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

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November 2012 Archives

Friday, November 30, 2012

Have a great weekend

For the roses

After last weekend's football orgy, and not one but two intense rock concerts this week, we almost forgot that Stanford hosts UCLA this evening for the Pac 12 Conference championship. Go, Tree!

Creepy's final frenzy just won't quit

Now he's going to ramrod parking meters into Northwest Portland on his way out the door.

It ain't gonna help, buddy. Worst. Mayor. Ever.

Secret zombie hotel talks getting rough

The Metro government drones who are foisting a white elephant Convention Center hotel on the innocent public are making the deal with Hyatt Hotels in a back room devoid of light, air, or public scrutiny. It's a bad, bad way to run government. The second-tier politicians who sit on the Metro board ought to have their heads handed to them over that in their next elections. But of course, this is Portlandia, and they'll just mumble something "green" and coast to re-election.

Today we learn that even with nobody looking, they're having trouble getting the Hyatt people to be realistic. There's a "funding gap," we're told, and the talks are stalling.

There's also a common sense gap. Let's hope the talks break down and this stinker of a deal slinks back into its tomb, where it belongs.

It's also sad to observe that yesterday's spin on the deal from Tom "Waylon" Hughes, the underachieving Metro president, made no mention of a "funding gap." That was a sneaky omission, weak reporting, or both.

Pushing your luck

Urban cycling is inherently dangerous. But the City of Portland continues to promote it as a person's default mode of transportation. This gives people the wrong idea. Here's an example from last evening. Somebody's riding at 60th and Division, in the dark, in the rain, and towing a small child in a trailer. They're stopped behind a car at a red light. Another car comes up from behind, plows into the trailer, and traps the kid and the rider between itself and the car in front of them.

Sure, the driver's at fault. But pulling your kid in a bicycle trailer down a busy street in the dark, rainy evening rush hour is something that should be discouraged, not recommended.

Tracking the migrating hipsters

Here's an interesting study about "gentrification" on Portland's east side. Unfortunately, it was done by the City Hall "sustainability" brigade, in between blogging about 100 new uses for tofu. That means we residents paid a bundle for it.

Yes, when a neighborhood gets fixed up, housing costs rise and poor folks get pushed out. Somehow the "planning" kids at Portland City Hall, fresh out of the PSU Patronage Center, think they're going to change that. With:

Affordable Housing
Business Development
Tracking and Evaluation

That first remedy is pretty funny. Time for some more parking-less apartment bunkers! It's for "equity," don'tcha know.

Adams-Ruiz weirdness ending as it began

We honestly don't know what to make of this. Since Mayor Char-Lie is going to show transportation chief Tom Miller the door, and the new director will likely want his or her own head flack, it's hard to figure out what Mayor Creepy is up to. Bizarre? Yes. Suspicious? Yes. Typical? Also yes.

Breaking news: If you toll I-5, you'll have to toll I-205

Willy Week, which has run many an editorial disguised as a news article about the proposed I-5 Interstate Bridge replacement, shrieked yesterday that if a toll is placed on the new bridge, commuters will flock to the Glen Jackson Bridge, I-205, instead. Well, of course -- it's hard to imagine a reasonable person thinking otherwise. There would have to be tolls on both bridges.

The howler of the story is a quotation from the author of a recent study on the subject. (They needed a study?)

With so many drivers saying they'll divert their route, it's likely that I-205 would become congested.

"Become" congested? "Become"? Anybody who tries to commute on that span during weekday rush hours knows the irony of that word.

Breaking news: Taxes are lower now than under Carter

We thought everybody knew that.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The lie exposed

Today Tom Hughes, who we thought would be good as Metro president but has turned out to be a spectacular disappointment, inadvertently illustrated the utter fraud that is public involvement in Portland. He was commenting on the zombie Convention Center hotel project:

"We set an aggressive timeline to get this project to term sheets by December and we’re just not there yet," said Hughes. "We'll conduct our due diligence for the sake of the public and we’ll provide opportunities for the public to weigh in."

The guy is already talking "term sheets," which are essentially mini-contracts laying out the terms of the deal. One of the issues that the public would like to give input on is whether this stinker of a deal should be done at all. But Hughes is all the way to discussing the "term sheets" already. In other words, it's a done deal, and the public can talk to the hand.

The latest delay in the process means that Portland's lame-duck mayor and his ineffectual economic advisors won't be presiding over it when the real money starts flowing. But his successor, Char-Lie Hales, will no doubt champion it, just with a slightly different cast of development and construction weasels pulling the strings.

Hughes may throw good money after bad, but we don't do the same with votes, and he's likely gotten the last of ours that he'll ever see.

Oh Lord, they want to be in that number

We've got two players in our charity pro football game going with tonight's road 'dog, the Saints:

3.5 NEW ORLEANS at Atlanta - genop, Bayou Baby

At the moment, they're a touchdown down to the Georgia birds, who are driving toward another.

UPDATE, 9:14 p.m.: The Saints were the Ain'ts.

Blessed event for the Gatsbys

Ron Wyden and his wife had a baby girl this morning. The senator even dragged his spouse out from New York to Portland for the delivery. There's one more factoid for him to wheel out when the bona fides of his Oregon residency are challenged.

They'll all be back in the Big Apple in plenty of time for the holidays, of course. In any event, congratulations to the family, and good luck to Wyden with three small kids including a newborn at age 63.

"Electric Vehicles: The Portland Way"

It's the latest from our outgoing mayor and his transportation minions (those not yet indicted). It sure does have some moments:

For every EV that is purchased in Portland, the City will work to remove another vehicle from the transportation system through targeted programs like SmartTrips Portland and other demand management programs....

Some best practices being explored include establishing a “Clean Taxi” priority at airports and rail stations, charging for parking based on climate impact, or working with the State of Oregon to allow EVs to use carpool lanes or developing queue jumps on highway ramps....

Most EV users will charge their cars at home each night. However a significant number of homes, apartments and condominiums in Portland do not have the off-street parking that is generally required to install a home charging unit. The City believes every resident of Portland should have access to the benefits of EVs if they choose.

This is why the City is exploring a first of its kind partnership with Zipcar, the largest carshare organization in the country, to provide fast and reliable charging to all residents in Portland. Under this potential program, EV owners that are Zipcar members could use Zipcar’s reservation technology to secure time at a fast charger in one of several central locations, potentially in City-owned garages. This unique partnership will allow EV owners to charge their cars at a time that is convenient for them, and do it in less than half an hour....

To foster job growth consistent with the City’s Economic Development Strategy, the Portland Development Commission (PDC) identified an emerging cluster of EV related businesses in Portland and Oregon. PDC is working with Business Oregon to help support these businesses, grow the cluster and in turn create jobs....

The PDC is also in the process of developing a program in the City’s urban renewal areas after State and Federal tax credits to cover the “last mile” costs of installing EV charging stations in urban renewal districts in Portland. In conjunction with lending partners the program will seek to provide bridge loans to businesses wishing to install EV charging stations....

