan to stabilize the system. Under the purported plan, all eurozone members would be required to balance their budgets. Borrowing would be permitted only if approved by a Europe-wide finance minister, a position that would have to be created and supported by a select group of eurozone finance ministers. If approved, money could be borrowed by issuing eurobonds....

The ability to manage a national budget, including the right to borrow, is a central element of national sovereignty. If the right to borrow is transferred from national governments to unelected functionaries appointed by a multinational entity, a profound transformation of democracy in Europe will take place. The European Union has seen transfers of sovereign rights from national governments and their electorates before, but none as profound as this one. Elected governments will not be able to stimulate their economies without approval of this as-yet-unnamed board, nor will they be able to undertake long-term capital expenditures based on the issuance of bonds. This board thus will have enormous power within individual countries....

During the U.S. Civil War, the future of the Union was challenged by the secession of the South. The decisions were made on the battlefields where men were willing to die either for the Union or to break away from it. Who will die for the European Union? And what will hold it together when its decisions are unpopular?

Another politician for... wait for it... jobs!

Did you know that the Oregon secretary of state's office is involved in setting the job training curriculum at community colleges? It is when the holder of that office is running for re-election.

On Wednesday, June 13, Secretary of State Kate Brown will release an audit of Oregon’s Workforce Development. Auditors found Oregon could be doing a better job of matching middle-skilled training programs at Oregon’s Community Colleges and the many other workforce development programs with current and projected job demand.

"We need a more strategic, coordinated, statewide plan that identifies high demand jobs or industries with a projected under-supply and offer training to get these Oregonians to work," said Secretary Brown. "We need more partnerships like Vigor Industrial and Portland Community College where men and women in search of a career can get the training they need to get hired right out of school."

Secretary Brown will tour Vigor Industrial’s Swan Island Training Facility with PCC President, Dr. Preston Pulliams and representatives from Vigor Industrial. On the grounds of the Portland shipyard, this joint venture provides welding training opportunities that support workforce development for Vigor and other area companies.

Oh, the photo opportunities!

Advice to Obama: Stop telling us it's getting better

The pollsters are back from Ohio and Pennsylvania, and they warn the President that he needs to concede that the middle class has been screwed, and talk about fighting back:

If Obama is going to gain traction in the campaign, they continue, he needs to deploy a message "with minimal discussion of the recovery and jobs created and maximal empathy for the challenges people face."

"Most voters identified with the line that 'the middle class has taken it on the chin for years.' The message turns mid-way to what we will do, beginning with raising taxes on those earning over $200,000 to make the economy work better for the middle class," the memo continues. "It taps into their frustrations that began building before the recession even hit and recognizes that this election needs to be about the 'future of the middle class.'"

The problem, of course, is that he made the same tax promises last time, and then despite having control over Congress, the Democrats did nothing.

Strapped Tri-Met to borrow a cool $111 million

The sleepy board of directors of Portland's troubled transit agency prepares to hock its future payroll tax revenue for the Mystery Train to Milwaukie, and some other things:

Portland Milwaukie Light Rail Project: $40 million
Bus, Rail and LIFT Communications System and Bus Transfer printer: $34 million
New Buses: $23 million
Ticket Vending Machine and Bus Farebox Upgrade: $6.7 million
WES Positive Train Control: $3 million
Maintenance of Way Central Facility: $3.3 million
Estimated Costs of Issuance: $1 million

The resolution authorizing the borrowing will go down tomorrow morning.

33rd and Broadway apartment bunker resurrected

The property in question is an awful eyesore, and almost anything would be an improvement. But the traffic impacts of this proposal are downright scary.

How to get more tourists to Portland: tax them harder

That's the supreme pretzel logic of this move by Portland's lame duck City Council. What's even more troubling than a tax increase during a recession is the fact that the money will just be handed over to some private hotelier group to play marketing games with it.

If we're going to raise taxes on tourists, the money should be used to do some of the essential things that government used to do around here, like pave roads, hire and train cops, and maintain a quality school system. There's no rule that hotel taxes have to be spent on tourism. When Oregonians visit states that have sales taxes, we support essential government services in those states. There's no reason that the same shouldn't be true of out-of-state visitors to Portland.

But hey, this is the Portland City Council. They are off on their own special brand of lunacy. There really is no sense trying to reason with them. This is but one small part of the last 200 days of the Sam Rands. Then the next inmates will check in to run the asylum.

In Eugene, "finalist" means "done deal"

The process of hiring a new president at the University of Oregon sure is interesting. The powers that be have forgone all pretense of meaningful input from the faculty and the student body -- naming just a single "finalist," hurrying him onto campus the next day, and scheduling a vote on him by the higher ed board by the end of the week. And finals week, at that.

Michael Gottfredson, the provost at UC Irvine, will be wheeled out for an hour this afternoon in Eugene, and the next time he'll stand in front of a crowd will be on Friday morning, right after the board gives him the UC Nike job. UO Matters has the story well covered here, including some informative comments from folks at Irvine.

Ashley's new look

She's finally back in Portland -- checked into the Rose City Graybar Hotel this morning, apparently -- looking a bit worse for wear after her fugitive arrest a week and a half ago, 25 minutes from the Canadian border.


The mugshot on the left is from a different arrest, apparently about a year ago; the one on the right was taken this morning.

800-plus known gang members in Portland

There's a glitch in this news story so that it omits the name of the speaker, but it almost doesn't matter who said it:

"We have over 800 documented gang members in the city and we can't arrest all of them. It's going to be about changing mindsets."

Vestas stock drops to $5

In 2008, it was trading at $117. That's a 96% loss. Portland sure knows how to pick 'em.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bloop single eliminates the Ducks

Kent State goes to the College World Series; the U of O team goes to the Jock Box for massages and pedicures.

