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

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September 2012 Archives

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Travels with Nutsy

The O takes a stab at the Jeffer-Sam Smith story here. They soft-pedal some things. They don't wonder why he was never admitted to law practice in New York, although he did pass the bar exam there. That's odd. They also say he "didn't shine" at his Portland law firm. That's an interesting way of putting it. The guy reportedly was a Grade A goldbrick.

You can't vote for him, but you can't vote for Char-Lie either. Your best choice is a write-in. We're writing in LaVonne Griffin-Valade for mayor.

School tax bond would build LEED-certified study halls

Lainie Block Wilker, one of the parents leading the charge against the upcoming Portland school tax bond issue, drops us a line from time to time. She's convinced us that the last thing the school board needs to blow money on right now is bricks and mortar. Yesterday she wrote us as follows:

Thought you might be interested in this video interview of Bobbie Regan with the WW editorial board, where she admits elementary and K-8s are in far worse shape than high schools prioritized for rebuilds (see tape at 3:07). Under the current bond, the worst facilities in PPS will get new roofs and minor upgrades, then go to the back of the line for 30 years -- behind schools with much better facilities. The campaign will likely boil down to a safety scare, so voters should understand that this is not a safety bond. Rather, they will be paying for LEED-certified study halls.

Also note that Grant and Franklin have both nose-dived 10 points on math, science, and reading scores -- not helped by losing 3 weeks instructional time, 20% larger class sizes, and disproportionate cuts while the academic priority zone was held harmless. Benson has been cut in half to keep kids at Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Madison. Ironically, the myopic focus on Jefferson and Roosevelt at all costs has wreaked havoc on programs that have most effectively served diverse populations. The achievement gap will be bridged by tearing down academic achievement to bring up the bottom. Equitable mediocrity for all – except the politicos’ kids (Nick Fish, Julia Brim-Edwards, Alissa Keny-Guyer, etc), who will not be sacrificed on the equity altar. Maybe when Chair Cogen’s kids are warehoused in Grant High School "study halls" with three hours in the middle of the day to smoke pot, he will finally use his platform to affect meaningful change.

Another interesting angle regarding the toothless oversight committee and PPS’ lack of competency to manage a bond: John Mohlis of PDC serves on the oversight committee, Long Range Committee, and on the Leadership Council for the Innovation Partnership. Innovation Partnership, chartered under Metro, told PPS to "move itself out of the facilities management business to focus on its core mission of education" (see p.8 – Long Term Strategies). Now Barbara Roberts of Metro has been tapped to chair the bond campaign. Why are Mohlis and Roberts cheerleading for this bond, if their organization said PPS was not competent to manage a large capital project? FYI, my contacts at Innovation Partnership met with PPS to offer strategic planning expertise before the bond was referred to the ballot, but PPS was hell-bent on a big November bond and would not consider a smaller bond focused on safety.

Little nippers take bites

Only a couple of pups prevailed in today's round in our charity pro football underdog game. Eleven players scored 3 points each, and two new names appear atop the leader board:

Continue reading "Little nippers take bites" »

Up on the roof

A ride up north is just the ticket.

Paint is nearly dry

Tough month of September for Little Lord Paulson's soccer club. They scored five goals in as many games and went 0-2-3. Last night's contest was another scintillating 1-1 tie. The Timbers last won on August 31.

Meanwhile, there's this news about the league's popularity on television. Bleak indeed. It's obviously captured the hearts of weird Portland, but it ain't playing in Peoria.

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Obama's biggest failure

Don't get us wrong, we're still holding our nose and voting for him, but the Prez is a major sellout.

Obama blew a once-in-a-generation chance at strengthening the financial system.

With the pain of a stock-market plunge, double-digit unemployment and lost wealth still fresh in the American consciousness, Obama pursued his social and political agenda -- health care, Iraq, an economic stimulus bill -- and left finance to the finance guys.

The White House pillow talk with Jamie Dimon has been nothing short of disgusting.

These are a few of my favorite 'dogs

The players in our charity pro football underdog game have spoken, and here are their selections for the week. Once again two teams draw quite a few votes of confidence (or hope, at least):

12 TENNESSEE at Houston - Gordon, Ted, Drewbob
9 NEW ORLEANS at Green Bay - Jeremy, Lucas, Bob, Bayou Baby, Cinderella Story, Tinknocker, Juicen, Eric W., Gary
7 CAROLINA at Atlanta - Dr. D, Annie, John Cr.
6.5 OAKLAND at Denver - Sola, Rudie, Bad Brad, PDXileinOmaha, Biggest Cubs Loser, Grizfan, Paul, Coastal Storm
6 MIAMI at Arizona - Broadway Joe
4 BUFFALO vs. New England - NoPoGuy, Pdxmick, genop's gal
4 NEW YORK JETS vs. San Francisco - Carol, Pete Rozelle, Usual Kevin
3 WASHINGTON at Tampa Bay - Ricardo, Tung, Pete Rose, Michael K., DB Cooper, John Ch.
3 MINNESOTA at Detroit - Dave A., Will, MickeyMac, genop, JMH

Nobody's got either of the night 'dogs, the Giants or da Bearss.

As usual, these are the picks as of earlier this morning, several hours before the deadline. (This post is being triggered by a robot.) If additional picks have come in (or changes have been made) after this post was written but before the deadline, they will be added to this post as soon as we can get to it later today.

Have a great day and enjoy the last games of September, everyone!

UPDATE, 1:01 p.m.: Just added timely picks by DB, Mac, the genops, John Ch. and JMH.

UPDATE, 1:55 p.m.: Minnesota scores for five of our players in an early game.

UPDATE, 4:56 p.m.: Washington wins a late game, earning points for six players. New Orleans loses a heartbreaker in Wisconsin, marred by terrible officiating. By the regular refs.

Cold off the presses

We spend a lot of our time reading. But unless it's something for work or the blog, we read slowly. Books can take us forever. And often our hard copy of the the Sunday New York Times -- the only paper we have delivered any more -- sits around all week before we get to it. When we're through with it, we pass our paper along to a neighbor who's even more leisurely than we are. Often that means she doesn't get it until it's seven or eight days old.

Last night, we found ourself just finishing up the magazine section of last Sunday's edition of the Times, and it was one of those issues that reminds us of why we get the thing delivered. In addition to the splendid profile of Neil Young, which we had read on the web a few days before it appeared at our front door, there was also this absorbing piece about Cuba, and a 50th anniversary assessment of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring."

We'd have this happen in the old days, too, when we had the Times delivered daily. Occasionally there would be a day on which there was nothing in it, and then there would be a day or two with gold on every page.

The familiar thunk of the paper on our porch just occurred for another week, and we wonder if there's a smash hit or a dud inside the plastic bag. We may not know for sure for several days.

Of Betamax, long johns, and typhoon season

Our latest scan of the intertubes for information relating to the nuclear disaster at Fukushima turned up several interesting postings, including those found here and here. Then there's this, which is oh so sad. And this foolishness, about our region's own nuclear disaster area.

But the newsy news at Fuku has to do with a major storm about to blow through. Let's hope the ruins of the triple-meltdown stand up to it.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Public pensions keep melting down

Between some really bad news from Tri-Met about its costs for retiree health care, and a nasty increase in the pension tab for nearly all state and local government in Oregon, the week ended on some frightening low notes. Now the bureaucrats are openly weeping at the meetings. Hey, imagine how the taxpayers feel, paying $500K a year to the Ducks football coach and $250K each to Goldschmidt's brother and Moneybags Frohnmayer. Those guys aren't crying.

An international incident in Boardman

Election year politics or no, it's a heavy scene with the Chinese out toward Hanfordland.

It's wacky in Clackistan

The water district is completely, utterly out of control. Maybe they need some fluoride.

Bridlemile calling

A reader writes:

So my parents recently moved to Clackamas County. They got a new phone number, and registered to vote weeks ago in CCounty. Last night their new phone number rang. It was a push poll for Amanda Fritz. It asked my dad who he was going to vote for, Nolan or Fritz. He said Nolan (he can't vote in Portland). Then it went on to tell all about the good things Fritz has done and will do. Then asked again, who will you vote for. Nolan was his answer. HA. What idiots.

Now, now. They're just spending a bunch of the Nurse's money.

Kate Brown, victim

The Oregon secretary of state is accusing her opponent of slandering her before he's even said anything. And she's dragging photos of John Kerry into it.

What in heaven's name does Kerry have to do with Brown's re-election bid? It reminds us of when Mark Wiener used photos of George Bush to defeat the charter revision ballot measure in Portland. It's pathetic.

Brown has made some pretty glaring blunders on the job. We can understand that she doesn't want to talk about those. But this is a swing and a miss, maybe strike three.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Have a great weekend

On location

Just outside Blog Central a few moments ago: Brain Capital shooting their new music video, "Endless Fun":

Eastside streetcar ridership skyrockets

At 5:10 p.m. yesterday, there were six people on this one, at Grand and Burnside:

The trend is favorable. Looking good! All aboard for Chapter 9!

The magic sand guys are back

There they were on the Portland transit mall again yesterday. Fifth and Washington. Sweeping mysterious sand into the spaces between the ridiculous bricks. Doing their continuing part to make the mall re-do the biggest waste of money we've seen in quite a while:

A reader reports: "I noticed that the supervisor had a Portland-to-Milwaukie light rail sticker on his hard hat, so this company is even better off than just the brick and sand." Go by streetcar, my friend.

"Urban renewal" -- bad then, bad now

This story, and this link, remind us that harm being done by Portland "redevelopment" efforts is nothing new.

Moneybags Dave loses another round

Another chapter in the Cylviagate scandal has come to a close, as Dave Frohnmayer's bar complaint against former Kroger protege Sean Riddell has been dismissed. Frohnmayer (PERS draw $21,027.21 a month) is now 0 for 2 in bar complaints against people who have crossed him and his pals. He still has quite a few irons in the fire, however; taxpayers, watch your wallets.

Un-Mitt-igated fiction?

This year, The Oregonian will not be endorsing a candidate for president. The access and close observation that inform our endorsements for state and local offices and Congress do not apply in a national race; our CNN-level view of the presidential race is similar to everyone else's.

Translation: The right-winger currently running the paper, fresh in from Orange County, wanted to endorse Romney, but the Newhouse suits in New Jersey told him he can't do that because circulation in blue, blue Portland is bad enough as it is.

Speaking of which, a friend of ours who still subscribes to the dead tree version of the Portland daily says the renewal notice he recently received runs only through next summer -- no option to re-up for beyond that. Sounds like another sign of something that we all know is coming.

Watch out where the huskies go

When skiing in Arizona, keep your mouth closed, especially if you fall.

And hope that Portland City Hall doesn't see that story -- it's just "green" enough that they'll have the stuff all over town.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

SoloPower job hype takes 10% cut

It used to be 500 jobs, any day now. Now it's 450 jobs within three years. But only 90 to start. Sure, guys. We believe you. You would never pad the numbers to fleece the taxpayers. That's not how corporations operate.

Thursday already

Players in our charity pro football prognostication game, a reminder that Cleveland at Baltimore (12.5) starts at 5:20 Pacific time this afternoon. If you're that brave, you've got only a short time to make the call.

Also, 'dog pickers, please note that we had a server crash here yesterday, and so if you sent me your pick for this week before 12:15 p.m. yesterday, please send it again. Thanks, and good luck in Week 4!

UPDATE, 9:48 p.m.: Nobody in our game chose Cleveland, and it's a good thing. One has to wonder whether Cleveland will ever Cleve this year. Everybody else, picks are due at Sunday 10 a.m. West Coast time.

Portland fire bureau is a money pit

So says Willy Week, and it's got them dead to rights. And the story doesn't even mention the budget-busting custom fireboats, which are straight out of a Batman movie.

Let's hope the next custodian of that department does better than Admiral Randy and Opie Sten, neither of whom should have been put in charge of serious money of any kind. But can you imagine Nutsy Smith at the helm? We shudder.

Meanwhile, as usual the Willies paint Rip Van Saltzman as the courageous watchdog. Give us a break. That guy is the ultimate personification of Portland City Hall. And that ain't good.

Spreading wrong information about write-in votes

We keep reading on the internet the statement that voters can't write in a candidate in the upcoming Portland mayoral election, because it's a runoff. That statement is inaccurate, as we've discussed on this site before, and as was recently reaffirmed for us by Multnomah County elections officials with whom we've spoken. In Oregon, write-ins are allowed in any election, but they aren't actually tallied by candidate name unless the total number of write-ins is greater than the votes received one of the listed candidates.

What's interesting to us is where the misstatements are coming from. Yesterday it was "Torridjoe," city employee Mark Bunster, on OregonLive; earlier this election season, it was Kari Chisholm on BlueOregon. As we understand it, both are Jefferson Smith followers. Why are they so anxious to tell us we can't write in candidates, when clearly we can?

Want to see what Dean Wormer's doing at UC Nike? Pay up.

The folks running the state university in Eugene are a stingy lot when it comes to disclosing public records. Unlike many other state and local agencies, they don't waive the sizable fees that they're allowed to charge to fulfill requests for information, even by mainstream media. So intent are they at nickel-and-diming requesters that the main newspaper down that way, the Register-Guard, is now asserting that the school's public information practices are unreasonable.

Rather than simply turn over requested documents without charge, campus "public records officer" Lisa Thornton spends a substantial amount of time writing letters demanding payment to lift the veil of secrecy:

To determine whether or not the request merited a fee waiver or reduction, the office conducted a three part public interest test.

First, the office considered the character of the public interest in the particular disclosure. The office acknowledges that information regarding how the University makes decisions regarding a public building, on a public campus, can primarily benefit the public at large. However, in this instance, the benefit to the public in knowing how these decisions are made is not sufficient to justify directing University funds away from its primary mission of education.

Secondly, the office considered the extent to which the fee impeded the public interest. The Register Guard is a large publication, and the office found it unlikely that the additional fee of $172.21 would unduly burden the organization.

Thirdly, the office considered the extent to which a waiver would burden the public body. In this instance, the documents require review by the Office of the General Counsel. Asking General Counsel to dedicate their limited resources to this request, without compensation, places an undue burden on their office.

Upon receipt of a check, made payable to the University of Oregon, in the amount of $172.21, the office will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure. Your check may be sent to the attention of Office of Public Records, 6207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-6207.

To quote the blog UO Matters, they're showing some real chutzpah. Or as one of my old partners from eastern Oregon used to call it, "hoopster." And to make matters worse, the subject of the requested materials is the recent attempt by the administration to manipulate student opinion in the vote regarding the university's pet student union construction pork project. The suits down there deserve all the bad vibrations they get from the media and the blogosphere, and then some.

Here come the road blocks

Portland's talking about banning cars from parts of Old Town. Just during the heavy drinking hours on the weekends, for now. But if the idea takes hold, you can just see the car haters at City Hall making it a 24/7 program.

Having done a lot of downtown carousing in our day, we're not buying the pressing need for this. Bars whose patrons can't stay out of the streets used to be closed, not specially accommodated. But hey, anything to make it harder for cars.

You'll never guess who the Portland State Patronage Center just hired

Well, actually, you will. We can't imagine what real faculty members feel like when the latest Goldschmidt Party burnout shows up. It's like one a month. Up next: Creepy Adams, and who knows? Maybe even Admiral Randy. And when Legend Saltzman flames out at City Hall, they'll probably make him university president and name a building after him.

What the eastside streetcar needs to attract some riders

Isn't it obvious? Exotic dancers. The cars already have the poles. And you could pay your $1 fare in a much more memorable way than currently.

Sorry about that, Chief

Apologies to our readers who couldn't reach us yesterday morning. The server on which this blog resides had a massive failure. Our crack IT guy, Jake, got right on it and got us up and running in an hour or two; as ever, we're grateful because don't know what we'd do without him.

We've rounded up all the posts that we wanted to show you yesterday, here. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Luck has not been a lady to Romney

The guy's had a real streak of bad breaks.

Once again, our readers are right on the money

After Monday night's football fiasco, one of our savvy readers, Usual Kevin, declared, "My bet is even odds that the brass will replace these scabs by sundown EST on Wednesday." It may have been a few hours after sundown, but sure enough, the referee lockout ended this evening.

Bad news for New Jersey

One of its claims to fame may soon be forfeited.

Quotation of the Week

"I don't always eat donuts. But when I do, I prefer apple cider."

Char-Lie did his Scone impression

We remember when Jim Francesconi told Fireman Randy at Morton's that he'd better support the Scone for mayor, and soon, or else. Old Jim-Bob didn't fare well as a candidate using that approach. This new story about Char-Lie Hales, although cheap and greasy, definitely reminds us of that episode. Between that and the arm-twisting Hales did with Nutsy, we'd say Char-Lie's got a whole lot of arrogant in him to go along with all his other, ahem, attributes. Almost Randy-esque, in fact.

Seven blog posts, all at once

Technical difficulties delayed the posting of this morning's blog entries for several hours. And now they've all shown up at once, which means they may get lost in the shuffle unless we call attention to them. Here's a roundup of the new stuff:

Naughty, naughty PacifiCorp

If it matters to Oregonians, it's butchered in the Oregonian

The liberal case against the Portland school bond issue

Portland cop critic throws spotlight on shrink

The distinct smell of racket

Auditor finds more loosey-goosey money under Sam Rands

Wall Street looters score keys to more city halls

Sometimes you eat the big bear, and sometimes the big bear eats you.

Gremlins attack my blog

We've had technical difficulties here on the blog today, and so fresh content is being delayed. Sorry about that -- we should be straightened out sometime later in the day.

Naughty, naughty PacifiCorp

A reader sends along this document, which shows that our friendly neighborhood electric company has allegedly run afoul of some of the federal laws under which it operates. According to the regulators in D.C., the offenses were --

granting transmission access to customers who had not properly reserved or paid for that transmission via the Open Access Same-Time Information System (OASIS) website [and] failing to identify and penalize unreserved use of transmission on its system.

Sounds pretty sinister. Does that mean that we customers are paying more than we're supposed to be? And who got the free ride?

If it matters to Oregonians, it's butchered in the Oregonian

Here's some spectacularly incomprehensible reporting from the O. Apparently one the many bad loans made by the Portland Development Commission recently rose from the dead and got repaid. But the money magically appeared as part of some sort of unspecified "tax credits." Can anybody out there explain what actually happened?

