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

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July 2012 Archives

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Swarm of quakes 15 miles off south Oregon coast

Six since 4:50 this afternoon, the biggest a 3.0, 20 miles southwest of Gold Beach.

UPDATE, 9:57 a.m.: There were two more overnight, for a total of eight.

Cogen scrooges your iPod

One of the cool rewards of having a Multnomah County library card over the last year and change was that you could download three songs a week from a service called Freegal. Now, due to budget cuts from the county, that's been reduced to one song a week:

All the more reason to vote for the library taxing district. And all the more reason to vote out the underachievers currently sitting on the Multnomah County commission.

She blinded me with technology

We've had a tech-filled late afternoon and evening after buying new iPhones for us and the Mrs. this afternoon. We were updating from the old iPhone 3, and so much has improved. For the next six weeks, we'll be more or less state of the art, as opposed to being three steps behind. And we're already whispering sweet nothings to Siri.

Ain't nobody home

A trip to Fort Rock, Oregon is definitely a getaway.

The web counters take to I-5

The guys who run the excellent Portland-based Clicky web analytics service are moving their servers this weekend -- literally driving them up the valley from their current site 90 minutes down the road. And unlike the folks at SiteMeter, who took us off line for many hours last weekend in a similar switch, the Clickies are letting customers know in advance. We wish them the best of luck in their transport mission.

Oregon ballot measures get their numbers

Here they are, all nine of them, from secretary of state Kate Brown's office this afternoon:

Measure #77 Amends Constitution: Governor may declare "catastrophic disaster" (defined); requires legislative session; authorizes suspending specified constitutional spending restrictions

Measure #78 Amends Constitution: Changes constitutional language describing governmental system of separation of powers; makes grammatical and spelling changes

Measure #79 Amends Constitution: Prohibits real estate transfer taxes, fees, other assessments, except those operative on December 31, 2009

Measure #80 Allows personal marijuana, hemp cultivation/use without license; commission to regulate commercial marijuana cultivation/sale

Measure #81 Prohibits commercial non-tribal fishing with gillnets in Oregon "inland waters," allows use of seine nets

Measure #82 Amends Constitution: Authorizes Establishment of Privately-Owned Casinos; Mandates Percentage Of Revenues Payable To Dedicated State Fund

Measure #83 Authorizes Privately-Owned Wood Village Casino; Mandates Percentage Of Revenues Payable To Dedicated State Fund

Measure #84 Phases out existing inheritance taxes on large estates, and all taxes on intra-family property transfers

Measure #85 Amends Constitution: Allocates Corporate Income/Excise Tax "Kicker" Refund To Additionally Fund K Through 12 Public Education

We see five definite "no's" already; only four even have a shot at a "yes" from us.

Church cancels parking lot homeless car camp

Neighborhood opposition killed it.

It was, if you'll pardon the expression, a bum idea. Decentralizing homeless shelters is a little like decentralizing mental health treatment facilities. Many people don't want to live next to them, and never expected to. The city has spent a lot of money on big central facilities like the Bud Clark installation over by Union Station. That's always going to be an easier sell than setting up little pockets of car campers in the parking lots of charities in residential neighborhoods.

What passes for good news at Vestas

Its bankers have given the company permission to dig itself into a deeper hole.

Port of Astoria going broke

Apparently part of the problem was a big bet on "green jobs" building electric vehicles, but general overspending on pet projects seems to be the main culprit.

Portland cop pension blunder continues to rankle

The latest news on the $3 million of overpaid retirement benefits shelled out to Portland police and firefighters is troublesome: The city can't claw back the overpaid benefits by holding back retirees' cost-of-living increases. If the city doesn't get the money back somehow, the IRS says it will revoke the pension program's tax exemption. That would immediately increase the taxes of every member of the police and fire forces hired before 2007. It would thus be in the interests of everyone in the system for the overpaid retirees to pay back the mistaken amounts. But you know how those government employees are, even in retirement.

Another Clackistani burg fights "urban renewal" scams

They'll be voting on some beneficial changes down in Oregon City in November: Put all "urban renewal" bonds up for an automatic vote before the money is borrowed. If only Portland had had such a rule, it might have had a viable financial future. Too late now.

Let's hope the Oregon City measure also requires public votes on "interim letter of credit" draws. This is how Portland and other public entities make public scrutiny of "urban renewal" and similar boondoggles virtually impossible. They quietly borrow mega-millions pursuant to shadowy lines of credit that rarely see the light of day. By the time they resolve to issue permanent bonds, they've already spent the money and are on the hook to the banks on the lines of credit, which come due in short order. Anybody challenging the permanent bonds would essentially put the city into default on the lines of credit, because there's no other way to pay them off.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Portlandia East

This one's got several layers of weirdness working. It seems there's a truck repair shop just off the freeway out in Troutdale with a huge billboard overhead, and the owner of the shop apparently has the right to veto any message that the billboard company wants to put up. So one night the billboard company puts up a purple sign advertising a somewhat chichi hot springs resort up the road a ways. The truck repair shop owner says that his trucker customers are offended by the sign, and he wants it taken down. And so he's filed a lawsuit against the advertising company over the matter.

When the reporter calls for a comment from the truck repair shop owner? "He ain't here right now -- he's in Paris." Huh? It don't get any chichi-er than that. Just sayin'.

"I'm off duty" Portland cop "is relatively new"

And he still doesn't have a name.

The oppposite of journalism

This is pretty funny -- Tri-Met's blowing multi-millions of dollars moving its headquarters into a building owned by the family of Portland city commissioner Dan Saltzman, at rent of about $1 million a year. And not only doesn't this reporter raise an eyebrow -- heaven forbid -- but he doesn't even give the owners' names.

He does note that "TriMet also recently closed a massive budget funding gap." That really captures the story, doesn't it?

Apartment bunker pushers head for Hollywood

The real one -- in Los Angeles. And the locals there, like the locals here, pretty much hate the idea:

With many nearly abandoned blocks and downscale businesses around its core, Hollywood certainly could use a face-lift. But local community activists want development to be congruent with the area's architectural traditions. "There is real dismay in our community that the opportunity to make Hollywood a world-class destination is slipping away to these 'Manhattanization' fantasies," says Swan, a retired bookbinder. "We have always said that we love Manhattan — in New York."

Let's hope the dudes who are destroying Portland let the dollar signs in their eyes take them down to Tinseltown and get them out of here. Hey, Wally -- aren't you sick of all the rain?

Honeymoon's over for Timbers

The first sign of financial distress has appeared: Tickets to Portland's "major league" soccer team are no longer "hot." Little Lord Paulson got his seat money for the year, but the future is not so certain now that it's been established that the team stinks.

Taxing district idea spreads to Clackistan

What do the Clackamas County sheriff and the Multnomah County library have in common? They're both tired of being beholden to the county commissioners for funding, and putting levies up for a public vote every few years. And they're both contemplating going to their respective county's voters and asking for a special taxing district. The Clacky version is aired out here. The latest on the Multco drama is here; Farquaad and the Sisters are still balking at putting the district on the ballot.

We like public safety and libraries much more than we like a lot of the other stuff counties and cities find money for -- real estate development scams and armies of p.r. flacks, for example. The idea of these districts looks better to us all the time. If the Sam Rands are against it, it must be a good idea.

They have no future in Portland

Here are a couple of photos of who's currently living on West Hayden Island in Portland. You can bet they won't be there once the city and the Port of Portland finalize their awful plan to pave the area over for a pointless, redundant shipping terminal. It's a young bald eagle and a black-tailed buck:

The folks fighting desperately to save West Hayden -- up against an unholy alliance of the Adams administration and the Goldschmidt people at the Port -- write of the young bald eagle:

They don't get their full white heads until they are 4-5 years old.... The eagles raised two young this year. They nest virtually in the center of the area that the Port would convert to parking lots.

Shame on those who would destroy their habitat. Why don't we want these animals in our area? [Photos courtesy David Redthunder.]

Nolan smells the money

Portland City Council candidate Mary Nolan -- whose husband has taken the city's taxpayers for many a costly ride financially -- says that if elected, she wants to run the bureaus that control real estate activity in the city:

Nolan said that her strengths as both a state representative and small-business owner lie in managing infrastructure and investments. In a perfect world, she said, she would oversee the Portland Development Commission, the Bureau of Development Services and the Bureau of Transportation.

One shudders to think what Nolan and her Goldschmidt Party pals will do to the city's finances if they can get hold of those three bureaus.

Meanwhile, incumbent Amanda Fritz says she's comfortable with the portfolio of relatively powerless bureaus she currently has:

Fritz, a one-term incumbent, said she would ask for the same portfolio -- the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, the Bureau of Emergency Communications, the office of Healthy Working Rivers, and the newly created office of Equity and Human Rights -- because it includes "small but mighty" bureaus that require heavy community involvement.

A return to the major scams of the past vs. the same old same old -- quite a choice in that race.

UPDATE, 1:11 p.m.: A reader points out that we missed the fact that Fritz said she would ask to add the water bureau. We'd welcome her getting that assignment, but with all the back room deals that have been made in that operation, we suspect that that one is going to Big Pipe Saltzman.

From Hanford, some mildly good news

The public power companies that run the commercial nuclear reactor at the environmental disaster area called Hanford have backed off a plan to use "mixed oxide" fuel -- containing plutonium, which is more hazardous than standard uranium fuel. The experiment, at the reactor formerly known as WPPSS (pronounced "whoops"), was to have been part of a deal with the federal government's nearby nuclear weapons factory. The feds will now try to use MOX fuel back east, in South Carolina and Tennessee.

Environmental activists up in Tri-Cities and the surrounding region fought hard for this outcome, and they are to be congratulated.

Zombie hotel deal going to some bad apples

As noted here many times previously, Portland's Metro regional government is determined to build a Convention Center hotel on the backs of the area's taxpayers, regardless of public sentiment against it. They'll do anything rather than admit that the Convention Center is a white elephant that never should have been expanded (but which Vera Katz and Charlie Hales insisted on expanding despite a public vote against it).

The current version of this saga is playing out behind closed doors, as Metro negotiates in secret with potential developers and hotel operators. The main sticking point is likely to be how big a public subsidy will be provided. The choices are (a) huge or (b) gigantic. Earlier this month, the Metro drones leaked out word that Hyatt was interested. We were all supposed to be impressed.

Funny thing, though: Hyatt doesn't seem to be Portland's kind of people. Oh, the hypocrisy. But when public money for the developers and construction companies who run Portland is on the line, many sins are forgiven, by politicians and unions alike.

Pull the plug

It's hard to believe, but here's what the front page of the Oregonian's anemic website looks like at this hour:

At least they got the Olympics into the right hand corner. But the rest of those stories -- that's all they've got to tell us about?

1. Canby music show with '80s cover bands.
2. Comedian leaving Portland for L.A. (hint: he already left).
3. Lucha libre wrestling.
4. Oregon Ducks have one of the top punters in the country.

Thanks, but we think we'll go reorganize our sock drawer rather than read any of that.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Any day now

Wonder how long it will be before some Portland hipsters decide that a pair of training wheels sets them up to ride their bikeys on the MAX and streetcar tracks.

Don't knock the Portland food slop program

You're missing out on a money-making opportunity right in your own back yard.

Standard procedure invoked in killing by Portland cop

Today the Portland police bureau is busy telling us what a bad dude the latest dead guy, Billy Wayne Simms, was. He was a suspect in all sorts of lowlife crime. And he apparently had quite a rap sheet.

Simms was shot and killed by Officer Justin Clary. As we mentioned last night, reports indicate that Clary fired into a fleeing vehicle, which is against bureau policy. It is not the first high-profile shooting incident in which Clary has been involved; he fired quite a few rounds in the Brooklyn neighborhood incident in March 2011, for which he received a medal of honor from his colleagues.

There may not be a medal in the offing over this latest incident. But as we Portlanders know too well, no matter how far out of line Clary might have been, there will be no meaningful discipline. So go back to watching the Olympics; there's nothing to see here.

UPDATE, 11:37 p.m.: Here's a different picture. His family says he had four daughters. He may have been a punk, but maybe he should be in jail tonight, rather than dead.

Scalia issues new opinions -- on Fox News

While he's plugging his book on TV, he might as well talk about the substance of an issue that is likely to come up before the Court -- and criticize a colleague for a past opinion.

Maybe next week Justice Thomas will appear with the Foxies and explain the conflict of interest rules.

Vote for Romney and get three more of these guys.

NBA greed may kill the Dream Team

They just put players through a grueling condensed season, which no doubt shortened a few careers, but now the money-hungry owners of the National Basketball Association don't want their players playing in the Olympics because they might get hurt.

Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, wants the N.B.A. to stage its own World Cup, without FIBA's involvement. That way, money would be more equitably shared with various national basketball federations and N.B.A. players, Cuban wrote in an e-mail. He has also grown impatient with the I.O.C., which he views as supercilious, greedy and exploitative of the league's players as Olympic programming for NBC.

"They are risking their futures so that the Olympics organization can maximize sponsorship and TV deals," Cuban wrote. "There is no good reason for the N.B.A. to risk our athletes so they can profit."

"No, if anyone's going to hurt players for profit, it should be us." What a dirtbag.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Police kill road rage suspect in NoPo

Portland police shot and killed a young man in North Portland today. The deceased was reportedly armed and may have been involved in a road rage shooting in another part of town earlier in the day. But according to the KGW report, the police fired at his vehicle as it was driving away:

Police conducted a high risk traffic stop, and one passenger got out and cooperated with officers, but the driver of the car pulled out onto North Fessenden Street, King said.

An officer then fired his weapon at the car, which then drove through an exterior wall and into an apartment, King said.

As we understand it, that's against bureau policy ever since the infamous killing of Kendra James in 2003.

Not that any discipline against any Portland officer for an unjustified killing will ever stick, of course.

Wraps come off Christo building in Lents

A reader reports that the plastic that once surrounded the years-vacant building at I-205 and Woodstock Boulevard has been removed. There is still no sign of occupancy, the sidewalk's still fenced off, and there is still plywood on some of the windows, but at least the shroud is gone:

There's nothing quite like an infill bunker just a-gleamin' in the sun.

Metro now running polls for Pamplin

Portland's Metro regional government does some daffy things. Its "Opt In" survey club is one of them -- asking loaded questions of the agency's self-selected faithful. But lately Metro's gone a little further off the deep end, purporting to conduct a poll for its "partner," Community Newspapers, run by the private Pamplin media organization. It's more than a little odd:

Newspapers and government should not be "partners." But now that Pamplin's selling concrete to Tri-Met, that's apparently what we are going to get in Portlandia. It's sad.

More rockin' with Duane

One thing leads to another. Last weekend we were chatting here about the relationship of rock and jazz when we mentioned the late country rocker Duane Jarvis, who was a Portlander as a young man. That got us digging around in our box of 45's for our copy of the record that Jarvis and his friends made in 1981 as the group 2 Minutes 50. And now it has gotten a reader hunting around for a certain photo that he had:

I dug up a photo of when I was playing with the John Borroz band and Duane Jarvis was playing guitar. Tom Wendt [later of KBOO blues fame] is on drums and I'm (Tim Henwood) playing bass. The venue is the 9th Street Exit Coffee house in the old Centenary Wilbur Methodist Church, which became a bunch of different things after that. Located on SE 9th and Ash. Earl from Sleazy Pieces fame used to work there, as well as Father John Andrews – Christian minister and local folk player. I also remember Paul Delay sitting in with us once or twice.

I think Duane lasted about 6 months before moving on to other ventures. I'm guessing this is around 1978-1980.

A moment captured, to be sure:

Thanks, Tim.

Ted Wheeler's spokesman kills a guy

Oregon Treasury Department p.r. flack James Sinks is accused of running a red light and hitting and killing a pedestrian in a crosswalk near the Salem Costco on the evening of July 16. So far the Marion County DA's office has written him a couple of traffic tickets with $520 in fines. If that's the only action taken against Sinks in the criminal justice system, many people will likely conclude that he was given favorable treatment because of his position in state government.

"I'm off duty" Portland cop "has come forward"

But heaven forbid that we should know his name.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Is Twitter worth $10 billion?

Apple apparently thinks so.

Dethroned Miss Oregon's dad: Dana Phillips approved her

The director of the Oregon pageant gets a blast from Rachel Berry's dad, here.

"The unfortunate thing here is that there are other people who should be stepping up to claim responsibility for this unfortunate situation," added Berry. "It is downright shameful that they are not doing so. They should have said 'we messed up' and '(Rachel) relied on us.'"

It's also unfortunate that our local media, which dutifully reports Miss Oregon's doings every year, aren't asking any questions. Especially since the road map is so readily available here.

Have a great weekend

Char-Lie's bike path plan would destroy 1,000 jobs

But it sounds good to the entitled cyclist set, so he'll keep talking about it. The more quixotic the nonsense you spew, the better your prospects in a Portland election. Remember free wi-fi for all? We're headed back to four more years of that sort of stuff with Novick and either Hales or Nutsy at the helm.

Like a prayer

The new government-mandated religion of "equity" is outlined in this frightening document from Portland City Hall. The bottom line, of course, is more public money for the Homer Williams types to build apartments, but how you get there is quite a circuitous trip through a forest of planner platitudes. Oh, and did you know -- "equity" includes "sustainability"? Yes, now there's "social sustainability."

Worse than a waste of money, this handiwork is actually harmful. It's straight out of Orwell.

Maybe it was for Miss Oregon

Are those California plates on a City of Portland car?

Portland water system mortgage payment hits $37 million a year

Portland sold its latest round of water bonds the other day. The city borrowed around $80 million for various construction pork projects vaguely having something to do with the water system. The interest rate on the 25-year portion of the borrowing was 3.5%. For a tax-exempt rate, that's not exactly cheap. By our amateur calculations, the overall interest rate on the bonds, which call for roughly level annual payments over 25 years, was about 2.78%.

The "underwriter's discount" -- the profit made by the underwriter -- was about $420,000, and the costs of issuance (which no doubt includes a fee to bond lawyer Harvey Rogers's law firm) was another $65,000 or so.