The City will continue to collaborate with Ecotality North America and actively seek to partner with other private entities, utilities and universities in support of EV adoption and infrastructure deployment.

"Grow the cluster" -- indeed.

Last call for a Big Easy 'dog

Players in our charity pro football underdog game, don't forget that if you're picking New Orleans, the deadline for letting us know is kickoff time -- 5:20 p.m. Pacific Time this afternoon.

Race of the flacks

They've indicted the Clackamas County elections worker who was caught tampering with a few ballots this month. If she's guilty, may she be punished severely.

On the lighter side, both attorney general Ellen Rosenblum and secretary of state Kate Brown hustled out separate press releases this morning taking credit for this intense law enforcement effort. Rosenblum's got out 10 minutes before Brown's did. Guess that means she wins.

UPDATE, 10:35 a.m.: And oops! Brown's flack spelled the defendant's name wrong, requiring a corrective press release, an hour and a half after the original. Rosenblum definitely wins.

What the puck? Winterhawks are in deep doo-doo.

For people who like hockey, these are dark times. Every once in a while the major league, the NHL, shoots itself in the foot with a labor dispute that shuts everything down. An entire season is lost. They're back on that kick this season, with an infamous "lockout" that could wipe out the whole campaign, which was supposed to start a couple of months ago.

For fans in smaller towns like Portland, there's been consolation in our junior league teams -- boys in their late teens playing for their own minor league cups and living a life that's somewhere between a normal teenager's and a big-time pro hockey player's. Here in Portlandia, the team is the Winterhawks, and it's been doing pretty well lately, making it to its conference tournament's final round the last two years.

The Winterhawks were dealt a harsh blow by their league, the Western Hockey League, yesterday. The Portland team was found to have violated several league rules concerning providing benefits to its players. Our buddy Dwight Jaynes reports the infractions thusly:

-- The Winterhawks signed a player in 2009 and promised flights for the player's family and a summer training program.

-- Over the last five years seven families have been provided flights two to four [times] per season based on financial need and distance from Portland.

-- Twice in the last five years the Winterhawks paid for two players to have a one-week summer training program.

-- The Winterhawks provided a cell phone for their captain for a period of three seasons.

The sentence received for these offenses is major:

The junior hockey league issued a ban from the first five rounds of the 2013 Bantam Draft and forfeiture of the team's first-round picks for four seasons after that. In addition, coach and general manager Mike Johnston has been suspended for the remainder of this season, including the postseason, and the team has been fined $200,000.

Veteran observers have told me they do not remember a penalty this severe handed down by the league. "We were shocked," Johnston said....

Not even in the early 1990s, when Swift Current Coach Graham James pleaded guilty to sexually abusing one of his players, has a WHL team been penalized this severely. Earlier this season, the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League also were nailed with a similar penalty.

It sounds pretty darn ugly. Condolences to the players, who will now be competing through a major disruption, and to the faithful Portland fans, whose hopes for a title just dimmed considerably.

While you're waiting

If you're stuck in a whiteout near the top of Mount Hood, and the rescuers are trying to get to you, hunker down and post some stuff to Facebook.

Last of the hardcore troubadours

We spent three hours plus with Rev. Bruce Springsteen at the Rose Garden tonight. It was a beautiful experience. Springsteen is quite generous with his loving audience these days. He's hobbling around like he needs a hip replacement, but that isn't stopping him. He's going full tilt, dancing, hopping, gyrating all over the floor of the arena, cranking out one big guitar riff after another. And he's letting the throngs climb all over him, everybody from grade school girls to ladies his own age, which is now north of 60. He's filthy rich and getting richer with every strum of the guitar, but the faithful sure do get their money's worth.

The music these days is, as always, a mix of the new and the old, with the best of the old readily available. Tonight Bruce played "Rosalita," which we haven't heard him do live in decades, along with "Thunder Road" and "Born to Run," anthems he's probably tired of regurgitating. There was candy like "Dancing in the Dark," "Hungry Heart," and "Waiting on a Sunny Day." There was delicious nostalgia with "Growin' Up" and "Spirit in the Night." And tender moments were had in "If I Should Fall Behind" and "Drive All Night." The new stuff, from the album "Wrecking Ball," was fine, too, although we still haven't quite bought into most of it.

The two most important songs of the night for us were "Seeds," followed by a surprisingly up-tempo, full-band version of "Johnny 99." These songs rocked, but the lyrics, for those who listened to them, were darkly sobering, to say the least. Bruce is a wealthy old guy, but he's not shy about pointing out that all is not well in our nation and world.

Every minute of every Bruce show is dissected and analyzed these days, and so there's no need for us to go all journalistic about this one. Big picture: Bruce is older; so are we. He's got some young people in the back of the stage now, and they all get to come down to the front and shine with the old dudes a few times a night. Deceased sax man Clarence Clemons's nephew Jake is now playing his uncle's solos, and doing it quite well. It's a big group up there. E Street is 17 pieces nowadays. It looks as though Nils Lofgren, who's starting to take on a bit of a Groucho-esque appearance, is shepherding the younger set along. That's uplifting.

When the lights came on at the end of the show, it was evident that the average age of the audience members was well into middle age. But when the lights had been down and the band was playing a few minutes earlier, it seemed as though everybody in the place was a teenager. We sang along on a lot of the anthems, and cheered as loud as we could. We won't have much of a voice tomorrow, but no matter; the rasp was well earned. "But now you're sad, your mama's mad, and your papa says he knows that I don't have any money"-- in that moment, we were back in a basement nightclub in New York City, and it was the spring of 1974.

We're not sure we have an exact count, but by our best reckoning, tonight made 13 Springsteen concerts for us, over 38 years and change. There is no way we'll ever be objective about any of those shows. So hey -- we were there tonight. It was great.

One final note: Bruce's Portland lesbians were in the mosh pit again tonight, as they had been in '08, and this time he was looking for them -- indeed, downright happy to see them. They made it all the way to the stage for a dance -- we believe it was on "Darlington County." It was a sweet feature of a night full of them. Including a line that we'll never stop loving: "They scream your name at night in the street."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It is Bruce time

Over and out.

City of Portland nickel-dime song plays on

Now that we have streetcars and bike paths going everywhere, Portland City Hall says it needs to raise taxes and fees to pay for basic street maintenance. They should just put up signs at the city limits saying, "People with a life and a brain, stay out."

Salem gets on bicycle bandwagon

The state transportation department now has an "active transportation liaison" for the Portland area. She's got a degree in urban "planning," of course, and so she knows the secret handshake. And she's a major, major bicyclist herself. There is bike polo -- we did not know that.