Where's Ashley? (cont'd)

The manslaughter suspect in the Burnside hit-and-run was checked out of the King County jail in Seattle this morning. But she's not booked into Multnomah County yet. (In contrast, here's a guy that was booked into Multnomah this evening.) Wonder where the former fugitive is now.

UPDATE, 10:10 p.m.: She's in the 'Couv!

Farewell, Mr. Drucker

The guy who played the storekeeper on the fantastic old sitcoms Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, and even in a few Beverly Hillbillies episodes, passed away late last week. Frank Cady was 96 years old and lived his last decade or two in Wilsonville. His acting credits include a small part in Hitchcock's Rear Window and lots of work on the Ozzie and Harriet show. The O did an interview with him in 1995; here's a link that works for us, but we're not sure that it will work for anyone else.

Don't know if it's day or night

In Wuhan, China, it's a yellow haze, all in their eyes. The government says it's field burning. Maybe.

Reader poll: Who will be the NBA champs?

We can't say that we blame them after the ridiculous shadow of a season that the American men's pro basketball league just put on, but our readers don't seem too well tuned in to this year's playoffs. In a poll we took last Monday, only 21% of respondents put the Heat and the Thunder in the league finals. Exactly half of the voters said the Spurs would be league champs. Well, now that's over, and so here's another chance to call the outcome of the finals:

Who will be the NBA champs?
pollcode.com free polls 

God love the $2 million Oregon tax fraud suspect

She was still using her Fred Meyer rewards card when she was busted.

Meanwhile, the big question remains: Who at the Department of Revenue blew this?

The only mitt here is leather

We're in the City of Bleugene today, on one of our annual summertime trips down this way for business. This time around, the town is all abuzz with college baseball, as it's hosting a "super regional" tournament that leads up to the College World Series. And the hometown Ducks are still alive, tied one game apiece with Kent State (yes, of "four dead in Ohio" fame). Oregon lost the first but won the second, and both games were thrillers. The third and deciding contest will take place today; at last report, it was to start at 1:00 this afternoon. The winner will be one of eight teams to advance to college's big diamond show. Already in that group are Florida, Florida State, Stony Brook, UCLA, and Arizona; the other two undecided contests are Baylor-Arkansas and South Carolina-Oklahoma.

Here comes the hype for the Portland arts tax

The powers that be are planning to ask Portland voters this fall to jack up their taxes for all sorts of stuff -- as if the hefty increases to their sewer, water, and garbage bills weren't enough of a burden. And they're already starting with the propaganda. Here's the party line on the proposed arts tax, dutifully delivered by the regurgitators in the local business media.

Nonprofit arts and culture organizations generate more than $253 million in economic activity in the Portland area, according to a new nationwide study.

The proposed arts tax would be a $35 head tax, with an exemption for low-income individuals. Its constitutionality is questionable.

Speaking of those Portland State peer mentors

Our post of last night about the new hire at Portland State University prompted this response from a reader:

This article compliments the one you posted about the PSU graduate with the Educational Leadership degree. He was a peer mentor, and mentors are mentioned in this article about problems with the University Studies program at PSU. I read a few years ago that a group of professors were very dissatisfied with the US program and lobbied the administration to abandon it because they felt it did not give students a good college education. The program substitutes a thematic-based inquiry general studies course for the former distribution or survey courses all students had to take. About the only way one could escape the US program and get a solid general studies foundation was to go to PCC and get an AA degree and then transfer to PSU. This is what my son did -- I would not have let him go to PSU under the US program even though his major is math. We wanted him to get a thorough education in a broad range of subjects instead of a hodgepodge of stuff taught by faculty from disparate disciplines.

Here is another article on the program -- this one is from 2000. The program started in 1994 and immediately had problems with faculty critics. I can't remember the name of the woman university president who initiated the program. She implemented many innovative changes in the way the university functioned, but most of them were style over substance, and eventually she left for a school that appreciated her style.

I am glad to see that some people at the top are taking education seriously, though I have to wonder why now and not six or more years ago. It was bad then, so why are they just figuring it out now after more than a dozen years with the program in place?

Perhaps our readers can answer that question.

40 years of Earl the Pearl

Here's an event that our readers will not want to miss: a four-hour party (including a one-hour concert) celebrating 40 years in politics for the guy with literally the safest job in the world -- our congressman, Earl Blumenauer. There's no better way to trace Portland's transformation from a gritty but highly livable middle-class town to a fad-obsessed theme park than to examine this fellow's career on the Multnomah County commission, the Portland City Council, and finally in Congress. Tickets are a mere $25. Go by streetcar!

Or you can skip the party and just donate -- proceeds are going to something called the "Blumenauer Century Fund." That's about how long it will take the city to recover from his odd visions and their implementation.

Owie wowie

Here's a spectacular way to waste time. It's a database of all the workers' compensation claims paid out to State of Oregon employees injured on the job from July 2002 through last October. No names, of course, but lots of interesting tales of woe. You can search any particular state agency by sorting in the Policy Name drop-down box.

Some of these jump right out: a $290,000 claim due to chemical inhalation by a lottery field salesperson; $119,000 for repetitive motion injuries suffered by a baker at Oregon State University; $80,000 when somebody at OSU fell and got hurt while trying to restrain a llama; a $37,000 claim arising when a "trainer of foster parents" at Portland State was struck by a "trainee"; a $31,000 pop when a PSU yoga trainer slipped and hurt his or her knee; $15,000 gone when a Justice Department employee got hurt jumping off a desk backward; and $1,800 when a chef for the state legislature fell on some ice.

Readers with more time on their hands than we have, feel free to chime in with any additional finds in the database.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What's a little eco-terror among friends?