With this new borrowing, the city's water bonds and other water-related debt will require an annual mortgage payment of $37 million, roughly double what it was five years ago. The total gross revenue of the water bureau is currently about $142 million a year. Looking ahead, with all the additional IOUs the bureau plans to sign in the near future, four years from now the mortgage payment will be something like $71 million, but the annual gross revenue is supposed to be around $217 million. That 50% increase in income will be coming from us Portlanders, but only if we use water, of course. Of the $75 million increase we'll pay, about $34 million a year will go to the banks for money that will have already been spent.

The tale of the tape is here.

As best we can tell, the people who bought the bonds were not officially informed of the Carollo Engineers water supply deal, nor were they told in writing about last weekend's "boil water" scare on the city's west side.

The swing votes

Given the crazy way our Constitution sets up Presidential elections, Oregon voters probably won't make a difference in the outcome. Here's who will.

Mayor firing cops as they arrest him

It's almost as goofy as Portland up around Tacoma way.

Internet mugshot sites become a hot topic

Websites that post police booking photos of arrestees are both commonplace and popular these days. And they're drawing a lot of criticism in the press. For example, Portland's Skanner newspaper, which has rarely met a criminal defendant it didn't like, weighs in here; the national ABA Journal, which tends to look at life from a lawyer business development perspective, has a piece (in which we are quoted) here. We've written about the Portland version of this type of site before, but the rising controversy calls for a fresh look.

The basic operation of these internet pages is simple. Many local police agencies post photos of folks they've recently arrested, with names, ages, and charges. Not all do -- we can't find mugshots from Washington State on the internet, for example -- and those that do don't leave them up for long. Usually the photos are taken down shortly after the suspect in question is released from custody. But once something's on the internet, it's public forever, and private website operators harvest these photos and ID's, post them on their own pages, and don't take them down when the arrestee is released.

The accused don't like that.

Now, what's often overlooked is that this is not necessarily an internet problem. If you hang around your local convenience store at all -- and who doesn't love killing time listening to the slushies ooze and watching yesterday's hot dogs go 'round? -- you know that there are hard copy mugshot tabloids that sell for a buck or two. If people weren't buying those, they wouldn't be there. But the internet is so much more pervasive -- the arrestees hate seeing themselves on the screen way more than in some paper.

So what's wrong with this picture? For the most part, we applaud the posting of these photos on the internet. Information is either public, or it isn't. The fact that the internet makes public information more readily available than ever doesn't change that principle. Public information is public. Those photos are the taxpayers' property, and that means we all have the right to see them, and know what the subject of the photo was arrested for.

But there are several problems with the way the dissemination of this information has evolved. First, the private operators who run the mugshot sites have the ability to filter whose mugshot gets seen, and whose doesn't. The last time we checked, the Portland operator doesn't post mugshots of people arrested for prostitution and related crimes, because he thinks they are victimless. That immediately diminishes any claim to his being a gateway to public information.

Second, and this is probably the most significant problem, arrestees are innocent until proven guilty, and many of them are not convicted. Yet their mugshots live on, along with the original charges, in perpetuity on the web. That paints them in a potentially false light.

Third, and this is the most maddening, the mugshot site operators, or other shadowy figures whose connection to those operators isn't clear, will remove anyone's mugshot, innocent or guilty, for a fee. Now they're profiting from their selectivity, which removes all vestiges of legitimacy as a public information outlet.

So what's the right answer? Make the website operators display the mugshots of all arrestees for all crimes? Make the website operators display the outcome of everyone's case? Criminalize charging a fee for removing a mugshot? All of those solutions would appear to our untrained eye to have serious First Amendment issues. So should we stop publishing mugshots altogether? Washington State doesn't show them.

Neither does Kim Jong-un.

To us, the only sane solution is for government to expand greatly what it's publishing about arrests on the internet. Have the police and the jails leave all the mugshots up forever, but with the disposition of each case clearly displayed on the same page. Sure, that's expensive, but it's the only way to stop the game-playing without making arrest information secret.

You do not. Want. Secret. Arrests. (Any more than we may already have, anyway.)

An expanded system can be done. Heck, on our cell phone, we've got an app that lets us check anyone's criminal history; they even give us one search a month for free. Want to see Jefferson Smith's record of skipped court dates and driving while suspended? There's an app for that. And if Background Check can do it, so can the local cops.

If the county sheriffs had a permanent archive of arrests, mugshots, and final dispositions of cases, we'd all benefit. And the sleaziest of the mugshot site operators would be out of business in a short time. Anything short of that commitment is going to result in decades of lawsuits, and eventually less information about the criminal justice system being made available to the public. Neither of those outcomes is good.

Breaking news: Sam Rand emergency system doesn't work

Prominent on the massive pile of worthless junk purchased with Portland taxpayers' money by the Adams "administration" has been one emergency communications system after another. So far, they pretty much all stink. The latest fiasco is the contraption that was supposed to warn the whole west side to boil water last weekend. Apparently, about two thirds of the people who were supposed to get a call, didn't.

"We want answers," bellows the Admiral. Here's one: The whole system is a waste of money, but you love toys, and you bought this one, so deal with it. And please don't buy any more before you and your co-star take the PERS powder. The only emergency is in his pants.

Why the lazy Portland cop is really in trouble

The Portland police officer who refused to do anything to help in yesterday's downtown drug store robbery ought to be fired. That won't happen, of course -- there is no meaningful discipline in the Portland police bureau -- but he's definitely going to catch some serious unofficial shinola from Chief Mike Reese's office.


Because he stepped on the chief's big publicity moment. The night before, Reese was personally involved in taking a gun away from a 20-year-old kid in a traffic stop. Oooo, big deal, press release and all. It was a pretty slow news day locally, and it was probably going to get some camera time for the chief. He's going to need it, because when his BFFs the Sam Rand Twins leave the building in December, he could be looking for work. But no -- all the reporters want to talk about is "Call 911, I'm off-duty."

It's pretty hilarious, actually, but it won't be for that worthless cop.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Barburian rebels stumble

It appears that their petition drive to stop the Tigard-Portland MAX train boondoggle fell short by fewer than 50 signatures. You can bet the powers that be went over those petitions with a fine-toothed comb. Oh, well -- there's no money for more trains at the moment, and the opponents can always come back next year.

Portland cops: To protect (each other) and serve (donuts)

This is just appalling. And the reaction will probably be even worse.

"We will look into this and take the appropriate action," King said.

Six weeks' paid administrative leave -- that oughta teach him!

Why Tri-Met is dying

Its inept (or corrupt) managers would rather blow money on empty mystery trains that cost the taxpayers $13 a ride, while passengers on the buses get this. (Photo by Erik Halstead.)

An odd moment from Google

Despite warnings from our mother that it will make us go blind, we Google ourself frequently. When you run a Google search, and go to the listed findings, there's often a cached version of the found site that Google has created; you can look at it without going to actual site itself. And so it was with our post last night about Rasheed Wallace (which, by the way, seemed funnier to us at 10:30 p.m. than it did today at 10:30 a.m.).

But amazingly, in the Google cached version, there was a photo other than the one that was contained on our actual page. Google went and drew another photo out of somewhere and inserted it into the cached post:

The actual post:

We may have had that top photo on our server at one point, but it's not there now, and it wasn't there when we posted our latest 'Sheed screed. The ways of the Google bots are mysterious. A little scary sometimes.

SiteMeter's gone all wonky on me

Our faithful traffic tracker, SiteMeter, seems to be acting up today. Is it just us, or is it a system-wide thing? Anybody know? (As always, our even more faithful tracker, Clicky, is doing just fine, thanks.)

Vestas stock approaches all-time low

Portland's supposed economic savior, which has its shiny new taxpayer-subsidized U.S. headquarters in the Pearl District, is clearly on life support:

Since hitting a record high of 692 Danish kroner, or about $113, in August 2008, shares have tumbled 96% to 24.95 kroner. They are off 61% year-to-date and now trading close to the all-time low of 19.74 kroner. Meanwhile, the yield on Vestas's corporate bond has jumped to around 20%, according to Deutsche Börse.

For a while there was a rumor of a Chinese takeover, but even that seems unlikely until the company's performance bottoms out -- if it does before the end comes.

When Big Brother watches...

... he'll do so with technology developed in Hood River.

Hood Tech's early 800-gm stabilized video turrets created demand for an entirely new class of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Image quality delivered at that time would be considered primitive today. A decade later, customer expectations have escalated; NIIRS image-quality metrics are now being applied.

According to Hood Tech's Dr. Andy von Flotow, "NIIRS 8 imagery is no longer enough to stay ahead of expectations; we are now recognizing faces and reading license plates from stand-off ranges beyond audible detectability. To achieve this, we have developed new imagers and have completely reinvented our stabilization methods. Our stabilization is now good enough that we can select a specific door when pointing a laser."

Wow. Fantastic. Way to go, Dr. Andy von Flotow. If only Tom Lehrer were still working, he could write you a little tune. "Drone" rhymes so well with "you're never alone."

City of Portland "adamant": You can swim in the Willamette

Nothing to worry about. It's gonna be great. Really! Those 70 sewage treatment plants upriver from here take all the bad stuff out. And the industrial pollution and agricultural fertilizer runoff all gets diluted down. So go for it!

Bring a snorkel and check out all the deformed fish. Just keep your mouth closed, and don't eat anything you catch. Especially the brown trout. And whatever you do, don't waste a sunny day on the internet.

This video explains a lot

About halfway through it, it dawned on me: This guy probably votes.

"cc: Layoff coordinator"

You never know what you're going to find when you prowl around on the City of Portland website. Here's an interesting document that we just stumbled across. Think it will get used much in the planning bureau?

A loud Portland mouth silenced

Where he's going, there's no Fred Armisen.

Keeps on movin'

Another medium-sized quake off the Oregon Coast yesterday afternoon -- a 4.3, a couple of hundred miles from Newport and Coos Bay. Not far from the 4.0 they had out there on Friday.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Blazers head coach: Rasheed Wallace

Sources within the Portland Trail Blazers organization report that after an extensive national search, team owner Paul Allen has decided to name retired forward Rasheed Wallace as the team's next head coach, effective immediately.

According to officials at the team's Seattle headquarters, the decision to bring on the controversial Wallace, who as a player held the league's career record for technical fouls, came as Allen and his advisors realized that the team is headed for another lackluster season on the court. "The idea is to create as much of a spectacle as possible about anything other than wins and losses," the source said. "There's also the nostalgia factor, since the Blazers haven't been a contender since 'Sheed left in '04."

The team also hopes to impress on fans that Wallace once threatened to punch out the lights of then-NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who has since been disgraced in a gambling scandal. "Fists don't lie," a team insider noted. The incident took place in the Rose Garden parking garage following a Blazer loss.

Wallace, long unable to unload a mansion he owns in Portland's Dunthorpe neighborhood, has reportedly spent most of his career earnings and needs a steady job. "At least he's got the crib in Dunthorpe to fall back on," said one Blazer front-office manager, who refused to be quoted for the record. "It's got a pool table, which is important to him."

In their recent quest for a head coach, the Blazers have called on Jerry Sloan, Mike D'Antoni, Phil Jackson, and many other quality coaches, but none have shown any interest in working for Allen. In contrast, the sources said, Wallace and new Blazers general manager Neil Olshey immediately hit it off in preliminary discussions. "Both sides interviewed hard," said one long-time Blazer official.

The reaction from local sports commentators has been guarded. Dwight Jaynes of Talkin' Ball was not available to file a report, as he is recovering from a hand injury following an accident involving an Ichiro voodoo doll. Blazer TV commentator Mike Barrett responded to a reporter's inquiry with a long list of mind-numbing statistics devoid of any content. "The head coaching search is on a 10 to 2 run," was the last thing heard before he and the reporter both dozed off. Portland sports pundit John Canzano said that he would produce a comprehensive look at the Wallace hiring as soon as he finishes detailing Merritt Paulson's BMW.

One out of three Fukushima kids has a thyroid cyst

And yet the government denies it has anything to do with the triple nuclear meltdown there. Sure, just a coincidence.

And which mainstream media outlet is covering the story? That would be none, Bob.

Thorn in their sides

You can bet the Sam Rands hate this new document by the city auditor's office. It actually tells the truth about the City of Portland's finances -- they're going down the tubes due to "urban renewal" boondoggles and scandalously unfunded cop and firefighter pensions.

Why, it's not spouting the usual "colors of money" baloney. How dare they!

Jerk contest still dead even

It really is impossible to figure out which of these two is worse.

Roseburg stall needs to end

How long is this going to go on? The police aren't going to let the Kyron Horman case drop any time during the wicked stepmother's lifetime. There's no statute of limitations for murder. There's going to be a pending criminal inquiry until somebody goes to jail. And so she needs to face the music on the civil side -- her divorce and the Desiree Young lawsuit -- and stop trying to put it off because of the pending criminal inquiry. She shouldn't get a lifetime free pass from the legal system just because she's a suspect in a heinous crime.

The landscape of a gift

Ya gotta love this rock music story.

Time to start collecting for our Sam Rand scrapbook

We're just a little more than five months away from the end of the Adams "administration" at Portland City Hall. In 160 days, the Admiral will be sitting up at night cackling over his multiple pensions, and the mayor will be preparing his lectures at the Portland State Patronage Center. We need to give the two of them a good long sendoff, and so that it doesn't get lost in the holidays, we're thinking of dedicating the first couple of weeks in December to farewell festivities on this site.

It's never too early to start planning, and so we urge readers to begin helping us put together a fitting tribute. For one thing, we'll have to assemble lists of their accomplishments, and highlights of their City Council careers. What are your favorite moments with the Sam Rand Twins? There's a lot to think about -- eight years of the mayor and 10 years of the Fireman. They've done so much to make our city what it is today. Ideas? We're all ears.

It doesn't smell like the Rose Festival

It's been a busy couple of weeks around here, and we're just now getting around to posting about this message, which we received from a reader last week:

I was in Astoria yesterday and today. Came back on U.S. 26 today about 3:30 p.m. Just about 100-150 yards east of the Glencoe Road entrance onto 26, there was a gawd awful stench of rotting vegetation and other stuff.

At the exit from 26 eastbound onto Glencoe Road, there were a number of signs back off the ODOT right-of-way making various comments about the stench. Apparently some folks out there are seriously upset.

I had the windows wide open, no AC on, and was motivating at a goodly clip. I very clearly got the odor. If it's like that often, folks out there have a reason to be upset, IMHO.

It's all part of the wonderful new Portland food compost ordeal. And other areas are about to get theirs -- Lents, Wanker's Corner, and doubtlessly more. The arrogance is, well, breathtaking.

The perfect getaway

The new pedestrian bridge over I-5 between Portland's bizarre South Waterfront (SoWhat) District and the Lair Hill neighborhood is open for business. It's named after Darlene Hooley -- what a tribute. It's such a household name, they've already shortened it to a nickname. Folks all over the neighborhood are saying to each other, "Darlene Hoo?"

Anyway, we haven't seen too many folks on the span yet as we've passed beneath it in our car. The first of a lifetime of graffiti tags is probably already there, though -- or will be soon.

We're surprised that the U.S. government has allowed Portland to open the bridge. Remember, Fireman Randy's developer buds are building the federal immigration sweethearts a lovely jail-but-you-can't-call-it-a-jail facility in SoWhat, right next to a grammar school. If there's ever a jail break -- and we know all too well how worried they are about that potential -- the bad guys will be able to elude pursuing vehicles by running across the pedestrian bridge. On the other side is the labyrinth of tunnels and overpasses that make up the west side vehicle access to the Ross Island Bridge -- an easy place to lose any pursuit. We used to live over that way, and it's super-easy to lose people in that section of Lair Hill, even when you aren't trying.

Portland needs an anti-bunker ballot initiative

The furor over the building of large apartment complexes without parking is really starting to grow on the east side of Portland. Nearby homeowners hate it, but the know-it-all, holier-than-thou city planners love it, and so unless somebody does something Herculean, these bunkers are going in, everywhere, for the foreseeable future. As far as City Hall is concerned, the neighbors can go pound salt (preferably sustainable, organic sea salt).

It may be time for an initiative measure to put a stop to this. How about a rule that any new development of four or more contiguous dwelling units in Portland has to have one off-street automobile parking space per unit? It's time for the neighborhood associations to get together, lawyer up, and get the petitions circulating for something like that, before things go much further. Because $60-a-year parking permits to park in front of your own house are surely next.

We'd bet that such an initiative would pass.

Not only would a successful ballot measure prevent parking hassles for the neighbors, but it would probably also prevent the cheapest of these projects from being built altogether. Most of the particle board human storage bins that the weasels are building are what, in our day growing up in Newark, N.J., used to be called tenement houses. And after a while, they can easily become slums. Nowadays, the worst of them are packaged as "affordable housing" or "student housing." In so many ways, it's more Portland livability down the drain. And through tax abatements and other government subsidies, you and we are paying for it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

President Obama, why you are going to lose

You're still campaigning against the Bush tax cuts? Mr. President, you promised four years ago to reform the tax system. The Democratic Party gave you control of the House and 60 votes in the Senate, but did you roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy? No, you extended them. The populist spiel that got you elected isn't going to be enough to get you re-elected. Romney's a catastrophe, but he's probably going to beat you. That will be a disaster, and it's one for which you are responsible.

Do you drink out of outdoor drinking fountains in Portland?

We've seen this movie before -- and so we never do.

A great mistake

This L.A. Times story is getting more attention than anyone ever imagined.

Miss Oregon saga winding down

Well, it appears that we may never find out who cheated and who lied in the Miss Oregon eligibility fiasco, just concluded. How could somebody who's ineligible to participate wind up being crowned Miss Oregon? Nobody from the pageant "family" is talking for the record. The local mainstream media, who dutifully report the Miss Oregon fantasy story every year, show no interest in following up. And although there were many thousands of dollars at stake, there's no sign of law enforcement getting involved. Hey, Josh Marquis!

And so the full details of who fixed what with whom will likely never be known. Was Rachel Berry, the dethroned state pageant winner, an evil free agent, lying her way to the top? Or did pageant officials mislead her and then throw her under the bus? Or maybe the truth lies in some combination of the two, or some other story entirely. It sure would be nice to know. In the right hands it might make a decent movie.

Even if no further facts emerge, we've learned a lot in covering this story. We're detecting some amazing similarities here with professional wrestling. Anyway, for those of you following at home, here's what may be our final look at Rachel's web:

Our stories on Miss Oregon are collected here.