Now she'll be busy making the area even safer for other people who emulate Earl the Pearl. Specifically, the agenda is:

- Develop a Region 1 Pedestrian/Bicycle Project Needs Inventory
- Inventory active transportation improvements to ODOT facilities identified in local and regional plans
- Coordinate with community organizations to identify concerns, needs, and priorities
- Conduct quantitative analysis of ped/bike “hot spots” (e.g. high crash locations)
- Build partnerships to identify and pursue funding for active transportation projects
- Provide technical assistance to advance transit, pedestrian, and bicycle elements of existing ODOT projects (e.g. TV Highway, N/NE Quadrant Plan)
- Promote staff development opportunities regarding transit, pedestrian, and bicycle issues, such as Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals webinars.

Meanwhile, the city is about to ask the state for $39 million in transportation grants, mostly for bikey goodness. That ordinance will likely be passed today.

We're amazed on how much allegedly scarce public money can be spent on so few people, but hey, it's Portlandia. They are the chosen ones. Go by streetcar.

Multnomah County goes deep in hole for Sellwood Bridge

Multnomah County is borrowing a whopping $128 million over the next week to pay its share of the cost of replacing the Sellwood Bridge. The official sales pitch for the deal is here. The bonds will be payable over 20 years (if they don't get refinanced, of course), and they'll be backed by the county's "full faith and credit," which is fancy talk for putting property taxes at risk. Interest costs alone are projected to run about $71.5 million over the life of the deal, and the interest the banks and other bondholders get paid will all be exempt from income taxes.

Of the $128 million, the county has already borrowed and spent $40 million under shadowy lines of credit that come due in the next few weeks; the new bonds will pay off these lines, and the rest of the loan will go into the kitty for the much-delayed bridge replacement. But of course, not before a bunch of hangers-on get paid: Portland bond lawyer Harvey Rogers and the money consultants at Seattle-Northwest Securities -- the crew that pushed through the rogue Mystery Train bonds for the now-dethroned Clackamas County commissioners -- have their hands in the till on this one as well.

The City of Portland will be going into hock quite shortly for its contribution to the bridge project, too. At last report, the city bonds were going to be for $70 million, in a deal that is scheduled go down in December.

The huge loan to the county gives observers a chance to take a look at the county's current financial picture. It isn't terrible, but neither is it great. The bonds are rated Aa1 by Moody's, which is three rungs below a top rating of Aaa. Given that the creditors can come after property taxes for repayment, that's not exactly a vote of confidence.

As of the end of 2011, the county had an unfunded pension liability of about $292 million, and as of the end of 2010, it had other unfunded retirement liabilities, for retiree health care and the like, of $154.5 million. Since these costs are going up rather than down these days, one can be fairly confident that the current figures for those liabilities are at least $450 million.

As for bonds and other loans, without the bridge replacement debt the county is in the hole for about $217.7 million, which will now jump to $345.7 million. Thus, combined with the retirement burdens, the county's long-term debt stands at about $800 million. The county's population is about 742,000, which means that the long-term debt works out to about $1,100 per person.

Of course, we who live within the City of Portland are staring at a city debt load of more than 10 times that amount, and so this additional mortgaging of the future may seem pretty small by comparison. But the county's debt, including the loan for the bridge, is another log on an already big pile.

And clearly the county's moving in the wrong direction. When we examined its debt picture five years ago, the county's debt per resident was about $545 -- about half of what it now. Doubling down on debt over a mere five years is a bad sign.

New plan for Burnside Bridgehead -- take a guess

The "final solution" has emerged for the utterly failed Portland Development Commission project to build something on the so-called Burnside Bridgehead site, at the east side of the bridge. And surprise, surprise -- it's apartment bunkers!

An alert reader from over that way fills us in:

It seems PDC is igniting the Burnside Bridgehead with a new... wait for it... cr-apartment project on steroids. This is going to be a 12-story, 290-unit project with 175 parking spots. One thing to note is the purchase price: $1.65 million -- which in this case equates to less than $50 per square foot of land. PDC claims this is a market price, but it is now well documented that [cr-apartment purveyor Wally] Remmers has paid north of $85 per square foot for his land. So PDC is bringing in these bunkers and subsidizing the developer (of course).

This is not the only cr-apartment project on the Bridgehead. Brad "Developer Welfare" Malsin is developing block 75, which will include 140 units and 78 parking spaces. Malsin is, of course, under construction on the Convention Plaza renovation, which will house 96,000 square feet of "creative office" space and will provide only 30 surface spots.

To summarize: There will soon be 430 bunker units on the Bridgehead site, 177 of which will have no allocated parking. There will soon be 96,000 square feet of "creative office" that by normal standards will have no parking. PDC is creating this high-density, über-packed and under-parked nightmare at taxpayer expense by subsidizing the land purchase to developers. Just one example is Convention Plaza, which PDC paid nearly $9 million for, yet gave it to Malsin for $2.3 million, which he can "earn" the right not to repay (which, of course, he won't).

It is worth noting that while the parking kerfuffle continues to brew on Division, PDC is creating and subsidizing a much worse problem on the already heavily burdened, streetcar-clogged fustercluck where the ill-conceived Couch Couplet, Burnside, and Grand/MLK intersect. Unbelievable.

Really? It's totally believable to us. This is classic Portland -- speeding down the road to municipal bankruptcy, all the while handing out money to greasy developer types. And erecting one bulky, soulless eyesore after another. But it's somehow "green and sustainable" -- oh, so very "green and sustainable," and so all the sheep bleat their loving approval.

Wait 'til Char-Lie takes charge of the cash register. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Sam Rands' West Hayden Island railroad job fails

Even the hand-picked bobbleheads on the Portland planning commission were aghast at the shameless abuse of process that the mayor attempted in connection with the proposed Port of Portland shipping terminal on West Hayden Island. Last night the opponents won the right to a level of public input at least slightly above a disgraceful sham. Good for them.

But it still seems like a few months' delay of the inevitable. This is a Network deal, and Char-Lie and Novick promise to be every bit as beholden to the powers that be as the departing Sam Rand Twins have been. Unless somebody finds a truly endangered species on that island in a hurry, the wildlife there is likely to be smelling the asphalt by Easter.

We're no. 17!

The U.S. education system, that is, in this ranking of school systems in developed nations. The winners? Finland and South Korea. The U.K. comes in at no. 6.

Git along, little 'doggies

It's a wild week here at Blog Central, and we're running a little behind with this week's lines in our charity pro football underdog game. Our official oddsmaker has found himself in the same boat. But now he's come through with this week's slate of games, and heeeeeere it is! The underdogs are in caps:

9.5 MINNESOTA at Green Bay
9 MIAMI vs. New England
8 TAMPA BAY at Denver
7 ST. LOUIS vs. San Francisco
5.5 JACKSONVILLE at Buffalo
5.5 TENNESSEE vs. Houston
4.5 ARIZONA at New York Jets
4.5 INDIANAPOLIS at Detroit
4 SEATTLE at Chicago
3.5 NEW ORLEANS at Atlanta (Thursday 5:20 p.m. Pacific)
3 KANSAS CITY vs. Carolina
3 PITTSBURGH at Baltimore
1.5 CLEVELAND at Oakland
1 SAN DIEGO vs. Cincinnati
1 WASHINGTON vs. New York Giants

As ever, the object is to choose one 'dog to win its game outright (without benefit of the point spread). If you're right, you get the number of points your team was predicted to lose by. The seasons standings to date are here.