A cowardly reader anonymously sent us a link to this guy's profile at Portland State, with the perfunctory "I know Jake. He's a good guy, all things considered, and I understand that people make mistakes, but..." preface. Obviously he or she expects us to rant against the fellow depicted. Instead, we'll ask a simple question of our readers: whether an ex-protege of Tre Arrow, a convicted eco-terrorist -- reformed or not -- should be on the PSU payroll to "work with faculty and Peer Mentors to support undergraduate research and creative activities for sustainability as part of the University Studies curriculum." He plays the victim card well, but is he the right guy to be counseling people in the same position he was in when his life went to hell?

It's the attention to detail that makes it so special

Portland's daily newspaper puts the "O" in "Oops!"

The Pope's other dirty laundry

As if the pedophilia scandals weren't enough, now they're looking at hanky panky with the money. Given that the leadership of the organization has been all about the money for centuries, this hits truly close to home. Remember the Pope who mysteriously died a month into his reign? We're back in that zone now.

Totally retro

We want one of these.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pro hoops come down to Florida and Oklahoma

It's gone just as we've predicted so far, as the Heat beat the Celtics in Game 7 in Miami. The finals will be a true test for Miami -- they haven't seen the likes of the Thunder in a long time. OKC beat Dallas, the Lakers, and then the Spurs -- a 12-3 record in the playoffs, and riding a four-game win streak. Miami is 12-6, and they've played the Knicks, Indiana, and Boston. You've got to favor Durant & Co. to go all the way, but it won't be easy.

Holier than thou

The imposition of virtue by the classes on the masses is nothing new, of course. The upper orders have been trying to improve the lower orders since Carrie Nation took an axe to speakeasies, and long before. Only our ideas of sin and vice have changed. The old vices were hard liquor and irreligiousness. The new vices are plastic bags and fast food. If Carrie Nation were around today, she wouldn’t be crusading against the Demon Rum. She’d be crusading against the Big Gulp.

Read the whole thing, here.

How to get nothing done and go broke

It isn't easy -- it takes a lot of planning.

A trip to the moon on gossamer wings

Cole Porter was born 121 years ago today.

Pennsylvania state liquor stores may be next to go

When we were a teenager in New Jersey, the first state liquor stores we ever encountered were in Pennsylvania. Our cousin, a young man of the same age as we, introduced us to their system on a visit in the early '70s. As we dimly recall it, if you were 18 they would sell you only near beer -- 3.2% alcohol max. You had to be older -- maybe even 21 -- to get stronger beer than that. Years later, when we moved to Oregon, we discovered that all the beer being sold here, to everyone, was 3.2. That seemed pretty ridiculous, and it must have changed in the '80s.

Anyway, in response to our post about the recent privatization of booze sales in Washington State, a reader points out that the Pennsylvania state stores may soon be dismantled as well. The store clerks there are unionized, however, and so there will be more yada yada before it can get done. No word on whether, like Washington, the state will load on so many fees and taxes that consumers won't get a break as a result of the switchover.

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Steve Houze goes after alleged rape victim's Google searches

It's not often that our law-and-order self and our privacy self wind up on the same page, but leave it to the premier courtroom defender of Oregon scoundrels with money to bring it all together.

Where's Ashley?

This morning, Stuart Tomlinson of the O reported that hit-and-run manslaughter suspect Ashley Chavez had been returned to Portland from Bellingham to face charges. But that story has mysteriously disappeared from the O website, and the Multnomah County sheriff's office does not show her as being booked as of late this afternoon. Does anybody know what happened?

Have a great weekend

Comin' through

A reader interested in the proposed changes to the I-5 Rose Garden interchange sends us a link to this fascinating photo of the construction of the freeway in that area in 1962. The view is to the east and southeast; that's Broadway and Weidler crossing the ditch in the upper right. [Via Vintage Portland.]

Dumb Idea of the Week

Now there's talk of new baseball stadiums in both Hillsboro and Milwaukie. The Portland region, which never adequately supported one minor league baseball team, is now going to support two? Only government officials could be that dumb.

Happy hour proposition

Let's have a few pops this afternoon and go goof on Fabio at the Whole Foods at East 28th and Burnside. After that we can go across the street and picket the Archbishop to lighten up on the nuns.

Fremont apartment weasel gives in on retail, not parking

The neighbors should not play nice with this guy. "Sometimes I will tell you things you don't want to hear. But I will always be honest with you." Of course.

Please, a new mugshot of Ashley

Come on, mainstream media, the one you've been using is a year old. She's been in the clink for a week now. Let's see the new look.

Tin foil helmet alert!

Something funny's going on along the Michigan-Indiana border.

Urban League of Portland out of detention, for the moment

Here's a funny one from the PBJ: It's an "all clear -- everything's fixed now" piece about the Urban League of Portland. Readers will recall that a few months ago, that outfit underwent another in a series of CEO scandals that date back to the 1990s. This week's story tells us that they've regained the funding they lost from Multnomah County -- just as they did from the state -- and now it's full speed ahead because, well, they've almost hired a new CEO. Any day now that person will show up and "reinvigorate the brand."

Lolenzo Poe, board chairman, said the response to the CEO posting were strong. Applications poured in from the U.S. and abroad. The board intends to make a decision later this month.

With this we're supposed to be impressed? The board that let the looting occur says that soon everything's going to be o.k.?

The nonprofit sought exceptionally qualified applicants for its open CEO position, while offering an unexceptional salary of $75,000 to $100,000.

How long before the new guy or gal decides they're underpaid and starts clipping a few hundred here, a few hundred there? Given the organization's track record, it's hard to believe that that won't happen eventually. Portland needs an Urban League, and the Urban League needs new leadership. But that includes a new board.

Anyway, the slightly expanded print version of the feel-good story can be seen, we think, here (page 5).