They'll hound you anyway

Here's a bad idea out of San Francisco: Give people dogs so that they won't panhandle. Are they kidding? Here in Portlandia, a dog seems to be part of the standard uniform for beggars under age 30.

Cranky, party of 5?

A reader writes:

My husband and I are continually annoyed and puzzled by the fact that so many Portland restaurants will not take reservations. We would gladly give a credit card number to hold the reservation (like hotels do) so that if we no-showed, we would get charged.

Today I called a place to try to make brunch reservations for five (we have out of town guests). Here's how the conversation went down:

Restaurant: We only take reservations for six or more.

Me: Well there are five in our party, would you make an exception?

Restaurant: Hold on. [Checks with someone.] No, we won't make an exception.

So we're going somewhere else. We've tried to figure out a financial reason for the no reservations rule and are both stumped. The above-referenced restaurant is going to lose $100-ish for saying no?

I don't care how Portlandia fabulous a place is, with an almost 6-year-old child, there is no way we're going to wait 30 minutes for a table when we can go somewhere else that will take a reservation or seat us right away.

I'd be curious what your readers had to say.

Pray that the Portland planners don't look at Forbes

Once they check out this stupidity, you know you'll be seeing it on your block.

From fantasy to reality

When we read this absorbing piece, we couldn't help but think of Portland City Hall:

Though this theme of slow corporate strangulation points to the future, it nonetheless offers two simultaneous arguments about the present: that the power of corporations is reaching a level equal to that of traditional states, and that traditional states themselves are beginning to act more and more like corporations, or, through various entanglements, have grown inseparable from them.

When private industry eventually takes over Portland's failing public services -- when Nestlé controls the city's water supply system, for example -- many residents may not even feel the difference, because of all the corporation-like "branding" that the city's politicians and bureaucrats have already created. In the Sam Rand administration, every city bureau has got to have a logo and a slogan, like some sort of cornball advertising campaign out of the 1960s:

It's ironic that a city that prides itself on its left-leaning ways is seemingly setting the stage for science fiction writers' nightmares.

Where's Lolenzo?

The Portland public schools can't stop throwing money at "diversity," which has now been replaced by "equity." Last week, the school board resolved to spend $60,000 more up front, and who knows how much annually, implementing a newly adopted "equity in public purchasing and contracting policy." No doubt the move was made in preparation for the November election on the school district's new, household-budget-busting property tax increase proposal for school construction:

Elaine Holt, the district's director of purchasing and contracting, estimated that less than 5 percent of its contracts went to state-certified minority- and women-owned businesses....

The district expects to spend about $60,000 toward implementation and will appoint Lee Fleming, a senior contract analyst at the district, to act as a point person for the plan.

Under the policy’s draft administrative directives, the district will make an "aspirational goal" of making 18 percent of its contracts for consultant and construction services go toward firms that are minority-owned, women-owned or emerging small businesses. The policy says the district would have to give an annual report on progress.

We're all for diversity in contracting, but the amount of money that the school board burns on this and other "equity" initiatives is staggering, particularly given the anemic results that it typically achieves. It's got Lolenzo Poe, Urban League chair and lifetime bureaucrat, on the pad as "chief equity and diversity officer" at around $122,000 a year, along with at least one other full-time "equity specialist." Every now and then it runs out and drops $1.7 million on a consultant to tell Super Carole and the crew that the minority kids who disrupt classes are just expressing cultural differences.

But all the existing efforts couldn't get the minority contracting job done. So they'll throw another 60 grand on that bonfire, buying with it a few votes for the bond.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Helter skelter

Ichiro is now on the Yankees.

Presidential gridlock tomorrow

Don't plan to get anywhere in Portland on a freeway at any time between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It's the price we pay so that money can exercise its free speech rights.

If you must blame someone, we nominate that darned Jesse Cornett.

Char-Lie and Nutsy still talking about campaign spending limits

Blah blah blah for weeks on end with no results -- a good preview of the next four years for Portland.

Thought for the Day

John Kroger now has nuclear capabilities.

Nichole Mead is the new Miss Oregon

At least the pageant directors got that part right. Congratulations to her, and our condolences that she didn't get the big round of applause that was rightfully hers the night of June 30.

New Map - Mint Condition $0.02 (America) - general - by owner

it's NOT ok to contact this poster with proposals to restructure the United States

What color is your lobster?

This story kinda weirds us out.

The next Wapato Jail

The Port of Portland's new whatever facility that will destroy bald eagle habitat on West Hayden Island probably isn't needed nearly as much as the politicians and bureaucrats are telling us. It's reminiscent of many local wastes of money -- including the new interstate bridge disaster. Here's one of many voices of caution that are being trampled under foot in the fake public process currently under way.

Whenever you see Mayor Creepy working the crowd with a microphone while a pious 20-something City Hall planner writes things on an easel, you know you are being screwed.

A bigger question than Penn State

The college athletics league, the NCAA, has lowered the boom on Penn State University for its involvement in covering up child sex abuse by one of its athletic staffers. $60 million fine, forfeiting games that it won for many seasons, no bowl game eligibility, yada yada yada. Yes, Penn State is despicable, but why take it out on the athletes? And so now they'll have a crummier football team and a crummier school -- that's the punishment?

We agree with UO Matters, which asks: "[W]ho will fine the NCAA, the enforcers of the system that puts athletics before everything else in higher ed?"

Will Portland tell Wall Street about "boil water" scare?

It's been quite a weekend here in Portlandia. On Saturday the city announced that bacterial contamination had been detected in one of the reservoirs in Washington Park, and all residents and businesses on the city's west side were told to boil tap water for a full minute before allowing it in their mouths. The mayor was Tweeting away feverishly. A number of restaurants closed and lost their Saturday night business. On Sunday morning the city told residents that new tests showed the water was safe, but advised as a precaution that they let the taps run for a couple of minutes before drinking what came out.

This latest E. coli incident comes at an interesting time, in that the city is currently marketing bonds for the water system. The sale of the bonds -- essentially, the city borrowing $75 million for construction pork of various kinds, at least vaguely related to the water supply, with a mortgage on the entire system -- is expected to take place tomorrow.

The law requires the city to disclose all material facts to prospective investors in the bonds, and that duty runs right up to the time of the sale. The city's sales document for the bonds was written weeks ago, and of course it makes no mention of this weekend's scare. Will the city issue a supplemental statement to the bondholders today?

At one time, we might have thought so, but the city's idea of what is material to investors turns out to be a lot different from ours. As we pointed out last week, the current sales pitch does not even mention the city's highly unusual dealings with Carollo Engineers, a private company that takes hundreds of millions of gallons of untreated water out of the city's Columbia well fields and pays a bargain price for it. If that's not something the bondholders need to know about, then a little E. coli is probably not worthy of a supplemental statement.

California Rachel's other Oregon pageant

If Oregon seems a little off-kilter this morning, maybe it's because for the first time in memory, there is no reigning Miss Oregon. The Miss Oregon who won the title on June 30, Rachel Berry, resigned nearly four days ago after this blog demonstrated that she did not meet the residency requirement for the position and thus was ineligible to compete.

Remembering the speech Bert Parks used to make just before announcing the last results at Miss America, we assumed that the first runner-up in the Miss Oregon contest, Nichole Mead of Newport, would promptly be named Berry's successor. But here it is more than half a week later and there's been no announcement confirming that. It's puzzling, but not as puzzling as the circumstances surrounding the Berry fiasco. We're still scratching our head about how she was allowed to compete if she was not eligible.

We suggested last week that the directors of the Miss Oregon pageant be pressed to come forth with an explanation, but none has been forthcoming and readers have suggested that none will be. Another group that ought to have some questions posed to it is the local pageant that Berry won here in the Portland area on April 21. The main point of that local pageant is to send three or four women to the state contest in Seaside, and so if Berry wasn't eligible to compete in the state competition, why was she allowed in the local? In her only on-camera appearance so far in the Berry flap, Miss Oregon head honcho Dana Phillips blamed the local pageant director.

The local affiliate of the Miss America organization is called Miss Three Rivers. This year it awarded three titles in its senior division: Miss Three Rivers, Miss Willamette Valley, and Miss Portland. Its website banner alludes to a Miss Clackamas instead of a Miss Willamette Valley, but no Miss Clackamas was crowned this year. Berry won Miss Willamette Valley. Mead won Miss Three Rivers and shows up higher than Berry on the winners' list. Miss Portland was won by Kaitlin Endres. First runner-up, who should have gone to Seaside had Berry not done so, was Ashley Cranston.

The information sheet and registration form for Miss Three Rivers is here. It points out that any winner of the local contest must attend the entire week of Miss Oregon in June as well as something called Miss Oregon Pageant Camp in May. Presumably that means as a contestant, which necessarily implies that one would have to be eligible to compete for Miss Oregon; links are provided to the Miss Oregon and Miss America websites, which both show the residency requirements. Curiously, however, there's no discussion of residency on the Miss Three Rivers entry form.

There is a separate page on the Miss Three Rivers website with eligibility rules set out. They state:

Here is where things get odd indeed. The six-month residency rule is clearly set out for Miss Portland and Miss Clackamas, but there's nothing about length of residency for Miss Three Rivers or Miss Willamette Valley. Why is that?

Contestants in those last two competitions are advised to direct eligibility questions to the pageant director, Julie Fleck. Fleck, who gives a Happy Valley address on this state filing, is not only the director of the pageant, but also the mother of Miss Oregon 2005, Lucy Fleck. Did Berry ask Julie Fleck about eligibility in the state meet, and if so, what did Fleck tell her? And how could someone become Miss Willamette Valley and not be eligible to go to Miss Oregon?

The Miss Three Rivers information sheet has two other names on its masthead: Vicki Mills-O'Donnell and Yvonne Peebles. This duo is part of a threesome that runs a local children's theater program known as Krayon Kids. (The troupe performs in the same Oregon City theater in which the Miss Three Rivers shindig is held.) Perhaps Mills-O'Donnell or Peebles can shed some light on what was said between Miss Three Rivers and Berry. Finally, the state corporate filing shows the secretary of Miss Three Rivers to be Pam Stauffer of Vancouver, Washington.

One thing is for certain: If Berry or either of the pageants ever comes clean on what happened, it is going to be hard for any of them, including Berry, to plead ignorance of the rules. Fleck and Phillips are both long-time veterans of the pageant scene. And Berry was actively coached and mentored by Connie Benson, a California attorney and former Astoria pageant winner, who currently directs the Miss City of Orange pageant and the Miss Orange County pageant, both of which Berry previously won. (In another on a growing list of curiosities, the copyright notice on the Miss City of Orange home page lists Benson's mother, Lynda Benson of Prineville, Oregon, as copyright owner.) In any event, ignorance of the rules, even if it were an excuse, does not seem a plausible factor in what happened. (Our prior stories linked here.)

Late night street robberies reach Alberta Street

Two victims, one stabbed, by a trio with a knife demanding valuables early this morning. The stabbed guy was riding a bicycle.

Fremont, Sandy, and now groovy Alberta. As the Temptations once sang, "it ain't even safe no more, to walk the streets at night." They were singing about Detroit in 1968, but that's Portland now. How sad.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rockin' with Duane

One of the great things about hosting a blog is the education you get. There we were shooting the breeze with Bill McDonald in comments on a post about the relationship between jazz and rock when the subject of Duane Jarvis came up. Little did we know that Duane left the planet a few years ago. That was a real loss.

Jarvis was a country rock guitarist and songwriter in L.A. best known as a side man who toured with acts like John Prine and Lucinda Williams. He and Williams co-wrote the song "Still I Long for Your Kiss," which appears on her acclaimed recording Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. We saw Jarvis, Williams, and Steve Earle play to a tiny crowd at Champoeg Park one summer in the '90s -- other-worldly good. A short time later, Jarvis was in town promoting solo work, and we stopped by for a handshake outside the old Music Millennium outlet on NW 23rd Avenue. That was the last we saw of him.

But the way we will always remember Jarvis is as the guitarist in a four-piece Portland rock combo known first as the Odds, then as 2 Minutes 50 when there was a name conflict with another band. (The other Odds were from L.A., as we recall.) The Portland version of the Odds was steaming up the windows at Portland nightclubs in the early '80s -- a little before the rise of Billy Rancher, if we're remembering the timeline correctly. You'd get the Odds one week, the Burnside Bombers the next. The Odds would play mostly rock covers -- they'd do an awesome Doors medley in which lead singer Ben Davis would channel Jim Morrison -- but they'd also throw in a song or two that Jarvis and Davis wrote. They even cut a single that some of us ran out and bought:

Top: Ben Davis, left, and J. Wallace. Bottom: Kip Richardson and Duane Jarvis.

One week, the Odds shocked their fans by trading drummers with Johnny & the Distractions. Duane's brother Kevin switched from the Odds to the Distractions in a straight-up trade for Kip Richardson. It happened on a Monday, and by Friday night the two bands were off playing their separate gigs, in places like the Last Hurrah (the basement of 555 SW Alder).

Duane was around 24 at the time, but he looked 17. We remember that he was battling asthma in those days, and would need a pop of the inhaler on occasion. Given how much smoke there was in the bars in which the band played, it must have been a tough line of work. He always seemed to be enjoying it, though -- a humble guy and a little bit in awe of the power of rock.

We miss 2 Minutes 50. They disappeared from the scene pretty quickly. But while they played, they were young and fresh -- at least as much as the Seattle band of the era known as the Young Fresh Fellows. And Duane was a real talent who brightened many a night. Years later, we had the V-Roys from back east -- but that's another post entirely.

UPDATE, 7/23, 10:26 a.m.: We've uploaded our two songs by 2 Minutes 50 to YouTube, here and here. Let's hope the copyright people let us leave them up; it's not as though you can buy them anywhere.

Sign here, kid

Anyone who would own a tanning salon, knowing what we do about skin cancer, is creepy in our book. But some of these characters go above and beyond.

Portland reservoir disconnected for good?

After yesterday's song and dance about bacterial contamination, and the trashing of the west side's Saturday night with a "boil water" alert (complete with groovy logo), the City of Portland this morning decided that it was safe to drink out of the taps once again. The press release had an interesting passage in it about Washington Park reservoir no. 3:

As a precaution, the reservoir is being drained and will be inspected. An investigation into determining the source of contamination is ongoing. The reservoir may be put back into service once it is determined to be safe to do so.

It "may be." Does that mean it may not be, even after it's been cleaned?

Anyway, with oodles of overtime and another supporting incident for the unnecessary underground mega-tanks being built on the east side, all in all it's been a fine weekend for the bureaucrats. And thank heaven the cargo bikes were standing by ready to save us.

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Contamination, but it's cool

It's amazing, isn't it, how quickly the City of Portland came up with a slick graphic to illustrate the E. coli scare?

Remember, this sudden discovery happened on a sunny summer weekend. It's almost as if they had it planned ahead of time.

In any event, the city can't provide basic services, but we absolutely will not be out-Tweeted. Go by streetcar!

Quotation of the Day

Rock is jazz under pressure. -- Jonathan Schwartz

Mystery creatures washing up on Hawaii

Our guess: Visitors from Fukushima.

Hope they have bottled water for Sunday Parkways

Because the tap water over there won't be safe to drink. But hey, our unique mayor is Tweeting up a storm, so everything's going to be o.k.:

E. coli! Run!

And take your wallet with you. Because this is going to give the Portland water bureau an even broader license than it already thinks it has to make its consultants and construction cronies rich.

Is Portland vibrant?

We're not entirely sure:

[W]hy is it any better to pander to the "creative class" than it is to pander to the traditional business class? Yes, one strategy uses "incentives" and tax cuts to get companies to move from one state to another, while the other advises us to emphasize music festivals and art galleries when we make our appeal to that exalted cohort. But neither approach imagines a future arising from something other than government abasing itself before the wealthy.

For Sunday Parkways, a pedestrian route (sort of)

We walked on a couple of Sunday Parkways events in Portland when they first started four years ago. But our second time around, there were too many bikes, and the party was not pedestrian-friendly. We found a better walk on nearby streets. And once you do that, it's just another day -- why not walk wherever you want on a nice Sunday?

Tomorrow, when Parkways invades the southwest section of town, we hear they're going to inaugurate a separate walking route. It's certainly worth a try. But if the route isn't going to be closed off to vehicular traffic, it doesn't seem like anything special.

We're also still skeptical about how the many inexperienced bicyclists who turn out in droves for Parkways are going to do on the steep hills of the west side. We observed some of them having a fair amount of difficulty even on the flats of North and Northeast. Guess we'll see about that. Let's hope everybody stays upright on the downhills.

Oregon Coast quake news

There was a 4.0 earthquake off the coast between Newport and Coos Bay yesterday afternoon -- about 200 miles out, 6 miles deep. And 60 to 70 miles off the northern California coast, they had a 5.1 and a 5.2 last evening.

Friday, July 20, 2012


We would be remiss if we did not take a moment to note the massacre at the movies in Aurora, Colorado. Pure evil. The worst madness. Just 20 miles from Columbine.

"I slipped on some blood and landed on a lady. I shook her and said, 'We need to go; get up,' and there was no response, so I presumed she was dead," said Tanner Coon, 17....

Mr. Rohrs jumped between the seats for cover, still holding the baby. He stumbled and crawled trying to figure out what to do, clutching his son to his chest as he went. "Do I run out the door? Is he going to shoot the baby? What am I to do?" Mr. Rohrs said, his voice quavering. But he, his fiancée and the baby eventually made it out.

God rest the dead and help the wounded. May we all take time to sort out in our own minds who bears responsibility for the horrific losses we have suffered. And may those who are tempted to use this event to push a selfish agenda hold their tongues for a while.

Even Obama doesn't want to go to downtown Portland

Too many lowlife types, apparently. Go by streetcar!

Have a great weekend

Bus Project bus busted for drugs, says Taft

That's what Victoria Taft says happened either yesterday afternoon or this afternoon. Oh, what fun. Let's hope Nutsy was on board.

UPDATE, 4:26 p.m.: Now O reporters say on Twitter that the Bus Kids were pulled over for drugs, but none were found. Big Minus 1 for Vicky.

NBA players to wear ads on jerseys

Greed knows no bounds.

Miss Oregon's dad: Pageant director did her wrong

From today's Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

According to Fort Wayne resident Jim Berry, his daughter Rachel's residency was not an issue until she'd already won both the regional and state pageants. "Rachel thought she was meeting all the requirements, all along," her father said. "She received confirmation from the pageant director that she had satisfied the requirement.