Players choosing the Saints (who did not come marching in last weekend) must have their pick to us by kickoff time tomorrow. For all other games, the deadline is 10:00 a.m. PST Sunday. We're at Week 13 and long overdue for a big hit or two. Good luck to our crew with the 'dognostication.

Just a reminder that when our game wraps up in late January, we've got $1,340 for charity, and our winning players (the top five of our 42) will get to say which charities get the moolah. Winning never felt so good -- okay, maybe Powerball winning...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

There used to be a boardwalk...

... right here.

More on U of O's African blood money

Here's an interesting interview with a student from Gabon, who confirms that the government of his country is corrupt. He hopes things will get better, but as Granny used to say, if wishes were horses, beggars could ride. [Via UO Matters.]

OMG o' the Day

Jamie Dimon for Treasury secretary? Alexander Hamilton just rolled in his grave.

Of course, it's just a false alarm. Running Treasury, Li'l Jamie would answer to Obama. As it stands now, it's just the opposite, and that's the way Li'l Jamie likes it.

Arm the campus cops at Portland State?

There's a lot of sexual assault being reported in the vicinity of the PSU Patronage Center these days, and the talk has turned to equipping the security guards down there with guns. Hard to see how that's going to make a difference in the rape statistics. Meanwhile, in Blugene, the UC Nike campus cops already have their Glocks. Don't let those library fines get out of hands, kids.

Rough night for this Portland "creative" on bike

Having a life apparently wasn't part of it. The guy brings together both the hipster element and the violent mental illness that are making inner Portlandia what it is today. Perhaps he's one of "the 'millennials' -- the generation that will provide our next cohort of well-educated entrepreneurs."

This is whom the "planners" are wrecking the city to attract. The judge should order him to do his community service on the planning commission.

We don't care what Mama don't allow

All of a sudden it's Rock Week here at Blog Central. No sooner has the World Party bus departed for San Francisco than the Springsteen caravan is due to arrive from Vancouver, B.C.

The locals are doing a show of Bruce covers at Mississippi Studios tonight -- is there any chance that the Boss (or at least some of his bandmates) could show up? At this point, you'll have to pay a scalper to see for yourself -- they've sold the place out. The real Bruce show is tomorrow night, and tickets in the nosebleed sections of the Rose Garden can still be had.

Portland streetcar manufacturer is screwing up

The local outfit that's building Portland's eastside streetcars has been darned late in getting the job done. And if the Portland cars are late, the cars the company's supposedly going to build for Tucson are even later:

The company building Tucson's streetcars has reassigned most of the workers on the Tucson project to the already-delayed Portland, Ore., system, potentially triggering a domino delay for Tucson.

The company, United Streetcar, also lost two key senior managers at the production plant, City Sun Link Co-Manager Andrew Quigley wrote in a memo to the City Council late last week, warning of "potential schedule delays."...

Portland was supposed to receive its first vehicle for testing on city tracks earlier this month, but that has been delayed to address design issues discovered in testing at the factory, resulting in United Streetcar shifting "nearly all of their manpower to the Portland vehicles," Quigley wrote....

United Streetcar, a subsidiary of Oregon Iron Works,... has struggled with numerous design and propulsion-system problems over the past few months. As a result, deadlines and delivery dates had to be shifted.

Implementation of The Blumenauer Vision is running true to form.

Showed me round your Love Street

There we stood, five feet away from Karl Wallinger, singing "Sweet Soul Dream" along with him and a hundred or so of his fans. It doesn't get too much better than that.

Wallinger, a.k.a. World Party, was in town to promote a new 5-CD set called "Arkeology." He had in tow four guys from Nashville, three of whom he apparently just met a little over a week ago. This was their second night on a quick tour of the West Coast. Wallinger doesn't get to Portland much; this might be his third time here in 25 years.

Of course, as a decades-long fan, we relished this rare treat. It wouldn't have mattered if he had been up there by himself playing a cardboard banjo. But his supporting cast, who were all young enough to be his sons, pretty much nailed the music while watching in amusement and awe as their 55-year-old leader went through his paces. They were excellent together, but it was easy to see that a week from now, these guys could be dangerously excellent together.

There were a few numbers that we didn't recognize, but "Ship of Fools," "Is it Too Late?," "Way Down Now," "When the Rainbow Comes," "Put the Message in the Box," "Is it Like Today?," "Sunshine" -- the choicest chestnuts from the late '80s and early '90s were all there. Along with "She's the One," a later Wallinger tune whose recording by Robbie Williams generated monster royalties that tided the family over after Wallinger encountered some serious health challenges a decade or so ago.

World Party music has a definite Beatlesque tinge to it, and there were a couple of moments there when it seemed as though Wallinger was channeling John Lennon. He's also got a bit of a Prince side to him, but with the Nashville guys behind him, it didn't really flash to the fore.

We'd mentioned World Party to quite a few people over the last 72 hours, seeing if we could get a rise out of them. With few exceptions, the people to whom we mentioned the show had never heard of the band. If you're in that category as well, we're happy to send you here to get you started. "Take off from the green light now."

As we told Wallinger's son, who was selling CDs and T-shirts after the show, given the quality and subject matter of his dad's music he should be just about the biggest thing going right now. Maybe that day will come before he retires. Whether it does or not, tonight's was a performance not to be missed, and we're grateful that we stumbled across news of its coming and made it. We love you, Karl. Come back soon.

But now we're looking at the clock, and we're reminded of the key lyric in the song "Ship of Fools," which was probably the climax of the show: "You will pay tomorrow!"

Monday, November 26, 2012

What a Charlie Hales pledge is worth

Nothing, of course. And he isn't even in office yet. But hey, it's Portland -- that grease is organic canola.

Is your mind too sharp?

Don't worry -- the Portland hippies are here to transform it into a gelatinous mush:

Placemaking is a multi-layered process within which citizens foster active, engaged relationships to the spaces which they inhabit, the landscapes of their lives, and shape those spaces in a way which creates a sense of communal stewardship and lived connection. This is most often accomplished through a creative reclamation of public space: projects which take the form of benches on street corners where neighbors can sit, rest and talk with each other, kiosks on sidewalks where neighbors can post information about local events, needs and resources and street paintings in the public right-of-way that demonstrate to all who pass through that this is a Place: inhabited, known and loved by its residents....

City Repair facilitates artistic and ecologically-oriented placemaking through projects that honor the interconnection of human communities and the natural world. The many projects of City Repair have been accomplished by a mostly volunteer staff and thousands of volunteer citizen activists.