Riverdale School District third richest in the country

According to this story, it's "the only school district outside Westchester County, N.Y., or Fairfield County, Conn., among the 10 wealthiest districts." It's a comfort to know that Little Lord Paulson's kids won't be "food insecure" at recess.

Washington booze changes teach ugly lesson

It's not what anybody expected, but now that they've closed the Washington state liquor stores, liquor over in that state has gotten more expensive, not cheaper. It's because under the new law, the state's take is the same as, or larger than, it ever was. To make things nastier for consumers, the prices on the shelf don't include the whopping tax that gets imposed at the checkout, and so it's hard to tell what you'll pay until they're ringing you up at the grocery store or wherever. So now drinkers in the 'Couv are actually driving to the Oregon state liquor stores in Portland to buy hootch at a lower price.

When Costco brings a privatization initiative around for Oregon voters to sign, they had better figure out a way to guarantee that prices will go down, or else they're going to have a hard time getting the traction they need. That will probably mean cutting state revenues from liquor sales, and you can hear the politicians and the government employee unions screaming already. "Tea Party!"

Rose Festival time

The kids are almost out of school for the summer, but the furnace still comes on in the morning.

"Windows is checking for a solution to the problem"

Has Windows ever once found a solution to the freakin' problem?

Duck presidential search making serious headway

So says the man in the know at UO Matters.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Celtics fail to show up

As a result, they are blown out by the Miami LeBron and must play a deciding seventh game in Miami on Saturday evening. Though the visiting team has won each of the last two games, that is going to be one uphill battle. Meanwhile, the Western Conference champs get a nice breather, perhaps to savor this headline.

Tonight's essay topic

Jefferson Smith : David Lee Roth. Discuss.

A family in need

Joshua Berger, a well known artist and designer in Portland, took a header off his bicycle on his daily commute in southeast Portland a few weeks ago. There were reportedly no other bikes or vehicles involved. Although he was wearing a helmet, he suffered serious traumatic brain injury and has been in the hospital ever since the accident:

In these remarkable two and a half weeks, Josh has gone from being unconscious, with a breathing tube, IV, and expanding contusion in his brain to talking with a large vocabulary, feeding himself, sitting in a wheelchair, and reading. As the brain rewires its connections, some thinking gets confused, and there is physical discomfort and restlessness. The doctors say this is normal for a frontal lobe TBI recovery.

Josh started off in the trauma ICU at OHSU and is now in an acute rehabilitation ward at Providence hospital. Things appear to be moving ahead well, but timelines are difficult with brain injuries.... He’s in occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology therapies, regaining physical skills, cognitive abilities, and learning how to navigate basic life necessities given his new circumstances.

When he goes home, which won't be for a while yet, he'll need 24-hour professional care, and there is no insurance to cover it. His friends have set up a fundraising page here, and they've asked me to ask you to contribute. Why give money to help somebody you don't know? Because they need it.

Let's not use this space just now to grouse about Portland's crazy bicycle mania. Please head over there and join me in trying to support what from all accounts is a good man and his loved ones.

Portland parks can't tell a deer from an elk?

A reader points out that along with this press release came this photo, along with a caption, identifying the animal in question as an elk:

Forest Park BioBlitz, May 2012. Courtesy: Portland Parks & Recreation, Portland, OR. A young elk contemplates its next move after encountering a fallen tree.

The reader says it's a black-tailed deer, not an elk. Given that the whole point of the exercise in question was to catalog the different species present in Forest Park, it's not exactly a confidence-building development.

Bike set falls for another one

First they give money to a con man on two wheels, and brag about it. Then when somebody goofs on them, they don't get the joke. There's a lot they don't quite get.

Gatsby goes to bat for hemp

He's pointing out that you can't get high from smoking industrial hemp, and arguing that it should be legalized. But wouldn't that make it harder to detect marijuana plants, which look similar but are illegal? Anyway, interesting priority for him on what has got to be his last lap on the Hill.

He ought to know

Here's an interesting passage from a recent press release from Portland's "unique" mayor:

The union's latest attempt at character assassination is part of a pattern of behavior that must stop.

Too often, instead of discussing the facts of a matter, the union tries to discredit or bully those who disagree with them.

Gee, don't ya just hate people like that?

Jeffer-Sten Smith didn't go to Mitt-bashing party after all

At least, so reports Willy Week.

PGE diesel spill at Bull Run reservoir

The Portland water bureau's just now reporting that 270 gallons of diesel fuel has leaked into the ground at the Bull Run reservoir, from the hydroelectric power plant that is operated there. Apparently the leak is more than a year old, but they're still at the talking stage about cleanup options. Of course, the bureaucrats tells us that the water is safe to drink, and there's nothing to worry about.

We're wondering why there's a power plant up there at all. It's apparently due to a late-1970's contract between the city and Portland General Electric. As we understand it, PGE is responsible for all aspects of operating the plant, including the current hazardous spill problem. The current deal between the city and the private utility ends in 2017; maybe at that point it ought to be shut down, and Bull Run can be just about water.

Portland to open new diaper drop-off location

Who says Portland City Hall doesn't listen to its constituents? We were pleasantly surprised this morning to read that the city is responding to consumer complaints that the new bi-weekly garbage pickup schedule creates hardships for households that use diapers. The city's sustainability office says that beginning this Saturday, the city will be accepting soiled diapers, free of charge, at a centralized drop-off location in North Portland. The diapers will then be taken to a biogas facility just outside of Molalla for processing.

"Portlanders have been doing a great job with the new food waste composting program," said Susan Anderson, the city's sustainability chief, "but we know that families with people in diapers are having difficulties. The new pilot program will enable them to drop off their soiled diapers so that the waste can be properly reprocessed. We are hoping that people will stop placing them in the blue recycling bins."