The liberal case against the Portland school bond issue

You don't have to feel guilty if you vote no on the upcoming Portland school tax bond issue. It doesn't mean you don't care about the public schools or the students in them. Quite the contrary. The reasons to just say no are laid out pretty eloquently here:

We do not believe rebuilding/building schools is the critical next step to improving education outcomes.

Instead, research consistently highlights these three critical steps necessary for successful academic results:

1. More teachers who receive the training and support they need, so as to be held accountable for student outcome (PPS has a graduation rate of only 62%),

2. More instructional classroom days. In 2012-2013 students will be in classroom instruction less than ½ of the year, per The Oregonian 8/8/12; national norm is 180 days.

3. More parent involvement (parents who have high expectations and hold children and their schools accountable)....

Rosa Parks, the newest school, built in 2006, ranks in the BOTTOM 5% of Title 1 schools (Portland Tribune 8/2/12). Having a nice, modern building doesn't guarantee an education.

"Throwing money at education is purely symbolic; both CARING and FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY demand specificity and results." From "Only Connect" by Dr. Rudolph Crew, Oregon’s education chief.

Between these arguments and the fact that they're planning to borrow the same amount they tried for unsuccessfully last time, we're voting no. Again. Maybe if they asked us for money for programmatic improvements, our answer would be different.

Portland cop critic throws spotlight on shrink

Former state Rep. Jo Ann Hardesty (formerly Bowman) is one of the people stomping around mad at the Portland police bureau for the insensitivity and outright brutality of many of its officers. She reports that she's written the City Council members protesting its scheduled renewal today of the city's contract with a psychologist who examines potential recruits to the force for fitness as a public safety officer. Hardesty writes:

You will be asked to support the status quo in re-contracting with Dr. David Corey as the psychologist who determines the fitness for duty of Portland Police officers. In light of the scathing Department of Justice report about the inner workings of Portland Police Bureau it seems the city council is poised to repeat past mistakes with the hope of different outcomes.

The AMA Coalition for Justice & Police reform had asked the Mayor and Chief Reese to conduct a broad-based search process to replace this psychologist. We wanted to ensure that the pool was broadened to increase the diversity of the talent pool available for a psychologist to serve the Portland community. We were willing to assist with this outreach effort, and asked the Mayor and Chief many times for updates on this process. We also identified several associations of people-of-color professionals who were willing to apply for this opportunity.

We were shined on for months that this would be an open and inclusive process for this new contract.. As the city was finishing up its internal process, one of our members was called to review the applications. There were two, and the city has now decided to renew their contract with Dr. Corey. As I understand it Dr. Corey has contracts with at least three local law enforcement agencies and has not done an effective job in Portland to weed out officer candidates who have a propensity for violence.

Yet due to the lazy nature of the outreach effort by the City of Portland and once again cutting out the community in assisting with providing a diverse pool of potential candidates, the city is poised to re-contract with Dr. Corey.

We are very disappointed especially since the city was unable to articulate an outreach strategy that would have widen the potential candidate pool.

This is yet again an example of our government telling us one thing and doing something that is the complete opposite in practice. We plan to speak at the city council [today] in opposition to this contract.

Sounds like a double-cross by the Sam Rands, doesn't it?

The distinct smell of racket

There are so many aromas emanating from the Patronage Center at Portland State these days. The latest: mandatory health insurance. "My granddaughter, who is insured through her mother, applied for a waiver and is one of the 800 rejected," a reader writes. "No reason is given." Here are the official rules.

Auditor finds more loosey-goosey money under Sam Rands

Among the latest findings by auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade are city contractors who haven't paid their license fees -- including the one that allegedly paid bribes to Ellis McCoy -- plus the real possibility of city employees getting paid on the side as contractors, which isn't allowed. The city even paid $53,000 to a dead employee, which looks more than a little fishy.

We're writing in Griffin-Valade for mayor. She's an island of steady competence in a sea of kooks, goldbricks, and know-nothings.

Wall Street looters score keys to more city halls

The banksters are beyond outrageous. As if the mountains of state and local government debt weren't bad enough already, now we see them get away with this.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dear Bruce

You have all the money. What is the point of having you on an ad for playoff baseball on FOX TV? You're going to hurt your 63-year-old back hauling all that dough to the bank.

Playing the 'dogs is still the right call

The referees may be incompetent (or worse), but this pro football season is certainly supplying some big-time scoring in our charity underdog game. Substantially all of our players have scored points -- 34 out of 42, or 81%. Impressive for just Week 3.

And so now we move on. Here are the lines for the weekend ahead:

12.5 CLEVELAND at Baltimore (Thursday 5:20 p.m. Pacific)
12 TENNESSEE at Houston
9 NEW ORLEANS at Green Bay
7 CAROLINA at Atlanta
6.5 OAKLAND at Denver
6 MIAMI at Arizona
4 BUFFALO vs. New England
4 NEW YORK JETS vs. San Francisco
3.5 CHICAGO at Dallas (Monday night, pick still due Sunday)
3 WASHINGTON at Tampa Bay
3 MINNESOTA at Detroit
1 SAN DIEGO at Kansas City
1 ST. LOUIS vs. Seattle
1 JACKSONVILLE vs. Cincinnati
1 NEW YORK GIANTS at Philadelphia

See an underdog on that list (in caps) that can win its game outright? So many unanswered questions!

Players, except for the Thursday game (due by kickoff), the deadline for all picks is Sunday 10 a.m. Pacific Time. Send your 'dog to underdog@bojack.org. Good luck!

New on our radar screen (or is it sonar?)

We got this in the snail mail today. Readers, help us translate.

Yay! Costello's is back!

Fantastic news in our neck of the woods.

Just like me, they long to be

An email come-on that we received today from Oregon labor commissioner (and press release machine) Brad Avakian asserts: "The race for Labor Commissioner is the closest statewide race in Oregon." Really? Closer than Kate Brown against Ferris Knute Buehler and the potheads? We'd like to see the paperwork on that.

Another screwup, or worse, from Hales

Char-Lie Hales's campaign contribution limit pledge was a joke to begin with, but even so, he can't seem to live by it. Caught in a falsehood, once again he blames it on staffers. It was an honest mistake.

It's not unlike the murderer who tells you that the victim accidentally ran into his knife. Twelve times. In the back.

Breaking news: An Oregon muni bond deal without Harvey Rogers

We noted yesterday that of the last dozen or so municipal bond transactions in Oregon, not a one had been presided over by bond counsel other than the firm of Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP -- namely, attorney Harvey Rogers. Shortly after we wrote that, this upcoming bond deal, by the Lane County public school district, was announced. And lo and behold, bond counsel is the Portland law firm of Mersereau Shannon LLP. That firm is the successor to Howard Rankin's old shop, which with one other dominated the bond business for Oregon lawyers for many years.

But the new deal is not something completely different. Still serving as financial advisor and taking a nice cut is Seattle-Northwest Securities. As Oregon local government puts itself irretrievably into hock, that outfit makes a profit on just about every loan.

Nobody's riding the eastside streetcar, cont'd

The reader who sent us photos of nearly empty Portland eastside streetcars last evening sends along these photos of completely empty streetcars at 7:42 this morning:

Oh, that bustling morning commute.

Mount Adams is still burning

A reader points out that the wildfire on the south side of Mount Adams, which has been going for more than two weeks now, has burned an area the size of San Francisco. He's surprised there hasn't been more media coverage.

But with blazes near Wenatchee and Sisters also competing for attention, it's not clear what more the media can say than something like this.

Hipster to neighbors: Get used to me

Here's one we missed late last week: As the Remmerses trash another Portland neighborhood, much to the delight of the City Hall planning Mafia, one of the precious "creatives" who are taking over the city lectures existing residents about the way they live:

One younger resident -- who stashed his motorcycle helmet underneath his seat -- asserted that parking is public and homeowners have no right over the streets.

"€œIf you want parking that you own, build a driveway on your property,€" he said.

"€œWell, this obviously hasn'™t been your neighborhood for long,"€ a woman said with a sneer.

"€œWell, I'€™m the kind of guy who is coming to your neighborhood, so get used to it,"€ he retorted.

When the bunkers are up and the Remmerses are counting their money, the ill feelings will go on for years. We can see an increase in the number of complaints about vehicles stored on the street. Did you know that in Portland, you're supposed to move your car every 24 hours? Hipsters may find out about this the hard way as their new neighbors get used to having them around.

Reader poll: Who will be the next mayor of Portland?

There are only 42 days until the counting of the ballots in the Portland mayoral election. Who do you think will win? Now, we're not asking whom you want to win, or for whom you are voting, or would vote. We want your prediction.

Who will win the Portland mayoral election?
pollcode.com free polls 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Few takers for the 9:43 to OMSI

A reader sends along a couple of photos of what the spiffy new Portland eastside streetcar looks like in the evening at Stark and MLK. A real winner so far:

More points for our 'dog pickers

Assuming that it doesn't somehow get reversed -- as it should -- the Seattle Seahawks' tainted victory this evening earns 3.5 points for two players in our charity pro football underdog game. Here are the revised standings at the end of Week 3:

Continue reading "More points for our 'dog pickers" »

Wheels come off pro football

The pathetic scabs that the National Football League has brought in to officiate its games in the absence of its locked-out referees just blew a call that literally decided the contest between the Packers and the Seahawks. It was a dramatic play, in the end zone, and the whole country saw how wrong they were. The announcers are not shy about complaining about it, either. What a fiasco. The regular refs are crooked, but at least they're fairly convincing.

For Romney, it's still do-able

But these last weeks are crucial.

The new iPhone: It's a riot


Data centers aren't all unicorns and rainbows

They're also diesel fumes and corporate hardball tactics.

Fluoridation: It's expensive

A reader points us to this story out of Sacramento from a couple of months ago:

According to a study by the city's Department of Utilities, annual operation and maintenance costs for the city's fluoridation program have nearly tripled, from $350,000 when it started 12 years ago to nearly $1 million in recent years.

What's more, a city study last year found the system's infrastructure in need of immediate upgrades, to the tune of up to $3.7 million. Over the next 20 years, the city estimates it will cost between $43 million and $48 million to operate and maintain the fluoridation system and replace needed equipment.

More fuel for the fire in Portlandia.

Boycott Metro?

It's amazing that in blue, blue Portlandia, the Metro government and the city are getting in bed with a giant hotel corporation that's got this going on. It's sort of like green, green Portlandia doing this. It's called hypocrisy. Portland leaders have plenty of principles, until there's money on the line for the construction boys.

Is Portland planning bureau a church?

Our day job as a tax lawyer recently found us pondering the definition of a "church" for federal tax purposes. Among the factors taken into account in determining whether an organization fits that description are:

(1) a distinct legal existence
(2) a recognized creed and form of worship
(3) a definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
(4) a formal code of doctrine and discipline
(5) a distinct religious history
(6) a membership not associated with any other church or denomination
(7) an organization of ordained ministers
(8) ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed studies
(9) a literature of its own
(10) established places of worship
(11) regular congregations
(12) regular religious services
(13) schools for the religious instruction of the young
(14) schools for the preparation of its ministers

Then it occurred to us: That sounds a lot like the City of Portland "planning and sustainability" bureau, doesn't it? Or maybe the Metro government. Certainly planning the Portland way requires a great deal of faith. Many of its teachings are supernatural.


We try to keep an eye on all the government debt that's being taken on in the Portland metro area. One site that tracks a lot of it is called i-Deal Prospectus. When we went there over the weekend here to take a look, here were the 10 most recent Oregon public bond offerings shown:

Do you know what all of these borrowings have in common? In every single one, the bond counsel was the law firm of Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP. That means firm partner Harvey Rogers, the prime aider and abetter of the recent Clackamas County rogue light rail bond measure. Regardless of what one thinks of Rogers's theory enabling that dark episode, we've got to wonder whether it's healthy to have one law firm riding herd over every government bond issue in the state. People who hold monopolies are often tempted to overcharge.

Mitt the Hoople admits he's unqualified

Romney released his 2011 tax returns on Friday afternoon, hoping they'd get lost in the weekend. Fat chance. Everybody's interested in how he paid tax at a lower rate than the average fast food worker. And now we see that he deliberately deducted less in charitable contributions than he might have, because he didn't want his tax rate to look even lower:

Mr. Romney has said that he has paid at least 13 percent in federal income taxes in each of the last 10 years.

In order for that claim to be true in 2011, Mr. Romney had to voluntarily take a smaller deduction than he was entitled to for his charitable deductions, his advisers said Friday.

Mr. Romney and his wife, Ann, donated about $4 million to charity in 2011, but claimed only $2.25 million as a deduction. The campaign said that Mr. Romney’s tax liability would have been far lower in 2011 had the Romneys claimed the full deduction for their charitable contributions.

"The Romneys thus limited their deduction of charitable contributions to conform to the governor’s statement in August, based upon the January estimate of income, that he paid at least 13 percent in income taxes in each of the last 10 years," said R. Bradford Malt, Mr. Romney’s trustee.

But given the Mittster's past comments on his tax deductions, that move raises an important question:

That decision contradicts a pledge Romney made during an interview in July, when he told ABC News he would not pay more in taxes "than are legally due. And, frankly, if I had paid more than are legally due I don't think I'd be qualified to become president. I'd think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires."

Too funny. Can you say "foot in mouth"?

1, 2, 3, flush!

This seems kinda cool. There must be some reason that we here in Portlandia need to try it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

'Dogs put more players on the board

A last-second field goal deprived New England of an upset this evening, and so the standings at day's end in our charity pro football underdog game are as follows:

Continue reading "'Dogs put more players on the board" »

Portland burns $75 million on economic development strategy

From that, the Sam Rand Twins are claiming 2,750 new jobs. That works out to $27,273 per job.

For $75 million, they could have sent every resident of the city $125. Do you think that would have boosted the economy more than the mayor's loopy "cluster" plans? We do.

Moldy in Manila

Say it ain't so! A goodly portion of Imelda Marcos's shoe collection is rotting from neglect.

Great minds think alike

Many of the players in our pro football underdog game are clustering around two teams today: St. Louis and Arizona, both of whom prevailed against the odds last weekend. Here are the picks as of early this morning:

9 ST. LOUIS at Chicago - Jeremy, Michael K., George, Rudie, Ted, Paul, Gary, JMH, Cinderella Story, Dr. D, John Cr.
9 KANSAS CITY at New Orleans - Bob
7 MINNESOTA vs. San Francisco - pdxmick, Juicen, Broadway Joe
7 TAMPA BAY at Dallas - Sola
4.5 OAKLAND vs. Pittsburgh- Biggest Cubs Loser, Ricardo
4 ARIZONA vs. Philadelphia - Pete Rose, Usual Kevin, Dave A., Will, DB Cooper, Bad Brad, Tung, Annie, Tinknocker
3.5 CINCINNATI at Washington - Carol, Gordon
3.5 SEATTLE vs. Green Bay (Monday) - Pete Rozelle, genop
3 ATLANTA at San Diego - PDXileinOmaha, NoPoGuy, MickeyMac37NYC
3 MIAMI vs. New York Jets - Grizfan, Drewbob
3 NEW ENGLAND at Baltimore - Lucas, Coastal Storm, John Ch., genop's gal
3 CLEVELAND vs. Buffalo - Bayou Baby

For our players to win points, their 'dog must win outright -- not just beat the spread. The less likely the upset, the more points that the winning players earn for their favorite charities.

Our usual note: These are the picks as of earlier this morning, several hours before the deadline. (This post is being triggered by a robot.) If additional picks have come in (or changes have been made) after this post was written but before the deadline, they will be added to this post as soon as we can get to it later today.

Have a great first Sunday of autumn, and enjoy the games, everyone!

UPDATE, 12:46 p.m.: We've entered MickeyMac37NYC's and Drewbob's picks, which were timely received.

UPDATE, 7:53 p.m.: It's been a big day for the underdogs, with 20 of our players racking up points so far, and several more still very much in the running this evening and tomorrow.

Out, damn'd slop

After an unplanned, refreshing nap yesterday afternoon, we decided to resume the unpleasant task of cleaning up our yard debris bin, which became a disgusting container of filth and contagion during our failed experiment with the City of Portland's absurd food slop composting program. We had hosed out a lot of the grossness during the week, but there was still a layer of unspeakable foulness all over the inside of the thing, particularly on the bottom. This was a job for the stout appliance we acquired last summer, the gas-powered pressure washer.

It took a while to get the machine started -- we almost gave up, and even checked out the operating hours of a local lawn mower repair place -- but eventually, the engine came to life. And did it ever do the job! The heavy-duty green plastic of the bin responded well to our blasts of Bull Run's finest. And no fluoride residue. The result was a gleaming container. We wouldn't eat out of it, but we'll bet that if you did, you wouldn't die.

We're still not finished with the job -- there's still a little more mucking around to do out in the yard where the foulness fell -- but we're close to being through with the ghastliest chore we've tackled in quite a while. And now that we've got the pressure washer warmed up and running, there are a few other targets whose cleanup we've had on our to-do list for many months. Slime, your hours are numbered.

On the whole, the dry weather's giving us some nice overtime in which to knock out a few of those items that didn't get crossed off the summer checklist as planned over the last three months. Carpe diem.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

First cocktail of fall

Last night we celebrated the end of summer with a Negroni. This evening, Scotch and soda ushered in the other side of the equinox. Equal parts Glenfiiddich and Whole Foods club.

Reader poll: Who's worse, Kelly or Bellotti?

Watching the Ducks football game, we're being subjected not only to the side-of-the-mouth crudeness of current coach Chip Kelly, but also to the inanity emanating from former coach and all-time PERS thief Mike Bellotti. It's hard to tell which guy is a worse reflection on our state. We leave it to you.

Who's more loathsome?
pollcode.com free polls 

'Dog pickers, here's your 14-hour warning

Don't forget, players in our charity pro football underdog game, your selections for the week are due at 10 a.m. Pacific time at underdog central.

Beavers do it again

First Wisconsin, now UCLA. The sky, it seems, is the limit in Corvallis.

The jinx is on

This has got to be a little unsettling to the Ducks and their fans. Remember '03?

Streetcar stupidity takes it to next level today

Earl Blumenauer's wet dream reaches a climax. Something called Shiels Obletz Johnsen is in charge of spending your money here. No doubt they're spending it wisely.

Pension doo hitting fan in Chi-town

Having skipped its pension contributions for many years, Chicago is supposed to start tripling them in another year under state law. But the school district has drained its reserves. And it cannot easily turn to the local taxpayers because of a cap on property taxes. Borrowing the money would be difficult and expensive as well, because of a credit downgrade this summer. One of the few remaining choices would be to make deep cuts in other services.