"But, when push came to shove, she wasn't able to provide any official documentation."

Due to a nondisclosure agreement between Berry and the Miss Oregon pageant, Berry is not permitted to speak with the media.

After Berry's win, pageant officials asked for proof of residency in the form of a driver's license, income tax return or motor vehicle registration, her father said.

"She won, fair and square," he said. "Unfortunately, this was a technicality they hadn't told her about."

The whole thing is here.

You wonder how long Dana Phillips, the executive director of Miss Oregon, will go on stonewalling the mainstream media -- and why she doesn't realize what a bad idea that is.

UPDATE, 2:21 p.m.: In 2007, when we raised a similar question about a previous Miss Oregon, she actually responded on this blog. Funny thing, there was no confidentiality agreement back then.

Char-Lie would "study" urban renewal

One of the easiest developer sluts ever to grace Portland City Hall has actually got the gall to try to solicit votes from the people who are fed up with the constant abuse of "urban renewal" in Portland. Mayoral candidate Char-Lie Hales -- who started the city on its current self-destructive path with one "urban renewal" scam after another, then quit the City Council to make a living selling streetcars -- now has this:

In an interview Thursday, Hales -- who's up against state Rep. Jefferson Smith in the November general election -- said his approach to Portland's long-standing practice of using urban-renewal zones to jumpstart redevelopment in targeted areas of the city would include:

-- Studying the 11 (and soon to be 12) existing urban-renewal zones and "sunsetting successful districts or reducing their borrowing limits so we can support local services and look at other areas needing economic development who haven't yet received their fair share."

-- And reexamining the legal mechanism that allows urban-renewal zones to divert property-tax revenue from voter-approved levies and bonds to the Portland Development Commission.

Hales argues urban renewal is still a valid tool but that city officials need to show more restraint when using it. Otherwise, voters could insist elected officials abandon the strategy altogether, he said.

"I don't want to go there," Hales, a former city commissioner, said. "I want this tool to be available."

Remember when Fireman Randy bragged in his campaign ads that he was "standing up to Pearl District developers"? What a joke that turned out to be. This is a classic mindscrew by Hales and his political Svengali, Mark Wiener. If you want to know what Hales will do with "urban renewal," everything you need to know is here.

And O reporter Beth Slovic: "using urban-renewal zones to jumpstart redevelopment"? Are you trying for a desk next to Matt Brown?

Extreme pretzel logic with Cogen

Wherein sobering up a street drunk becomes "economic development":

Rep. Sheehan ignores the reality that vulnerable populations cost taxpayers more if we don't do something about the problems they face. Investing in solutions helps create a better-trained, more stable workforce and a broader prosperity that benefits all of us.

In other words, "economic development" is like "urban renewal." It's a pork pot for whatever the Humpty Dumpty local politicians want it to mean. Both concepts have been so badly abused, particularly in Portland, that government needs to get out of both enterprises.

Zombie hotel deal being cooked up in Metro back room

Teri Dresler, the Metro official overseeing the convention center hotel RPF, said the staff's goal is to have a recommendation to the Metro Council by mid-August. The agency will withhold releasing more public information until then, she wrote in an email.

And OMG, maybe it will be a Hyatt! Oh, goody goody goody!

As for the recently peddled line of malarkey that the taxpayers won't be subsidizing the project this time around, it's patently false:

A convention center hotel won't be built without public assistance, [Hyatt executive] Tarr said. "When you're talking about a full-service hotel, particularly one with a lot of group meeting space, they're simply not financeable without some form of subsidy," he said. "That's the reality. It's no different in Portland."

There will be subsidy, but how big? The Metro mustelae will tell you that it's going to be small. How small? Sorry, can't tell you. It's being worked out in the back room, with no public disclosure. We'll tell you after the staff has decided.

What a disgrace.

A matching gift for Josh Berger

Josh Berger, a much beloved Portland artist and designer, continues on a slow path to recovery from a serious brain injury suffered in an accident on his bicycle commute one day in May. His friends and co-workers have been collecting funds to help him and his small family get through his disability, and his expensive and grueling rehabilitation. So far they've collected close to $21,000, which is pretty impressive, toward a goal of $60,000.

Now comes another boost. Portland real estate developer Robert Ball is offering to match up to $5,000 in additional contributions to the Berger fund that come in between now and August 15. If the full match is made, they'll be over $30,000 and past the halfway point in their fundraising.

Ball's explanation of the thinking behind his gift is interesting. He's worked with Berger over the years, and he has grown to like and admire him. The other day Ball got a pitch from a campaign worker who asked him for $5,000 in exchange for having his photo taken with President Obama next week. Ball thought about it for a while, and concluded that the $5,000 would be better spent helping Berger get well. We couldn't agree more.

We're kind of tapped for funds these days, but we're throwing a few more dollars in the pot today. We don't know Berger, but we know the people who do, and we're following their lead. There's no tax benefit, just the reward of trying to help out. If you can, join us. No gift will be turned aside as too small. The donation site is here.

Miss Oregon fiasco: How could it happen?

The resignation of Rachel L. Berry from the title of Miss Oregon 2012, on grounds that she was ineligible to hold that title, has led several readers to ask us the pointed question: If she wasn't eligible, because she was not an Oregon resident six months before her local preliminary pageant, then how was she allowed to compete? It's a good question, and one that KATU's Anna Canzano asked last week. She reported then that the head of the pageant, Dana Phillips, told her that Berry had produced a copy of the lease of her house in Aloha, signed on January 1, 2012.

That is a curious answer, because such a lease would not on its face show that Berry qualified. Since her local pageant was on April 21, 2012, she would have had to have been an Oregon resident no later than October 21, 2011. What else did Berry produce as proof of residency, and if she didn't produce anything else, why did the pageant officials look the other way?

The only way to answer that would be to ask Berry herself, or to ask the officers and judges at the Miss Oregon competition. Good luck with that, as KATU reports:

We also spoke with Berry by phone on Thursday. She said she was disheartened, but couldn't say more because she signed an agreement preventing her from talking about what happened.

The director of the pageant here in Oregon has not returned our calls.

But for what they're worth, here are the lists of pageant officials -- perhaps a bright young journalist somewhere would like to take a crack at the unanswered questions:

Officers (sources: Oregon and IRS filings)
Dana PhillipsSeasideExecutive Director or President
Nancy McCuneSeasideSecretary
Sue PickellSeasidePast or Current President
Karen MurraySeasidePast or Current Vice President
2012 Judges
Don AccuardiAstoriaRetired
Craig CampbellSalemLobbyist
Leigh Gettman-AllenDallas, TXModerator and diversity trainer
Jai HarrelsonBurlington, NCPublic relations
Carol HenryLubbock, TXModeling agency

UPDATE, 1:17 p.m.: Berry's father blames the pageant director.

Your average guy

The ever-shrinking O doesn't write many unpaid obituaries any more. Even Mark Hatfield was lucky he got one; Howard Morgan got stiffed, so to speak. But the paper produced one yesterday for John Hilsenteger, who died Wednesday at age 72. Franklin High Class of '57 and a former reporter for the Oregon Journal and the O, Hilsenteger spent 26 years as an official for the state's high school athletic association, and many years after that as a tireless volunteer for that organization. He was a master statistician, a historian, a stickler for detail, a mentor to many, and a great communicator -- all of which would have endeared him to us. Our deep condolences go out to his family, one of whom is a commenter on this blog when we haven't infuriated him by seemingly not loving Portland enough.

Before there were personal computers, every good newspaper used to have a file room cynically nicknamed "the morgue," in which clippings and photos were kept. It was to the morgue that reporters often were sent to find information to produce a retirement story, a retrospective, or an obit. Hilsenteger tried to save everyone that trip; he reportedly wrote his own obit. That will be an interesting read when it turns up.

The price of not much is going up

A reader writes:

We received a notice from the Oregonian that our subscription rate is being raised from $36 to $48 (I think it is for two months). Unbelievable. They are going to lose lots of subscribers over this one. Unfortunately for them, the Oregonian has no clue how to run a business. You don't raise prices when your volume is down, you lower them. They seem to have a public sector mentality about it all. They seem to think that they need 'X' in revenue and they have 'Y' subscribers so all they have to do is change their rate to 'Z' to cover it. It sure looks like a death spiral to me.

We've been getting the daily delivered free to our house for a little over a week now. So far, it just doesn't seem like a rewarding enough experience to pay for. And we've really lost the habit of reading news, especially local news, on paper. It feels awkward. Certainly, the kids will never do it.

Even with the Sunday New York Times, which we still pay to have brought to the house in hard copy, we don't find ourselves on the news pages much. Mostly we're into the magazine and the feature sections.

Anyway, if the O thinks that after our free trial we're going to sign up for another $24-a-month bill, they're wasting time and money. Unfortunately, nowadays the insatiable maw of Comcast leaves no twenties lying around in our information budget.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Another Fukushima casualty

The Japanese rice industry.

Another gang shooting in Portland

Just now, on NE 6th between (the appropriately named) Killingsworth and Ainsworth. The east side of town has become an out-and-out war zone. Great job with the police bureau, Sam Rands! And great job with the city's priorities. Go by streetcar!

Who says Mitt isn't up front with the American people?

The man tells it like it is, and unlike Obama, he's careful about his campaign promises.

Sam Adams opposes library taxing district

Mayor Creepy says it will hurt "the children." Yeah, right -- children like Mark Edlen and Homer Williams.

Adams's opposition is all the more reason to support the district. Farquaad Cogen ought to put it on the ballot and get it over with. It will pass with flying colors, as Portland library tax measures always do.


Waylon Hughes and Bicycle Rex are considering widening a freeway? Earl the Pearl, please give them a call and straighten them out right away!

Miss Oregon resigns

Word just came in. (Earlier coverage here.)

California's Miss Oregon: What the web reveals

Did Rachel L. Berry of Burbank, California move to Oregon by October 21, 2011, so that she was eligible to compete in the Miss Oregon 2012 pageant? The evidence from the internet clearly indicates that Berry, who won the Oregon competition, did not move to Oregon by then, and that she was therefore not eligible to enter the contest.

Berry has refused to talk about this with a reporter, and she has declined our repeated suggestions to discuss the matter with the public through other means. And so internet research is all the public has to go on. In this case, that will likely be good enough for many people to draw a conclusion.

Here is the timeline of the relevant period: mid-October of last year through this week.

October 15, 2011: Rachel Berry, 23, a graduate of Chapman University, is living in Burbank with her younger sister, Adrienne, who is an aspiring professional dancer and, like her sister, a pageant contestant. The elder Berry works sporadically as a reporter for the City of Hawthorne, California television station, whose programming is seen on cable and on the internet; she also works long hours at a nearby outlet of Cheesecake Factory, a restaurant chain. There are several Cheesecake Factories within driving distance of the Berrys' home, including locations in Sherman Oaks, Woodland Hills, and Brentwood. Berry is the reigning Miss Orange County 2011, and she was previously Miss City of Orange 2010. She has competed in about a half dozen pageants, including at least one in her home state of Indiana.

October 20, 2011: Berry posts on Facebook about a photo shoot "on the Disney lot," presumably in southern California:

Screenshot supplied by a reader.

October 21, 2011: This date is six months before the Miss Three Rivers pageant is held in Oregon City. This is the deadline to be a legal resident of Oregon in order to be eligible to compete in the 2012 Miss Oregon pageant. (Actually, one could read the rules to say that the deadline was earlier than this -- six months before Berry actually entered Miss Three Rivers -- but under any reasonable reading of the rules, this is the latest possible date for the residency requirement to apply.)

October 23, 2011: Adrienne Tweets that she has been out for a walk with Berry:

October 27, 2011: Adrienne Tweets that Berry is just now getting home from work:

October 28, 2011: Berry Tweets that she has just accompanied her sister to an audition:

October 28, 2011: Berry Tweets that she just attended the Radiant Women's Conference:

The conference was held in Van Nuys, California, near Burbank.

November 20, 2011: Berry posts to Facebook a photo of herself with a member of a veterans' post in Hawthorne, at which she shot a TV news segment about the post's Thanksgiving dinner, held that day:

Screenshot supplied by a reader.

Berry is seen on camera in the resulting video (starting at 12:03):

The segment airs on November 30.

November 27, 2011: Adrienne Tweets about leftovers that Berry is bringing home from Cheesecake Factory:

Continue reading "California's Miss Oregon: What the web reveals" »

Compton, California ready for bankruptcy

Another one falls. Interestingly, part of the problems is that the City Council has been "improperly using money from water, sewer and retirement funds to balance its general fund." Sounds familiar.

Gangster night on SE Stark

Another armed street robbery near 82nd at a little after 9:00, and an apparent gang-related shooting, with life-threatening wounds, at a strip club out around 100th at around 11:15. Details here.

These kinds of incidents would not happen if more people used cargo bikes. They are going to save lives when the next big disaster comes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You have the right to remain naked

The nude guy at the Portland airport was acquitted of indecent exposure, on free speech grounds. Grope that, TSA.

Multnomah Co. accused of misspending economic development money

Farquaad Cogen and the New Sisters of Hawthorne have some 'splainin' to do:

The county reported spending constitutionally mandated economic development dollars on homeless youth services, debt service, GEDs for prison parolees, and tax preparation assistance for low-income families.

I want to be clear — these are worthwhile programs. I’ve personally volunteered at New Avenues for Youth, which receives a portion of the $726,000 the county spends on homeless services from this fund. While these programs may be worthwhile, they are not economic development.

The justification for spending this money on homeless youth shelters was cited as, "Provides intervention for 1,000 homeless youth visibility, which has a direct impact on citizen perception of safety. Improving the safety of pedestrians and shoppers in the retail core are explicitly identified implementation actions under two of the four strategies in the 2009 Portland Downtown Retail Strategy."

Humpty Dumpty at his finest.

Another neighborhood getting Blumenauered

Fifty apartment units, no parking, going in at NE 30th and Burnside.

The next thing you'll pay for

Looks like the taxpayers are about to pitch in -- like it or not -- for the Usual Suspects to build another huge apartment bunker for students at the Portland State Patronage Center. Here's the press release:

Capacity chose Phoenix Development because of the latter company’s success with developing student housing projects in the past, Owendoff said. Additionally, the company has access to large sources of public and private capital, which would be useful in developing a project that could cost upward of $50 million, he said....

Additionally, the building would be the first large-scale project completed within the city’s newly created Education Urban Renewal Area. It could provide $500,000 of real property tax revenue annually to the city, and some of that could be used toward other future projects in the URA, though it is unclear how much would be devoted....

The project’s site is currently owned by the Portland Housing Bureau. Earlier this year, Commissioner Nick Fish said the PHB would negotiate with developers of student housing projects within the URA to potentially add affordable housing units to their projects. However, even though Capacity Commercial will be acquiring the site from the housing bureau, there have been no talks about adding affordable housing units, Owendoff said.

We love the smell of scam in the morning.

Trib archives disappear

As part of revamping the internet pages of the Portland Tribune, all of its old stories have suddenly become unavailable. How lame is that?

They're supposed to be back soon, but if the old links are all bad and there are no good redirects, we will never link to a Trib story, ever again. You either take your mission seriously or you don't. If you don't, you're not worth reading.

An important day for Team Rachel

For two and a half days now, we've been calling on the new Miss Oregon, Rachel L. Berry of Aloha, to talk to the public about the details and timing of her move to Oregon. Both this blog and KATU-TV have raised the question whether she was a legal resident of Oregon as of October 21, 2011. If not, she was not eligible to compete in the Miss Oregon 2012 statewide contest, which she won because she is bright and energetic and athletic and civic-minded and polished and articulate and attractive.

There's been no response, even though it's clear that Berry and her camp are reading this blog. Yesterday there were more than 20 visits here from her hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. As soon as we wrote about Berry's pageant mentor, formerly of Seaside, and the mentor's mother, currently in Prineville, the mother's Facebook page suddenly went private. Berry took several of her own web pages either private or offline shortly after KATU paid her a visit. Yesterday, Berry's younger sister, a teen actress in Burbank, also privatized her Twitter page.

Anyway, as we have mentioned, before Berry and her circle started scrubbing the internet we captured several screenshots that shed light on where the new Miss Oregon actually lived in November and December. We will be posting at least some of that information tomorrow, but there's still a whole day ahead to get the truth straight from Miss Oregon herself, rather than have it pieced together by this blog. It could be that an honest mistake was made, and there is no shame in admitting it and moving on to even greater things.

From what can be gathered on the internet -- or could be gathered before all the hiding started -- the Berrys are a decent, hard-working family, with strong church ties and even closer ties to each other. This is an important day for them, potentially more important than any of the many pageant days and auditions they've experienced over the years. Their decisions now could affect many people outside of their inner circle, as well as themselves. Believe it or not, we are rooting for them.

Just to make sure the stage is properly set, here are links to our prior posts on Miss Oregon 2012:

New Miss Oregon was Miss Orange County 2011

KATU picks up Miss Oregon residency story

California pageant grapevine abuzz with Miss Oregon residency flap

Miss Oregon has Seaside connections

More internet scrubbing in Miss Oregon eligibility flap

Miss Oregon's little sister scrubs her Twitter account

Welcome, Fort Wayne, Indiana

We leave this topic, for now, with a video. Maybe by tonight there'll be another video.

Did City of Portland breach a water bond covenant?

We noted yesterday that the City of Portland is not disclosing, to prospective buyers of its latest round of water bonds, its contract for cut-rate water sales from the Columbia well fields to its cozy private contractor, Carollo Engineers. We stumbled across the Carollo deal last September, and have written about it in a number of posts. The salient facts are these:

Who's the second largest consumer of water purchased from the Portland Water Bureau?... [I]t's an outfit called Carollo Engineers. In the year ended June 30, 2010, that firm purchased 291.5 million gallons of water, more than 60 million gallons more than the parks bureau and more than 125 million more than the public schools. Carollo is second in consumed volume only to Siltronic Corp., the silicon chip maker, which purchased 549.2 million gallons that year.

So who in the heck is Carollo Engineers, and what are they doing with all that water?