It goes on and on, here.

This should be easy

Here's a Portland woman fighting to make a difference. The issue: safety standards for bed rails. The issue is caught up in bureaucratic buck-passing and anti-regulatory rhetoric. But meanwhile old folks are dying in accidents. For Pete's sake, if they can regulate cribs, the same should be true of hospital beds and nursing home beds.

The planners' pictures are misleading

As one reader points out, "the artist left out the unicorns farting out rainbows and leprechauns showering gold down on passers-by." It's the latest fantasy about how taking away traffic lanes from Foster Road, which carries 25,000 cars a day, is somehow going to help the Lents neighborhood. The usual "citizen advisory" suspects out that way are active working the plan -- basically, the same people who were helping Admiral Randy push the rejected Paulson baseball stadium in Lents Park.

Lents could use a hand from City Hall, but unfortunately all that's available are the usual Portland theme park features. The money would be better spent on cops and schools.

For what it's worth, the neighborhood association will reportedly be taking input on the "road diet" tomorrow night at 7, at the Lents Activity Center, 8835 SE Woodstock. Good luck with that.

Out-of-office message

A couple of readers have pointed us to this article, casting a harsh light on the fat vacations that the Portland City Council takes for itself. The story brings a wistful smile to our face, but it's hard to get excited about. It's an old story, and we agree with those who observe that the council members inflict so much damage when they're working that the harm they do by abusing vacation privileges pales in comparison.

West Hayden Island fustercluck is classic Sam Rands

Portland's creepy mayor has pulled some crass stunts in his soon-to-be-over political career, but few if any have been as ham-handed and ugly as his attempted ramrodding of the paving over of wildlife habitat on West Hayden Island for a redundant shipping facility. You know you've bungled your mission when your own stacked advisory committee votes against you, which is just what happened Wednesday night.

Of course, none of what that committee says really matters, and neither does the fake planning commission hearing tomorrow night. As the City Council demonstrated quite clearly in the SoWhat immigration jail debacle, it does whatever it wants to do, process be damned. In the Hayden Island case, if the clown mayor wants a council vote in December, there'll be a vote in December, and of course, he already has one yes vote from Fireman Randy no mater how outrageous the proposition. Surely one of the other three bobbleheads will go along.

No doubt the mayor is trying to please the Goldschmidt overlords at the Port of Portland, since he's out of work come the end of next month and perhaps the Network can find him something if he delivers for them. What a sorry time for Portland.

Gatsby's at it again

Senator Ron Wyden, allegedly a Democrat from Oregon, has a tax plan. And funny thing -- it's not the White House plan. It's not the Democratic Party plan (if such a thing exists). It's his own special plan, with a Republican co-sponsor. Or maybe it's just a "white paper." Guess that depends on whether he needs to disavow it later.

Here's what he said was in it in May:

[L]ower marginal tax rates — the tax rate on the last dollar of income earned — did more for the economy as a whole than special tax provisions or sweetheart deals.

Our bill wipes out dozens of these giveaways and lowers the corporate tax rate for everyone, from a global high of 35 percent down to a competitive 24 percent. That will boost American businesses’ ability to compete, plain and simple.

The Wyden-Coats bill eliminates the tax break for shipping jobs overseas but gives U.S. corporations a one-time tax holiday to repatriate profits currently held offshore, helping them transition to the new tax system. In addition to the low flat corporate rate, this will help make the U.S. a more attractive place for both U.S. and foreign businesses to invest.

A sweet deal indeed for the corporations. What about human beings? Here's what Gatsby's talking this week:

Wyden and Coats would reduce the number of individual tax brackets from the current six to three: 15 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent. They would also eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax. The AMT is the controversial parallel tax designed to keep wealthy taxpayers from avoiding tax liability, but unless Congress overrides it, the number of people who have to pay the AMT would explode from four million to 33 million.

Wyden and Coats also want to eliminate many common deductions and replace them with a larger, flat deduction that they say would allow many taxpayers to file without itemizing. According to the senators' calculations, Wyden says, individuals and couples with incomes up to $200,000 would "do as well or better than they do under current tax law."

That last statement may be true, as far as it goes. And the bill also increases the tax that upper-income folks pay on their investment gains and corporate dividends -- a long overdue change. But eliminating the alternative minimum tax would also be a sweet present for the upper-middle- and high-income sets.

In any event, if the country thinks there's going to be a fundamental tax reform package passed in the next month, it seems badly mistaken. What's more likely is that Congress and the White House will kick the can a little further down the road -- enacting a "patch" of a year or two. There are simply too many discordant voices babbling about taxes right now -- Wyden's included.

But what's more interesting for Oregonians is that Wyden continues his feeble Mark Hatfield impression, trying desperately to create a positive reputation by playing footsie with the Republicans, all the while shuttling back and forth between D.C. and his wife and kids' Manhattan home. The first time he put this very same tax plan forward, his co-sponsor was a different Republican, this one from New Hampshire, who promptly left the Senate and is now working at Goldman Sachs.

Maybe that's where Wyden will wind up if they ever pry his gnarled hands off his Senate chair. It's a much easier commute from midtown to Wall Street than to Washington.

World Party tonight

Welcome back to Portland, Karl Wallinger.

She gave good service

The "unpaid social liaison officer" actually got a military medal -- the Joint Chiefs of Staff Award for Outstanding Public Service -- for her contributions to the well-being of the armed forces.

A surprise end to the newscast

This final minute of a Maine television news show came out of the blue.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

On the shady side of the street

The third installment of the comic book version of Phil Stanford's excellent City of Roses story series was released a few days ago. It's in Dark Horse Comics Presents, No. 18. With beautiful art by Patric Reynolds, and of course fine stories from Phil, it's definitely on our wish list from Santa.

Why car hating is the only answer

Here's a comedy piece: Streetcar Smith and a real estate operator, preaching the "multi-modal" gospel.

And the "millennials" -- the generation that will provide our next cohort of well-educated entrepreneurs -- show a marked preference for smartphone ownership over auto ownership as they migrate to central city areas.

They ought to phone home and ask Mom and Dad to buy them a car so that they can maybe get a job.

But the real doozy is up near the top:

First, this is an issue of equity. Cars are expensive to own, insure, maintain and drive. Not all Portlanders can afford to own, much less drive, a car. A strategy focused solely on autos marginalizes the most vulnerable people in our community.

Chase out the people with real lives, and all private business. Watch as the city is taken over by mentally ill street people, hard-core unemployables on bicycles, and hordes of government bureaucrats. Then start refusing to provide services to people with real lives, citing "equity," thus causing further flight of anyone who might be part of a real economy. It's a classic circle game.

One thing's for sure: The "most vulnerable" will need cr-apartments, and guess who will be there to build them. With the occasional earnest dupe like Streetcar Smith helping the process along.