The whole thing is here.

57 channels and nothin' on

Portlanders have so many different ways to find out that their bus has been cancelled in favor of pointless trains and streetcars that aren't anywhere near them or their destination.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Last cocktail of summer

It wasn't hot enough for rum and tonic, and we've got a long winter ahead for dark liquids, and so this evening we went with a Negroni: 1 part Broker's gin, ½ part Martini red vermouth, dash of Campari. So long, summer -- it was a great one.

There's no mystery

Mainstream restaurants are folding left and right in downtown Portland. And cheapo-cheapo food carts are multiplying. Coincidence? Of course not. It's a race to the bottom.

Have a great weekend

Slow ride to a bad place

For cities, he says, social and cultural bankruptcy come long before financial bankruptcy. At first, street cleaning is cut back from once a week to once a month, library hours are cut and some libraries are closed. Street repairs, building maintenance and vehicle maintenance are reduced. Arts and cultural programs are eliminated, park maintenance is cut back and some parks are closed, and community centers are open for fewer hours or shut down. Then come the cuts to public safety as police officers and firefighters are let go. By the time cities declare bankruptcy, services already have declined steeply and the time has come to make really hard choices--pay police or pay creditors?

The whole thing is here.

Nonstop charades

You know how you can tell when a decision has been made by the City of Portland? When they hand you a "proposed draft" of a "plan." More often than not, that means "done deal." And it certainly is true in this case, the Port of Portland bald eagle barbecue.

We noted with some amusement the latest appointment to the Port commission -- hailed by the governor for, among other things, "her demonstrated commitment to environmental stewardship." We'll bet she won't make a peep about the destruction of wildlife habitat for another useless terminal in a second-rate location.

Cry for help grows fainter

The O's still at it -- still trying to get us to subscribe:

That ad must be their attempt at irony. Because if there's anybody who isn't going to pay money to read last night's news on dead trees, it's a guy of that age with earbuds in his ears.

Their biggest fan

SoloPower plant finally opening: 90 jobs, not 170, to start

That SoloPower manufacturing plant up on Marine Drive, which was supposed to start off with 170 jobs and work its way up to 500, is actually opening, more than a year after the initial hoopla, with only "about 90." Better than nothing, but we knew the job claims were inflated when they set up a parking lot for only 112 cars.

Meanwhile, the outlook for that industry still isn't bright. One almost has to wonder which "green" savior of Portland -- Vestas or SoloPower -- will be shutting down first. Let's hope they both somehow squeak by on the massive taxpayer handouts they've gotten so far.

You say yes, I say no

The first tidbit of election porn showed up on our front porch last evening, and you'll never guess -- it's "for the children":

We had to go look up what these ballot measures are really about. Measure 84 would repeal the Oregon estate tax. Measure 85 would put an end to corporate income tax "kicker" refunds. Both of these are being tied to the public schools, but hey, it's all state tax money, which the Legislature giveth and the Legislature taketh away.

We'll probably vote as this flyer suggests. The estate tax is perfectly appropriate (and in its current form, easily avoided except by the really, really wealthy), and all of the "kickers" are irresponsible.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Manhunt is on in Lake Oswego

Apparently the murder suspect is Dan Fogelberg.

A wiener 'dog gets eaten

None of the players in our charity pro football underdog game chose Carolina tonight. And it's a good thing. Predicted to lose to the Giants by 1, they lost by 29. Players' entries for the week are due by 10 a.m. Sunday.

Move over, Honey Boo Boo

You just know this reality show will be on your TV soon.

Sneaking around at UC Nike

The administration in Duckland sure likes to make backroom deals and hide them from the people who actually, you know, teach and go to school there. Here's a story that would be funny if it weren't so sad. Dean Wormer is at it again.

33rd and Broadway gridlock will feature New Seasons

The trendy Portland-area grocery store chain sure knows how to pick locations. It's supposedly going to jump in at Fremont and Williams, where legions of bikes and cars already have a fairly scary co-existence. And now it's revealed that they're going to be the anchor tenant if the apartment bunker boys get their way and slap up human warehousing at the already difficult intersection of 33rd and Broadway. As a giant Fred Meyer (currently under expansion) is just across the street, and QFC is just a short block away, it's hard to imagine what yet another grocery store is going to add to the neighborhood. One thing's for sure -- it will be a must-avoid corner if you're trying to get anywhere in a car.

Cry me a river

The school superintendent out in Beaverton is crying the blues about how exhausted his teachers and staff already are because of the budget cuts out there. Gee, the school board wasn't so worried about the budget when they supported that city's "urban renewal" pork program, which robs money from schools and other public services throughout the region to hand over to real estate sharpies for cr-apartments. Pardon us if we have no sympathy for the school super or his minions.

Portland City Hall: North Plains compost stink not our problem

If you got a gripe, you're supposed to call the DEQ. When a reader asked the City of Portland about the ungodly stench that its food slop composting program is causing in North Plains -- an area that the city's endless "smart growth" planning is supposed to be preserving, not making uninhabitable -- he received this reply:

From: BPS - Waste Information

To: ******

Hello ******,

Thank you for contacting Waste Info.

The City of Portland oversees the collection of compostable materials from curbside. Composting facility operations are regulated by Metro and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

While we don’t regulate this facility, our staff has been out to visit several times in the past year. The facility operators have made significant site improvements aimed at optimizing composting conditions and minimizing odors. When the facility is notified of complaints received from the public they will investigate the cause of the odors and make necessary adjustments to operations.

If you you’d like to make an odor complaint about Nature’s Needs in North Plains, you can notify DEQ using this online form: http://www.deq.state.or.us/complaints/dcomplaint.aspx Be sure to include the date and time that you noticed odors.

If you have questions about curbside collection contact us at 503-823-7202 or at wasteinfo@portlandoregon.gov.


Swallow all beverages before clicking on this

Check out this website from Chris "Thumper" Humphreys, the unfit Portland cop who tackled, kicked, stomped, hogtied, and ultimately killed an innocent, scrawny, mentally ill Portlander -- and took a break for coffee in the middle of it. Warning: The site is truly, disgustingly pornographic.

Latest from Portland: Don't flush Kleenex or run garbage disposal

Our City of Portland water and sewer bill got here yesterday, and as usual, we nearly fainted when we looked at the number. It's up more than 15% over the last two years. And we used less water this quarter than in the corresponding quarter in previous years.

That's bad enough. But no communication from the city is complete any more without lots of extraneous material telling you how to live. And sure enough, inserted in with the bill was important life guidance from both the water and sewer bureaus, both of which are currently being sued for misspending ratepayer dollars.

Here's part of what the sewer bureau told us:

We can see why people shouldn't try to flush disposable diapers and turkey carcasses. But honestly -- don't flush facial tissue? Minimize garbage disposal use? For what we're paying these people -- more and more dough every time we turn around -- they'll just have to deal with our used tissues and ground-up lemon rinds.

What next? "Only wipe your butt three times"? You just know that one is coming from these birds pretty soon.

Transportation bureaucrats telling you not to drive. Water bureaucrats telling you to brown out your yard. Sewer bureaucrats telling you not to flush Kleenex. That's Portland. They don't realize that their whole little world depends on the goodwill of the average Portlander. They're coming dangerously close to losing that person.

Your money, straight down a rat hole

Why, why, in heaven's name why are Portland taxpayers paying good money to have some clown sitting around posting this? And this? It's such a bad dream. Will grownups ever retake city government?

Is Fukushima killing the Alaskan seals?

And if it is, how long will it be before any government authority in either Japan or the United States admits the truth?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Feds wimp out on Portland police brutality

Yes, the federal Justice Department knows that Portland police are illegally beating, Tasing, and even killing mentally ill people, but what are the feds going to do about it? Require independent oversight of the police bureau? No. Simply, wimply no.

Hey hey, my my

The New York Times hangs out up above Woodside with Neil Young.

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Admiral Randy's latest land play is sidelined

Even Jelly Fish isn't going along with the latest shenanigans. You can bet the Admiral will be knocking some heads together and twisting some arms over the next week or so. When the fire bureau gets done buying custom boats and building fancy yacht clubs, maybe it'll fly the Cayman Islands flag.

Charlie Hales, the ultimate car hater

Willy Week lays the cr-apartment plague wrecking the east side of Portland on the doorstep of Char-Lie -- and of course, the mayoral candidate doesn't miss the opportunity to fib about his role in creating the mess. They even get a quote in from Opie Sten, which is pretty funny. Portland has been run by buffoons for a dozen years or more; the results are becoming obvious.

Time to rename the soccer stadium?

It appears that Jeld-Wen may be shipping its head honchos out of Oregon soon.

Mitt Romney: America's Eileen Brady

His candidacy is foundering.

More layoffs in wind energy

This time from Siemens, rival to Fancy-Portlandia-Digs Vestas.

Insanity stopped

There's a new sense of calm and well being at blog central this morning. The giant, painful buttock boil known as the Portland household garbage ordeal has been lanced. Yesterday, our new, jumbo landfill garbage can arrived, and it is a beauty. Well, almost everybody likes it:

The Terrible Trial is not quite over -- we still have to clean out the green bin that's been holding food slop as well as yard debris the last 11 months. We took a first cut at it yesterday. Good Lord almighty, was it awful. We had to stop and gag twice. We got the nastiest stuff out, but it still smells like a malfunctioning sewage treatment plant, and it's going to take a pressure washer to get it to where it's not totally foul. What lunacy.

But fortunately, for 10 bucks a month or so, the end is in sight. City Hall can take this slop bucket and ram it; we're going back to worm composting of vegetable matter, and sending the other food waste to the landfill. We'll still recycle tons of stuff in the blue bin, but between that and the worms, we're "green" enough. And we're hoping that the new, huge garbage can doesn't completely fill up every week -- we'd be willing to rent space in it to the neighbors, thus partially offsetting the increase in our pickup fees.

We're so inspired by our newfound feeling of freedom from unspeakable filth and contagion that we're moved to song:

Continue reading "Insanity stopped" »

Ryan health care plan -- "Groupon for Grandmas"

We're slow on the uptake; yesterday was the first we heard that one, although apparently, it's been around for weeks. Ryan's buddy, Gatsby Wyden, was his BFF on health care until recently; maybe he's a Groupon man, too.

Was L.O. killer in camping trio on Boones Ferry Road?

The fatal stabbing of a retired Lake Oswego engineer Monday morning continues to baffle. Media reports are sketchy and contradictory, and the county sheriff isn't doing much to straighten things out. In the absence of reliable information, here's a post that's been circulating around on Facebook:

On Monday night at approximately 9:50 - 10:00 pm, when I was driving home (heading southbound down Boones Ferry Road) I noticed three adults with camping backpacks (bed roll, large backpack) walking in the opposing direction towards LO High School. (this would be approximately 1/2 - 3/4 of a mile from where the murder occurred). One of these persons in this group was a slender and very tall male. They caught my eye because it was so out of place for LO as rarely do we see people who look like transients walking around. Within ten seconds of that I saw an LO police car heading up towards the three people. I was looking in my rear view mirror to see if the police were going to pull over and see who they were and where they were headed. I make this point to emphasize how out of place these people looked.

When I heard about what happened Monday morning, I called the LO non-emergency number and relayed the above information to them. When I saw the sketch of the suspect, I think there may be a very real possibility of association between the people I saw last Monday night and this person shown in the suspect sketch.

For what it's worth. It's all we've got. "Hide your kids, hide your wife, hide your kids, hide your wife..."

Mitt starting to look like a loser

Peggy Noonan's latest screed rings true.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Clackistani rebels win big at polls

The measure requiring a public vote on light rail projects in Clackamas County is passing 60-40. Of course, the rogue county commissioners subverted the will of the voters by funding the Mystery Train to Milwaukie via a backroom loan from the scoundrels at Bank of America last week. And so this is just further evidence that the Portland Mafia has its puppets in county government who don't represent their electorate.

Let's hope that the November elections for the county commission, and for the Lake Oswego mayor and city council positions, produce a similar outcome. Send the Goldschmidt people and their dupes packing.

Fired before she was hired

Portland public schools won't be bringing this bureaucrat on board after all. She flunked the background check that the school district never actually conducted. Stand by for the lawsuit. Hey, maybe this guy is available.

The rich get richer, illustrated

Mitt and the boys are doing just fine. You little people who don't want to do anything with your lives, not so much. We think this chart in particular tells a story. This table, too:

Armed robbers roaming around Grant Park, Buckman, Concordia

Portland's reputation as a nice place to live takes a new hit just about every day any more. Here's the latest from the cops:

At 10:24 p.m. Sunday night, officers assigned to North Precinct responded to the report of an armed robbery of a pedestrian at Northeast 36th Avenue and Grant Place in the Grant Park neighborhood.

Officers arrived and spoke to the victim who told police that he was riding his skateboard to work at the 33rd Avenue QFC grocery store when he was approached by three African American male teens, one of who was armed with a handgun.

The victim told police that he started to run away but one of the suspects grabbed his backpack and the three suspects fled the area.

Officers checked the neighborhood and located some of the victim's property at Northeast 37th Avenue and Knott Street.

At 11:30 p.m., officers assigned to Central Precinct responded to the report of an armed robbery of a pedestrian at Southeast 20th Avenue and Oak Street in the East Buckman neighborhood.

Officers arrived and spoke to the victim who told police that she was walking home when she was confronted by an African American male who demanded she give him her property. The victim told police that two other African American males appeared and surrounded her and that one of them pulled out what she believed to be a handgun. The victim gave the suspects her phone and purse and the suspects fled the area.

The victim described one of the suspects with chin-length braids or dreads in his hair.

At 12:17 a.m., officers assigned to North Precinct responded to the report of another pedestrian robbery at Northeast 33rd Avenue and Holman Street, near Concordia University. Officers arrived and spoke with the male and female victims who told police that they were walking in the neighborhood when they were approached by three African American males in their late teens or early 20s and that one of them was armed with a handgun.

The suspects robbed the male victim of his iPhone and the female victim of her purse. The suspects then fled the area.

Robbery detectives are looking into each case for possible connections. At this point, there is no definitive information to link the cases.

These guys were working Fremont Street in Beaumont a while back. Let's hope they get what they deserve, really soon.

Third 'dog's a charm

Here are the lines for this weekend in our charity pro football underdog game. Houston-Denver is a pick-'em, which by rule means it's off the board:

9 ST. LOUIS at Chicago
9 KANSAS CITY at New Orleans
7 MINNESOTA vs. San Francisco
7 TAMPA BAY at Dallas
4.5 OAKLAND vs. Pittsburgh
4 ARIZONA vs. Philadelphia
3.5 CINCINNATI at Washington
3.5 SEATTLE vs. Green Bay (Monday, pick still due Sunday)
3 TENNESSEE vs. Detroit
3 ATLANTA at San Diego
3 MIAMI vs. New York Jets
3 NEW ENGLAND at Baltimore
3 CLEVELAND vs. Buffalo
2.5 JACKSONVILLE at Indianapolis
1 CAROLINA vs. New York Giants (Thursday 5:20 PM Pacific)

Players must have their entries to underdog central by 10 a.m. Pacific time on Sunday (unless picking Carolina, in which case the deadline is kickoff time Thursday). Please be sure you receive your confirmation email shortly after you submit your pick.

The horses of Denver did not prevail last night, and so our standings remain where they were Sunday night. Only one player scored this past weekend, for 3 points.

On a happier note, it's time to talk prizes. We have 42 entries in the game, for a charity pot of $840. It will be split as follows:

First prize: $475 to player's favorite charity
Second prize: $150 to player's favorite charity
Third prize: $100 to player's favorite charity
Fourth prize: $70 to player's favorite charity
Fifth prize: $45 to player's favorite charity

All charities designated must be entities recognized as tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations.

We also have a generous sponsor who will add $500 to the pot, but on the condition that her match go only to charities whose primary function is to provide "food, school, or medicine." If all five top finishers designate charities that fit within that description, the combined prizes would be as follows:

First prize: $760 to charity
Second prize: $240 to charity
Third prize: $160 to charity
Fourth prize: $110 to charity
Fifth prize: $70 to charity

If only some of the winners' charities meet the "food, school, or medicine" description, the $500 will be reshuffled among the players whose charities do fit that bill. In all, $1,340 will go to charities as a result of the game this year. And that ain't hay. So get pickin', players!

It's a brand new day

We're breathless with excitement here at blog central. Today's the day we get a new garbage cart -- 60 gallons, twice the size of the one we've been using for the last eight years. If the Sam Rands are going to let them pick up our landfill garbage only every two weeks, we're going to use a can that's twice as big. We're also going to use heavy plastic garbage bags to avoid the unspeakable stench and maggots that we've been experiencing this summer under the Portland garbage new world order.

We're going back to composting our own vegetable scraps, and throwing the meat, grains, and paper towels in the landfill, the way we used to before last October. And after washing out the yard debris cart, we'll never put food slop in it again. We'll pay quite a bit more, and consume a little more, than we did under the old, eminently rational garbage pickup system. But life's too short to deal with foolishness. We work too hard to play games with the delusional people who hold the reins at City Hall.

Blazers keep Oden theme alive

Now they're picking up proven draft busts. The Blazers have gotten to be sort of like what would happen if Fred Armisen did a sports show.

Horrible reporting by Portland media in L.O. stabbing

Let's see... The guy stabbed him outside his house while he was walking his dog... no, wait, the guy barged into the house and stabbed him... it was a robbery... no, wait, it wasn't a robbery, it was a random stranger-on-stranger stabbing.

Oh, and the guy was wearing a "headwrap." Exactly what in God's creation is a "headwrap"? Is that like a turban, or like a do-rag, or something else? And he's carrying "edge weapons." Pardon us as we pause to get our Funk & Wagnalls on the way to barricading our doors.

Not that the police were making matters any clearer. By mid-afternoon they were telling the public to avoid Tryon Creek State Park. Given that the attack happened at 6:30 in the morning, that may not have been the most timely warning ever issued.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Romney snatching defeat from jaws of victory

The yacht with the Cayman Islands flag at the convention was nothing compared to this bomb, which he dropped in May. It just goes to show you that rich don't mean smart. (More here.)

Super Carole bungles another one

The hits just keep on coming out of the Portland public schools. God forbid they should Google someone before putting her on the pad for six figures. But they know what they're doing with your child. Sure they do.