The service will be provided without charge, but Anderson urged parents and caregivers to make a voluntary donation of 2 cents per diaper to help defray the cost of the program. The new drop-off site is at the city maintenance bureau facility at 2929 N. Kerby Avenue, near Emanuel Hospital. The facility will be in operation 24 hours a day beginning at 7 a.m. on Saturday. Diapers should be the disposable variety only, and they should be securely packaged in brown paper sacks, rather than plastic bags, which are harmful to the environment. Alternatively, they may be wrapped in newspaper. Users are urged to take public transportation or bicycle. The area is served by bus lines 4, 24, and 44. Further details are here.

48-hour cone of silence in Portland cop shootings has got to go

A couple of news stories have been floating around this week about killings of civilians by Portland police. First, a private outside review team came in and took a look at seven such incidents over the past decade. Their report contained a lot of the usual "changes are being made" pap, but it zeroed in on the key aspect of the investigations that follow a killing at the hands of the police: the 48-hour period of silence that immediately follows such an event. The officers involved in the shooting aren't interviewed by investigators for two full days after it happens, so that they have plenty of time to get their story straight.

It's an outrage, and the reviewers know it:

[I]n order to maintain community confidence in internal investigations, involved PPB personnel should be interviewed on the date of the incident... The reason for the 48-hour delay is the current labor agreements between the City and the Bureau officers’ bargaining units. As noted in further detail below, we believe that 48 hours is too long to wait for a statement from involved personnel and advocate for a restructuring of the labor agreements mandating the 48-hour delay....

[I]t is time for the Bureau and the City to end the 48-hour rule that exists in the current labor agreement so that full and contemporaneous accounts of these critical and sometimes controversial incidents can be obtained from the involved officers. In our view, the next time the labor contracts become due, July 1, 2013, the elimination of the 48-hour rule should be one of the primary objectives of any future collective bargaining.

No kidding.

Meanwhile, on a related front, police spokesman Robert King, himself an ex-police union president, is painted in a highly embarrassing light in this story involving the investigation into the senseless killing of the unarmed Aaron Campbell in January 2010. According to O reporter Maxine Bernstein, King, a lieutenant, broke down in tears and changed his own sworn testimony in the investigation. The current union wants this to result in reinstatement for Ron Frashour, the officer who shot Campbell in the back and got fired for it. We disagree, but we do think that King, who apparently killed not one but two civilians when he was working the streets, may need to retire soon.

Bagpipes or breathalyzers?

While Portland awaits the extradition of a Timbers fan charged with manslaughter in a hit-and-run accident that occurred after she had allegedly been drinking at the soccer game, the Timbers-alcohol connection is highlighted, even celebrated, in this puff piece in the O.

We'd like to see some concerted enforcement of the DUI laws after the Timbers games. The police should be patrolling Burnside, Jefferson, and the ramps to I-405 heavily after each game. It's far more important than the vicious parking and MAX fare enforcement with which the city's so obsessed now.

Pill Hill makes a 10 worst list

OHSU is the fifth most expensive public medical school in the country, with in-state tuition almost as high as U.C. Davis. (Speaking of U.C. Davis med school, they've got serious issues beyond tuition rates.) [Via Lund and UO Matters.]

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Thanks for your patience

We've been experiencing some technical issues this evening due to a server failure. Some things are working, and some things aren't. If you can read this, that's a good thing. We're working on getting everything back in order as quickly as possible.

UPDATE, 12:26 a.m.: At this hour, our main page is down, but our individual entry pages are working, and so is our RSS feed. You can get the feed, which contains our 10 most recent entries, here. We're giving up for the night and will try to fight back against the gremlins in the light of day.

UPDATE, 6/7, 7:16 a.m.: We're back up and at 'em. Thanks to Jake at orty.com for heroic efforts when the hardware went down. Without Jake, this blog would have ceased to exist a long time ago.

Durant & Co. reach pro hoops finals

They beat the creaky Spurs in 6 games -- 4 in a row -- and move on to the biggest show of them all.


1. They think they can lose a quarter or a half badly, and then just flip a switch and win. That may be true, but not always.

2. Russell Westbrook, their no. 2 guy, plays on the edge -- erratic, almost. But he's so talented that he can get away with it.

The eastern conference champs are about to get their heads handed to them.

How cool is this for the people in Oklahoma?

New Portland income tax would be anything but

This story is breathtaking in a couple of respects. First, they're back to trying to institute a local income tax to pay for Portland public schools. Second, it's not really an income tax at all -- they're calling for a head tax of $35 per person 18 years and older, with an exemption for low-income people.

The whole thing is as goofy as the Portland leaf tax. School supporters, come back and see us when you have something serious to propose.

Milwaukie council: Full steam head on mystery train

They're determined that their locals are going to pay $5 million for a MAX line from Portland, whether they like it or not. Maybe the rebels will get petitions insisting on a referendum on last night's city council action. But they'd have to scare up signatures in a hurry -- as we understand it, 10% of the registered voters within 30 days.

California pension reform lawsuits begin

The ballot measures that passed overwhelmingly yesterday are already on their way to court today.

Ashley's beau also arrested

Authorities say Christopher Rhea was in on the alleged hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence following the fatal hit-and-run on Burnside Street. He was reportedly with Ashley Chavez when they busted her in a Bellingham restaurant parking lot on Friday. That's three people charged in addition to the once-fugitive manslaughter defendant herself. Quite the trail of destruction.

Crazy era begins for Willamette Week

With the quick ascension of Ellen Rosenblum to the position of Oregon attorney general, media watchers are turning their attention to Willamette Week, the weekly newspaper whose publisher is Rosenblum's husband, Richard Meeker. WW loudly declined to provide any coverage of the attorney general's race just concluded, but it can't not cover the state justice department for the next four and a half years. Nothing it can do will completely erase every reader's doubts about impartiality going forward, but surely it'll have to try something, and soon -- she'll be sworn in on June 29.