Take an Alka Seltzer -- here comes another helping

It feels as though we've watched a month's worth of football in the last 72 hours, but the Big Daddies in the pro ranks go at it again today, and these players in our charity underdog pool will be following their canine buddies (in caps):

10.5 KANSAS CITY vs. Denver - Lucas, Rudie, MickeyMacNYC, Ted
9.5 OAKLAND at Cincinnati - Gordon, Jeremy, Gary, Bob, Coastal Storm, Biggest Cubs Loser, Tinknocker, Bad Brad, Eric W.
3 BUFFALO at Indianapolis - Dave A.
3 MIAMI vs. Seattle - John Cr.
3 JACKSONVILLE vs. Tennessee - Pete Rose
2.5 NEW ORLEANS vs. San Francisco - Michael K., JMH, Sola
2.5 GREEN BAY at New York Giants - Bayou Baby, PDXileinOmaha, John Ch., Tung

This entry was composed earlier today, and is being posted by robot. At this writing, there are still a couple of stragglers who haven't entered a pick. If we get their choices by the 10 a.m. deadline, we'll add them as an update to this post when we get to blog matters later today.

The players who picked Thursday were:

6.5 NEW YORK JETS vs. New England - Usual Kevin, Annie, Pete Rozelle, genop, Dr. D, Carol
3.5 WASHINGTON at Dallas - NoPoGuy, Cinderella Story, George, Will, Grizfan, Broadway Joe, Paul, genop's gal, DB Cooper, Juicen
3 DETROIT vs. Houston - Pdxmick

Only Washington prevailed. The current standings, including the results of the Thursday contests, are here.

Good luck, and if you can stand to watch any more gridiron action today, enjoy it!

UPDATE, 4:48 p.m.: No additional picks to report. Jacksonville and Miami score a few points for two players.

UPDATE, 11/26, 1:47 a.m.: Green Bay is trounced in the nightcap, leaving our final standings for Week 12 as follows:

Continue reading "Take an Alka Seltzer -- here comes another helping" »

Caption this photo

Downtown Holiday Unveiling
So far the best we've got is, "He filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk."

He taught me how to watch, fight, and pray

For your Sunday morning, the story behind one of the great modern gospel songs is retold here.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Put away the swimsuits and sunscreen

The Willamette River, which is supposedly so clean that it's time to start swimming in it, has been getting quite the flow of raw sewage this week. But don't worry, in a few months all that contamination will be gone -- it just disappears -- so let's build a recreational beach downtown for all the kids to bike down to. Better yet, go by streetcar!

Vice Principal Big Brother

This seems a little ridiculous. At some point soon, government will want to chip all newborn babies. It won't be too hard to get the public to go along -- maybe they'll offer the parents a $25 Target gift card.

They'll soldier on without us

Tomorrow's pro football contest between the Vikings and the Bears is off the board in our charity prediction game. There were no lines posted by Thursday night, and so by our rules, the game is out of the mix for the weekend.

Are they shutting down the zoo train?

A reader writes:

My rabbit ears picked up some interesting cocktail party gossip. The zoo train is about to be eliminated, because it disturbs the elephants.

Now, there's a rumor to start your holiday season with. If it's true, this year could be the last chance to ride the thing.

For that plumber on your gift list

Our nine-year-old never fails to provide new perspectives. Her keen eye spotted this scene on Black Friday in the Guess store at Lloyd Center:

Friday, November 23, 2012

And your bird can sing

Interesting twist in the Portland parking meter bribe scandal: Ellis McCoy, the convicted bribe-taker, has had his sentencing postponed from this coming Monday to an unspecified future date. Perhaps his memory about other city officials is improving? Let's hope so.

Rock me tonight

We love estate sales. We're always finding cheap treasures at them -- neckties, books, gadgets, and especially music. A sale we hit last weekend yielded this incredible find, a 45 RPM record which was a mere 50 cents on half-price Sunday:

We remember it so well. Johnny Koonce with an early version of his band, the Distractions, including the phenom Bill Feldman on lead guitar. Kip Richardson was on drums, before Johnny swapped drummers and picked up Kevin Jarvis from the Odds. This was the lineup we used to catch in places like the Last Hurrah and Eli's at the end of the '70s. In fact, one of the proprietors of the Hurrah is listed as the "executive producer" of this single.

Johnny actually made it to the big time, even faster and further than Billy Rancher did. By '81, he and the Distractions had an album on A&M Records and were touring with J. Geils. Here's the album, with the back showing the revised personnel list:

For some reason, it fell apart pretty quickly. A friend of ours who was in the record industry at the time reported that the Distractions were booted off the Geils tour, and the story then circulated that the record company was interested in Johnny without the rest of the band. Koonce continued to play around Portland and the region, which we think he's still doing today, but his shot at international fame had come and gone.

It's interesting that we stumbled on this single now. As you can see, it was recorded 33 years ago this Monday. And this week, Bruce Springsteen, obviously Johnny's hero, will be in town.

Anyway, it's a fine piece of Portland rock music history, and we're grateful to the spirit to whom it once belonged. For 50 cents, we revived a lot of memories. We've uploaded the songs to YouTube; you can hear them here and here.

From China, a familiar tale

This story from Zhejiang reminds us of a story from Fremont and Sandy in Northeast Portland, retold here:

On any given day, there are plenty of homes for sale in the Roseway neighborhood, but it's not very often that someone comes in and wants to buy several blocks worth. But, that's exactly what Fred Meyer did back in 1949 when he started to build his Rose City shopping center which was at the time the "largest store in the West" on 70th and Sandy. Well, almost…

There was one home that was definitely not for sale, regardless of how much Mr. Meyer was willing to pay. The 4 room home on 69th, owned (at the time) by Eugene and Ruth Murray had been paid off free and clear and there was no way the owners were going to walk away from it and have to purchase another property somewhere else.

So, what's a developer to do? Build around it, of course!

Legend has it that after the store was built, whenever Meyer was preparing to buy out homeowners at other locations, he would take them to Rose City to show them "how nice the new store was going to be." He never said a word about the Murray house, but he made sure they all saw it. There were no more holdouts.

Call off the fleet

We blogged yesterday with a reader's report that a Portland fireboat had been called out to Hayden Island to try to rescue a cat who was underneath a houseboat and wouldn't come out. As it turned out, the kitty's problem was solved, not with a $1,000,000 fireboat, but with a $4 board and a handful of treats:

Although the appearance of the fireboat was comical, we tend to agree with a reader who commented that in this case, at least the city was spending money helping average residents, as opposed to real estate developers, mega-corporate construction outfits, and the bicycle entitlement movement. And most of all, we're sure happy the feline buddy is safe.

Staking their claim

We were sitting around digesting a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, when the kids asked if we could go to Target. "Tonight? Now?" Yeah. They wanted to see what Black Friday madness was like. We checked the phone. It was quarter to nine. The place opened at nine o'clock. We needed some fresh air and movement after all that food, and so we agreed. Let's check it out. It will be fun.