Portland City Hall car haters eye Foster Road

The Portland planners have a plan for Foster Road in the southeast part of town -- and surprise! It involves removing a lane of auto traffic in each direction, in favor of bike lanes, bioswales, and probably restaurant tables:

We envision lane reductions for regular car traffic as a way to make Foster Road a better and safer street for all modes of transportation.

Lane reductions will free up space for bike lanes, on-street parking, bus-stop pull-outs, turn lanes, curb extensions for safer crosswalks, and other safety and livability enhancements. Lane reductions will also reduce excessive speeding, improve yielding, and increase safety for people crossing the street.

City Hall has even started up a "stakeholder advisory committee" to oversee "improving" Foster, which carries something like 24,000 cars a day at the moment. And guess who's on it. Bicycle activists! Pedestrian activists! Here's the first agenda.

They will not rest until the theme park extends to the furthest reaches of the region. No one should use streets like Foster to commute to an actual job. Which is why there are so few real jobs in this town any more.

Where the wild things are

Why, at 28th and Burnside, of course:

Seahawks looking Ducky these days

We had the tube on and were checking in on the football doings in Seattle yesterday -- Portlanders are stuck watching the Seahawks no matter which other, more interesting games are being played at the same time -- when we noticed the team's new uniforms:

The new splashes of yellow green are highly reminiscent of the gear sported by the kids at UC Nike. Between the gaudy color and the infernal swoosh symbol everywhere, it's straight outta Eugene. Just remember the motto, Seattle: "We smoked it all."

Portland Seed Fund: corruption waiting to happen?

It's bad enough that the crazy Portland Seed Fund -- which launders tax dollars, and then sends them to startup companies picked by God knows whom, based on God knows what criteria -- is stretching the state constitution to its breaking point, and perhaps beyond. But it gets worse. The fund is also operating in secret:

It's more difficult, however, to assess how the fund is using public money. Because of its unusual structure -- a mix of private investment and public money granted outright to the fund -- the fund isn't subject to state public records laws.

That means information the fund won't disclose, including its management fee structure and the number of applicants it receives, is unknown....

Unlike the Oregon Angel Fund -- which, like the seed fund, receives state lottery money through the Oregon Growth Account -- the Portland Seed Fund won't disclose its fee structure.

And unlike other Portland investment funds and incubators, including OAF and Wieden+Kennedy's Portland Incubator Experiment, the seed fund will no longer say how many startups have applied to participate.

The seed fund's managers say application information wouldn't be useful in judging their fund's appeal to startups, because they recruit many startups directly rather than hold open casting calls.

Unbelievable. Does anybody care about the lawlessness in this town?

Clackistani rebels should fight on

Will the county commissioners in Clackistan get away with the outrageous stunt they have pulled -- running out and getting a bank loan to hand over $20 million to Tri-Met for the Mystery Train to Milwaukie, on the eve of the election that would prohibit them from doing so? Despite a valiant effort to stop them, lawyers for the rebels in that part of the region failed to convince the courts to put a halt to the backroom loan deal, which reportedly closed on Friday. Where will the opponents of light rail turn next?

Well, the obvious place is at the ballot box in November, when two of the scoundrel commissioners are facing strong challenges in their bids for re-election. County chair Charlotte Lehan and commissioner Jamie Damon now face positively livid opposition. Their buddies in the Portland construction, planning, and union mafias will be sending them gobs of money. We've already been invited to some shindig in Portland at which Lehan will be held up as a big "conservationist," and the sock puppets in the blogosphere are loudly denouncing the opposition as Tea Party zealots who want Clackistan to be a "third world country."

But it's not clear that Portland money or Portland rhetoric is going to help Lehan and Damon. They've riled people up royally, and their political careers are marked for extinction.

The other place for the rebels to battle is in the courts, and we fervently hope that they will keep up the fight on that front. To our untrained eye, the loan deal that went down last week was not properly authorized under state law. Until the loan documents are made public, which will take a public records request and no doubt a delay, it's not clear exactly what the county bureaucrats signed in exchange for the $20 million from the Bank of America. But we think there is a good chance that if it is examined by a court, the loan would eventually be declared invalid. What the remedy would be at that point is anyone's guess, but (a) there are grounds in state law for holding public officials personally liable for malfeasance, and (b) there is precedent, from the WPPSS case in Washington State, for leaving the bank in the lurch if the government IOU was not properly issued.

The Clackistani bond affair is just another illustration of our contention that Portland needs a good government league -- a standing organization that would watch out for overstepping by public officials, and bring court action to combat it. If a good lawyer could be put on the case for an extended period of time, incidents like this one -- and the Portland water and sewer bureaus' outrageous mission creep, and the many other instances of funneling public money to cronies -- could be reduced in number. In the meantime, the scams proceed apace.

We leave this topic, at least for a while, with a timeline submitted by one of the rebels. It's so typical of the way Portland and Oregon are run -- which is to say, lawlessly:

Continue reading "Clackistani rebels should fight on" »

Steve Duin names Portland cops in mistreatment of mentally ill

It's sad that it is newsworthy, but the O's lone ranger columnist had the nerve to identify, and blame, the Portland police involved in some of the incidents of violence against the mentally ill that have drawn federal attention. That must horrify his editors, who often seem to want to help the cops obfuscate their brutality.

The recent federal intervention into the lack of accountability for the actions of the city's police has some potential to bring about badly needed change, but only if it is just a first step by the feds. In the end, nothing is going to change unless police are criminally charged. The U.S. attorney can do that, or she can watch as her report is thrown on the pile along with 100 similar documents generated over the last few decades, there to collect dust.

Hagg Lake story seems a little pat

We've been reading with interest this story of a rescue of eight drowning children by bystanders at Hagg Lake over the weekend. There's something about the story that doesn't quite hang together for us. Eight children, ages 3 to 13, all drowning at once? None of them could even dog-paddle back to shore, in a lake? Their parents couldn't swim, either? They were in way over the heads, yet some were stuck in the mud at the bottom of the lake at the same time?

It's wonderful that the rescuers did what they did, whatever it was. But why are the parents walking away from this without so much as even being identified? And if the lake is that dangerous, why are children allowed to swim in it to begin with?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gangsta shoot-em-up at 82nd and Fremont

Gunfire at the Plaid Pantry at a little after 4 in the afternoon. Apparently no one was hit, but the store was.

Portland is solving its gang problems about as well as it's addressing its mental illness and homelessness problems. It's funny how the armed gangsters never seem to get roughed up by the PoPo, whereas unarmed insane people take quite a banging.

UPDATE, 9:39 p.m.: Followed by more gunfire, at 24th and Emerson at about 5:30. We went outside with our children in northeast Portland this evening -- was that irresponsible of us?

Big 'dog gets away

The Arizona Cardinals, 13½-point underdogs to the New England Patriots, won their game today.

None of the players in our charity game picked them to win.

UPDATE, 4:58 p.m.: St. Louis (3) wins, but once again, none of our players are on it. Seattle (3) also won; "Pete Rose's" attempted entry of the Seabirds is currently under review.

UPDATE, 10:08 p.m.: The Sunday night 'dog goes down in flames, leaving six players chasing 3 points tomorrow night with Denver in Atlanta.

UPDATE, 9/17, 9:07 a.m.: "Pete Rose" has produced sufficient credible evidence to convince us that he really did pick Seattle, and really did try to email us in a timely way. Players, please note: After you submit your weekly pick to the underdog mailbox, please check for a confirmatory email message from the game; if it doesn't get there, let us know at the blog email address, here.

Been there, done that

There are echoes of the Portland Christmas tree lighting bomb plot in this story out of Chicago.

Corporate prosecutors, debtors' prisons...

... ain't that America 2012.

Best in show, Week 2

Here's what we've got for this week's picks in our charity pro football underdog game. Lots of players are throwing in with the Jets, and the Broncos are also popular:

9 TAMPA BAY at New York Giants - Ted
9 CLEVELAND at Cincinnati - Paul, Bob, Lucas, Gary, Dr.D
9 JACKSONVILLE vs. Houston - pdxmick, Pete Rozelle, John Ch.
6.5 NEW YORK JETS at Pittsburgh - Rudie, NoPoGuy, Gordon, John Cr., Bayou Baby, MickeyMac37NYC, Annie, Michael K., Tinknocker, Coastal Storm, Usual Kevin, Bad Brad
6.5 DETROIT at San Francisco - Carol, Broadway Joe
[6 CHICAGO at Green Bay (Thursday) - George, Jeremy, PDXileinOmaha, Will, genop, Eric W. -- did not prevail]
5.5 TENNESSEE at San Diego - Ricardo, Grizfan
3.5 KANSAS CITY at Buffalo - Tung, Biggest Cubs Loser, Cinderella Story, DB Cooper
3 DENVER at Atlanta (Monday) - Dave A., Drewbob, JMH, Sola, Juicen, genop's gal

If any of the underdogs (in caps) win their games outright, the players who picked them receive the corresponding number of points in the season-long standings.

Our usual note: These are the picks as of earlier this morning, several hours before the deadline. (This post is being triggered by a robot.) If additional picks have come in (or changes have been made) after this post was written but before the deadline, they will be added to this post as soon as we can get to it later today.

Have a great last Sunday of summer, and enjoy the games, everybody!

It is the Summer's great last heat,
It is the Fall's first chill: they meet.
Dust in the grass, dust in the air,
Dust in the grave and everywhere!
Ah, late rose, eaten to the heart:
Ah, bird, whose southward yearnings start:
The one may fall, the other fly.
Why may not I? Why may not I?

Oh, Life! that gave me for my dower
The hushing song, the worm-gnawed flower,
Let drop the rose from your shrunk breast
And blow the bird to some warm nest;
Flush out your dying colours fast:
The last dead leaf -- will be the last.
No? Must I wear your piteous smile
A little while, a little while?

Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

UPDATE, 4:03 p.m.: "Pete Rose" says he emailed us yesterday afternoon, picking Seattle (3). The play, as they say, is under review, as we try to figure out why the email didn't get here. Seattle is coasting to a victory at this hour.

Match report: Timbers 1, Sounders 1

Through the good graces of a friend in a high place, we found the entire family at the Timbers game yesterday. We decided to drive the car to a place on the east side where we could pick up a bus direct to the stadium, and that turned out to be a good move; although it set us back $16.60 for the day, the bus dropped us off and picked us a half-block from the field, and a block from our car on the other end.

It was a gorgeous day, with bright sunshine and temperatures in the 70's. Portland was hosting its rivals from the north, the Seattle Sounders, and national cable network TV was there to beam the video to the couple hundred thousand viewers who wanted to watch it at home. Every seat in the house was taken.

The action on the pitch was spirited, although marred by what seemed like a lot of dirty play. The first half saw no scoring by either side. That made three straight halves of Timbers action that we'd attended with not a goal to be seen.

In the second half, things got more interesting. The Timbers goalie was knocked out cold in a collision with a Seattle player:

Surprisingly, he got back up and stayed in the game for about a minute, but then he withdrew, apparently because he had injured his hand or wrist in the collision. Seconds later, his replacement gave up a goal on the very first shot he encountered, and Seattle was ahead.

Later in the half, though, the Timbers made a couple of good rushes at the goal, and one of their shots actually went in, which seemed miraculous:

Later on, one of the Portland players went out of the game with an injury, and his team had no more substitutions left, and so they had to play, as the soccer player in our household explained to us, a man down. At that point, it seemed as though Portland was playing not to lose rather than to win, and on that note, the match ended in a tie.

We had fine seats, which allowed great views of the action, the only problem being that we were surrounded by folks who wished they were in the Timbers Army. They stood up the entire afternoon, which meant that we had to, too, if we wanted to see anything. Here's the view sitting down:

It was not that way throughout the stadium, but it definitely was in our location. Given that the beautiful game is sometimes as exciting as watching paint dry, it's ironic that in this sport and this sport alone, fans are allowed to stand up throughout the contest when the people behind them would like to sit down for a spell and savor their $8 beer.

Anyway, it was a wonderful afternoon, and our crew enjoyed it immensely. During the slow moments, we got a chance to reflect a little bit on the nature of sports, and the character of Portland, and of our country. We enjoy watching soccer, which we vaguely understand, but we'll never get what the Timbers Army scene is all about. Thousands of beer-soaked, lily white people, mostly 20-somethings, waving large flags and singing inane song parodies at the top of their lungs, nonstop, for the entire afternoon. Lots of F-words in the lyrics, chanted with great gusto. It's just not our cup of tea, and never will be. To us, it's dark.

But then we thought, everything's pretty much that way for us in Portland any more. These same people will be voting for Jefferson Smith, who is one of them, and for Earl Blumenauer, an older version of themselves who never grew up. They're determined to be different, to be weird, to fit in by not fitting in. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing. They're following voices that they haven't listened to with a critical ear. Or maybe they chant ever louder to try to drown out the hard times they're in, and the harder times that are likely coming. Sometimes there's a hint of desperation behind all the green smoke.

Oh well, the beer was cold, the sun was warm, the cotton candy was sweet, and the Timbers managed a draw. For us, it was a great family day.

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

They picked a fine time

It's disconcerting to us that Portland has implemented its outrageous, disgusting food composting frolic while plague appears to be making a comeback in the state. No, not figuratively a plague -- we're talking about the actual, medical plague.

More garbage lying around for weeks on end means more rats, and more rats mean more risk of serious disease. It's crazy. After battling maggots outside our home, we're done with the whole food slop foolishness as of this coming week.

They aren't paper trained

Players in our charity pro football underdog game, don't forget to make your selection for the weekend if you have not already done so. All picks for the week are due by 10 a.m. West Coast time tomorrow. The slate of games is here. Remember the object of the game: to choose an underdog (in caps) who you think can win its game outright, without the benefit of the point spread. If your 'dog wins, you get the points that the 'dog was favored to lose by. Do you go long with the Cardinals? Take a little flyer in Miami? With 19 weeks to go, it's entirely up to you.

Six players took a shot with the Thursday night game, but the Cheeseheads whacked the Bearss, and therefore those players come up empty for the week.

We've got 42 players on board, and so our winners' favorite charities will pick up a total of at least $840. And we have a generous sponsor on the line who may match some of the prizes -- more on that next week. Good luck with the pickin', peeps.

Pay phones? Portland still has pay phones?

Apparently so, according to these agenda items for an upcoming City Council meeting. But who uses them, besides maybe drug dealers? They bring in $19,000 a year in fees to the city, but how much of a headache do they create? Is it time to bury those dinosaurs?

While Oregon rehashes the sales tax debate...

... don't think that it won't apply to your internet purchases.

He and the night and the music

Our favorite radio host, Jonathan Schwartz, returns to a once familiar place this evening, as his Saturday music and talk show shifts from a noon start to an 8 p.m. start, New York time. Schwartz, whose musical palate is full of the rich American songbook of the '40s and '50s (especially as delivered by Frank Sinatra), also plays rock recordings from the '60s and the '70s, along with Bob and Ray, famous baseball moments, and anything else that pops into his head as he drives downtown. Interspersed with the songs are his own marvelous stories about the music, its composers, and its performers -- many of them from his personal experience as the son of the Broadway composer Arthur Schwartz.

Night radio is not new to Jonathan Schwartz, who has been on the air for more than 50 years. He first came to our attention in the late '60s, when he was a disc jockey on the cutting-edge "free form" New York rock station WNEW-FM. At that time his program ran from 6 to 10 p.m., New York time, and he began each show with the salutation "Welcome to the evening." He will now be back in the second half of his old slot, and run all the way to midnight.

For those of us on the West Coast who stream Schwartz's show on wnyc.org or iTunes, the new time will place it in the cocktail and dinner hours, which should work out fine. We can sleep in on Saturday and not miss anything. And we're confident that it will be the same great material to which we have become accustomed since we learned of its internet stream many years ago. We enjoy something new with each weekly show of his that we catch.

But we fret a little about the time switch because Schwartz, who is 74 years old, also does the show on Sunday afternoon, New York time. (That one is on New York and satellite radio only, not streamed for free.) He'll be out of the studio at midnight and back in it at noon. That's a grueling schedule for anybody.

In any event, welcome back to the evening, Mr. Schwartz. Best wishes to you in your new hours.

UPDATE, 6:40 p.m.: It appears that the show is being recorded in the afternoon for evening playback. Easier on Schwartz, but losing the live feel, which for his show was a real asset. He's alluded to being able to listen to the live stream during the recording. We'd definitely be interested in that.

Meteorological fact

Outside blog headquarters, yesterday afternoon around 5:30, it rained. Just a few drops, for about two minutes, amidst brilliant sunshine. It was the first rain we've seen in more than a month and a half. It really happened.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Have a great weekend

Rogue Clacky commissioners get their bank loan

A Friday afternoon bad news dropping: Word from Clackistan is that the county borrowed the $20 million to hand over to Tri-Met for the mystery train to Milwaukie. Apparently Bank of America did the deal, despite its standing on shaky legal ground. It's a development about which all Oregonians should be concerned -- alarmed, even. We'll deal with it in greater detail on Monday. Suffice it for now to say that the scoundrels have won this particular round.

So they loaded up the truck and moved to Portlandia

NoPo, that is... bioswales... creative class...

And where are they coming from? Well, it appears that the dream of the '90s is no longer alive here.

Set a spell... take your Vans off... y'all come back now, y'hear?

Coming soon to Portlandia, cont'd

You can just see Stevie Novick cutting the ribbon on one of these, can't you?

AG Ellen declares recession over

Oregon's attorney general is pulling the plug on a state program that allows divorced parents to pay less than their full child support. Says the announcement from her new flack, Jeff Manning:

Rosenblum cited Oregon's slow but steady economic recovery in halting the program. The "Recession Response Project" allowed more than 1,200 qualifying families to more quickly get their child support obligations modified.

The official declaration from Rosenblum says:

Oregon currently has an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent, following a long period at rates as high as 12.4 percent. The federal and state governments have ended extended unemployment benefit periods. Oregon's most recent economic forecast indicates continued improvement. The current economic climate supports more Oregon parents' ability to meet their child support obligations. Accordingly, I declare that the period of significant unemployment will end October 1, 2012. This declaration authorizes the Oregon Child Support Program to end its Recession Response project implemented as a temporary streamlined process for handling employment-related requests for the modification of child support payments.

An interesting call.