Speaking of which, that's a Friday. Why not Monday, July 2? Wonder if the timing affects her state pension. She's already racked up many years in the system as a judge, at a substantially higher salary than she'll make as AG.

What's Spanish for "stinky"?

The Portland sewer bureau is running a bilingual tour of the Columbia Slough the weekend after next.

Is this guy somebody's nephew?

Willy Week has some interesting dope this morning on the juicy compensation package that Governor Retread's education czar will be receiving. On top of $280,000 a year, a car, and four extra weeks' vacation, the guy, Rudy Crew, even gets to do consulting work on the side. We'd rather see more English teachers.

Apartment weasel to Fremont neighbors: Read my lips

“We’re not gonna have parking. The people who choose to rent here, if parking’s a problem, they won’t rent here,” said Remmers.

What a prince.

Tim Boyle didn't want Kroger at Reed

Neither did another Reed trustee, Brett Wilcox. WW gets the scoop here, but it's unable to put the finger on the outgoing state attorney general's mystery illness. Money quote: He was sick of his job.

Killing off Colwood golf course

At one point, the whole place was going to be rezoned for industry, and the Portland airport was licking its chops about another runway. That proposal cratered, but now under a new plan, it appears that a little more than a third of it would be paved over, with the rest being preserved as some sort of "mixed-use park" space. It's being billed as a compromise. Meh.

You kids get off of my lawn

Or I'll shoot.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

San Jose government employee pension reform winning

The voters have said what they want, but apparently it will be for judges to decide how things finally turn out.

Ashley's brother busted in alleged hit-and-run coverup

His name is Joshua, and he used to live in Pueblo, Colorado, where the police were originally looking for his sister. And suddenly his Facebook page, on which his sister appeared prominently, has disappeared.

Second stone from the sun

If you don't have the special viewing glasses to see it directly, you can watch the Venus transit event on line here. (And yes, Venus Transit would be a great name for a rock band.)

Clackamas County to voters: Take this ballot measure and shove it

The ugliness surrounding Tri-Met's mystery train to Milwaukie gets worse by the day. As usual, the Clackamas County commissioners, who are determined to ram the project down the throats of a skeptical electorate, have legal reasons why they won't abide by the impending public vote on the project. Executive summary: "It's too late to turn back now," coupled with a dose of "The electorate isn't allowed to tell bureaucrats what to do."

The politicos and bureaucrats did something similar when the county voted on "urban renewal" a while back. But funny thing, that initiative passed, and it's apparently become law. This time the whole thing is likely to wind up in court.

It's sad to see a community come apart at the seams over something so pointless as a MAX line to nowhere. But the good news for the rebels down that way is that this kind of heavy-handed maneuvering by the incumbents seems likely to galvanize support for the outsiders who are on the verge of taking over two seats on the county commission.

Portland planners eye I-5 Rose Quarter hell

The City of Portland is holding a late afternoon-early evening meeting on Thursday to discuss proposed "safety and operations" improvements to the traffic fustercluck known as the intersection of Weidler and Interstate 5. Among the changes on the table are:

- Extend auxiliary lanes and full-width shoulders in both directions (within existing right-of-way).
- Reconstruct structures at Broadway, Weidler, Vancouver and Williams in their current alignment and add a lid over the freeway.
- Move the I-5 southbound on-ramp from Wheeler/Winning Way to Weidler.
- Convert Williams to reverse traffic flow with a center bike/pedestrian lane between Broadway and Weidler.
- Construct a new pedestrian/bike overcrossing at Clackamas Street.
- Remove the Flint structure and add a new east-west overcrossing extending from Hancock to Dixon.

With the Blumenauerites calling the plays here, you can bet that the plan, if implemented, will benefit cyclists and real estate developers, and that it will do little or nothing to help people in cars. Cars are bad, and people in them deserve to be inconvenienced until they get fed up and move out of Portland. It's for the children.

Party's over in SoWhat District

The citizens window dressing committee on Portland's failed SoWhat District met last week, and reports are that the car-hating head of the Portland Development Commission, Patrick "Cars Are Evil" Quinton, showed up. According to our spies, Quinton told the advisory group that there is no more money for the many projects that were supposed to be added to SoWhat to make it more of a neighborhood and less of a concrete jungle.

This budget document would seem to bear that out. It shows the PDC borrowing another $19.5 million over the next year, and blowing that and more on the Mystery Train to Milwaukie ($10 million) and so-called "affordable veterans housing" ($11.4 million). After that, the debt spigot gets turned off. "The era of TIF [tax increment financing] is over," Quinton reportedly said.

But not before a last gasp at Portland State and Lincoln High School, of course. Quinton reportedly told the committee that 60% of the 144-acre new "education urban renewal" district is PSU. With other public property, at least 70% of the property in the gerrymandered "blight" zone is not subject to property tax. If this is the case, 30% of the property will have to provide the increased property taxes to repay $169 million in "urban renewal" debt over the 28-year life of the plan. Sounds like an enormous bust waiting to happen.

Back to the SoWhat budget, it also shows millions of dollars of short-term debt being taken out every year, presumably on the city's backroom "letters of credit." A lot of that money's probably going to pay overhead at the PDC and the city's shaky new housing bureau. Borrowing to pay basic administrative costs, of course, is a sign of extraordinary financial weakness.

In the end, Quinton told the committee that SoWhat was a success. Given the 5,000 to 10,000 biotech jobs it was supposed to produce for Portland, none of which ever materialized, it's been a success only for the condo developers who have eaten well off the public dime. But Quinton has a story to tell. Maybe next year he'll be telling it to students at his new employer, the PSU Patronage Center.