As best we can tell, Carollo is a private company that designs, tests, and oversees construction of ultraviolet treatment equipment that other private companies, such as Berson, Calgon and Wedeco, build and sell to municipal water systems that need UV treatment. Carollo has built a central testing facility out at the city's Columbia well fields (out beyond Costco on Airport Way), and it runs all those hundreds of millions of gallons of Portland water through the facility in order to test the effectiveness of the manufacturers' equipment before it is shipped off to the water system customers around the country, and even overseas....

Carollo is getting a darn good price [for the water]. It's no. 2 in usage, but it's no. 17 in what it paid the city for water. For its 291 million gallons, it paid the city just $0.000643 a gallon. Compare that with what the school district was charged for its 165 million gallons: $.003688 a gallon. The schools got charged more than five times as much per gallon as Carollo. The parks bureau paid about the same as the schools -- $0.003428. Siltronic, the city's top non-wholesale customer, paid $.003227 a gallon -- again, five times what Carollo paid.

One reason for the price disparity is that Carollo gets untreated water, whereas the city's other customers get treated water. But regardless of that, the question whether the Carollo contract is a good one for Portland ratepayers and taxpayers is open to a wide range of opinions.

We've been through all of that before, and nobody in town really seemed to care much. What's more interesting to us at this time is whether the Carollo deal, which was struck in 2002 and 2003, violates the promises that the city has been making to investors when it has gone to the bond markets to borrow money for the water system over the years. In the current bonds, being sold next week, the city promises bondholders that it will "[n]ot enter into any new agreement to provide Water System products or services at a discount from published rate schedules or to provide free Water System products or services (except in case of emergencies)."

That covenant is not new. Even back in 2000, when the city was selling an earlier version of the water bonds, its covenants included a promise that "it will not enter any new agreement to provide Water System products or services at a discount from published rate schedules or to provide free Water System products or services (except for fire suppression and in case of emergencies)."

Does the Carollo contract violate those covenants? At least as to the bonds that were issued before the Carollo deal was entered into, it would be interesting to hear the city's argument that there was no violation. Maybe they'd say that the untreated water is not a "Water System product"; maybe they'd say that there was no "published rate schedule" for that type of water, and so the city didn't deviate from such a schedule. But whatever the excuse, it may be a moot point. The 2000 bonds have now been paid off, and the oldest water bonds now outstanding are from 2004, after Carollo started up its sweetheart operations. And as to the outstanding bonds, the Carollo deal was not a "new agreement."

Double mindscrew

Portland's second-worst mayor ever of the last 35 years (second only to Mother Vera, who created him) gets an enhanced foot massage from Willamette Week here. Hey, remember, they endorsed him.

Then they go into a convoluted tall tale about their latest endorsee, Charlie Hales. He's the ultimate developer call girl, but they're going to try to blur that picture somehow. Whatever, fellas.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blazers are totally snakebit

Batum will be lucky if he can get out of this town alive.

One dead, another gravely wounded in Cully stabbings

And the Portland police press release that just came in says, "Detectives do not know at this time what precipitated the stabbings and can only say that this is a suspicious death investigation." Gee, d'ya think?

The killing was in the 4300 block of Ainsworth. Between that and the armed street robbery at 43rd and Fremont this morning, it's been a rough 24 hours at that longitude.

You, too, can be a mucky-muck

An alert reader sends along this invitation:

Check out the all-star host list:

Such a deal! When you click through, you see that the tickets start at $500. For $500 you get to see President Obama and chat with Jesse Cornett, Mike Powell, and Earl Blumenauer. For $1,000, you get to sit somewhere else.

Armed robberies over this way

There were two street holdups in Northeast Portland within a half hour of each other at around 1 a.m. today. The first was at 43rd and Fremont, near the Beaumont Hardware store and a short block from an Umpqua Bank branch. The second was at 50th and Sandy -- where the Rheinlander restaurant is.

Things just keep getting funkier and funkier in Portland, don't they? Go by streetcar!

Welcome, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Over the last couple of days, this blog has had a visitor from one particular IP address in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The visitor has been here six times, reading and re-reading our recent posts about the new Miss Oregon, Rachel Berry, and her eligibility issues. Perhaps it's Berry's mom, who lives and works in Fort Wayne. If so, we're glad that she's reading this, and hope that she will join us in urging her daughter to disclose the full and honest truth about where she lived last fall. If not, we'll have more coverage on Thursday.

Portland water bonds sales pitch mum on Carollo

The Portland City Council just can't seem to put the city into hock fast enough for the politicians' taste. Here's the official sales pitch for the latest loan they're about to take out -- $74.6 million, to be paid back over 25 years, for various vaguely defined "capital projects" in the "water" bureau. It's going to happen next week.

It's interesting just what the Admiral and his henchpeople include as "capital projects" of the "water" bureau. Included in the "capital improvements plan" are:

-- maintenance and repairs of wells, which don't seem very "capital";

-- "rehabbing" of the water maintenance building ($46 million), which probably includes all manner of deferred maintenance;

-- throwing an unspecified amount of money at the city's new "emergency coordination center," which doesn't sound as though it has a lot do with water; and

-- $28 million for the "Willamette Crossing Project." Could that last one be water money for light rail? See you in court, Admiral!

Another fascinating tidbit from the bond statement is just how far the city's water system is already mortgaged, and how much more debt will be heaped on over the next four years. Counting the bonds that are about to be sold next week, the overall mortgage is up to $455.6 million. Eight years ago, that amount stood at $160.8 million -- even taking inflation into account, the mortgage has increased by around 235 percent.

It's even uglier if you think about the mortgage payments. Debt service on water bonds for the fiscal year just begun is expected to be around $37 million; the total operating revenues of the water bureau for the year are expected to be around $136.5 million. In other words, 27 cents of every dollar collected will go to pay off money that's already been spent. Four years from now, the debt service is projected to be a frightening $71.3 million a year, on projected operating revenues of $209 million, or 34 cents on the dollar. That means less and less available for actually running and maintaining the water system. Can you say "Nestle Waters"?

Then there's the bad news about Siltronic, the company that's pulling a silicon chip manufacturing line (and 350 jobs) out of its Portland operations. Check out the scary footnote on this page:

On March 9, 2012, Siltronic announced that it intends to stop producing 150 millimeter-sized silicon wafers at its Portland, Oregon location in the fall of 2012. Siltronic announced that it will continue to produce 200 millimeter-sized wafers at its Portland site. If Siltronic closes the Portland, Oregon factory, the estimated retail rate impact to ensure that revenues are sufficient to pay debt service and meet debt service coverage planning standards could be as much as two percent.

But don't worry -- they'll never fold up and leave Portland entirely. They love the business climate here.

Perhaps most noteworthy of all, and curious indeed, is the fact that the prospective bondholders are being told nothing about who the city's second biggest water customer really is. Our computer has been unable to find a single word of mention in the official statement about Carollo Engineers. You'd think the fact that this obscure private outfit is quietly using up hundreds of millions of gallons of water a year from the city's well fields is material information that the investors would like to know. Guess not. Here's the list of biggest water users -- Carollo's nowhere to be found. If it were on the list, it would likely be second from the top, with the difference between it and no. 1 about to get smaller.

In any event, while Portland keeps borrowing like a college kid with a new credit card, cities and towns all over the country are crashing financially, and several experts now warn that many of them will be defaulting soon:

"There's never one cockroach," says Marilyn Cohen, president of Envision Capital Management in Los Angeles. "Scranton tells you it wasn't just a California-specific problem. There's probably other Scrantons out there and more Harrisburgs out there. Individual investors need to be very careful and very selective of what municipal bonds they want to own."

The new Portland water bonds are rated Aaa -- the rating agency's way of saying there's relatively little risk for the banks and other investors who may buy them. But that's what they said about a lot of bonds four years ago, just before the collapse of the financial markets. Time will tell whether they're right about Portland water.

If there were a standard-of-basic-services rating for Portland, however, you can bet that it would not be Aaa. The banks will most likely get paid -- the Sam Rands are committing Portland residents to pay come hell or high water, so to speak -- but the streets and the schools will probably never improve. Go by streetcar!

Portland Quotation of the Year So Far

From the arbitrator in the Tri-Met union contract dispute:

[Via Portland Afoot.]

As food for thought goes, this one's a banquet

My generation is the first generation of Americans who will be worse off than their parents, economically, physically and emotionally. And this is not due to a lack of resources, to a lack of education or to a lack of ingenuity. It’s corruption and complacency. The corruption from the massive industries that control our government’s policies, and the fat complacency of the people to sit around and let it happen.

Definitely do read the whole thing, here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Miss Oregon's little sister scrubs her Twitter account

It's the latest in the feverish privatization of the internet pages of everyone close to Rachel Berry, the new Miss Oregon, whose eligibility for the title has been called into question on account of her apparent lack of timely Oregon residency.

What was on the Twitter pages of Adrienne Berry, Rachel's sister, that she might be so worried about that suddenly she's gone private? We have some fascinating screenshots taken before Adrienne's Tweets became hidden earlier today. We'll post about them on Thursday. Last night we urged Rachel to come clean and tell Oregonians the whole truth about where she lived and when. We'll repeat that call now.

UPDATE, 7/17, 1:12 p.m.: Update here.

Another great moment on OregonLive

Paterno name to live on

Unlike Nike, not everyone's backing down.

Metro mission creep

Portland's Metro regional government is doing all sorts of good deeds with taxpayer dollars these days. Readers point out that it may be perfectly legal, but like the Portland water bureau, Metro's branching out into areas that it needn't be involved in, and probably doesn't do well. There's already an agency for local improvement grants, the Portland Development Commission. We certainly don't need two. Just as we don't need another government agency running concerts in the (concrete) "park." Social service grants can be, and should be, handled by the county.

Is Wyden hallucinating?

Apparently he's now reporting to the media things that aren't there.

Completely understandable, of course. It's hard to monitor the Oregon coast from Manhattan.

Campaign Q&A

Another write-in possibility for Portland mayor

We're writing in LaVonne Griffin-Valade for mayor of Portland. But if she's not your cup of tea, Portlanders, you have other options besides the two weak characters whose names will be printed on the ballot. Here's one write-in candidate who prevailed in Alaska.

A message from Josh Berger

To our readers who have joined us in sending financial help to Joshua Berger: Here is something for you. (The earlier video he refers to is here.)

Berger and his family still have a long way to go. They are still accepting gifts of any size, here.

Portland taxpayers, be prepared

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

$46 million for Nicolas Batum? Really?

Has he done $11.5-million-a-year work on the Blazers? We'd say let him go. Especially since at the rate the Blazers' training staff is going, Batum's due for some long down times with injuries over the next four years. And until the Blazers find a credible coach, none of their talent is really worth squat, anyway.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A great read

Getting a Kindle for Christmas has really changed things for us. Now we find ourselves reading books for pleasure -- whole books, books that have nothing to do with work, that have nothing to do with this blog. Even books that are printed on paper.

Here's one we just ate up, in hard copy -- Wild, by Portlander Cheryl Strayed. It's the true story of a young Strayed's long-distance backpacking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail 17 years ago -- from the Mojave to the Bridge of the Gods. Haunted by the recent losses of her mother and her marriage, Strayed takes many painful steps along the famed path before arriving, a different person, in Cascade Locks.

The reviews said it was spectacular, and they were right. Maybe it was because we read it in summer, or because we recalled our own cathartic West Coast trip, taken when we were that age. But for whatever reason, once we started reading this book, we never let it get too far out of reach. We were sad to see the end of Strayed's trail.

More internet scrubbing in Miss Oregon eligibility flap

The controversy about whether the new Miss Oregon, Rachel Berry, was in fact an Oregon resident long enough to be eligible for the title is really taking some weird turns. Web pages and photos that might shed light on that question are disappearing as fast as we can link to them. Earlier today, we linked to a photo showing that Berry's pageant mentor, California attorney Connie Benson, was the Astoria Regatta Queen in 1989. The point was that Benson apparently has connections to the pageant moms of Seaside, who control the Miss Oregon contest. Now, all of a sudden, Benson's own mom, Lynda Benson of Prineville, has made her Facebook page, on which that photo appeared, private. There's something extremely odd going on here.

The latest rumor is that someone has hired a private investigator to determine where Berry actually resided in October, November, and December of last year. If it wasn't in Oregon, Berry was ineligible.

Rachel, obviously you and your family, friends, and supporters are reading this. If you didn't really live in Oregon long enough to be eligible for the Miss Oregon pageant, you should do the smart thing and step down gracefully. You could say it was an honest mistake, and everyone would forgive you. Let runner-up Nichole Mead, who's a real Oregonian, go to the Miss America pageant, so that you can hold your head high the rest of your life. Looking over your shoulder for the next year just wouldn't be worth it. If you are forcibly dethroned, everything you worked for to get this far will be down the drain.

And if you didn't really live in Prineville, don't lie and say you did. You will be tripped up and exposed. Think about the harm that would cause, not only to you but to the other people involved.

UPDATE, 11:45 p.m.: Just as an experiment, here's a photo, posted on June 24 of this year, of Berry and Connie Benson at an undisclosed location. Here's one of Berry with a photo of Benson at the Seaside pageant two weeks ago. They're on Connie Benson's Facebook page, at this hour at least. Let's see how long they remain public. They don't show much -- just that the connection between the two women remains strong -- but given all the takedowns of the last few days, they may not be long for the public's eyes to see.

UPDATE, 7/16, 9:04 p.m.: More Twitter scrubbing, here.

Miss Oregon has Seaside connections

The ongoing discussion of whether the new Miss Oregon, Rachel L. Berry, really is eligible to hold that title turns up an interesting name. Connie Benson, a California attorney and the executive director of the City of Orange pageant that Berry won in 2010, is a native of Seaside, Oregon, and a member of the Seaside High Class of '89. Benson was also apparently the Regatta Queen in Astoria in 1989, and reportedly is about to enter the Seaside High Hall of Fame. Like Berry, Benson is a Chapman University grad, a dancer, and a runner.

Here are Berry and Benson, pictured together at the 2010 Miss California pageant. Reportedly they are still in touch. Perhaps Benson can shed some light on whether Berry actually resided in Oregon as of last October; if she did not reside here by then, Berry wasn't eligible to run for Miss Oregon.

Connie Benson is apparently related to Lynda Benson, who lives in or near Prineville and is a Berry Facebook friend. It's possible that, as some have suggested, Berry lived in Prineville or vicinity with Lynda Benson in the fall. Then again, maybe Berry couldn't tell you where Prineville is; she never mentioned that town or any place near it in her many Tweets from that period (which we read a couple of weeks ago, but which have since been made private).

The Bensons' connection to Seaside is doubly interesting, in that the Miss Oregon pageant is based there. Dana Phillips, the executive director of the state pageant, lists a Seaside address on the organization's registration in Salem. It's the same address as the Phillips candy shop. The other two officers shown on the pageant group's IRS filing, Sue Pickell and Karen Murray, are also listed as having Seaside addresses. As is Nancy McCune, the organization's secretary, on filings with the State of Oregon.

Anyway, now we know that Berry at least has had one or more Oregon people around her for quite a while. And her supporters continue to theorize on chat boards about how she could have been eligible to compete in Oregon under the pageant rules. But the key questions are where she actually lived and when. And there is still no public statement about that from Miss Oregon herself; instead, she has been busy this past week blocking access to her internet pages, which had previously been open to public view. Between that and what appears to have been a false statement in her first appearance on Portland TV, the situation doesn't look good.

UPDATE, 9:56 p.m.: More here.

More breaking news: Portland cops get away with murder

It couldn't be stated any more plainly, in the city's most mainstream media outlet, and yet it couldn't be clearer that it is never going to change:

So just what does it take to discipline a Portland police officer?

Frankly, if push comes to shove and it goes to arbitration, you can't do it.

Oh, and "Portland police are setting up a work group." Gimme an ever-lovin' break.

Breaking news: Fraud in the futures industry

We're shocked at this, aren't you? We thought everything was on in the up-and-up with derivatives and "synthetic" securities.

Nuke outrage, and a great quotation

Here's a troubling report, and here's a smart reaction: "I'll trust nuclear plants when the senior management and their families all live on the grounds."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

But most of all, I did it my way

This weekend, we have continued to buck tradition and drink bloody Mary's just before supper. With fresh tomato juice from Kuenzi Farms in Silverton and Medoyeff Vodka from Portland, you want to be awake and alert for these beverages.

However, having been duly chastised by readers for not including sufficient solid vegetable matter in the glass last time, this evening we inserted a celery stalk:

Last night it was a cucumber wedge. But that's it until we see Mr. Kuenzi again at the Buckman Farmers Market -- we're out of his fantastic juice. We do have the lamb slim Jim's from the stall next to his to hold us over, however. Summer is grand. Life is grand.

Who should pay for U of O athletes' drug tests?

Phil Knight -- or you?

"Death tax" repeal measure may change income tax, too

A reader who's active in the Oregon "death tax" repeal effort was asking our opinion yesterday about whether the prospective ballot measure on the subject might have income tax consequences. We couldn't give her a legal opinion, but on a quick perusal, anybody with sharp eye can see that it probably would.

The text of the initiative measure, whose collected signatures are currently being reviewed, is here. It forbids any government unit in Oregon from imposing any "Death Tax," which it then goes on to define very broadly:

Section 2. Except as provided in sections 3 and 6 of this 2012 Act, neither the State of Oregon nor any other unit of government in Oregon shall impose a Death Tax....

Section 4. A Death Tax is:

a. Any tax imposed on the estate of any decedent, or

b. Any inheritance tax, or

c. Any tax imposed on the transfer of property, or any interest therein, to any person, where the transfer is a result of the death of a person, or

d. Any tax imposed on the transfer of property, or any interest therein, from one family member to another family member, where the family relationship between the transferor and the transferee is within the third degree of consanguinity.

It's section 4(d) that jumps right out at us. Say a taxpayer sells Oregon property at a large gain to her niece. The two of them are not close to each other, and the sale price is negotiated at arm's length. Under current law, the aunt's gain is subject to Oregon income tax. But under the measure, would it be? You could certainly argue that it wouldn't be, because to tax it would be to impose a "Death Tax" -- a tax on a transfer of property between family members within the third degree of consanguinity.

If the Oregon income tax is pre-empted by the ballot measure in such a case, the state income tax results and the federal income tax results would be different. Whatever the aunt saved in Oregon taxes, the niece may eventually have to pay to an accountant, because the niece may have to keep two income tax bases in the property she bought. If it's depreciable property, like a rental house, dual accounting would get messy quick.