Not the Sam Rand Way

As the City of Portland announces yet another spendy, heavy-handed scheme to solve a problem -- this time, derelict, abandoned homes -- we see in another Pacific Northwest city a sensible alternative approach:

Auburn has created an online Wall of Shame to put pressure on banks holding mortgages on these houses. Many of the houses have neglected front yards; some have moldy or interior walls. The site lists the properties that need work, including a picture, and names the banks that hold the property and contact information.

The banks KING 5 reached out to stated they knew ownership of the property had been transferred and they maintain the properties. However, Auburn Mayor Peter Lewis said it's taking too long for the work to get done.

Lewis actually bikes around the city, taking pictures of properties to post to the Wall of Shame.

Cheap, easy, minimal bureaucracy, no massive fines -- and it might even work. Of course, that means it will never be tried in Portland. [Via the O.]

Avakian goes press release crazy

It's been a busy news month so far, and because of it, we've been remiss in not updating our state government press release meter to account for August traffic. In doing so this morning, we discover that labor commissioner Brad Avakian dropped no fewer than eight press releases in our inbox in August, beating his closest rival, secretary of state Kate Brown, by two. Attorney general Ellen Rosenblum lagged behind at four, and treasurer Ted Wheeler, whose flack killed a guy in July, issued only one.

Avakian's running total of 27 through August equals his entire press release output for 2011. Brown has already left in the dust her 2011 annual total of 31.

No doubt the press release volume has to do with election politics. Avakian and Brown are both running for re-election in contested races; Rosenblum and Wheeler are also up for re-election, but without serious challenges. The figures in the press release meter count only releases from the politicians' official state offices; they do not include messages from their campaigns.

One of the interesting questions that the meter always gets us thinking about is who will be the next Democratic nominee for governor once Dr. Retread loses his lust for power. Not long ago, we thought that to be a close call, with four notable faces in the running. These days we'd give John Kroger, Brown, and Avakian far less of a shot at it than before. And we doubt that Rosenblum would go for the gubernatorial gusto. If we had to lay odds at this point, we'd say that the Democrats will be running Wheeler for the governor's mansion in 2014 if Cylvia's boyfriend packs it in.

A change of plans

A reader who was on a Mazamas climb to the summit of North Sister last weekend ended up walking into the Pole Creek fire on the way out. He sends along this account, written by another member of his group:

On September 9, 2012 a team of 7 climbers, under the lead of JG, summited the beautiful and most challenging of all the Three Sisters: North Sister, via South Ridge. The plan was to conquer the beast in two days and be back home safely on Sunday night. The beast had different plans for us, however.

JG, SS, KS and I met in Portland on Saturday morning and headed to Sisters, where we met the rest of our team: KG (who has climbed six of the seven tallest summits on each continent), JR (who was going for his 16th peak! Yay!) and AW. We joined the rest of the team and headed to the Pole Creek trailhead. At 11am, after a quick gear check, we started a short 5-mile hike up to our base camp below the Hayden Glacier, where we found a beautiful spot with a great water source and even better views of the Three Sisters.

Since we arrived at our base camp in the early afternoon, some of us decided to do a little navigation exercise. After looking at the map, playing a little with our compasses, and proving that triangulation indeed does not work, we headed out to Camp Lake, where we enjoyed a quick swim in the semi-warm water.

The next morning, at 5am sharp, seven sleepy climbers started a long walk up a valley between the Hayden Glacier and the south face of North Sister, to the saddle between North and Middle Sister. We mostly stayed to the right side of the melted glacier, where the rock was pretty solid. We arrived at the saddle at 7:40am and started a long climb up the Southwest ridge. This was our preview of how unstable the mountain is. Big, loose boulders did not cooperate with our hands and feet and from time-to-time someone would yell ”Roooock!” -- causing everyone to hug the mountain even closer. Once we got to the top of the ridge, we breezed through some traverses and 4th class rock to stand face-to-face with the famous Terrible Traverse.

JG decided to set a fixed line – for which I will be eternally thankful. The snow was entirely gone, except for a very small patch of ice. The rock was very loose and one had to fight the urge to use it as handholds. Going through the merely 20 feet of loose rock I had to remind myself multiple times to breathe. Just as S was getting to the anchor, where JG was already waiting, I saw two fist-sized rocks falling just above their heads. I screamed, "Rock! Rock!" and as they put their heads under some larger rocks, a substantial rock fall tumbled down right next to them. It looked as it would hit S and JG, but the rocks fell merely couple feet away from them, nipping our rope a little. Whew…

From there, we were just a couple minutes and short scramble away from the Bowling Alley. JG ran up this section in an impressive 1 minute and 45 seconds, setting up a fixed line, so we, the meager human beings, could slowly follow his lead. The team summited at 11:30am, with JR indeed claiming his 16th peak. We celebrated with an extraordinary proscuitto e melone summit treat that he brought to share with the team.

All the while, as we were approaching the summit, we had been noticing a wildfire in what appeared to be the Pole Creek area, but we weren’t sure how close it was to our cars. What looked so innocent from the summit turned into an adventure a couple hours later.

Except for some scree skiing down the south side and watching aircraft dropping pretty, orange fire retardant on the wildfire (and our cars, as we found out the next day), the descent was pretty uneventful. We arrived at our camp at 4:15pm, took 45 minutes to break the camp and headed back to our cars.

On our hike out, we observed with growing anxiety a huge mushroom cloud of smoke north of us, but we decided to try and get to our cars as quickly and cautiously as we could. Our leader JG was a former wildland firefighter, which gave our team increased confidence going into a potentially dangerous area. The temperatures were dropping as night approached, and winds were zero; both factors in our favor.

Just as we were 25 minutes away from the trailhead, about 100 meters from us a tree caught on fire. It was so sudden and violent that K turned back, looked at us and yelled "RUUUN!!!" And so we did… After several hundred feet we stopped and looked back. The fire was not following us with a high speed, but we needed to get out of the area and we had to do it FAST. We traced back our steps to the nearest water we had crossed, Soap Creek, and reassessed the situation. The winds were blowing north, and we knew that the fire was on the north side from us, so the team pulled it together and we were moving pretty soon towards the Green Lakes area, which was 9 miles away to the South. Our objective was Park Meadow, which we knew to be a flat grassy area with no deadwood nearby. The time was 7:20pm and we had one heck of a summit day behind us, but we had no choice and so we pushed on.

Continue reading "A change of plans" »

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Helter skelter

Hank Stern, former news editor of Willamette Week, is moving from Multnomah County flack to "chief of staff" for county commissioner Loretta Smith. Stern, a fellow New Jersey expatriate, left journalism for government about a year and a half ago; he's moved up the ladder quickly. Or down, depending on your perspective.

OLCC status quo set has got to be kidding

"We want secure areas for distilled spirits," said Mary Botkin, who represents OLCC workers who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. Otherwise, she said, you wind up with minors wandering store aisles where liquor is sold.

They already walk the aisles where the wine and beer are, and there doesn't seem to be too much harm done. And they already walk past the brightly covered lottery vending machines in the supermarkets, too.

Change Oregon's alcohol regulation or have it changed at the polls -- jawboning against the change is a waste of everybody's time. We know that you're a government employee union, and we know that this is Oregon, but guess what -- you're toast on this one.

Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' dog

We're late in reporting that six of the players in our charity pro football underdog game have chosen da Bearss in tonight's NFL contest:

6 CHICAGO at Green Bay - George, Jeremy, PDXileinOmaha, Will, genop, Eric W.

We're still getting used to the fact that there's a game every Thursday night this year. In any event, at this hour, the outlook for these players is not good.

UPDATE, 8:50 p.m.: It was not to be for the Windy City squad tonight.

The dream of the '90s is alive

In the Trib, at least.

Portland’s ability to attract and retain young, college-educated residents during a period when the city lost jobs has the PSU researchers scratching their heads.

For more than 50 years, Jurjevich says, people in this country consistently have moved to places where they were more likely to get jobs. Not now, and not in Portland. Jurjevich calls it "a new frontier in migration patterns."

Those new migrants are coming to Portland and staying despite the fact that they are making 84 cents on the dollar compared to college grads in other U.S. cities. On average, a college-educated young Portlander makes about $8,000 less per year than a counterpart in Seattle doing comparable work.

The PSU report notes that young college-educated Portlanders have an unemployment rate 20 percent to 30 percent higher than the average for the nation’s 50 largest metro areas.

The educated young are coming to Portland, the PSU study suggests, for the cheaply obtained quality of life.

Which, of course, older working people are paying for. And not just their parents. But don't worry. Soon the colorful characters that the hipsters install in City Hall will nickel and dime even the "creatives" out of town.

Weird isn't working, kids.

Feds tell Portlanders what we already know

Breaking news from our fearless U.S. attorney: Not enough public resources are being devoted to helping mentally ill people in Portland, and the city's police force includes quite a few mean goons:

-- Police encounters with people with mental illness "too frequently result in a use of force when force is unnecessary or in the use of a higher level of force than necessary or appropriate, up to an including deadly force."

-- Police used Tasers in situations where use of a stun gun "is not justified" or fire Tasers repeatedly when only a single shot is justified.

-- Despite policies limiting use of force to what is reasonably necessary to accomplish a "legitimate government objective," Portland police "use more force than necessary" in making arrests for low-level offenses of suspects in mental health crises.

The report cites, for example, a May 2011 case in which an officer punched an unarmed suspect in the face seven times when making a welfare check on him.

Anything else? No? Then go by streetcar, my federal friends. Give us a call back if you ever decide to indict a cop. For anything.

In the meantime, the chief has an advisory council, don't you know. We're putting our best people on it.

Al the Bus Driver nails it

"I am against Milwaukie light rail for the same reason I am against the war in Iraq," he says. "It's pornographic, worse than the worst pornography that you find on the internet."

Economy saved!

Ben's printing more money and keeping your bank account paying 0.0000001% interest. We're so glad we have geniuses like Ben running the money. Things are really turning around.

Good boy, Pongo

Last night we had a wild series of dreams. We found ourself sleeping in the basement of a Portland business executives' club, and secretly watching as crooks withdrew their illegal stash out of the club safe in the early morning hours when they thought no one was looking. There was an umbrella that we couldn't get open. There was a woman who wore four coats. And next to us on the bed was our old orange cat, Ralphie, who had followed us to the club. His meows were so communicative that it was like he was speaking English.

It must have been the hot sauce on last night's burritos, but maybe there was a message of some kind in there. This morning we learn that a Portland charity, a pet food bank called the Pongo Fund, is in the running to win a substantial prize in a national popularity contest. A friend writes:

The Pongo Fund is competing in the national Chase Community Giving competition and is currently in the top 40 out of 2,500 charities and nonprofits nationwide. A total of some $5 million will be donated to the Top 196 charities determined by total votes received, ranging from $250k for the winner, $100k each for the next 10, $50k each for the next 35, etc. The Pongo Fund is currently in the running for $50k! But they need votes, votes, and more votes to stay in the top 40, or maybe even inch up the ladder to win $100k! But the deadline to vote is next Wednesday, and so the word needs to get out soon.

The Pongo Fund's website is here. The idea is that it feeds poor and homeless people's pets so that the people and the animals can stay together in hard times. It's a food bank for Fido.

As best we can tell, you need to be on Facebook to vote in the contest, but if you are, you can do what we just did and go here. Tell 'em Ralphie sent you.

Dear China

If you don't like looking at it, then stop doing it.

There's a difference

This story, on the comparative tax burdens of different cities on travelers, caught our eye. Portland's travel taxes are among the worst in the country, but if you take into account the absence of a retail sales tax, Portland jumps up to being one of the best cities when it comes to taxing travelers.

The article brings a couple of points to mind. One is that the governor's argument for a sales tax -- "it's about time that tourists pay some taxes in Oregon" -- is as specious as his girlfriend's state contracts. When you look at all the taxes they already pay, on hotel rooms and car rentals, tourists are already contributing a fair amount of revenue -- at least if they come through Portland.

But more importantly to us, Portland's two rankings, one low and one high, illustrate a ridiculous feature of the city's taxing scheme. When tourists visit a place like Boston, they pay retail sales tax on practically everything they buy. And that money goes to basic public services -- cops, schools, street lights, that sort of thing. When tourists visit Portland, they pay hotel and car rental taxes. And all of that money has been specially dedicated by the politicians to worthless crap like the Convention Center and endless renovations of the soccer field. In other words, all the tourist taxes in Portland are being handed back to the tourism and entertainment industry, pursuant to Vera Katz's nasal "colors of money" lecture. That ain't the way it works anywhere else.

Oregon doesn't need new taxes half as badly as it needs new leadership that will stop handing tax dollars out to its friends left and right.

Spokane going for its own zombie hotel

More competition for the one that Metro's going to build in Portland, whether the public wants it or not. Two not-so-hot convention cities killing each other off, as it were.

We'll say this for the project in Spokane, though -- it looks like all private money at this point. And the guy who is building it will be cannibalizing his own business to get it started. As one reader puts it, "The project will probably not have Plutonium-level 'green' certification, but, based on his track record, I bet it 'pencils out.'"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tell it like it is

Steve Duin calls Portland's eastside streetcar "an amusement park ride, and the antithesis of efficiency and mobility for the poor slobs in Portland who actually need the trains to run on time." He adds: "[L]et's stop pretending this glitzy development vehicle is supplementing, not undercutting, the city’s increasingly fragile transit grid." Amen, Brother Steve, amen.

Here comes the Oregon sales tax again

Governor Retread is ready to push the button.

But before you start yelling "Sales tax!" keep in mind that this is but the first step in what could be a lengthy effort to find common ground among a broad swath of interest groups, including business, labor and local governments.

Hey, "reporter." Save the spin for the opinion page. This is all about a sales tax:

Kitzhaber has made it no secret that he supports a broad-based consumption tax that would snag more money from tourists and hit the "cash economy" that often avoids taxes in the state, Robinhold said.

Simply: Sales tax.

Supreme Court lifts block on Clacky rail bonds

Score one for the rogue county commissioners in Clackistan -- the Oregon Supreme Court denied the opponents of the rush-rush bond issue their requested order permanently barring the county from borrowing $20 million to pay to Tri-Met toward building the Milwaukie Mystery Train.

Now the question becomes whether the county can get a bank loan and pay Tri-Met in light of (a) questions that have been raised about the legality of the loan's authorization, and (b) the current election that would prohibit the county from taking further action in support of the light rail project. The votes will be counted from the election on Tuesday.

Two commissioners are up for re-election in November.

Perfectly Portland, Food Cart Edition

Every picture tells a story, don't it?

41 players pickin' the 'dogs

Today's the deadline for players to get their entry fees in to our charity pro football underdog pool. The list of those whose entries have been received is here. Players who have paid, please check to see that your dough got here. Everyone else, your picks don't count until your entry arrives. All proceeds to charity.

Just a hunch

A reader asks, Do you think Portland's wonderful new food slop program has anything to do with this?

At our place, the problem is maggots and flies. But not for long. We're done. We've got a call in to the garbage man. We're going with a new, bigger landfill can, and the thickest plastic garbage bags we can buy. Once we wash out the yard debris bin, we'll never put food slop in it again. At least not until the Blumenauerites come and arrest us for not doing so.

It was an interesting experiment, but it's over. We'd rather pay the extra than live the Sam Rand Way™. Sorry, Stenchy.

Yet another journalist goes government flack

This update from Commissioner Nick (Jelly) Fish:

Jaymee Cuti will join PHB [the Portland Housing Bureau] as the new Public Information Officer. From a pool of very qualified applicants, Jaymee stood out for her diverse background in journalism and communications, her passion for civil rights issues, and a personality that will be a great addition to the bureau.

Jaymee has worked in both print and broadcast journalism. She was a reporter for the Portland Observer and news editor for Just Out magazine. Most recently, she produced segments for Oregon Public Broadcasting's public affairs talk show, "Think Out Loud." She is also a producer for the short-run series, "Destination DIY," which airs on OPB. Jaymee is elated to amplify the important work happening within the Portland Housing Bureau to the wider world. Jaymee will be starting with PHB on Thursday, September 13.

Sigh. We have sooooo many people being paid to "amplify," elatedly and otherwise, the latest "work" of the local bureaucracy.

Fill in the blank

Kitzhaber wrote in an Aug. 28 letter to the Portland City Club that __________________ would "primarily benefit a few wealthy executives... while creating increased opportunities for corporate corruption and organized crime."

Portland school bond "accountability" would be funny

A reader who follows Portland politics, and is as bemused by it all as we are, writes:

It's silly season and things just keep getting sillier.

The latest is the "Citizen Accountability Committee" that Portland Public Schools is proposing to help grease the construction bond along with voters. The Oregonian story makes it sound OK, but read the committee's charter (here) and let the hilarity begin.

The introductory memo describes the committee as "a mix of individuals with a good reputation in the community for fairness and transparency and people with a combination of experience in building design; construction; construction financing; public contracting, budgeting and/or auditing."

The memo makes it seem like PPS is faced with an either/or choice of people with reputation for fairness and transparency, and people who know what they're doing. The draft charter itself says that the people who know what they are doing are supposed to comprise the majority of the committee. This is not a joke.

It seems a relatively toothless group. While they have a huge list of things they are to review, they have an equally large list of things they cannot review.

Their only output is "advice to the Board." I think we know what the Board will do with that advice: "Just put it up there on the shelf, next to the audits."

Oh, and it gets worse... The committee's charge is to "to monitor the planning and progress of the bond program relative to voter‐approved work scope, schedule and budget objectives."

Sounds good so far. But go down lower on the page and you'll see that they are not instructed to "provide advice to the Board" about scope, schedule, or budget.

Indeed, go a little further along and you'll see that the committee is forbidden from weighing in on key topics, including:

- Change orders (which is where most construction budgets are busted),

- Construction plans or schedules, or

- Selection of any contractors (seems odd that they cannot say, "We think the XYZ company is engaging in malfeasance.").

Here's the kicker: The committee cannot look into or "provide advice to the Board" on: "Activities, roles or responsibilities that have been designated by the Superintendent or her designee to staff or consultants, or any policy‐making responsibilities."

That seems like a pretty big loophole exempting just about any action taken by district staff. Even consultants hired by the district are exempt from scrutiny by the committee.

But what about all the jobs, reader? Sing along with me (to the tune of Monty Python's "Spam"): "Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs..." And it's for the children! Why do you hate children so much?

Breaking news, not

Mayor Creepy will try anything to salvage his dopey "sustainability center" down by Portland State. Yesterday he had two exciting announcements of non-news. First, they've renamed the project the "innovation center." We think renaming it was a great idea, but if you wanted to be honest about it, you'd call it the Mark Edlen Retirement Fund, because the whole point of it seems to be to funnel yet more public money to that guy. We'd love to see whatever photos he must have that give him such clout.