That menacing street punk with the pit bull deserves your smile

The City of Portland suggests that you make eye contact with strangers in public places. In downtown Portland, that would be some pretty dumb advice. The bureaucrats keep telling us that the streets should be places of "play" and "community," but given who's on the streets downtown these days, it's not a community that a normal person would want to get too involved in.

Portland water bureau sponsoring concerts?

So says the South Portland neighborhood guy in this writeup (large pdf file). Given that the bureau's being sued for deviating from its mission, one would think it would stay away from that kind of feel-good activity for a while.

Blazers have hired a general manager

They were his second choice, but they reeled him in -- a guy from L.A.

Now all they need are a coach, players, and a decent medical staff, and they'll be all set.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Kevin Durant one win away from NBA finals

His Oklahoma City team finally gets a victory in San Antonio and now has two chances to close out its series with the aging Spurs. After the game, he got a big hug and kiss from his mom at courtside. The guy's a legend at age 23, and we still think, as we have for the last month, that OKC will go all the way.

No joke -- the "green" police, cont'd

On the heels of this story comes this one, every bit as disturbing.

Facebook for kids

What could go wrong?

Portland City Hall encourages food slop snitches

The Sam Rand Twins are such great guys. They've added squealing on your neighbor to the many other "green" practices that make Portlandia so livable.

Reader poll: How will NBA playoffs come out?

They've gone through a week and change of the American pro hoops conference finals, and absolutely nothing's been decided. Both series are knotted, as they say, at 2 games to 2. And so each series is down to the best of 3, with home court advantage right where it started.

In the finals, either Western Conference team will hold home court advantage over the Eastern Conference team, in a 2-3-2 format. Where do our readers think the finals are going to wind up?

What will be the outcome of the NBA finals?
pollcode.com free polls 

It depends on how you define "outside"

This is kinda funny: Bill Clinton parades into Wisconsin to tell voters there not to let outsiders influence their votes in the upcoming recall election.

At Duck athletic department, it's car money for all

Thank God people like the assistant volleyball coach don't have to make their own car payments, like mere mortals do. By our count, 32 people are getting a cool $150,000 a year, just for their personal rides.

Jeffer-Sam jumps up to sneer at Mitt

TODAY, State Representative Jefferson Smith, Oregon Democratic Party Chairwoman Meredith Wood Smith, AFSCME Executive Director Ken Allen and an area business leader will hold a press conference near Mitt Romney’s fundraiser as the former Governor visits Oregon on a fundraising swing.

Up there on the platform with his stepmom, his union meal ticket, and a "business leader" who dares not speak his or her own name, Jeffy will look so mayoral -- positively Adams-esque.

Lake Oswego pump station move has familiar smell

Ever since Homer Williams and Dike Dame started pushing their plan to build one of their condo jungles on the east end of Lake Oswego, we've known that there is nothing but expense in it for Portland taxpayers. The first item on the agenda was the dopey Portland-to-L.O. streetcar plan, which at least for the moment has been put to rest in the face of voter rebellion.

But Williams and Dame, prime beneficiaries of Portland's failed SoWhat District, are still talking apartments for Lake O., and the second item on their agenda is starting to come into serious play. It's the plan to move or extensively re-do the City of Portland sewage treatment plant that currently sits near the site of their condo bunker dreams.

This stinker of a facility, formally known as the Tryon Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, processes poop and rainwater from both southwest Portland and Lake O. before flushing it into the mighty Willamette. Dame is on record as saying it needs to be moved, at taxpayer expense of course. And now you'll never guess what's happening at Portland City Hall.

Yep, they're "updating" the "facilities plan," which means that an eight-figure boondoggle for the benefit of the real estate developers is surely under way. Old Matt Brown, the Williams-Dame shill who helped them pimp SoWhat when he was on the City of Portland payroll, is right in the thick of the sewage plant discussions.

Interesting to Oswegans is that the committees' meetings have been facilitated by Linda Macpherson from something called New Water ReSources. Any relation to Greg Macpherson, candidate for L.O. mayor? In any event, she's a CH2M Hill type, and big into recycling wastewater into drinking water.

They'll call it "green," they'll claim that there's a pressing need, but let's face it -- it's all about the condos. And Portlanders are about to pay for it through their sewer bills. Homer and Dike are about to take us to the cleaners yet again.

A false debate

The Democratic Party bobbleheads are fussing over whether to raise income taxes on people with incomes over $250,000, or just on those with incomes over $1 million. The major problem that these politicos have is that many of us remember that they pledged to do something along those lines in 2008. But even when they got both the White House and Congress, they didn't do it. To say we're skeptical of their latest sermonettes on the topic is an understatement.

Does Portland need another Last Thursday?

Given the problems that the existing one has, we're surprised that someone's suggesting it. But at least one guy's determined to institute a Second Wednesday event -- in the Central Eastside Industrial District, of all places. It will be interesting to see whether the people who actually want to maintain their businesses in that neck of the woods sign on for the monthly bacchanalia.


An annual visit from some beauties just outside Blog Central:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

There's no place like home

The Boston Celtics won a train wreck of a game on their home floor this evening -- an overtime win, tying their series with the Miami Heat at two wins apiece. Like the San Antonio-Oklahoma City series in the west, in which OKC prevailed at home last night, the east finals will go six or seven games. Both series now shift back to the higher seed's home floor for a single game. If the home teams win every game, as they have so far, it will be San Antonio vs. Miami in the league finals.

Gatsby's house call

On one of his brief, occasional bachelor visits to Portland, the senior senator from somewhere sure knows how to rack up the media exposure.

Will they lead the way in San Jose?