So out to the airport we drove, expecting seriously heavy traffic but not encountering any. We pulled into the parking lot of the store at 9:00 on the dot, parked the van, and shuffled over toward the front door.

Now, we had never done anything like this before -- we stay home all day the day after Thanksgiving, much less Thanksgiving night. We're not sure what we were expecting. But the first thing we saw were two Portland police cars, and a handful of civilian security people in reflective vests. Wow, that was different. Then as we got to the door, we were amazed to see a line that stretched all the way down the side of the store, and then around to the left, into the darkness of the rear:

In the back, the planes were taking off and making quite a racket. The lights on the back of the building made a harsh light. But the shoppers didn't seem the least bit impressed by the surreal scene. They were after something. What, we couldn't tell you, but the collective willpower was palpable, almost dangerous.

Not having any actual shopping goals at this point -- Christmas is about five weeks away -- of course we didn't actually join the line. But we had gotten to see what it was like. And to tell the truth, it was disturbing. Try to get a dozen people to show up for an important cause; it's not that easy to do. But Thanksgiving night, corporate retail has them out in the dark and the cold, questing, zombie-like, for goods. There had to be a thousand of them, at this one big box store alone.

We can't help but think that when the historians write up the fall of America, photos like these will be included. Maybe it was because we had had a long week and a big meal, but we drove home with a mild feeling of sadness and dread. And when we opened our e-mail, we found this, which didn't improve our outlook:

Doom is not a happy sensation. Let's hope tomorrow's daylight helps wash some of these impressions out of our mind.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Not too full for a nightcap

Several players in our charity underdog game make the call for the Jets in the last of today's three games:

6.5 NEW YORK JETS vs. New England - Usual Kevin, Annie, Pete Rozelle, genop, Dr. D, Carol

Good luck to them against Ground Control and Major Tom Turkey.

Note: This entry was composed mid-afternoon as we headed into dining mode; it's being posted by robot. If anyone else gets on the Jets by kickoff time, we'll add them in later.

UPDATE, 9:40 p.m.: No one else picked the Jets, and it's a good thing, as they were run out of their own stadium.

Try a little gravy

A reader reports:

It’s Thanksgiving morning, 10:16 a.m. The Portland fireboat Vernon R. Buss has just arrived at my neighbor's floating home on Hayden Island to... wait for it... rescue a cat. The cat crawled under the house, and now won't come out. The captain is studying the situation. Blast him out? Happy Thanksgiving!

Hail, hail, the gang's all here

Quite a few players in our charity pro football underdog game (including our current leader) pin their hopes on the Redskins this week:

3.5 WASHINGTON at Dallas - NoPoGuy, Cinderella Story, George, Will, Grizfan, Broadway Joe, Paul, genop's gal, DB Cooper, Juicen

Good luck to all of them, as the rest of the crew roots for the Cowboys. Hope everyone is having a great holiday.

UPDATE, 10:16 p.m.: A helping of points for all who went with Washington -- DB Cooper and Will included. Those guys have picked winners eight weeks out of 12 -- unheard of.

Us, root for USC?

We have a hard and fast rule: We root for whoever's playing Southern Cal. Even our disdain for the Ducks doesn't allow to us to root for the Trojans when those two teams meet. But this weekend we're being urged by our friend, colleague, and fellow USC-despiser Tung Yin to pull for Southern Cal (a 5.5-point underdog) against Notre Dame.

Now, we're no fan of Notre Dame, but we're not a hard-core foe, either. And so for us to be cheering on Southern Cal would require an extraordinary showing of good cause.

Here's how Tung explains it: If Southern Cal loses, they'll surely fire their coach, and he's so ineffective that his continued tenure would actually hurt the Trojans in the long run. So we want him to stay, and if USC beats the No. 1-ranked Fighting Irish, he might.

Besides, USC is going to finish the regular season either 8-4 or 7-5, and there isn't much meaningful difference between those two records. In addition, if USC beats Notre Dame, the Cardinal win over the Trojans will look better in the computer rankings. (But then again, so will the Ducks' win over S.C.)

These arguments bring us at least to neutral, but can we really cheer for Tommy Trojan and the boys? We've got until Saturday night to figure it out.

Meanwhile, there's drama for Stanford, and part of it depends on what happens in the Oregon "civil war" game on Saturday. It's a little complicated at this point, but here's how we think it goes: If the Ducks beat the Beavers in Corvallis on Saturday, Stanford will have to beat UCLA two weeks in a row -- first in L.A. Saturday and then in the conference title game, which would be held in Palo Alto -- to make it to the Rose Bowl.

If the Beavers win, Stanford can lose to UCLA down south this week but will have to beat the Bruins in L.A. next week to make it to the Rose Bowl. If Oregon wins and Stanford loses this weekend, the Ducks will play UCLA for the conference title and the Rose Bowl bid, next week in Eugene, and Stanford is headed for something like the Tostitos Bowl.

To recap:

Beavers win, Stanford wins: UCLA at Stanford for conference title
Ducks win, Stanford wins: UCLA at Stanford for conference title
Beavers win, UCLA wins: Stanford at UCLA for conference title
Ducks win, UCLA wins: UCLA at Ducks for conference title

Whew! Correct us if we got any of that wrong. Stanford at UCLA is at 3:30 our time Saturday; Stanford is a mere 2-point favorite. Ducks at Beavers is at noon; U of O is favored by 9.5 points. The conference title game will be in the evening, a week from tomorrow.

If you were UCLA, in the title game would you rather play the Ducks in Eugene, or Stanford in Palo Alto? If the answer is Stanford, and if the Ducks win the first game this Saturday, might UCLA be tempted to throw the second game?

Motown mutt adopted

The first underdog of the day draws one player in our charity gridiron prediction contest:

3 DETROIT vs. Houston - Pdxmick

Will that home 'dog eat turkey, or crow?

This post was composed late last night and is being triggered by robot this morning. If another Lions pick arrives in the meantime, we'll post it when we get around to blog matters later today.

UPDATE, 1:34 p.m.: No other players chose the Lions. That game is in overtime; neither team seems capable of scoring, with less than 4 minutes left before another hideous tie.

UPDATE, 1:45 p.m.: Detroit comes close, but ultimate succumbs in a game that it should have won a couple of different ways.

Correction: Jacksonville is a home 'dog

We just noticed an error in our underdog pro football game listing for this week. Jacksonville is a home underdog, not a road underdog, vs. Tennessee. Players, please make a note of it!