The other precious tidbit from the mayor yesterday was that now the city has a partner -- a partner! But guess what -- it's a "green" engineering firm that's totally hooked into The Network and that's probably going to make a ton off building the center. It's Interface Engineering, which has been in on the scam since the earliest feasibility study phase. They're so hot to feast at the trough that they're willing to say that they'll take some of the obscenely overpriced space.

In short, nothing much happened with the sustainability center yesterday, and if we're lucky, nothing much ever will. Like the zombie hotel, however, this monument to stupidity will probably never be put to rest.

Fireman Randy: "You're stupid; that's why you elected me"

This choice quote sums it up:

Of course, Leonard doesn't think Portland is overreaching, considering that two-thirds of Americans already drink fluoridated water.

"I don't consider it as an example of a nanny state to do something that protects public health," he said Tuesday.

He said most Portlanders are too busy with work, kids and responsibilities to analyze tough issues and reach an informed decision.

And that, he argued, is what voters elected him and his colleagues to do.

"I think," he said, "this is the way it's supposed to be."

Hey, it works in North Korea.

The Crazy 8 picks up some new detractors

Tri-Met's number 8 bus, which runs up and down 15th Avenue in Northeast Portland, has always been a, shall we say, interesting experience. But now as part of wrecking all bus service in order to herd people onto Earl the Pearl's pointless trains to nowhere, the insolvent transit agency has changed the route of the 8, much to the chagrin of a number of folks whose lives the changes have trashed. They join the long and growing list of area residents who have had it up to here with Tri-Met.

It's time for a new transit agency for Portland. Time to admit that Crocodile Fred Hansen and the rest of the Goldschmidt boys ran this one into the ground.

Racist peanut butter sandwiches

This is part of why our kids aren't going anywhere near a Portland public school. Portland students don’t have technology, advanced math, science, Spanish – but they are pulling teachers away from overcrowded classes to have "Courageous Conversations" about race. As the kids say, GMAFB. As long as the school board is blowing money on horse manure, we're voting no on their construction pork menu.

And if Super Carole really wants to stop racism, she could stop taking Benson High School apart chunk by chunk.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chinese overlords start throwing their weight around

This story out of Corvallis is disturbing. When you owe somebody too much money, they start to tell you how to live. Kudos to the mayor who's shining them on.

Mmmmm... urban bicycling and alcohol...

What could go wrong?

Mayor Creepy really losing it toward the end

Now he's going to move Portland city offices out to Gateway. Yeah, that will work.

In flackdom, a familiar face

Rick Metsger, the former Channel 6 sportscaster and former Oregon state senator, has turned up as the pitch man for the proposed casino at the old dog track in Wood Village, just east of Portland. Does that seem like a step down to you? Not long ago he was running for Oregon secretary of state, and then Oregon treasurer. Now he's trying to suck away gambling revenue from the Indian tribes.

Regardless of who's delivering the messages, the debate on the upcoming ballot measures that would authorize the casino is a battle of the hypocrites. Metsger's bosses are selling their project as a wonderland of community benefit -- for the children! and jobs! with a water slide! and concerts! -- with the slot machines playing only a minor part. Uh huh. The opponents are preaching about the evils that accompany gambling, but their campaign bankroll is largely from the tribes, who make a fortune off gambling themselves.

We're voting no because if there's gambling in Portland, it ought to be right in the heart of town, and the state should own it. And because we already voted no on this once, and we're tired of being hectored about it all evening long by slick, creepy television ads. Sorry, Rick.

Speaking of Channel 6 sports anchors of old, where is Ed Whelan these days? We'd love to do an interview with him and catch up.

Why your bank account earns nothing

Here's a depressing thought: The government is keeping interest rates super-low so that government can borrow more money and continue to put our children and grandchildren into massive hock.

Next out da kennel

Here are the lines for this weekend's games in our charity pro football underdog game. Players try to pick one underdog to win its game outright (without benefit of the point spread). See any here that might fit that bill here in Week 2?

13.5 ARIZONA at New England
9 TAMPA BAY at New York Giants
9 CLEVELAND at Cincinnati
9 JACKSONVILLE vs. Houston
6.5 NEW YORK JETS at Pittsburgh
6.5 DETROIT at San Francisco
6 CHICAGO at Green Bay (Thursday 5:20 p.m. Pacific)
5.5 TENNESSEE at San Diego
3.5 KANSAS CITY at Buffalo
3 SEATTLE vs. Dallas
3 DENVER at Atlanta (Monday night, pick still due Sunday 10 a.m.)
3 ST. LOUIS vs. Washington
2 MIAMI vs. Oakland
1 CAROLINA vs. New Orleans
1 INDIANAPOLIS vs. Minnesota
1 BALTIMORE at Philadelphia

About half of our players scored points last week, but there are 19 weeks left in our contest and plenty of time to catch up. If you're interested in joining us now, there's still time. The official rules are here. Send your pick and request to enter to the official game e-mail address, underdog@bojack.org. All proceeds to charity.

Deadline for this week's pick is Sunday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time for all games -- except da Bearss, whose deadline is kickoff time Thursday evening (5:20 in the afternoon here on the West Coast). Good luck, everybody!

Chuckle o' the Day

Oregon's creaky liquor laws are on their way out. At some point soon, hard booze will be sold in grocery stores, and if voters are careful when they force a change in the law, the prices will be the same as, or lower than, they are now. But since the recent changes to the Washington State liquor rules have resulted in higher prices due to massive state fees and taxes, the change in Oregon will take longer than might have been expected a few months ago.

Anyway, the funny part is the conversation that's going on about why Oregon still operates under an alcohol regulatory regime that was written 80 years ago. Here's the justification given for retaining the current setup, offered by someone who for some reason unknown to us is in charge of liquor in the state as chair of the state liquor board:

The laws may be old, says Cassandra SkinnerLopata, chair of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, but they're effective.

"What's interesting is the OLCC has done such a good job of preventing the abuses that came up during Prohibition," SkinnerLopata says. Other countries, and even some other states, continue to see health problems from "adulterated" liquor, including blindness and paralysis. Counterfeit brand-name liquor continues to be a problem, she says.

Elsewhere, SkinnerLopata also says that Oregon's laws ensure alcohol companies don't market to children, and they keep out the cheap booze that tends to be abused.

Hey -- who is she kidding? The state can and should regulate liquor, but why does it have to monopolize the business of selling it? It's a throwback to an era that's long since over. It's nuts.

Bunker opponents will get 15 minutes

The local residents who oppose the wrecking of inner eastside Portland neighborhoods with massive, parking-less human warehouses will get a big quarter hour to make their speeches to the face cards on the City Council tomorrow. They'll be talking, of course, to the hand.

Clacky bond theory proves too much

The more we think about the theory behind the Clackamas County commissioners' plan to issue bonds for Milwaukie MAX without opportunity for a public vote, the less merit their legal position seems to have. Of course, we're not really an authority on the question -- it's currently before the Oregon Supreme Court, and it will be the final arbiter of the matter, if it rules on the case. But from our armchair, the county commissioners and their bond counsel, Harvey Rogers (right), are straining against common sense.

We've written about this before, but here are just a few additional thoughts that pop into our alleged mind. According to the county, Oregon Revised Statutes section 271.390 gives it the power to issue bonds, without a chance at a public vote, to "finance" any property -- even property that the county doesn't own or occupy -- so long as the commissioners decide that it's "needed." In this case, the light rail system will be owned and occupied by Tri-Met; the county will neither own it nor lease it.

If that's true, whole chapters of the statutes are mostly or entirely superfluous. For example, Chapter 287A, under which the City of Portland is selling its light rail bonds, is largely, if not completely, a dead letter. And Chapter 285B, under which municipalities can issue bonds in its name on behalf of private companies, is also surplusage. Because according to the county's theory of the light rail case, so long as the private company is buying property with the borrowed money, the county can issue the bonds under ORS 271.390 -- to heck with Chapter 285B.

It's a cute theory, but to our untrained eye, it proves too much. Which is why if we were the judge, we would force the county to hold off on selling the $20 million of rail bonds until after the light rail ballot measure election, which ends just a week from today. At which point there will likely be a whole new set of legal issues to tangle with before the money can be borrowed, because the ballot measure seems likely to pass.

(Note: We are not a judge. There's a background check.)

It's a dorm room! It's an apartment! It's... it's...

... well, we're not sure what it is, but the real estate development firm known as Portland State University is building tons of them, in one bunker after another. The goal, for some reason, is to have 25% of PSU students live on "campus," as opposed to 10%. Somehow this is going to give them a better education.

But for sure, there were some short-term jobs for the almighty Walsh construction company and the SERA architects. Tri-Met was in the middle of it all. And now some private company in Texas makes a profit off the deal, leasing and operating the building. And wowie zowie, LEED Gold! So it's all good.

Drive by and you can smell the Goldschmidt. Just don't try to park.

More ominous ticking at the O

Here's a wild one from the local media world: The Salem daily newspaper, the Statesman-Journal, is closing its printing presses next month, and having its publication printed by the O here in Portland from there on out. The papers will then presumably be trucked down to Salem for distribution. In other words, in the capital city it's "stop the presses" -- permanently.

The news raises all sorts of questions. "The contract between the papers stipulates Oregonian employees cannot look at Statesman Journal papers while they're on the presses," says the story. Now, that's funny. The O barely has enough reporting staff left to surf the internet and regurgitate press releases. The prospect that it might start paying people to read somebody else's version of yesterday's news, in hard copy on the printing machinery, is hardly worth worrying about.

Secondly, what does the deal say about the two papers' supposed commitment to "green" this and that? They're going to schlep newspapers down I-5 on trucks in the middle of the night. Is that "sustainable"? Maybe when you take into account that the laid-off workers in Salem won't be driving to and from the plant any more, it reduces the environmental impact of dead-tree information delivery.

Most important, though, is this: The new work is supposed to come on at the O plant on October 14. Is that the day that the O makes its long-rumored transition to printing hard copy only three days a week? Or are the people currently working the Portland presses going to work overtime? We can't imagine that the O is going to be hiring new presspeople in the current environment, and so something's got to give.


I woke up this morning
I could barely breathe
Just an empty impression
In the bed where you used to be
I want a kiss from your lips
I want an eye for an eye
I woke up this morning to an empty sky

Empty sky, empty sky
I woke up this morning to an empty sky

Blood on the streets
Yeah blood flowin' down
I hear the blood of my blood
Cryin' from the ground

Empty sky, empty sky
I woke up this morning to the empty sky

On the plains of Jordan
I cut my bow from the wood
Of this tree of evil
Of this tree of good
I want a kiss from your lips
I want an eye for an eye
I woke up this morning to the empty sky

Empty sky, empty sky
I woke up this morning to an empty sky

Last 'dog won't hunt

The Monday night underdog, the Oakland Raiders, did not prevail, and so the standings in our pro football underdog game remain where they were yesterday. New lines, for the coming weekend's games, will be posted later today.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hawthorne takes a hit

The difficult parking situation on Hawthorne Boulevard in Portland already makes us hesitant to shop or hang out down there. When they slap up another 50-unit cr-apartment complex with no on-street parking on that street, pause may turn to stop.

Not to mention Steve Novick's parking meters.

Clackamas registered bonds before commissioners authorized them

After having to ask a few times, we got this document from the Oregon state treasurer's office this morning. It shows clearly that Clackamas County registered its proposed light rail bonds -- whose sale is currently prohibited by order of the Oregon Supreme Court -- with the state on Monday, August 20. The county commissioners' meeting at which the bonds were supposedly approved was held on Wednesday, August 22.

The paperwork was submitted by Mary Macpherson, a vice president with the county's financial consultant on the bonds, a firm called Seattle-Northwest Securities. Seattle-Northwest was also identified as the underwriter on the $19.15 million bond issue.

In addition to the other legal problems that plague the highly controversial bond sale, issues with the state's public meetings law have been raised by the opponents of the bonds. When the dust settles on the ballot measure election that ends next Tuesday, let's hope someone in the Clakistani rebel camp seriously pursues those issues.

Sound off on Portland garbage deal

The City of Portland is collecting public input on proposed changes to its garbage franchise agreements with the area's refuse haulers (or whatever the Orwellians at City Hall call them nowadays):

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) is conducting a review of the residential solid waste and recycling franchise. As part of this review, BPS may propose changes to the existing (2008) Franchise Agreement between the City and the waste haulers who serve households living in single-family homes through four-unit complexes.... Potential changes to the franchise system and agreement are being developed and will be presented for City Council consideration later this fall.

If you would like to provide comment but do not plan to attend the meeting, please send your comments in writing by September 24, 2012:

Email: wasteinfo@portlandoregon.gov. Please note "Comment on Franchise Review" in the subject line.

Fax to 503-823-4562. Please note "Comment on Franchise Review" on the document.

US mail or hand delivery to:

Solid Waste and Recycling Franchise Review
1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100
Portland, OR 97201

Surely there are some things about the garbage franchises that Portlanders are interested in commenting on, aren't there? We can think of several. So here's your chance to talk back to Stenchy. More details are here.

Cr-apartment opponents head for Portland City Hall

Here's a message that went out last night from the folks down in the Richmond neighborhood who are taking it to the streets to protest the erection of soulless, parking-less apartment bunkers in their neighborhood, and others like it on the inner east side of Portland:

Hello Richmond Neighbors,

Just a reminder to mark your calendars for a great opportunity to show your support for the Richmond neighborhood and responsible development on SE Division.

On Wednesday, Sept 12th at 9:30 AM, RNRG and four other neighborhood groups are on the agenda to address City Council about the rapid development taking place on the inner east side. RNRG representatives Judah Gold-Markel and Kim Brown will be making a brief presentation regarding the project at SE 37th and Division and the impact this large scale apartment building (among the many others) will have on our wonderful neighborhood.

Let's fill the room and show City Council we are united and will continue to fight for responsible and sustainable growth in our community.

We suspect the Sam Rands will be slapping these people down like Larry Fine in a Stooges movie. They'll be lucky if they get anybody to listen, and surely they'll be shown the door after two or three minutes. But we applaud their going down there, and we hope they bring a big contingent along with them.

It's too bad that there's nobody they can vote for for mayor or City Council who really gives a darn about their concerns. Amanda will probably coo a little for them, but she hasn't done squat to stand up to the real estate weasels. Ain't that Portlandia.

PDC will finance zombie hotel

The board of the Portland Development Commission seems on the precipice of delivering the city's taxpayers up like lambs to slaughter by the Hyatt hotel people in connection with the insane Convention Center hotel plan. A resolution to go in front of the PDC board on Wednesday directs that --

the Executive Director is authorized to enter into direct negotiations with the Mortensen/Hyatt development team for disposition of the PDC Block 26/43 Property and/or the PDC Block 47 Property and provision of PDC financing, for development of a privately-owned CCH [convention center hotel]...

Between the sale price for the land and the terms of the financing, we'll bet that the city's about to hand out some major change to the Hyatt boys. But it will make Portland a national convention hot spot -- just you wait and see.

Joke of the Year: Char-Lie Hales campaign contribution limits

Portland mayoral candidate Char-Lie Hales probably couldn't give you the time of day without misleading you at least a little. His pledge to limit campaign contributions to $600 per donee turns out to be ludicrous, in that he'll take $600 from a donor, then $600 from each of that donor's relatives, another $600 from each of the same donor's fictional business entities, and so on, ad infinitum.

Adding to the hilarity is the identity of a prominent donor who is playing this game with Hales. It's none other than Dike Dame, who with his buddy Homer Williams have siphoned off millions of dollars from the City of Portland treasury for their private development projects, culminating in the utterly failed South Waterfront (SoWhat) District and the embarrassing aerial tram [rim shot] to Pill Hill.

Williams, as you may recall, was on stage in the limelight with Hales the night of the primary election. You could almost see Williams's lips move as Char-Lie spoke. Dame was reportedly convicted in 1988 of bank fraud. You would think that a fellow like Hales might not take campaign contributions from such a source, much less several contributions all chopped up into convenient $600 bundles. But that's Hales. When you vote for him, you vote to send your money to Homer and Dike. Go by streetcar!

Portland to throw bureaucracy at vacant building problem

We're always skeptical, but never surprised, when Portland City Hall decides to add a new layer of bureaucracy to address an intractable social problem. Now it's going to require mortgage lenders to file a report and pay a fee (ranging from $20 to $9,000 a year) when a building that they've loaned against goes vacant. If they don't comply, there will be a hefty fine. Apparently the hapless defaulting borrower could also be on the hook for the fees, at least until he or she is formally kicked off the title.

Of course, at least one full-time bureaucrat will be needed just to shuffle all the papers around, and who knows how much other overhead is involved. Supposedly the new red tape is going to prevent squatting... or something. And they say in times like these it may generate $254,000 a year in fees.

Portland points out that such systems are already in place in localities like Hillsboro and Medford. And as we all know, Portland will not be out-nannied or out-bullied. But only Portland can craft a version that is truly intolerable and truly ineffective. And they're hard at work at it. The raft of proposed new rules (running nearly 1,900 words) is here; the justification, here.

We hear they pick up the garbage for the landfill every week in Hillsboro and Medford as well. Might be worth looking into.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I've been workin' on the railroad...

... all the live-long two weeks...

Cha-ching! $35 million to Hoffman for water bureau palace

The beat goes on. Gotta get that Portland water bill money out of the little guy's wallet and up to Dunthorpe. And what better way than by expanding Admiral Randy's empire? A win-win at City Hall.

Up next: Cha-ching! Eight figures out to Hoffman for the public contribution to the zombie hotels.

A big day for the 'dogs

Our charity pro football underdog pool produced quite a few points today (and Wednesday night). Here are the standings at this hour -- with only one game, for one player, left to be decided for the week:

Annie 9
Cinderella Story 9
DB Cooper 9
George 9
Michael K. 9
Paul 9
Ted 9
Bayou Baby 5
Drewbob 5
Eric W. 5
Grizfan 5
Jo 5
John Cr. 5
NoPoGuy 5
PDXileinOmaha 5
Ricardo 5
Tinknocker 5
Pete Rose 4
Coastal Storm 3
John Ch. 3
Pete Rozelle 3
Everyone else 0

Those players who are listed here but have not gotten their entry fee in yet, listen up: By rule, I have to have it by Wednesday night or your excellent first week pick won't count.