Even if you think the Oregon estate tax should be repealed -- it's so easily avoided for most folks that it's almost silly -- you can do it without tinkering with the income tax. But this ballot measure is so broadly worded that such mischief certainly seems possible.

On the other hand, maybe the income tax wouldn't be considered a tax "on the transfer," since it taxes only the aunt's gain and not the full value of the property. That seems like an awful stretch of the ballot measure's words, however, and if there's any doubt about what the words mean, it's one more reason to vote no -- on top of all the other ones that the public employee unions will soon be wheeling out.

What's wrong with this picture?

A better question: What isn't wrong? The media's making a big deal out of how these ceremonial uniforms, for the U.S. team at the upcoming Olympic Games, were in fact made in China. Yeah, that's bad, but even if these outfits were hand-sewn in the shadow of the Liberty Bell, they'd be an atrocity.

First off, they're walking advertisements for Ralph Lauren, a phony baloney from the Bronx whose real name is Lipschitz. The brass buttons on the double-breasted blazers are the height of pretention. And the corporate logo is ghastly huge.

But worst of all, they look like something out of the early Muammar Gaddafi catalog, or a courtroom getup for Michael Jackson at a sex abuse trial. Why can't American athletes get decked out like a well dressed version of normal American civilians? It's enough to trigger a Black Power salute.

UPDATE, 10:57 p.m.: OMG, it gets worse. Much worse. We may have to root for some other country.

California pageant grapevine abuzz with Miss Oregon residency flap

The recently televised evidence that the new Miss Oregon may not have been eligible to compete for that title has reached the pageant "family" in California, and they're expressing themselves here (scroll down a bit). It provides a fascinating glimpse into that world. There is still no public statement on the controversy from the person in question, Rachel L. Berry, who was Miss Orange County 2011.

UPDATE, 3:09 a.m.: Berry has also suddenly made private her YouTube video, posted on December 19, of her saying goodbye as Miss Orange County 2011. Unfortunately for her, there'll still be a Google cache of the YouTube page (but not the video itself) for a while, here (screenshot below). Between this and making her Twitter page private (there's still a cache here), she's creating the appearance that she is trying to hide facts. In our opinion, it is not a smart move.

UPDATE, 3:54 a.m.: She's also pulled this website down (cached here and here). This is just sad.

UPDATE, 12:46 p.m.: Another enlightening chat thread here.

UPDATE, 7/15, 9:58 p.m.: More here and here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Have a great weekend

Catholic Sunday school teachers must take loyalty oath

And Eastern Oregon is right out front on this. We are so glad that we no longer give time or money to that organization. It's as if it wants to force all the good people out. "The sinfulness of contraception." This being taught to you by whom? Some guy in a dress who covers for sexual predators and won't let women have any say? God gave us all brains, Monsignor.

Just enough for the city

As Oregon voters are again going to be asked whether we want a casino at the old Multnomah Kennel Club, here's a story about an almost-full-fledged casino operating at the Aqueduct race track in Queens, New York. The story's about Big Apple gamblers trashing machines on which they've lost money, but we didn't even know the casino had opened out there. They've come up with electronic versions of table games, like Baccarat, played with virtual cards; apparently hard copy playing cards aren't allowed there. The real winners are no doubt the casino operators, based in Malaysia, and the New York state government.

And another gang shooting in Portland

This one around midnight last night out in Costco Land.

Smile as you go under

It's reassuring, isn't it, that if a WES train mows you down, at least there'll be a video?

Be safe near WES tracks. Don't die for a train nobody rides.

Surf's up!

Hey, let's go swimming in the Willamette in downtown Portland. The water's fine! What could go wrong?

Planner hype was wrong: Hordes not flocking here

More folks out in Clackistan are figuring it out: Damascus (which has its city hall in a strip mall) wants to pull a lot of its land off the Metro merry-go-round. It seems that the million new people who are supposed to move here any day now -- and for whose benefit, we're told, the region must be wrecked -- are not, in fact, showing up.

Gang shootings up and down Portland's east side

First they're up in Peninsula Park in broad daylight, turning kids' summertime play into a scary evacuation and lockdown. Then last night, there's a gun battle at an apartment complex at 129th and Division. But don't worry, as soon as we get the bike share program up and running, our City Hall will get right on the gang issue. Maybe Nick "Jelly" Fish will "rebrand" it as "summer recreation."

KATU picks up Miss Oregon residency story

You read it on this blog first, but now the mainstream media's asking questions, which makes the story a lot more interesting. Channel 2 is wondering aloud if the new Miss Oregon, Rachel Berry of Aloha, met the Oregon pageant's residency rules. From all appearances, Berry lied on camera last week about the length of her residency in Oregon, and now KATU has got reporter Anna Canzano going all Geraldo Rivera on her. The latest development is that an upset Miss O. is telling Canzano that the pageant has instructed her not to talk with Canzano about it.

As we wrote the morning after the Miss Oregon contest, Berry was Miss Orange County 2011 and was Tweeting from California in December. Contest rules required that she be an Oregon resident by late October. Interestingly, after we wrote about, and linked to, Berry's Tweets, she changed her Twitter account from public to "protected."

Pageant queen carpetbagging, or "state hopping" as it's known in that business, is not unheard of, and in this case it's pretty evident that the residency rules weren't taken all that seriously. In that sense, if Miss Oregon gets dethroned over this, it won't be entirely fair to her. She's not an evil person; no doubt she's done a ton of charity work in southern Cal.

The people who run the pageant show in Oregon, however, ought to have their heads knocked together for letting this happen. Dana Phillips, the executive director of the state contest, got the Channel 2 camera and mike in her face yesterday, and she will likely be answering more questions in the days ahead. So far her position can be summed up with this sound bite: "It's a non-issue with me. I don't understand it." Maybe her organization's legal counsel will eventually help her grasp the problem.

Berry won a $10,000 scholarship at the Seaside pageant on June 30. The first runner-up, winning $3,500, was Nichole Mead of Newport, Miss Three Rivers. Mead has been competing in local pageants in Oregon since she was a teenager. Both she and Berry are 24 now, which means that neither of them will have another chance to compete in the Miss America tournament. Given the big problem she currently has, Berry's chances of winning the national crown seem slim indeed. She seems like such a nice young woman; it's really a shame that she's in this spot.

Meanwhile, KATU credits multiple viewers' tips with starting its investigation. Hmmmm... Several reporters from that station follow this blog on Twitter... As the girls in California say, whatever.

UPDATE, 7/16, 2:12 a.m.: More here, here, and here.

Patient shows slightly better color, but still critical

We got our second free copy of the O yesterday. It was still mighty small, but a little more encouraging than the sad package we perused on Wednesday. The Thursday edition had a bit more advertising -- including a full page plus from Macy's -- and slightly more local content. There was a Steve Duin column, and three locally generated stories on the business pages. Two local freelancers' work appeared in the Living section. There were small inserts from Dell Computers, Standard TV, Advantis Credit Union, Bi-Mart, Fred Meyer (surprisingly, just a one-sheeter), and Garden Fever, which is just up the street from us.

But there were only four local sports articles -- three Blazers and one Oregon State hoops. It's July and they're covering basketball while ignoring everything else. And Page A6 was three-quarters house ads. It's not exactly death with dignity over there.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Char-Lie wants to destroy bald eagle habitat more slowly

Portland's Great Prevaricator has an "I'm greener than you" challenge for Nutsy Smith:

Hales then ups the environmental ante on Smith, asking him to join in pushing City Hall to slow its deal for a shipping terminal on West Hayden Island.

"North Portland is getting run over around the future of Hayden Island as well," Hales says in the statement. "I hope my opponent for Mayor will join me in pressing our City Council to slow down and comprehensively study the situation so that a solution can be developed that all parties can live with — even the wildlife for whom we are also supposed to defend."

Notice, he wants to slow down, not kill, the paving over of bald eagle habitat. What more is there to "comprehensively study," dude? The fix is in between the Sam Rand Twins and the Port, and has been for a long time. As Willy Week itself now acknowledges, a deal has already been made.

The pace of the destruction is not the issue. You're either for preserving West Hayden Island, or you're not for preserving it. It's like, you either live in Oregon or live in Washington.

A talking jackass

Are there any shrinks out there who can diagnose the problems evidenced by this choice quotation?

If my time and your will permits, I'll honor that space and culture.

Scary. Downright scary.

A stolen bike chop shop in Old Town

Police raided the Hip Sing Association building on Third this morning, in a drug operation, but they found a bunch of stolen bicycles, including some nice ones. There was also reportedly another stolen bike operation going recently off the Vera Katz Esplanade on the east bank of the Willamette. It's good that they've been broken up; that anyone will do any time for the misdeeds seems unlikely, however.

What Twitter looks like in hell

Endless suffering.

Phil Knight not so sure about Joe Paterno any more

His little temper tantrum has turned out to be dead wrong.

Thumper Humphreys wins arbitration

The Portland cops who brutally killed James Chasse are going to get off with no discipline at all, thanks to another wonderful ruling by another wonderful arbitrator.

"I can't say it surprises me," said Tom Steenson, the attorney who represented Chasse's family and won a $1.6 million settlement against the city in 2010 after filing a federal wrongful death civil lawsuit in Chasse's death. "The city is incapable of having any kind of system in place to control its officers. They're just free-wheeling, doing whatever they want to do, and they get away with it. It's sad."

This city is simply disgusting any more.

Another great moment on Google Street View

On SE 51st near Sherman in Portland. (Meanwhile, the corner there is slated for some funky infill.)

All you zombies, show your tax forms

Some interesting questions about the "death tax," here. [Via TaxProf Blog.]

German American Society taking over Northeast Masons Lodge

Where Alameda crosses Sandy, there's a Masons Lodge that apparently became defunct last fall. There's a Benson bubbler and a big statue of George Washington out front. Now the German American Society wants to take it over, make some renovations, and run it pretty much the way the Masons did. The official City Hall description of the plan is here. Cue the oompah band!

Zombie hotel back on a fast track

This garbage really gives Metro a bad name. They're hoping to ram the infernal Convention Center hotel home while the Sam Rand Twins are still in City Hall. We hope Tom "Waylon" Hughes knows what he'll be doing in two and a half years, because it doesn't look like he'll be working at Metro. If voters knew he'd be this far in cahoots with the developer bobbleheads on the board, he never would have been elected.

Second candidate announces for Lake O. mayor

It is Kent Studebaker. He'll be taking on Greg Macpherson in November.

A lawyer by training, but no longer by trade, Studebaker is (or at least was) a principal in G/S Associates, which is based on NW St. Helens Road in Portland and sells industrial power transmission equipment. He is on the board of the City of Portland's Northwest Industrial Neighborhood Association. He opposed the Multnomah County income tax in 2003.

Studebaker lives in the Bryant neighborhood of L.O. He has been the chair of the Oswego citizens' budget committee, whose relatively austere recommendations were rejected by a 4-3 vote of the City Council in May. He aired his disappointment with that outcome here.

Between the lines, Studebaker seems to be saying he'll put a halt to the streetcar-condo insanity that's being pushed by the outgoing mayor and developer shill, Jack Hoffman. So far, between the lines Macpherson seems to be saying he'll more or less stay the Hoffman course, only with smoother talk -- "shaping the way people live" with big "alternative modes of transportation" ideas.

Put this one on the list: Election Night in November is going to be a real doozy this year.

High praise

The Tu Tu'tun Lodge in Gold Beach just showed up on a list of the best 50 hotels in the world, coming in at no. 19. The Heathman in Portland took lesser honors, ranking no. 46 in major United States cities. (The PBJ has the story all screwed up, here.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Calibrate your seismograph

This is going to hit the ground with a major thud. Are they kidding?

Fade to black

We got our first free copy of the O on the front porch this morning. We haven't held one of those in our hands for years. Our impression? It's small. Really small. Like a miniature cartoon drawing of what it once was.

The front section contained two pages of locally produced content. There were four stories that started on page 1 and jumped to page 4. It was all local news on the front page. The rest of the section was wire copy, paid obituaries, ads (a full-pager for false teeth, but surprisingly few others, including a telltale half-page house ad), and filler. To still be running a full page of weather when there's so little news is a sad statement.

The Metro/Business/Opinion section was eight pages, and here again only two pages' worth was locally produced news content. The business pages didn't seem to have any local content at all. There were no local columnists anywhere to be seen, either, other than the unnamed editorial writers. There was only one ad in the whole section, about 1/12 of a page, for a gout pain study.

The Sports/Classified section (eight pages) had three local stories: one Blazers, one Timbers, one U of O football. Display ads on the sports pages totaled about a third of a page. Classified was two and a half pages. A full-page ad for Fry's brought up the rear.

The Living section, six pages, had two and a half local stories, and about a tenth of a page of paid advertising.

Stuck in the middle of the whole package, which still comes in a plastic bag, were inserts for hearing aids, Big 5 Sporting Goods, and New Seasons Markets.

For this they want you to pay? It's really sad to see this happen, but the daily local newspaper is going the way of the phone book. It is so over.

Metro survey charade is major hit in Denmark

Now, this is funny. The fake public involvement routine of Portland's odd Metro regional government just got featured in some obscure European agency report (large pdf file), and it's big news for the Pamplin papers. Now that Tri-Met's building the Mystery Train Bridge with Pamplin concrete, it seems, everything's rosy between those papers and the planning overlords.

Anyway, the name of the foreign outfit that natters on about Metro "Opt In" is the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, and the Trib describes it as "the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization." Wow. Just wow. Congratulations to Tom "Waylon" Hughes and his highly paid superflacks and p.r. consultants for putting this one over. Winning!

Cruise ship disaster captain was on cell phone

Wonder if he'll get to take it with him to jail.

Laugh about it, shout about it when you've got to choose

AG Ellen breaks the ice

Her first press release arrived yesterday, announcing the new foreclosure mediation program.

"A tremendous amount of work has been done by community advocates, mortgage servicers and state agencies to get this important program ready on time, and within budget. We're glad that this new tool is available to homeowners and hope the program helps to turn around the foreclosure crisis that has held our state in such a tight grip for the last few years."

And they're off!

Nancy Bergeson murder still stumps police

Now they've got the cold case detectives on it. And word is that contrary to prior reports, maybe she did put up something of a fight against the monster who strangled Bergeson in her SW Hamilton Street home during Thanksgiving week 2009. Let's hope that the person or persons who did this are brought to justice soon. Between it and the Kyron Horman case, the west side of town is still badly haunted.

UPDATE, 1:34 p.m.: Maxine Bernstein covers the story for the O, here.

Portland reaches for the credit card yet again

It should be a busy month ahead for the City of Portland money borrowers. They say they'll be going to Wall Street for $75 million for various water bureau pork projects, and the usual annual $25 million IOU to cover the permanent cash flow hole in the city's obscene, completely unfunded police and fire pension system. Plus more mortgage debt heaped onto the water system in October -- the amount still being kept under wraps. How high will the Sam Rands get the city's bonded debt by the time they walk out of City Hall? They'll be up to around $3.4 billion by Labor Day. A decade ago, before the Fireman showed up, it was just a little over half that.

Riding shotgun with Stenchy

Today's Willy Week takes a look at Portland's food compost program, from your front door to the piles in North Plains. Their basic thrust is that everything's fine. It's an interesting piece, but it doesn't really ask the questions that we asked here a while back:

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?

Maybe some other reporter will dig a little deeper, at least into the money story.

It's gonna be just like old times

We opened the envelope left by the mailman, and along with the odor of desperation, out came this:

Free home delivery to keep circulation up? It's like they're meeting the old Portland Tribune on the way back down.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

One more municipal meltdown

Things have gotten extremely funky in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The first photo ever shown on the internet

It's 20 years old next week.

Out and about

Portland artist and design maven Josh Berger, whose life was changed forever by a bicycle accident in May, is getting around slowly with the help of a walker. And the help of many other people. It is going to continue to be a long, slow walk to some semblance of normalcy. The collection site, which had set $60,000 as its target, has just passed the $20,000 mark, but the pace of donations has slowed quite a bit. They won't reject your donation as too small, here.

Tax system under Obama: Same stuff, different White House

Here's the last three and half years of federal tax history, all on one page. The author seems to want to make a big deal out of what's changed, but from the middle class' perspective, there's been little to get excited about. The President said he was going to make high-income Americans pay more, but he didn't.

Multnomah County board sniffing around library tax ballot measure

The Multnomah County commissioners are taking a public poll about funding for the county library. It's only mildly pushy compared to some others we've seen, like the howlers from Metro regional government. But it's certainly not shy about covering tax increase options, which are one of the few required answers in the survey:

You can take the survey (we think) here. If you agree with what the commissioners have already decided, you'll hear all about the results in the coming weeks.

Trolling for Mommy votes

Mayoral hopefuls Nutsy Smith and Char-Lie Hales have figured out that a lot of Portland public school activists will be turning out in November to vote for the mega-school construction borrow-and-spend ballot measure. And so they're falling all over each other to support it. Hales, readers will recall, is to the local school district what Al Gore was to the internet. Smith likes the schools because they're a good place for rec league basketball and punching people in their privates.

Bite a cop, go to jail

It's the second biter in less than a week:

Hale began to fight with an officer when they caught up with him, biting him through his uniform on the upper arm, police said. The officer used a Taser stun gun on Hales but police said it had only "a minor effect."

All together now: Portland needs more mental health facilities and a lot fewer developer toys like streetcars and mystery trains.

Finding Howard

We were prowling the intertubes last night, enjoying the music floating around there. And we were doing a little digging. We had heard the classic rock stomper "You Can't Sit Down" on the Muzak at the grocery store yesterday afternoon, and after we located it on the celestial jukebox, we started leafing through some of the other great records that came out of Philadelphia 50 years ago.

As we meandered around, we eventually popped onto the R&B great Howard Tate's Wikipedia entry, he having been discovered in Philadelphia during the "Can't Sit Down" era. One of the first entries we made on this blog was a review of Tate's appearance at the Portland Blues Festival 10 years ago. We liked the performance so much that we went back for the Sunday gospel show, where Tate, who had been working as a preacher when he was rediscovered the year before, was right at home.