Our law school classmate, Chuck Reed, is making a lot of headlines these days. He's the mayor of San Jose, and trying to reform the government employee pension system in that city. As one can imagine, this is leading to all sorts of hard feelings in the bureaucratic ranks. But the man's talking common sense, as he always has. We hope his efforts are successful, both at the polls and in court. This country is starting to boil down to the 1%, the government employees, and everybody else.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Home teams winning in pro hoops Final Four

The lower-seeded teams in the NBA conference finals won the first home games in their respective series, which brings each of them into a Game 4 trailing 2 games to 1. It's Oklahoma City trying to hold serve tonight against San Antonio, whom they trashed on Thursday to break a 20-game winning streak. Tomorrow night, Boston will try to even its series against Miami, whom they manhandled last night.

The cliché is that the series doesn't start until one side loses at home. By that measure, the conference finals haven't started yet. But going down 3-1 is not a good thing, and so if either of the home teams loses on its home court this weekend, it could be more of an end than a beginning. We're pulling for the home squads to tie things up and thus ramp up the intensity of the week ahead.

UPDATE, 8:10 p.m.: Kevin Durant went nuts in the fourth quarter, and his OKC team made it a best-of-three series. It's sad that people in Oklahoma have a team to root for, while Blazer fans have spent the day Googling "blood virus."

More new food rules in New York City

The soda size limit is just the beginning, apparently. The health bureau at New York City Hall is working on a much broader long-term program to reform consumer behavior:

Restaurants must cut all food into bite-sized pieces before it is served to the customer. Food served to customers 65 years old or older must also be pre-chewed by the restaurant staff.

The whole thing is here.

Hillsboro's going for a minor league baseball stadium

The city will borrow around $15 million to build the thing (via Hoffman Construction), and the Yakima single-A short season team will be coming down next summer. It's all wired for a City Council vote on Tuesday. Baseball fans who wanted to bring a pro team to Milwaukie or the 'Couv may be too late to the party.

Saint Hatfield's halo picks up some new tarnish

When he died, nobody wanted to talk much about it, but Oregon's political hero appears to have been a bit of a crook personally. The scam with his wife and the Greek tycoon was a disgrace. And there's more out there in various corners.

This paragraph in the latest story is interesting:

It was toward the end his tenure, in the 1990s, that Hatfield won support for many of the region's signature federal projects. When he retired in 1996, after 30 years in the Senate, he had brought Oregon hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money. Those later projects include parts of Portland's light rail system, sophisticated research labs at Oregon Health & Science University, and the $128 million federal courthouse named for Hatfield in downtown Portland.

Think there was any monkey business with all the money that flew around with those projects?

Anyway, may Hatfield rest in peace, but may the history books include the whole story.

Surprise! Gatsby at the Lloyd Athletic Club!

It sure looked like him in the weight room late yesterday afternoon. Far from his loved ones.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Outrageously good local cocktail kicks off weekend

Concocted right here at Blog Central: a bloody Mary made with Medoyeff Vodka, distilled in Portland, and fresh tomato juice from Raymond Kuenzi Farm in Silverton. Small squeeze of lime, fresh-ground black pepper. Yikes.

LaMarcus recovering from serious ailment

This is downright scary:

I'm truly thankful for still being here and being able to do functions like walk, talk and open my eyes as those things were hard to do during that time.

He says it's over. For his sake let's hope so.

Ashley busted in Bellingham

The hit-and-run manslaughter suspect was about 25 minutes from the Canadian border, reportedly with a male driver.

Grandparents beware

A reader of a certain age writes:

I suspect most of your readers have heard about the grandson scam. This is the one where the caller pretends to be a grandson in trouble (accident, jail, etc.) in a foreign country and needs money wired fast.

I got one today. It started out, "Hi Grandpa, this is your oldest grandson." I have grandchildren, but they are all girls. However, the caller sounded like my nephew. My nephew travels all over the world. The caller said he was in Europe. It is not at all impossible that my nephew might be in Europe, but I think he is in the Virgin Islands this week. To make a long story short, I believed the caller for a few moments, but I came to my senses and hung up after stringing him along for a couple of minutes. Our caller ID shows "Belvedere Ti CA (415) 366-9515, 1 minutes, 52 seconds, Today, 1:29 PM." I am assuming it is a spoofed ID.

Have a great weekend

Nuns to Vatican: Keep it wrinkled

We still don't understand why they don't just start their own thing.

Light rail: It'll tickle yer innards

Up in Seattle, somebody may have had a little too much caffeine.

Soul engine still running

It's hard to believe that this guy is still making records. But he's just put out a blues recording, almost all of it new, original material. And it's pretty good!

Money-saving idea for Tri-Met

To combat its budget woes, the Portland transit agency is reportedly looking at employing these train cars for its Milwaukie MAX extension. "They're high-speed, proven technology," said one Tri-Met public affairs specialist. "They come with a full supply of replacement parts. And it looks as though we'll be able to negotiate a favorable price."

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Clackistani rebels, as seen from Last Thursday

One of the kids at the Merc writes up the suburban secession here.

Ignore the hole

Live it up! It's National Donut Day.

Lies and the lying real estate liars who tell them

Remmers said most tenants would likely reach destinations by walking, bicycling or taking transit, although he acknowledged that bus service to the area is spotty.

There is a bright spot here, however: When the falsehoods are this blatant at the outset, people are far less likely to believe all the little ones that are sure to follow as the legal process grinds on.

Charles Lewis pops up in West Linn

Charles Lewis, who recently stepped down after 13 years as founder and director of Ethos Music, has resurfaced as the director of a youth music project for the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation in West Linn. Lewis, a former Portland City Council candidate, gave up the demanding Ethos gig to spend more time with his wife and two small children. [Via the Trib.]

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