Way to go, winners! Dave A. has Oakland over San Diego for 1 point tomorrow night. New lines will be posted on Tuesday.

Well, now I finally get the City of Portland debt binge

We're just trying to show solidarity with sister cities in China.

Tally ho! The 'dogs are released!

The players in our charity pro football underdog pool have spoken -- their deadline has come and gone -- and here are their selections for this weekend's games:

11.5 MIAMI at Houston - Carol, Mac, genop's gal
9.5 INDIANAPOLIS at Chicago - Bob, Rudie, Lucas, Bad Brad, Dr. D
9 WASHINGTON at New Orleans - Paul, Ted, George, Michael K., Cinderella Story, Annie, DB Cooper
8 ST. LOUIS at Detroit - Larry Legend, Gordon
8 CLEVELAND vs. Philadelphia - Juicen, Biggest Cubs Loser, Usual Kevin, genop
6 TENNESSEE vs. New England - Broadway Joe
5 SAN FRANCISCO at Green Bay - PDXilein Omaha, Ricardo, Jo, Drewbob, Bayou Baby, John Cr., Tinknocker, Grizfan, NoPoGuy, Eric W.
[4 DALLAS at New York Giants (Wed. 5:30 PDT) - Pete Rose (winner)]
3.5 JACKSONVILLE at Minnesota - AKevin
3 BUFFALO at New York Jets - Jeremy, Tung, Sola, Stephen, Will, JMH, Sattelihu
3 ARIZONA vs. Seattle - Pete Rozelle, Coastal Storm, John Ch.
1 OAKLAND vs. San Diego (Monday night) - Dave A.

Nobody chose Cincinnati, K.C., Tampa, or Pittsburgh. Last year's champ, Pete Rozelle, is back, and he's got Arizona.

Note: As usual, this post was composed a few hours ago, and is being triggered by a robot after the close of this week's picks. If additional picks have come in (or changes have been made) after this post was written but before the deadline, they will be added to this post as soon as we can get to it later today.

Good luck to everybody with a 'dog in the hunt today, tonight, or tomorrow. Enjoy the games, everybody!

UPDATE, 11:38 a.m.: Picks by Mac, genop, genop's gal, DB Cooper, and Eric W. added. They all got here this morning before the deadline.

UPDATE, 3:03 p.m.: The Washington Redskins prevail in the first game, scoring 9 points for seven of our players. A most astute pick.

UPDATE, 5:00 p.m.: 'Dog day afternoon! All three afternoon underdogs prevail. Thirteen of our players pick up points from two of them. And so we have 21 contestants on the board, with only one left to play, and that's tomorrow night. Quite a first week.

Say goodbye to Hollywood

We don't pay as much attention to the monthly Hollywood Star News as we used to. Ever since their reporter Lee Perlman got himself arrested for defacing a Sam Adams recall petition, we take what the publication has to say with a grain of salt. But last night we picked up the latest edition, which was sitting in a pile of mail, and noticed that the masthead, which changed significantly about five years ago, has at some point morphed again:

Now the word "Hollywood" no longer appears on the mast, and whereas they used to brag about covering Northeast news, nowadays they're claiming both North and Northeast Portland as their turf. Their star's tarnished by Perlman, but we're still fortunate to have a functioning local news outlet to supplement the ever-dwindling content from the big players on the Portland media scene.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

'Dog pickin' time

If you want to play in our charity pro football underdog pool, it's time to get your first pick of the season in. The deadline is 10 a.m. tomorrow, Sunday, Pacific time -- 10½ hours from this writing. And you're already behind in the standings -- "Pete Rose" scored 4 points Wednesday night -- so choose wisely. The slate of games is here; our rules are here. Good luck.

Beavers over Badgers!

A boffo performance.

O picks up "street seats" story

Portland's daily (for now) newspaper reported this week on the City of Portland practice of letting restaurants set up tables in parking spaces. We're quoted -- and made out to be a crank, of course. But the most interesting passage in the article is this stunning illustration of the Portland Sense of Entitlement:

Huffman, whose ChefStable restaurants are early (and so far, the only) adopters of Street Seats says, "Yes, we lose a parking space, but we add 14 to 16 seats. From a commercial perspective it’s a no-brainer."

No, guy. It's not just you who loses the parking space. It belongs to all of us, and we all lose it. Especially the neighbor whose house is around the corner from your restaurant. The customers who formerly parked in front of the restaurant will now park in front of that house. From a livability perspective, it's a no-brainer.

And we can't wait until your liability insurance carrier gets a look at the new setup. That will be a funny moment.

Perv-harboring Catholic bishop convicted

And he gets off with two years' probation.

Wonder what his sentence will be in hell.

Slackers forever

It's funny how, when pundits try to dispel Portlandia's laughingstock imagery, they manage to reinforce it:

Like many young people who flock to Portland, Reynolds has figured out how to work at what she loves. The Seedlot is a volunteer project for now, but Reynolds is also a part-time teacher at another garden in town. As you might expect, she doesn’t have much work in the winter, so she mends and sews clothing on the side. It’s piecemeal, but it works....

Chris Hackett is a 29-year-old freelancer. He says finances are always tight, but one way he keeps expenses low is by being strategic about housing.

"You look for something that’s just kind of slummy," he says. "It’s not quite a slum house but it’s like really shoddy repairs but it keeps the rent cheap."...

"As a region we haven’t really figured out what to do with these folks. Traditional economic development strategies of trying to attract companies -- it isn’t necessarily working."

But in the meantime, the young creatives in Portland seem to be figuring out not only how to get by, but how to do what they love most....

Like what -- call Mom and Dad for more money? It would be funny if it weren't so sad. And if we weren't burning hundreds of millions of dollars to build a theme park for these young people that insures that their situation will never improve.

Friday, September 7, 2012


We thought we felt it. Now the TV talking heads confirm that it happened: a 3.5 over near the 1993 spring break quake site, about an hour ago.

We suspect that something shaky will be happening over by McMinnville over the next day or so. In the recent past, the two areas have seemed to us to be related seismically. Just an uninformed guess. Meanwhile, let's hope something bigger doesn't follow tonight's little shaker.

Latest Sam Rand plague: houseflies

Portland's wonderful new biweekly garbage pickup sure is something. Now in addition to an increase in rats in the neighborhood, our home is under attack by dozens, if not hundreds, of houseflies. They're all over the outside of the house on the side where the garbage cans are. And if you open either the normal garbage can or the food and yard recycling bin, it's little wonder. They are both prime breeding grounds for maggots -- particularly the garbage can, which gets emptied only every two weeks.

It's just a matter of time before the looney tunes running Portland outlaw flush toilets. Anyone with a brain or a life has got to be thinking about fleeing to the suburbs rather than trying to live comfortably in Blumenauerland.

Have a great weekend

Heresy from Nurse Amanda

Creating jobs is not her No. 1 priority! And she supports the Portland Development Commission "becoming an entrepreneurial organization, rather than relying on tax increment funding." Does that mean it can fail and go out of business?

Meanwhile, her opponent thinks "[w]e should build the first great bridge of the 21st century, not a monument to 20th century standards." And she'll "utilize and expand my strong working relationships with partners at the Port, Metro, the state and 4 counties." We have no doubt about that -- it's part of what scares us about her.

Pick your poison, Portland. With clothespin firmly affixed to our nose, we'll be voting for the Nurse. [Via the O.]

Is that a grass burn we're inhaling?

We're catching the smell of burning grass this morning in northeast Portlandia. We didn't think that the handful of grass farmers in the Willamette Valley who are still allowed to burn were permitted to do so when the breezes are blowing up toward the metropolitan area. Usually they wait until right before it's supposed to start raining. But with temperatures expected in the 90s this afternoon and air quality already a bit dicey, it's surprising that the state has given the green light this morning.

UPDATE, 10:51 a.m.: A reader suggests that it's the White Salmon wildfire that's blowing this way. Winds have been from the west this morning, however, and that's the other way.

UPDATE, 10:56 a.m.: Apparently the winds are shifting around to the east, and it is the burning grass out in White Salmon that we're breathing, and will be all day. Yuck! At least it isn't the dang grass farmers.

Hales offers compromise plan to settle longstanding dispute

Portland mayoral candidate Charlie Hales, facing continuing questioning about whether he lived in Washington to pay less taxes, and shouldn't have voted in Oregon -- or lived in Oregon, and shouldn't have claimed Washington residency for tax purposes -- today unveiled a compromise plan. Hales told a group of reporters that from now on, he plans to vote and pay taxes only in Idaho.

"Look, I'm not moving anywhere, and I still plan to be Portland's next mayor," the beleaguered candidate said, as his political advisor, Mark Wiener, looked on approvingly. "This is just a practical solution to address these issues once and for all, so we can get back to the business of politics."

Why Idaho? "We wanted a compromise, and since Idaho borders both states, we thought it was a good choice." Asked if he was up to date on the ballot measures in his new state, Hales smiled and said, "Not completely, but I am looking hard at HJR 2, the ballot measure that adds the right to hunt and fish to the state constitution."

Hales's comments were made on a walking tour of the St. Johns neighborhood in north Portland, where he shook hands with supporters and regaled undecided voters with a list of accomplishments, many of them his own. Some of the neighbors whose doorbells he rang seem unimpressed. "Are you wearing a wire?" asked Hazel Stumpf, a longtime St. Johns resident, through her screened and barred front door. "Am I going to be in Willamette Week?"

Don't forget your 'dog

If you have not already done so, enter your pick for the first week of our charity pro football underdog pool. The object of the game is to pick an underdog that will win its game outright (without benefit of the point spread) on Sunday or Monday. If your 'dog wins, you get the points they were expected to lose by. Player with the most points at season's end gets to direct the lion's share of the entry fee pot to their favorite charity. Second through fifth places also get to send some money to their favorite charities. All proceeds go to 501(c)(3) organizations.

The complete rules are here. It's free to take a flyer on the first weekend. The deadline for choosing your 'dog is 10 a.m. West Coast time on Sunday. So give it a shot! The slate of games is here. Send your pick to underdog@bojack.org. Good luck, players.

Clacky commissioners in tatters as week ends

It's been a stunning three days in Clackistan, as the rebels in that sector have derailed the county's outrageous plans to rush through a bond sale for a $20 million contribution to the Tri-Met light rail train project without going through the procedures specified in state law. The county's plans, which were going full steam ahead a week ago, were clearly designed to circumvent the current election, in which voters are likely to forbid the county from paying the money to Tri-Met.

First came the news that the rebels' legal actions caused cancellation of the public bond sale that was supposed to have taken place yesterday, and then late yesterday afternoon, even more surprisingly, the state supreme court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the county from selling the bonds. At last report, the county was planning to try to sell the bonds privately, to a bank, but on its face the court order would appear to preclude such a transaction, at least until the court has had a chance to rule on the merits of the rebels' legal arguments. Briefing ends next Tuesday.

If the county doesn't pay Tri-Met the $20 million by a week from Tuesday, when the votes in the election are counted, it may never do so.

The latest developments in Clackistan highlight a number of interesting truths. One is that the political machinery that controls the Portland area is ruthless, and the only thing that it listens to is litigation. Witness the illegal mission creep by the Portland water bureau -- it's the same scenario. Let's hope the folks fighting the city in court have as much success, and are as tenacious, as the Clackistani bush fighters.

Another revelation is that sometimes, the powers that be around here are bluffing. They'll wheel out lawyers from this law firm and that to tell the opposition that it doesn't know what it's talking about, but they're just blowing smoke. And you can't be afraid to call them out on it.

Third: Follow the money. In this case, choking off the bonds chokes off the county's payment to Tri-Met.

It ain't over 'til it's over, and the county may yet find some way to come up with $20 million to fork over to Tri-Met. Even if it doesn't, somebody else may magically scrape up $20 million to build the Mystery Train all the way to Milwaukie. But as the first weekend of September arrives, the rebel flag is flying proudly. And there are a couple of politicians down Clackamas way who are almost sure to have new jobs come the new year. We hear Metro is hiring.

Smith incident snarls traffic

Oregon State Police report major tie-ups on I-5 in the Portland area this morning as they attempt to cope with an outburst by Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith. Saying he feels stifled by criticism of his driving record, Smith reportedly hijacked a military drone and began bombing cars on the busy interstate freeway. ODOT cameras revealed a high-speed chase that reached speeds of 95 miles per hour, after which Smith was apprehended, but not before kicking several officers in the groin. As he was led away in a straitjacket, he yelled, "They can't cross the Columbia if they don't make it to the Columbia," according to witnesses.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Kim Page of Aurora, who narrowly avoided being hit by flying chunks of asphalt as she was driving her mini-van to her job at Legacy Labs near the Rose Quarter. "There's something about that guy that's not screwed on right."

The mayoral candidate was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, but until Smith's medications kick in again -- and he can give authorities the launch codes -- the unmanned drone will continue dropping ordinance from overhead. Motorists are advised to look up occasionally and tune in to local radio for alternate driving routes.

Smith's supporters have rushed forward to say the incident was "no big deal." Bike Walk Vote added that their support for the candidate remains firm.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stenchy officially installed as City of Portland mascot

The announcement was made at a brief ceremony in the lobby of the Portland Building this afternoon. City sustainability director Susan Anderson unveiled a statue honoring the lead ambassador of the city's highly successful mandatory food composting program. "We are pleased to have every visitor to our building greeted by this seminal figure," Anderson said. "He is a living symbol of our commitment to a better planet for us, for our children, and for the millions of future Portlanders who seek refuge here from climate change."

Oregon Supreme Court to hear Clackamas bond case

Another big victory for the Clackistani rebels.

"Street seats" nightmare gets closer

There was another crash on Division Street in southeast Portland the other morning, on the same side of the street as the dopey "street seats" installation that took away a parking space for restaurant tables literally in the street.

Here's what the wreckage looked like:

The accident was about 50 feet closer to the "street seats" than the one we blogged about here.

Now picture it happening up Division a little way, here:

Stupid is as stupid does.

Writing in LaVonne for mayor

We're dead serious when we say that we're writing in LaVonne Griffin-Valade for Portland mayor in November. Griffin-Valade, or "LVGV" for short, is capable, outspoken, and smart, and we think she'd make a great mayor. In contrast, the two candidates who are on the ballot will both be terrible -- equally terrible, but in different ways. So we're going with our gut and doing the right thing.

Can you write in a candidate's name in a runoff election? Absolutely, yes. But the votes won't be counted unless all write-in votes total more than one each of the two candidates whose names are printed.

Do you have to spell the write-in candidate's name perfectly? Probably not. But you don't get to abbreviate their name, at least according to this document from the Oregon secretary of state's office:

For example, Joseph Walton has publicly announced he is running a write-in campaign (he did not file to be on the printed ballot in time).... Counting boards, when tallying write-in votes for this office, will count the abbreviated name Joe Walton towards Joseph Walton, since Joe is a common abbreviation of Joseph. However, they may not count a write-in name of J Walton towards the count for Joseph Walton, because this initial "J" could stand for any number of names beginning with a J, such as Jane, Jim or Jessica.

In the case of Griffin-Valade, that's kind of a drag, because she's got a hard name to spell out. It would be great if we could just write "Lavonne," but that's not going to be good enough. How about "Lavonne Griffin," without the "Valade"? That might fly, but we wouldn't count on it.

So think about joining us in writing in her name. And get practicing.

Rogue Clackamas commission takes shaky bond deal into back room

It's pretty amazing, but the Clackistani rebels' various legal maneuvers to try to stop their county from borrowing $20 million and handing it over to Tri-Met for pointless light rail have actually thrown a monkey wrench into the county's plans to do just that. Yesterday the county abruptly cancelled the public bond sale that was supposed to happen today. No reason was given, but it's pretty obvious that somebody -- bond counsel Harvey Rogers, or the underwriters, or the credit raters at Moody's, or county counsel, or the commissioners themselves -- has gotten nervous that the rebels' legal arguments against the bond issue may have merit. The legal action taken by the opponents appears to have, as the corporate folks say, "queered the deal" on the public bond sale.

It's amazing to us that the county could cancel the sale and not give a reason. Here are the politicians and bureaucrats, slinging $20 million around, and when they suddenly pull the plug on a major deal that was two days away from going down, they can just give the media and the public the brushoff? Ladies and gentlemen of county government, what the heck is going on?

But of course, the county isn't really giving up. Reports are that it is going to try to borrow the $20 million from a bank in a "private placement." Like the aborted bond sale, it will have to be negotiated and closed in an awful hurry, because county voters are already casting votes on a ballot measure that will either kill or mortally wound any loan deal. The votes will be counted a week from Tuesday, and there is every indication that the measure will pass. After that, the cloud over the bonds becomes a destructive tornado.

What do the rogue county commissioners, who are blatantly defying the public vote, gain by taking the deal private? First and foremost, secrecy. Unlike the public bond sale, which required detailed public disclosure of the details of the deal, the private placement won't be televised, as it were, on the internet. And if the rebels can't see what's going on, it's going to be harder for them to continue to challenge the proceedings in court. At last report, they're planning to take the matter all the way to the state supreme court, but with the negotiations gone private, it will be difficult for them to know exactly what they're complaining about until it's too late.

That being said, the fact remains that shifting the deal to a bank doesn't alleviate the county's serious legal issues. Whether sold publicly or privately, the county's IOU is invalid unless the county's highly aggressive reading of state law is correct. We won't repeat what we wrote here yesterday about that, but it's not at all clear that in the end, the county's reading of the law will be upheld. It got a favorable ruling from a trial judge yesterday, but the appeal of that decision has not even begun, much less be decided. In a climate of uncertainty, somebody is going to have to take some risk in order for the $20 million to appear. Yesterday's cancellation indicates that the risk is too great for the public market. Maybe a bank will be willing to step up, but one has to wonder.

Meanwhile, the legal issues multiply, the more the county flails around. Is it putting the loan deal out for bid? Does it have to? And with all these crucial decisions being made behind closed doors, are the county commissioners complying fully with the state public meetings law? They'd better hope they are, because they could be personally liable for a lot of money if they aren't.

The right thing to do, of course, is for the county to tell Tri-Met, "Hey, we tried, but we just can't get it done." This set of commissioners, however, won't do that. And that is why there are going to be two new members of the board come January. The incumbents up for re-election are, figuratively, dead men walking. And with a new regime may come new county bureaucrats. The staff people working on this -- particularly the county finance director and county administrator -- have got to be thinking a little about their own futures. Would you put your career on the line over light rail? What a way to go.