Before we started staying up late at night blogging, we had spent many evenings trying to hunt down a reasonably priced copy of Tate's legendary 1967 album, which in those days was rare and even today is not exactly commonplace. Eventually we found a copy on eBay -- not too reasonably priced, as we recall, but we went for it anyway. We were not disappointed. It is one monster Memphis soul track after another, with Tate hitting the songwriter-producer Jerry Ragovoy's songs out of the park. "Get it While You Can" is the show stopper -- Tate did it at the Blues Festival -- but there isn't a bad cut on the whole thing.

It was heartwarming to see Tate back in the limelight, after his being lost for so many years to drugs and homelessness. His daughter had died in a fire, and it sent him off into quite a tailspin. Yet his voice had come through all of his tribulations intact. As he himself said on the Waterfront stage, "I don't know; it's a miracle."

Anyway, we were saddened to see on the Wiki page that Tate died of leukemia this past December. When we were kids, we were taught that you can pray to the saints for their help. We may find ourselves tossing one up to Reverend Howard every now and then from here on out.

Portland school tax rerun would still be biggest bond ever

The Portland school board is charging ahead with its construction bond ballot measure, a followup to the one that went down in May 2011. This time it's "only" $482 million, which is supposed to be a bargain compared to the $548 million they asked for, unsuccessfully, last time. And the IOU will be spread out over 20 years, which should cut the annual property tax increase down -- $1.10 a thousand, instead of $2. But longer debt means a longer tax increase, and more interest paid to the Paulsons and the Romneys and their Dunthorpe pals who hold the bonds, of course. Sort of like a 5-year car loan instead of a 3-year car loan.

What would we get for half a billion?

The bulk of the bond -- $278 million -- will go toward rebuilding Grant, Franklin and Roosevelt high schools, as well as Faubion K-8, chosen because of its partnership with its neighbor, Concordia University....

The bond would also use $69.5 million to seismically strengthen buildings at up to 26 schools, replace roofs and seismically brace roofs at up to 14 schools, replace roofs at up to 8 schools, and improve handicapped accessibility to about 30 buildings. Another $5 million will improve middle-school science classrooms at nearly 40 schools, while $45 million will help repay debt for capital projects and work at Rosa Parks K-8, and $83 million will cover program costs like bond issuance fees and reserves.

And it's just the beginning, they say:

The board on Monday also voted to include $1.5 million in "master planning" money to go toward the district’s other high schools, which they hope to rebuild in future bonds. Supporters will be urging voters to look at this measure as part of a multi-bond process that will eventually upgrade all district schools in about 30 years.

A final board vote on the language of the measure and an official referral to the ballot is scheduled for August 20.

There'll be lots of opposition come November -- from the usual tax haters, union haters, and gubmint haters, but also from the parents of students in schools that will get little or nothing from this tax increase, and from other parents who wish the school board would address its inadequate academic program before blowing mid-nine figures on bricks and mortar. It should be an interesting contest. There'll be election porn galore in our mailboxes, the little kiddies will be conscripted to ring doorbells again, and who knows? Super Carole and her crew may even violate the state's election laws again -- at least, if Kate Brown ever gets them right. Better enjoy the summer while it's here.

Everybody's got something to hide

A reader sends us a link to what he calls a classic story: "One of our governmental units spends years in research and development, mixes in politics, fails utterly, and then rolls on for a few more years before finally admitting the failure and trying something else."

Breaking news: The bankers cheated

And their lapdogs in government did nothing. Shocking! Shocking, I say!

Bold as love

A belated happy birthday to Joan Osborne, one of the best singers alive, who hit the big 5-0 on Sunday.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bald eagle screw job picks up its pace

The farce that is the West Hayden Island pave-over project rolls on. The Goldschmidt people, doing business as the Port of Portland, in cahoots with the Sam Rands -- a real recipe for disaster. At the very least, somebody's going to get rich at the expense of the environment. Portland "green" hypocrisy at its worst. The latest chapter is here:

If you’re keeping score at home — especially if that home is on West Hayden Island — the city is now scheduling meetings with little notice and the Port can't bother to provide committee members with a detailed written explanation of its mitigation plan.

The Port’s latest PowerPoint showpiece is akin to assessing liver damage with a stethoscope.

That’s because the Port insists it can't afford a CAT scan. Just as the agency can’t afford to develop a new 300-acre marine terminal — in 2023, at the earliest — if it must spend $30 million mitigating the subsequent damage to the environment.

It's all a charade. Like pretty much everything else in Portland politics.

Gresham City Council districting makes the ballot

It's a great idea. Politicians who represent entire cities wind up representing only their own friends. Let's hope that the measure passes, and that Portland is next. Of course, the Portland reforms would also have to include getting rid of the antique "commission" form of government -- a ghastly amateur hour that has run the city straight into a financial black hole. But these changes are long overdue.

Brady burned through $1.4 million

Including $335,000 of her own money. Can you imagine blowing $335,000 trying to break into politics? And then you find out that the public would rather have Nutsy or Char-Lie? Grim stuff.

Little Lord Paulson beheads a vassal

How sad! With so many city subsidies sloshing around the stadium, we've gotta ask: Does the guy he just canned get PERS?

UPDATE, 9:02 p.m.: This is classic: "Paulson appeared to be near tears as he described Spencer’s class and honesty, and the sight of him happily fist-pumping after a Timbers goal." Noblesse oblige!

Back o' their necks gettin' dirt 'n' gritty

Except for the cool Pacific Northwest, it's been a hot time in U.S.A. the last few weeks.

"We are V.I.P."

Get up, ev'rybody, and sing.

As Tri-Met fails, other options spring up

This article last week about the transit situation out in Forest Grove caught our eye. Then a reader sent us a link to this site -- a volunteer senior shuttle in Lake Oswego. It's surprising how easy it is to get the job done when you're not wasting everyone's time and money with streetcars, WES follies, and mystery MAX trains.

Drop the coin right into the slot

We've found a service called Rdio that's got all sorts of music playable on demand, and at least for a short time, it's free. We've opened an account -- no credit card information was requested -- and are grooving away through our internet browser. A fairly vast musical world is now on seemingly every computer. Alas, the fun is free only for a short time -- then it's $5 a month, or $10 a month if we want to hook our phone into it. It's tempting.

On another front, we've also recently succumbed and uploaded nearly 20,000 songs into the Google Music cloud. What Rdio can't give us, we can give ourselves. It's an amazing time.

Another voice, another room

In the decade we've been doing this, many other blogs have come and gone. Particularly here in Portland, the blogosphere isn't quite as rich as it once promised to become. But we do stumble across a good one every so often. This is a fine one that we just found last night, via this one, also good. Even if one disagrees with the opinions expressed, there's something grand about excellent, from-the-heart writing.

Obama: Blah blah blah tax plan blah blah blah

He's "100% committed" to letting the Bush tax cuts expire for those with taxable incomes above $250,000. He was "committed" to something quite similar when he ran for office in 2008. Did he do it, even when he had both houses of Congress under Democratic control? No. Would he get it done if re-elected, under a split or Republican Congress? Of course not. Not even if he really wanted to. Which we doubt.

We may vote for the President for the Supreme Court appointments, but on taxes, we won't get fooled again.


Our charts from Friday about the City of Portland's frightening debt trends prompted one reader to suggest that we display the figures in inflation-adjusted dollars, given that a dollar in 1997 bought a lot more than it does today. It's a good point, and so here are the two charts, revised to take inflation into account:

Even taking inflation into account, those are sobering pictures. Go by streetcar!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Portlandia doesn't need this

With all the government planners we have running around, this would be superfluous. It's just as well confined to Australia.

Rah rah siss boom bah, cont'd

Here's a glowing tribute to Portland's current crop of high-tech startups, some of which are now getting city handouts. It's a fun story, but the number of jobs these outfits support is minuscule. They are to an actual economy what food carts are to a restaurant scene.

And like a bad neighbor, Walgreen's is there

We've always had a vaguely bad feeling about Walgreen's. It seems like a place that exploits poor people. That's terribly unfair -- it's no different from so many other large corporations. But we always get that nagging impression.

But then we read this, including their playing the "serving the sick" card, and we think, "Screw that place; we'll never shop in a Walgreen's again."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Special report (NSFW)

Predicament in Portlandia

The bird is the word on SE Clinton Street:

Hipster 101

And apparently, they're serious about it.

K-Mart Village

The planners have a new dream for suburbia. It should be fun to watch, so long as you're not paying for it.

The worst forest fire danger of them all

That would be in Ukraine, Bob.

"Gavel Down" Jeanne still rockin' the 'Couv

There's this story, which is sad... and then there's the back story, which is even sadder. It ain't purty.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Have a great weekend

End of an era

Well, we invented it just for him, but now it's time to take John Kroger's score off the old State of Oregon press release meter. His is a record that won't be broken in our lifetimes, even by people on steroids. Kroger definitely slowed down at the end, however -- Kate Brown and Brad Avakian, who are looking busy while they try to get re-elected, have been popping out the media missives at the same clip.

Anyway, we'll see how Kroger's successor, Ellen Rosenblum, does in the media department. Given what her spouse does for a living, it could be interesting.

Richard Posner and me

We've had exactly the same idea this past week:

Because if you put [yourself] in [Chief Justice John Roberts's] position ... what's he supposed to think? That he finds his allies to be a bunch of crackpots? Does that help the conservative movement? I mean, what would you do if you were Roberts? All the sudden you find out that the people you thought were your friends have turned against you, they despise you, they mistreat you, they leak to the press. What do you do? Do you become more conservative? Or do you say, "What am I doing with this crowd of lunatics?" Right? Maybe you have to re-examine your position.

The story is here.

Have you got DNS Changer?

If so, guess we won't be seeing you Monday.

He's taking you for a ride, all right

This pretty much says it all about Portland 2012. At least he didn't hit anybody in the gonads that day.

She asks me why

Here's a surprising story: If you want to braid hair for foster kids in Oregon, you have to take 1,700 hours of training and get a full cosmetology license. Apparently, it's easier to become an emergency medical technician or a firefighter. And the Beaver State is not alone in this regard.


It was 10 years ago this morning that this blog was born. Since then, we've written more than 17,000 entries here, and readers have left more than 183,000 comments. Many opinions have been expressed, on many subjects. Some of the conversation has been thoughtful, and some it has been flippant. Some of it brilliant, some of it stupid. There have been moments of beauty and grace, moments of rudeness and ugliness. We have broken some news, and repeated some rumors that turned out to be false. We've been censored by Homeland Security by day, censured by Admiral Randy late at night. We've laughed, cried, prayed, sworn, bragged, and apologized, but rarely have we been bored.

If you had told us on the morning of July 6, 2002 what this site would be today, we probably would have laughed in disbelief. The evolution has featured many twists and turns. Some messes have been made, but we think we've done more good than harm, which is sufficient reason to keep going.

We're grateful for the countless folks who contribute to this blog in all sorts of ways, great and small. It's a joy and a privilege to know you and to learn from you.

We must confess that we didn't come up with any great ideas for celebrating this occasion. But given that the anniversary may attract some notice, we thought we'd make up a greeting card of sorts. It's the City of Portland's long-term debt over the past 15 years, not counting unfunded pension liabilities. It's been nuts ever since Mother Vera went to Paley's with Homer Williams, but in particular, check out the last five years, under the Sam Rand Twins:

This blog came on line at the second bar from the left. It's pretty scandalous what's happened since then. People tell us that we're making a difference, but you couldn't tell it from those numbers. Obviously, we're not stopping some real damage from being done.

Here's another one -- what's happened with the Portland police and fire retirement time bomb over a decade and a half. This doesn't count the army of PERS recipients from the city payroll, who have also become partially unfunded over the last four years:

Notice that the last bar on the right there is two years old. The city faces up to the reality of its crushing pension debt as infrequently as possible. We think the current liability is around $3 billion -- probably higher, if you count the PERS shortfalls, factor in retiree health care costs, and make realistic assumptions about the pension funds' investment returns for the foreseeable future.

And if you think the city's growing fast enough to handle all that extra debt, here's one last chart to set you straight. It's the City of Portland population figures. Increasing at almost exactly 1% a year:

Lots to watch out for there, folks. And there is so much other drama ahead. The Obama-Romna, and Nutsy vs. Char-Lie for mayor, all on the same night. A big holiday sendoff for two, and maybe three, Portland City Council members. The Clackistani rebels battling away against the Mystery Train. The Barburian rebels in their King City strongholds. The Fukushima ooze, or worse. The mainstream media diminishing in content, month by agonizing month. The compost carts getting ever stinkier. Bunkers without parking going in all over the Rose City. Craziness galore at U.C. Nike. Water bills with a comma in the number. The death of Tri-Met.

We'll be busy, but today let's stop and note the milestone. Here's to a second decade in the blogosphere. It promises to be a wild ride.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wyden residency issue gets weirder

Go figure.

Visit from a neighbor

Portland, City of Lunatics

Portland's inability to cope with the epidemics of mental illness and gang violence within its borders is getting too obvious to ignore. For one thing, the dangerous crazies are positively coming out of the woodwork with the full moon this week:

On Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 11:08 a.m. Portland Police officers assigned to East Precinct responded to a call of a naked man in the area of Southeast 96th and Stark.

Officers have learned that the man fought with Gresham Police last night. The man was suspected to be high on Methamphetamine at that time and it took multiple officers to take him into custody. The man, later identified as 45-year-old Charles Auther Freeman apparently bit one of the officer's fingers as he fought with them. Freeman was taken to Portland Adventist Hospital.

Today Freeman was released from Portland Adventist Hospital but would not leave the hospital grounds. Witnesses indicated he was urinating in the bushes on hospital grounds. Eventually Freeman did leave and walked on Southeast 96th Avenue. Freeman walked into a business and when officers arrived they attempted to escort him out but he fought with them and ran. Freeman was only wearing a hospital gown.

Freeman then attempted to commandeer an occupied van. Again officers deployed the Taser but it had little effect and again he ran. One of the pursuing officers suffered a leg injury during the fight. Freeman then ran toward a homeless person in the area and again officers Tased the man but again the Taser had no effect.

Ultimately, three officers attempted to subdue Freeman at 97th and SE Stark but as they attempted to handcuff him he grabbed an officer's leg and would not let go. Freeman bit officers in the course of the struggle. One of the officers delivered strikes to Freeman so he would let go of the other officer so they could handcuff him. Only after the strikes were officers able to take Freeman into custody.

At this time Freeman has been returned to the hospital and three officers have suffered injury and the investigation is continuing. Attached is the audio file of the 911 dispatch tape.

But hey -- if only we had an education urban renewal district, a sustainability center, and an arts income tax, none of this would be happening. Eco-districts! Go by streetcar!

Willy Week lets another one slip

The Oregon pot newsletter known as Willamette Week always has a point to make, and most of the time the writers there deliver it beneath at least a thin veneer of news reporting. But in this week's piece about reckless skateboarding in a residential neighborhood in the West Hills, the weekly simply takes sides. And guess what -- they like the skateboarders and dislike the homeowners:

Against the skaters stand the wealthy residents of Arlington Heights, one of Portland's toniest neighborhoods. A gated community with no gates, it hides behind the rolling hills of Washington Park, protected from the peasantry roaming the streets of Portland below.

Think it may have something to do with their readership demographic?

Jackass behind the wheel is also jackass on the court

We had heard through the grapevine some of this story about Jeffer-Sam Smith, but we're glad the Willy Week boys verified it enough to publish it. The guy is the Bonzi Wells of Portland politics. A legend in his own mind.

We are writing in Lavonne Griffin-Valade for mayor, and we hope other Portlanders follow suit. Nutsy Smith and his opponent, Char-Lie Hales, are both big sacks of bad news.

The heart of rock 'n' roll is still beatin'

Huey Lewis turns 62 today.


They're shutting down iGoogle. Which means we'll have to figure out another way to do what we presently do with iGoogle. Sometimes we wish Google would just figure out how it wants us to live. Kind of like we feel about Portland's many "planners."

Big week for science

Physicists the world over are toasting the isolation of the elusive Higgs boson -- the subatomic particle that holds the key to understanding the existence of all mass in the universe. It is a pretty impressive discovery:

What day of the week is it?

Is it Thursday? You're not actually working today, are you?

We had a spectacular Fourth, with great food and drink; a wonderful setting just steps away from our abode; lots of fireworks, both legal and from the 'Couv; and best of all, some splendid company, most of whom we hadn't met before. The only blue note the whole day was a small slug who came home with us on the leftover baby carrots, and even he or she was in a holiday spirit.

We're not quite ready to declare another "Nice Week," but our perusal of the world, the city, and their foibles may be a little late getting started today.

It wasn't just the tsunami that wrecked Fukushima

Over in Japan, somebody's telling the parliament the plain truth about the triple-meltdown nuclear disaster. Even without the tsunami, they say, the plants would likely have blown from the earthquake. And the government, the plant operator, and the Japanese people are to blame:

As well as detailing the specific failings related to the accident, the report describes a Japan in which nuclear power became "an unstoppable force, immune to scrutiny by civil society.

"Its regulation was entrusted to the same government bureaucracy responsible for its promotion," the commission said.

Contradicting claims by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the plant, the report said that "the direct causes of the accident were all foreseeable prior to March 11, 2011....

"What must be admitted -- very painfully -- is that this was a disaster 'Made in Japan,'" the report said. "Its fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to 'sticking with the program.'"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The key states for the Obama-Romna

Apparently, they are Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia -- and maybe Iowa, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. (So say this and this.) The other 40 won't get nearly as much attention, which bothers people like these guys.

UPDATE, 2:25 p.m.: This outfit (which unfortunately rolls a video with sound as soon as you click) puts Michigan in the "swing" category as well.

OLCC soap opera gets a spinoff

The Oregon state booze czars keep themselves in the spotlight -- and not in a good way.

Let's sing this one together

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

Lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates
Music by Samuel A. Ward
Mount Rushmore photo courtesy Aaron Hockley

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

When designing an outhouse, don't go in house

Portland's sticking a "loo" in the middle of the South Park Blocks, which is upsetting some folks. But what we're really miffed about is that City Hall is using the Admiral's bland design, when we could have sprung for something more iconic.

Public-private partnership leads to muni bankruptcy

Not the first time, and not the last.

Super Carole takes another flunk

This is just awful. If they want our vote for a Portland school bond, they'll have to come up with better management for the school district first.