Oregon went long on a bad bet

Several readers have sent us links to this story, about how state and local governments stuck their necks out several years back by borrowing money to fund their employees' pensions. The idea was that the governments could make more money on their investments than they'd owe in interest -- the old concepts of leverage and arbitrage.

But it hasn't turned out that way. The interest that the governments are paying on the pension bonds nowadays is far greater than the returns that are coming in from investments. It's been that way for several years now. The banks and other bondholders are making out, but the states and municipalities are going broke quick.

And as it happens -- and this is what got our readers' attention -- Oregon is at the very top of the list of the states that took this risky tack. The state and various municipalities within it are suffering from a severe case of exposure. The City of Portland, for example, has about $260 million of "pension obligation bonds" outstanding, some running through 2029 at interest rates in the 7.5%-to-8% range. Such a deal. Those bonds were sold in 1999, when Char-Lie Hales and Mother Vera were watching over the money.

Down in Stockton, California, things have gotten so bad that the city has actually defaulted on its pension bonds. That hasn't happened in Oregon, at least not yet.

The Salem Statesman-Journal took a look at the situation in our state a few years ago. Its report is an interesting read, here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Blazer games will never be the same

Casey Jarman is leaving Willy Week. He'll be missed as music editor of that weekly, but for us, he'll be missed much more as the almost-live blogger at most Blazers' home games. We have loved those columns, and his accompanying cartoons, and were looking forward to many more. Just to show you their influence, we recently labeled a photo we took of the Blazer dancers as "zercers." That's all Jarman, folks. We don't know where he's going, but we sincerely wish him the best.

Early 'dog gets the bird

The Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants tonight to kick off the NFL season, and so our player "Pete Rose" wins 4 points in our charity underdog game. Congrats to him! Our other players have until 10 a.m. Sunday, Pacific Daylight Time, to try to join him in the winners' circle for Week 1. If you're interested in how the game works, here's where to get started.

Char-Lie Hales breaks another law

Now he's secretly taping conversations. And giving them to Willy Week to help assassinate his rival politically. Maybe the state attorney general should prosecute everyone involved. Ha! Ha!

And they're off

The first game of the pro football season has begun, and only one of our players has chosen that game as his underdog pick for the week. A player identifying himself as "Pete Rose" (not to be confused with "Pete Rozelle") has chosen Dallas over the Giants in New Jersey this evening, for 4 points. So far it's 0-0.

Everybody else's deadline is 10 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Sunday. Enjoy the action, peeps.

Has Clackamas County cancelled light rail bond sale?

That's the report we've received at this hour. And the prospectus for the sale, which was supposed to go down tomorrow, has suddenly been removed from the i-Deal listing of Oregon bond sales. It could be a big win for the Clackistani rebels, or just a decoy of some kind. Given how the county commissioners have behaved, we would put nothing past them.

Kate Brown wins in court against potheads

And naturally Willamette Weed is all over it. Brown's got four opponents in the upcoming election for Oregon secretary of state.

And another Oregon appearance on a Bottom 10

While we're digesting this bad news, along comes this to add to it.

Ichiro jinx continues for Yankees

The Bronx Bombers have blown a 10-game lead in the standings and are now fighting to make the playoffs. Since Ichiro arrived, the Yankees are 19-21. Before the trade, they had been 57-38.

Since Ichiro departed, the Mariners are 24-16. Before they traded him, the M's had been 42-56.

There are other possible explanations -- schedule strengths, injuries to other players -- but maybe it's a curse.

Get ready, Portland

Here's a great new "green" idea that is sure to be implemented soon in the Rose City: "license plate auctions and lotteries that will roughly halve the number of new cars on the streets." You just know that the car haters at Portland City Hall are hard at work on this one.

Clacky bond theory stretches law to its breaking point

We noted last week that the Clackamas County commissioners are claiming that their bond issue for the Tri-Met Mystery Train to Milwaukie -- the rush-rush $20 million of bonds that are scheduled to be sold tomorrow and closed a week from tomorrow -- is exempt from a public referendum because they say it is authorized by Oregon Revised Statutes 271.390, which states in relevant part:

A public body or a council of governments may enter into contracts for the leasing, rental or financing of any real or personal property that the governing body of the public body or council of governments determines is needed, including contracts for rental, long term leases under an optional contract for purchase, financing agreements with vendors, financial institutions or others, or for purchase of any property.

Yesterday, a county judge dismissed on procedural grounds a lawsuit that argued in part that this statute does not authorize the county to borrow the money and hand it over to Tri-Met to fund Tri-Met's construction of its Milwaukie light rail line. The court never got to the legal question of whether the opponents were right about that, but in a memo filed with the court, the county's bond counsel Harvey Rogers revealed his reasoning behind his opinion that the opponents are wrong:

In other words, the county can borrow money under ORS 271.390 and hand it out in grants to anyone it wants, on three weeks' notice and without any opportunity for a public vote, so long as somebody, somewhere, spends the money to buy some kind of property of which the county commissioners are fond. It's an interesting argument, but it creates a breathtaking, open-ended bonding authority that renders at least one whole chapter of the state statute book completely superfluous. It seems awfully cute. The provision in question is contained in the section of the state code that governs public land; its placement there seems a pretty clear indication that it is not referring to property owned by just anyone. If only the Clackistani rebels could find a way to get a judge to consider this key question, they'd have a shot.

Anyway, there's a second lawsuit going now, and reportedly an emergency appeal is being filed of the one that was tossed yesterday, and so further developments are possible. If there's any justice in Clackamas County, the closing of the bond issue will be stopped until after the votes are counted in the referendum election a week from Tuesday. But at this point, it's a big "if."

Adrian Chen turns up in big Apple-FBI hacking story

Remember Adrian Chen, the hysterically funny young guy who ran around as a Willy Week intern five years ago or so? These days he writes for Gawker. And in a bizarre twist, he is in the middle of yesterday's breaking story about the "Anonymous" hackers who got hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Apple device ID names and numbers, allegedly from a FBI computer. The hackers said they wouldn't give more interviews until Chen posed on Gawker in a pink tutu with a shoe on his head:

And so of course, he did it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Oregon makes a Bottom 10 list

Go by streetcar and light rail! The Beaver State's priorities certainly don't seem like they're "for the children."

Clackistani lawsuit thrown out on procedural grounds

Is Clackamas County selling bonds for the Tri-Met light rail system illegally? It appears we may never know. The lawsuit challenging the legality of the highly irregular mechanism that the county has used to authorize the bonds was thrown out this afternoon, on procedural grounds. The bonds are scheduled to be sold on Thursday, with a closing on the 13th. Then the county will fork the $20 million over to Tri-Met, just days or even hours before a voter initiative prohibiting the payment seems highly likely to pass. The votes on that ballot measure will be counted the night of the 18th.

Another lawsuit was filed today, but now the rebels are throwing Hail Marys. They are right as a policy matter, and right as a legal matter, but apparently there's nowhere for them to go to get justice. Ain't that Portland. How the county politicians, bureaucrats, and lawyers can look themselves in the mirror these days is beyond us.

Goldschmidt Party endorses Hales

Its spokesman made the announcement earlier today.

Zombie hotel clones itself

Are we reading this right -- are the taxpayers of Portland about to build not one useless Convention Center hotel, but two?

The publicly financed portion of the project – in exchange for Hyatt keeping 500 rooms available for booking by large conventions – would likely come from a combination of cash from the Portland Development Commission and from Metro. About $8 million of the $10 million requested has been identified so far; the publicly-financed amount could change as a result of negotiations.

And so the liars' budget kicks off at $10 million. Can't imagine where it will finally wind up.

By the 'dogs' early light

It's that time again -- time to crank up our charity pro football underdog game for the fourth year. It's a season-long game in which players try to pick one NFL underdog each week that will win its game outright -- without the benefit of the point spread. Winning players receive the number of points that their underdog was predicted to lose by -- and the player with the most points at the end of the playoffs in January is the winner.

The entry fee is a Jackson, and all proceeds go to charity. The top finishers in our underdog standings get to say to which nonprofit organizations (501(c)(3)) the money will go. Last year, we sent more than $900 to worthy charities.

Entry fees aren't due, however, until next Wednesday, the 12th -- which means you can play this week's 'dogs now, and if you like the game, pay first thing next week. Your first week pick will still count.

It's easy to enter -- just send your pick by e-mail to underdog@bojack.org. That's the only way to enter; picks posted in comments on this blog or by e-mail to any other address will not count. The deadline for entries is the scheduled time of the first game on Sunday, which this week is 10 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (or prior to kickoff if you're picking the Cowboys in tomorrow's game).

The official rules are here, but enough of that -- on to the first week's lines. Do you see an underdog (in caps) below that can win its game outright? Good luck, everybody!

11.5 MIAMI at Houston
9.5 INDIANAPOLIS at Chicago
9 WASHINGTON at New Orleans
8 ST. LOUIS at Detroit
8 CLEVELAND vs. Philadelphia
6 TENNESSEE vs. New England
6 CINCINNATI at Baltimore (Monday night -- pick still due Sunday morning)
5 SAN FRANCISCO at Green Bay
4 DALLAS at New York Giants (Wed. 5:30 PDT)
3.5 JACKSONVILLE at Minnesota
3 BUFFALO at New York Jets
3 ARIZONA vs. Seattle
3 KANSAS CITY vs. Atlanta
2.5 TAMPA BAY vs. Carolina
1 PITTSBURGH at Denver
1 OAKLAND vs. San Diego (Monday night -- pick still due Sunday morning)

Feel free to leave comments below, as advice and kibitzing are always appreciated. But don't forget -- only e-mail entries to underdog@bojack.org will be counted in the game.

We don't need no steenkin' vote

Okay, all you slaves on this Roman galley ship, I've got some good news and some bad news. First the good news: After dinner tonight, each man gets a cup of wine!

Now the bad news: The admiral wants to go water skiing.

This old joke comes to mind this week as we read about the latest antics of Portland's own Admiral Randy. He must have noticed that the Clackamas commissioners are trashing the public will down south, and he does not want to be outdone. There is no other way to rationalize his sudden decision to push to fluoridate the city's water, not in five years as originally announced, and not in three years as later revised, but in a year and a half. Thjs means that the money would be spent and the system would be operating before the public would get to vote on it in the spring of 2014.

They don't call him a bully for nothing. And of course, don't expect Jelly Fish or Legend Dan to do anything to stop him. Those two are munchkins to his Oz.

Since the majority of voters decided against fluoride the last time it was proposed, the right thing to do would be for the City Council itself to put it up for another election. But of course, no.

Mayor Creepy's latest delusion

Portland's lame duck mayor is grandstanding around bicycles again. Now he's reduced the speed limit on several city streets to 20 miles per hour, declaring that the speed reduction is "designed to prioritize bicycle and pedestrian travel."

This guy has been giving the finger to the majority of his constituents for the better part of a decade, and so it's no surprise that he's ready to trash motorists some more on his way out the City Hall door to his dubious future. But it cracks us up that anyone thinks that putting up 20 mile-an-hour speed limit signs is going to reduce actual traffic speeds. They've had them up on Fremont Street in the Beaumont neighborhood for years now, and it's a rare driver who goes that slowly through that stretch. And of course, police enforcement of the limit is just as rare, if not more so.

Knock yourself out with the signs, kids. All in good fun. As is this fairy tale:

In Portland, approximately six percent of commuters go to work or school by bike. This is the highest percentage of bike commuters for any large American city and translates to an average of over 17,000 people commuting on their bikes each day.

Are there really 17,000 bike commuters in Portland on an average day? Or is that on an average sunny day?

Showdown in Clackistan

The war between the rogue county commission and the Clackistani rebels winds up, as we suspected it would, in a courtroom this afternoon. At issue is the commission's attempt to rush through, without the normal public process, a $20 million bond sale to raise money to hand over to Tri-Met for the insane Mystery Train to Milwaukie. The county's theory of how it is legally able to do this seems preposterous to us -- if it's right, then contrary to common belief, voters have virtually no say on public debt issues in Oregon -- but we're not the judge. Moreover, there are always procedural objections that the county might make, and it's anybody's guess what they might be.

One thing seems certain: If the bonds don't get sold in time to get the money to Tri-Met by two weeks from today, it may never get paid. The outrage against the commissioners has never been hotter, and the initiative designed to prevent the county from funding the project seems likely to pass when the votes are counted on the 18th.

We wonder whether prospective buyers of the bonds -- and Moody's, which secretly rated the bonds before the single public hearing on the borrowing -- are going to be informed of the brouhaha. They're supposed to be appraised of all the material facts surrounding the paper, but materiality is sometimes in eye of the beholder.

In any event, today could well be a historic day for the county and the region.

Livin' just enough, just enough for the suburbs

Former Blazer Gerald Wallace, who now plays for the Brooklyn Nets, is quoted in this story about how the Nets' players aren't living in Brooklyn, because their practice facility and airport choice are still in New Jersey:

"I'm afraid of the city," forward Gerald Wallace flatly admitted in July. He grew up in tiny Childersburg, Ala. (population: 5,100) and found a home in Clifton, N.J., a solid 22 miles from the Nets’ new arena.

"Hopefully," Wallace said, "I can find a driver to take me back and forth."

We didn't think he was afraid of anything. Anyway, he's likely to be the toast of Clifton. Maybe my Jersey buds will run into him at this joint. "How many 'dogs, Gerald?"

Monday, September 3, 2012

A tale of two torches

Man, that giant Hayden Island hotel fire reminds us of the Chinese girl who broke all the records at the Olympics. They're saying "arson" about as fast as they said "doping."

First underdogs unleashed tomorrow

We've been getting a fine response to our invitations to the fourth season of our charity underdog game, in which players get to try to pick one victorious pro football underdog every week, and charities wind up the winners at season's end. All proceeds go to charities of the winners' choices.

The big daddies of the NFL get going this Wednesday night, and so we'll have our first lines up tomorrow. If you're interested in getting involved, check out the official rules here, and then send an e-mail message to our underdog address (underdog@bojack.org) for further instructions on how to enter. Players, we must have your entry fee by the 12th, or else your picks won't count until after we get it. But hard as it is to believe, the pickin' for another year starts in the morning!

Portland nanny state is not unique

It appear that in-your-face government is really up and running in L.A. these days.

Something even non-believers can believe in

Hal David died on Saturday at age 91. David wrote the lyrics and Burt Bacharach the music to one monster hit after another in the '60s and early '70s. The two met in the Brill Building, where they pumped them out before Burt headed off to Hollywood. David stayed in New York, but the two never missed a beat. They wrote a musical: "Promises, Promises." Tom Jones belted out "What's New, Pussycat?" Karen Carpenter wanted to be "Close to You." Bacharach made himself a household name, whereas David remained pretty much in the background.

It was a fascinating time in popular music. Rock and soul was sweeping out of the limelight, at least for a time, the sweet songs of Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, Frank Loesser, the Gershwins, and the many others who had created the great American songbook. It was a tough time to be making a living writing schmaltzy adult songs for full orchestra. The market for that sort of work was narrowing, but Bacharach and David kept it fresh for a decade or more.

The duo's catalog is a mile long, and it contains many gems. The first one that grabbed us was "Anyone Who Had a Heart," which was a big hit record for an unknown girl from East Orange, N.J. named Dionne Warwick. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" was on the air for what seemed like an eternity, picking off an Oscar along the way. Deep down in the mine are hidden greats like "Kentucky Bluebird (Send a Message to Martha)" by Lou Johnson. But if we had to choose one song to play for someone off that wonderful list, it would probably be this one. It's particularly interesting this weekend in that according to legend, it was created in the opposite order from the songwriting pair's usual routine. For this number, the lyrics were written first, by David, before Bacharach wrote the music:

What's it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
then I guess it is wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie,
what will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there's a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there's something much more,
something even non-believers can believe in.
I believe in love, Alfie.
Without true love we just exist, Alfie.
Until you find the love you've missed you're nothing, Alfie.
When you walk let your heart lead the way
and you'll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie.

Farewell, Mr. David, and thank you.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dawn of September

We are just back from a couple of nights in the woods:

A pinball wizard I'm not

But if given the chance, we could probably get pretty good at this game.

Order restored to universe

We were only half watching the television one night last week when we heard something that snapped us to attention. It was that familiar nasal voice, rattling off the latest prices for pillow-tops! Queen sets! And only $99 "each piece"!

Yes, it was the grand dame of Portland area bedding, Sherri Hiner, back pitching a new Mattress World store chain, which as we vaguely understand it is owned by somebody other than her nowadays. And if they don't beat the price on any comparable mattress, then the mattress is still free! As if.

She's been through some changes, all right. The business is gone. The husband is long gone. There's no sign of the kids any more -- they're probably pushing college age. But her saving you money -- that's eternal.

It reminds us a little bit of when Tom Peterson tanked, and then came back with "Gloria, too!" tacked on. Reincarnation is a regular thing on local late night commercials.

We find the mattress ads positively soothing compared to the other stuff that they're surrounded by. The fluoridation ads are downright creepy. Somebody's so hot to trot that they're coming on with a TV pitch, already even though the Portland City Council overlords haven't even passed an ordinance yet. And when they do, they aren't going to let the public vote on it unless the public collects beaucoup signatures to force the matter onto the ballot, many months from now. But the drilling into the public mind has already begun.

Who's going to make money off that project? We're not buying that all that ad time and production is being paid for by people who have only the little kiddies' molars in mind. Is it the engineers who will build the fluoridation plant? We should ask Fireman Randy -- he's probably got them on his Favorites list on his smart phone.

And then there are the ads for the casino out at the old dog track. What a load. There are going to be concerts! And a farmers' market! And jobs, jobs, jobs. Like magic. No negative impacts to worry about, at all. The pitch is so disingenuous that it gets a "no" vote, without need for any further discussion.

We've got to hand it Sherri. Compared to these shady characters, she looks pretty good.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Public meetings violation could derail bonds

One of the serious questions we have about the light rail bonds that the Clackamas County commissioners are rushing to sell this coming week is whether they agreed to authorize the bonds in violation of the Oregon public meetings law. Interestingly, a similar issue is currently pending in a battle over a ballot measure on a tax being proposed by the water authority in the Santa Clara Valley.

How embarrassing is Duck football?

According to the Wall Street Journal, as embarrassing as USC.

New neighbors

Where mighty maples stood for a century, rookies have appeared:

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