Portland arts groups not exactly starving

In the discussion of the proposed $35-a-head City of Portland arts tax, we hope that the finances of all of the beneficiary organizations are opened up and thoroughly aired. It sure seems that there is already a lot of public money sloshing around in those entities. Why we should take tax dollars from working families and hand them to the opera is a little beyond us.

Coal train plays the blues

A train hauling coal from Wyoming to British Columbia for shipment to China derailed near U.S. 395 north of Tri-Cities last night. Thirty open coal cars tipped over.

According to the O version of the story, the train was en route to the Columbia Gorge. This map seems to show where it was headed. If we're already getting the trains, that may change some folks' calculus on whether we want the shipping terminal. We already know we'll be getting the acid rain after the Chinese burn the stuff.

Dear Lord, please...

... make my wish come true.

Knight Law Center and Party Room

We kid about the scene in Eugene devolving into U.C. Nike, but a lot of it isn't funny. We saw this debacle first-hand ourselves when we were down there last week. Pretty disarming. But what the hey -- for a few more tens of millions, they'd probably rename the whole university after Uncle Phil. Might not be a bad idea.

Speaking of big bucks and the university, this is pretty ominous. Stand by for some serious looting if The Network gets its way. They're up to something big. And it won't be good for the taxpayers, you can count on that.

Only in Portlandia

Guess it was just a matter of time before pitches like this started showing up in the mail:

Glad to see the entrepreneurial spirit trying to make a few bucks off our "green" garbage ordeal. But the whole thing's starting to feel like a science fiction movie. And a depressing one at that.

OLCC soap opera really getting good

Nurse Amanda, staring at a serious chance of losing her Portland City Council gig, is making the state's liquor regulators, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, her new punching bag. She's on their case not only for flipflopping on the state and city's authority to impose special regulations on downtown liquor sales, but also for their allowing alcohol sales from the city's ubiquitous food carts.

"The latest bait-and-switch by OLCC is another example of the agency showing indifference to problems linked to alcohol sales in local jurisdictions, and a disgraceful lack of transparency and accountability," Fritz said in the statement.

Hell hath no fury like a former psychiatric nurse scorned, apparently. Meanwhile, yesterday we tried to put a face on the OLCC with this post, and as so often happens, a reader who's more in the know than we are e-mailed us to fill in some of our knowledge gaps:

Pharo is a good guy. I have met with him a number of times over neighborhood impact issues. He is an ex-Marine, and as upright and scrupulous as they come. He is honest, fair, circumspect but an excellent communicator, and very dedicated to running a quality organization that will serve the public well. Action-oriented but scrupulously well organized. Good problem solver. Of course, that scrupulous bit puts him at odds with our temporizing politicos who want rule by fiat and only worry about law when the recall gets filed. Pharo knows exactly what his authorities are, and will be creative about trying to get traction without violating them, but he won't violate them. That Kitz wants rid of him is the last nail in the coffin of my respect for Kitz.

I've heard all kinds of wild stories about what is going on behind the green curtain. I'm sure you would have to subpoena Pharo to get him to talk about any of it. Heard that Grocery Outlet wanted to bypass the distributors, but Oregon law doesn't allow it, and Kitz wanted Pharo to green light it by simply pretending it wasn't illegal. Same with the impact area. Law? What law? Heard that the Police Bureau sent a letter endorsing food cart permits, which reached the Commission timely, whereas Council's letter opposing it didn't reach the Commission timely. Heard something about a personal relationship between a Commission member and one of Pharo's subordinates and someone trying to interfere with his supervisory authority. I have no idea how much of any of this is true, but it all sounds believable. Not all smoke means fire, of course, but that's a hell of a lot of smoke. Starts to sound like a script for "The Good Wife." Maybe we could get McDonald on it.

If you like politics, it's pretty interesting stuff.

Souter! Souter!

Just as we predicted last week, the Chief Justice is taking big heat from the right. Let's hope he pays enough attention to notice how vicious his attackers can be, and takes that to heart the next time they're asking him to roll back the Bill of Rights even further than his brethren already have.

October surprise: war with Iran?

Let's hope not.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Freeway Blogger passes through Portland again

Scarlet always has a message for Portland commuters.

Are man sandals wrong?

Here in Oregon, where Tevas with socks were once the rage, the question burns.

Wendy's child stabber has a long past

An alert reader sends along a link to this story about him, from nearly 20 years ago. (The O sort of gets it, here.)

UPDATE, 9:22 p.m.: Steve Duin digs in on the story here. Our criminal "justice" "system" is extremely screwed up.

Gatsby slithers away from residency question

Whenever somebody asks Ron Wyden if he really lives in Oregon, he points out that he's held hundreds of town halls throughout the state. And that he owns a home in Portland -- these days, a house in Eastmoreland.

That doesn't mean he lives here.

Today the question came up on the Bob Miller radio show, and old Gatbsy was able to tack on the barely relevant fact that he doesn't own real estate in New York:

Miller: Let's wrap it up with this because I've got lots of e-mails -- I told folks to write me and tell me what they wanted me to ask you about and stuff, and this one comes up a lot. In fact, there's a local blogger that refers to you as "Ron Wyden, R-N.Y." Um, where do you live?

Wyden: Eastmoreland. We've got a beautiful, uh, beautiful home there and, eh, I just got up there this morning, had uh, a little toast and, and peanut butter, but eh, this has just, uh, reached a little bit, uh, of the point of the absurd, I remember the last time I heard somebody say, eh, that, uh, I lived somewhere else, I got up at home, got picked up, uh, a little bit later, drove out to Boardman for a Town Hall meeting. Bob, I've had about 630 town hall meetings in our state -- nobody's ever done that. And what I do when I'm home is try to get in every nook and cranny of, uh, of the state, and we've got a beautiful home in Eastmoreland and we're Oregonians, always have been.

Miller: Do you have a place in New York?

Wyden: I, I do not. I only own a place in Oregon and in Washington, D.C. I own absolutely nothing in New York.

Miller let him off the hook without asking him where his two young children and his wife live. They are New York City folk, through and through. His wife, owner of the famous Strand Bookstore, doutblessly owns lots of property there, including her and the children's home. And now, according to the senator, she's about to have a third child, which at her age is a high-risk pregnancy. Pre-natal care and birth will no doubt take place in New York. Indeed, if she's flying back and forth to Portland any time the rest of this year, she's nuts.

It also would have been interesting to ask how many days a year he spends in each of D.C., New York, and Oregon.

Oh well, at least somebody said something. Maybe there'll be another opportunity for some followup questions in some other venue.

The interview is here, in Hour 2 of the show. The residency question comes up at the end of the interview, at about 23:58.

Still preaching

Even with a ban on plastic bags at grocery store checkouts, the holier-than-thou set at Portland City Hall can't stop yakking about how bad the bags are. We're always glad when we patronize a merchant who gives us one or two. We reuse them, at least once and sometimes twice. We religiously recycled the extra ones we used to get, along with the bread and newspaper bags, anyway.

The reusable bags that they're pushing on everybody nowadays have to be washed regularly, or else they become breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. It's a pain, and of course, it takes water, soap, and energy. Is that "green"? Hey, be quiet and do as you're told.

The new Blazer draftees

In the NBA draft last week, Portland's first two picks were Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard. Let's hope they don't turn out to be Damon Lily-livered and Meyer Lemon.

Maximum fuster and cluck

Great news! The Portland Plan is now being implemented! Having just concluded a full complement of plan adoption activities, the city's legion of planners are now busy preliminarily implementing plan actions:

The City’s Office of Equity and Human Rights is now up and running, and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is reaffirming commitments from local agency partners and drafting intergovernmental agreements. BPS will also be coordinating with other City bureaus to ensure their budgets are aligned with Portland Plan principles, goals and objectives.

Well, all right! And of course, there's no better way to implement a plan than with a comprehensive plan update:

In addition, the Portland Plan is being implemented through the Comprehensive Plan Update, which is currently underway. The Comprehensive Plan helps the City prepare for and manage expected population and employment growth, as well coordinate major public investments. The equity framework and three integrated strategies of the Portland Plan will guide the Comprehensive Plan Update. Eight Policy Expert Groups (PEGs) have begun to meet and are advising staff in multiple policy areas. Please see www.portlandonline.com/bps/pdxcompplan for more information.

These are just a few early steps. More implementation activities will continue throughout the summer. And over the next year, we’ll keep you up to date on all implementation activity. So stay tuned.

If only we had a choice.

Portland arts tax would be retroactive

Besides being of questionable legality, Portland's proposed $35-per-person annual tax to funds "arts education" would be retroactive to the first of 2012, even though it wouldn't be voted into law until the November election. A vague summary of the whole thing is here. If you don't like the ballot title, you have until next Tuesday to go to court to have it reviewed:


Restore School Arts, Music Education; Fund Arts through Limited Tax


Shall Portland restore arts, music for schools and fund arts through income tax capped at 35 dollars per year?

Now they're saying that the "income tax" will be "capped" at $35 a year, whereas previously the mayor said it was going to be a flat $35. It's hard to see how it's an "income tax" if it's a fixed dollar amount for everyone who pays it. And if it's any more complicated than that, it's going to be an even bigger mess to enforce than what's already been acknowledged. It's so dopey that you think it couldn't possibly pass -- but then you look at the two finalists for mayor and you realize, anything's possible.

Whisky tango foxtrot

Booze is in the news these days. Our neighbors to the north kicked their state out of the liquor business this year, but new state taxes have increased the price of the hard stuff up there. Meanwhile, here in Portlandia, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has suddenly reversed course and announced that neither it nor the City of Portland has the power to create "alcohol impact" zones, with tighter rules, within the city. The OLCC says that's the word it got from state attorney general John Kroger's office shortly before the Krogster bailed to take over Reed College.

It's classic Portland, classic Salem -- hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tax dollars blown on a long, drawn-out bureaucratic project that turned out to be illegal. No surprise in the futility -- but the story got us thinking about the OLCC. They recently trashed Portland City Hall's request that they refuse to issue liquor licenses for food carts -- now this. Who the heck are these people, anyway?

Well, we start with the top executive of the agency, a guy named Steve Pharo. He's been on thin ice for quite a while, having somehow averted getting canned three months ago. His near-dismissal was excruciatingly public. But he's hanging in there despite the fact that the governor clearly wants him out. Odd indeed.

Pharo, whose office is in the Clackistani war zone of Milwaukie, answers to a five-member commission appointed by the governor. In other words, these people are to alcohol what Tri-Met is to transportation. Without even looking at the roster, we're thinking we'll find Goldschmidt people, union people, a useful idiot or two, and some ethnic diversity types.

When we flipped to the actual bios, here is what we found:

Cassandra SkinnerLopata was appointed Chair of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s board of commissioners by Gov. John Kitzhaber on July 5, 2011. SkinnerLopata has been a member of the OLCC’s board of commissioners since June 2009. She is a graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law and is currently General Counsel and Medicaid Program Director for Agate Healthcare, the parent company of Lipa (Lane Individual Practice Association) and Trillium Community Health Plan, all located in Eugene. She has held positions on the Governor’s Council on Domestic Violence, the Lane County Human Rights Advisory Committee, and the board of directors for Breaking Free, a non-profit organization promoting empowerment and self-defense for women and girls....

Robert Rice, a Portland restaurant owner, was appointed to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission in July 2003. Rice, who owns the Virginia Café, represents the hospitality industry as well as the 1st Congressional District. Rice serves on the boards of the National Restaurant Association and Liberty Northwest Insurance Companies. In the past, he worked for Arthur Andersen & Co. as a certified public accountant and head of the firm’s small business division for the Portland region. Rice also served as president of the Oregon Restaurant Association and the Columbia Edgewater Country Club, and was a board member of Associated Oregon Industries.

Ron Roome was appointed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission in May 2009. Roome has been a lawyer at Karnopp Petersen LLP since 1988 and has been litigation partner since 1994. Roome has served in multiple public service roles including President of J.R. Campbell American Inns of Court (2002-2003) and as President of the Deschutes County Bar Association (1997-1998). He currently serves on the Oregon State Bar Disciplinary Board. He is a Bend resident and a member of both the Oregon and California State Bar Associations.

Alex Duarte was appointed by Governor Ted Kulongoski to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission in May 2009. Duarte currently serves as Compliance Counsel for Precision Castparts Corp. (PCC) at PCC’s global headquarters in Portland. Prior to joining PCC in 2011, Duarte served as Corporate Counsel for Qwest Communications in Denver and Portland, and before that, he was a litigation partner in a national law firm in San Francisco. Duarte has also served on the Oregon Board of Maritime Pilots (chaired from 2007 to 2008), and on the boards of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce (chaired from 2005 to 2007) and the Malheur Home Telephone Company. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Stanford Law School.

Michael E. Harper, Sr. was appointed by Gov. John Kitzhaber to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission in June 2011. Harper has been an agent with State Farm Insurance for more than 20 years. He played basketball for the Portland Trail Blazers during the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons, and spent the following six seasons playing across Europe. He has coached numerous basketball teams at the elementary, middle and high school level for over 10 years. In addition, he has coached basketball at the University of Portland and is currently an assistant coach at Lewis and Clark College. He has served on the Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board and the Oregon Commission on Children and Families.

Back: Rice, Duarte, Roome.
Front: Harper, SkinnerLopata.

So there you have them -- three lawyers, the owner of a serious gin mill, and an ex-Blazer insurance agent. Three from Kulongoski, two from Kitzhaber. What makes them qualified to run the state's liquor business and regulations? Not too terribly much that we can see. It seems like a perfect setup for the figureheads to be held captive by the staff.

Whole Foods = Portugal

In market capitalization, that is. And get this: The City of Portland's long-term debt is now greater than all the stocks in Greece.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tally ho from NE 15th Avenue

We were listening to classical music on the Portland radio this afternoon, and the announcer had a British accent. It's like soccer -- the talking heads calling the game always include some guy sounding like he's auditioning for the BBC.

Everybody else in the region's media speaks like Johnny Carson. Why is that? If accents are o.k., how about a Brooklyn accent, or Bahston, or Wiscanssin, or Suthin? It's ridiculous.

Bad company

In a race to the bottom to see which state can have the sleaziest corporate laws, Delaware has always been the leader. It's where the wealth creators go when the Caymans are too far away. But now Oregon's been listed close behind Delaware in the bottom 4, along with Nevada and Wyoming. Kate Brown, say it ain't so!

Downtown Portland, Saturday night

Or early Sunday morning, to be exact. The moon was 95% of full, and the police were busy:

On Sunday July 1, 2012, at 2:46 a.m., Portland Police officers responded to the report of a man threatening passersby and trying to fight with Embassy Suites hotel security at Southwest 3rd Avenue and Ash Street.

Officers arrived in the area and made contact with the man, 35-year-old Timothy Wayne Bolton, who began to fight with officers. Two officers received minor injuries in the struggle with Bolton who continued to fight with officers despite an officer using a Taser.

Bolton was eventually taken into custody and booked into the Multnomah County Jail for Assaulting a Public Safety Officer, Resist Arrest, Interfering with a Police Officer, Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree, and Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree.

On Sunday July 1, 2012, at 4:05 a.m., Portland Police officers assigned to Central Precinct responded to the report of an armed robbery at the 7-11 located at 900 Southwest 4th Avenue.

As officers were enroute they received a description of the suspect who had fled the scene, described as a white male wearing a red jacket and red polka dot pajama pants. The description given matched that of a subject who had been in the lobby of the Portland Police Bureau's Central Precinct shortly before the robbery, asking if the officer working the desk had a cash register.

Officers set up a neighborhood perimeter and utilizing a Police K-9 Unit they searched the neighborhood. During the K-9 track by "Bravo," an officer spotted the suspect on Southwest Yamhill Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. The suspect complied with the officers commands and was arrested without incident. No weapon was found and officers learned that the suspect implied to the clerk he had a gun.

The suspect was identified as 30-year-old Casey John Barnard. Barnard was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on one count of Robbery in the Second Degree.

On Sunday July 1, 2012, at 5:15 a.m., Portland Police officers assigned to Central Precinct responded to the report of a vandalism in progress at Kush Handmade Rugs, located at 205 Northwest 10th Avenue.

Officers arrived in the area and witnesses told police that a man broke out the front window to the business and was ransacking the interior, breaking vases, trashing the bathroom and destroying other merchandise. Damage is estimated at more than $5,000.

Witnesses gave a description to police who located the suspect at Northwest 9th Avenue and Couch Street and took him into custody.

21-year-old Joshua Wayne Stamper of Vancouver, Washington was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charges of Burglary in the Second Degree and Criminal Mischief in the First Degree.

New Miss Oregon was Miss Orange County 2011

Oregon homegrown talent wasn't strong enough to out-pageant a very recent California transplant, Rachel L. Berry, in the Miss Oregon scholarship competition, which wrapped up last night. Before being Miss Orange County last year, Berry was Miss City of Orange 2010. She apparently didn't step down from her Southern Cal pageant winner gig until this past December, and then it was wham-bam-Miss Oregon.

Born in Indiana, she attended college in Orange County and worked as a TV reporter and production assistant there and in Los Angeles well into 2011. There's not much evidence on line of her setting foot in Oregon until a few months ago, after two unsuccessful trips to the Miss California show. She was Tweeting from sunny Cali into December.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened. Given the crazies impassioned people out there in the pageant "family" whom we met the last time we got into this issue, maybe we should leave it at that. But we can't help noting that the rules say that an entrant must be a "legal resident of Oregon at least 6 months prior to local pageant competition." They go on to state:

RESIDENCY - resided in the local pageant franchise area for a minimum of six (6) months prior to entering a local preliminary pageant. Proof will be a Oregon driver's license, auto registration, current lease, student ID card or any other official document establishing residency.

As best we can tell, the Miss Willamette Valley competition, which Berry won, was held the weekend of April 21, 2012. Six months before that would be October 21, 2011. The new Miss Oregon wasn't living and working in southern California past that date, was she? Let's hope not.

Wonder where she voted in November. Where she paid resident taxes for 2011. Hey -- maybe Charlie Hales can help us figure this out.

UPDATE, 7/19, 1:02 p.m.: We did some digging, and the results of our investigation were posted here. A couple of hours later, it was announced that Berry was relinquishing her Miss Oregon crown over the residency question.

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