UPDATE, 7:55 a.m.: Add this chihuahua:

1 PHILADELPHIA vs. Carolina (Monday, pick still due Sunday morning)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey 'dog reminder

Players in our charity pro football underdog game, don't forget that three games on our short slate for this week take place tomorrow. If you're taking any of these three, your deadline is kickoff for that game:

6.5 NEW YORK JETS vs. New England (Thursday 5:20 p.m. Pacific)
3.5 WASHINGTON at Dallas (Thursday 1:15 p.m. Pacific)
3 DETROIT vs. Houston (Thursday 9:30 a.m. Pacific)

UPDATE, 11/22, 6:05 a.m.: Please note, Jacksonville is at home, not on the road, versus Tennessee.

Have a great holiday weekend

He oughta know

The Quotation of the Week, from Earl the Pearl:

"There's no persuading people who are unhinged from reality," Blumenauer said.

New Multnomah County Courthouse scam odor strengthens

Suddenly Farquaad Cogen and the Sisters are talking "public-private partnership" for a new or rehabbed county courthouse. This is right in tune with the hot air about "innovative financing" coming from Salem. Private corporations are about to take over public institutions. It's a shame that "progressive" Portlandia and Oregon are playing right into their hands.

It isn't the first time, of course, that the new courthouse plan has provoked a scam alert. Sad, really. They ought to name the place after Neil Goldschmidt.

Hitting a nerve

Here's a government ad campaign up in B.C. that seems about 180 degrees reversed from the official local message here in Portlandia:

Of course, it's provoking a backlash up there, and can you imagine how ballistic it would send the Mississippians and Hawthornites if it were to show up here? As a reader observes:

Between the screams of "I have a real job! I work at the Portland Mercury!" and the smirks of "Of COURSE they'd say that," the last time we heard so much impotent whining from the perpetually unemployable, "Annie Hall" had just beaten "Star Wars" for the Best Picture Oscar.

Anyway, it's a funny moment, and one that probably won't last long.

Don't want a parking-less apartment bunker on that lot?

Then chip in with the rest of the neighborhood and buy the place. Impractical? It has been, but perhaps that is changing.

Sam Rand swan song: stinko development deals

It's hard to tell which is worse: the Grove Hotel youth hostel that's going to lose big money even under the most optimistic projections, or the Memorial Coliseum rehab, which is a historic preservation money pit masquerading as a business deal. They both deserve a hard second look from the new mayor and whomever he installs as the new bobbleheads at the Portland Development Commission. But will the three continuing City Council members let the mayor and the Admiral ram these through before they skip town? If so, the fiasco is on the three survivors' watch.

There's no money for West Hayden Island guilt trip

One of the misleading aspects of the city and Port of Portland's plan to pave over wildlife habitat on West Hayden island is the promise that the damage to the environment can somehow be "mitigated." Opponents of the proposed redundant shipping terminal on West Hayden wisely point out that the destruction of one of the last large parcels of open space in town can't be compensated for by setting up little strips of greenway sprinkled here and there:

The city talks of mitigation for West Hayden Island: the idea that the acreage and wildlife sanctuary lost here can simply be given back somewhere else. But as Audubon Society conservation director Bob Sallinger told the commission at last night's hearing, "Little pieces do not make a whole." We can't set aside thin strips of riverbank, or stitch together patches of trees here and there, and call it proper wildlife protection.

Now another critic raises an additional point: Part of the fake "mitigation" plan apparently hinges on the city's cash-strapped parks bureau somehow finding money for new parks and trails:

Adams' proposal includes:

- $12.6 million for environmental enhancements on Government Island, which sits under Portland International Airport's flight path.
- $8 million in grants to the Bureau of Environmental Services to buy and enhance additional wildlife habitat, perhaps on Sauvie Island.
- $3.6 million to the Portland Housing Bureau to assist residents of a mobile home park on Hayden Island with home weatherization and other improvements.
- $3 million for a new recreational park on East Hayden Island.
- $2.8 million for trail development and a park endowment on West Hayden Island.
- $2.6 million for a community fund

Folks, the parks bureau has resorted to borrowing money to pay for routine maintenance on the parks it's already operating. To think that it's going to have funds available to do the Port's "mitigation" is laughable. Even if it were handed the old Thunderbird Hotel land for free, which seems improbable, the parks bureau can't afford to set up new parks and trails, or to maintain them.

Your Portland water bill may be coming from India soon

The City of Portland is so far in debt, and it continues to put its water system so far into hock with needless construction projects, that at some point the city will have to auction off public assets to prevent financial collapse. For an example, one can look to Detroit, Michigan, where the mayor is trying to privatize the city's water system over vigorous protest. So far, the opponents are winning:

There was little debate as council members rejected a proposal sought by Mayor Dave Bing’s administration for a $48-million, 4-year no-bid contract with EMA Inc. of Minneapolis, which proposed slashing 81% of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s workforce and outsourcing hundreds of jobs....

The department has been under fire from suburban leaders who say it’s bloated with too many workers and inefficient, which they blame for a doubling of rates to customers over the last decade. The water department provides drinking water to 4.3 million customers in metro Detroit....

The council’s vote came just days after the water department’s board approved a $2 million contract it said was related to EMA’s larger contract to begin implementing some of the reforms outlined in the overhaul plan.

It wasn’t clear what would happen next. ...

We suspect that what will happen next is a long, long battle in which the forces of privatization will not rest until they succeed. And the same drama will be played out elsewhere. Got a problem with your water bill? You'll call an 800 number and speak to someone in Bangalore.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

He'd never have to endure this in Oregon (or New Jersey)

Mitt Romney, looking a little rugged as he pumps his own gas in Nixonland.

Petraeus letter of recommendation pal faces media

But the twin sister of the apparent other, other woman refuses to answer questions, thus raising more questions:

"We love to play piano and play chess, and our children also love to play piano, chess and cook together. Jill has loved and supported me through the years and I plan to love and support her unconditionally," Khawam said.

Remember when the National Enquirer wasn't serious news?

Portland out-weirds Austin (at least this once)

Down in the Texas capital, folks are eyeing Portlandia's wonderful OHSU Aerial Tram [rim shot]. It's been such a... such a... ya know... linchpin and all. When it comes to transit savvy, it's nice to know that we're right up there with Medellin, Colombia.

But it gets more comical -- in Austin, they're talking about running trams like ski lifts, where the cars just slow down, rather than stop completely. You step on and off while they're still moving. What could go wrong?

The consummate Jail Blazer

And if you don't like him, you must be a racist.

Speaking of Oswald

Here's a macabre webcam -- looking out the window from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Forty-nine years later, it doesn't look like all that difficult of a shot.

A few 'dogs still astray

We've got the lines for most of this weekend's pro football games ready for our charity underdog players, and here they are:

10.5 KANSAS CITY vs. Denver
9.5 OAKLAND at Cincinnati
6.5 NEW YORK JETS vs. New England (Thursday 5:20 p.m. Pacific)
3.5 WASHINGTON at Dallas (Thursday 1:15 p.m. Pacific)
3 DETROIT vs. Houston (Thursday 9:30 a.m. Pacific)
3 BUFFALO at Indianapolis
3 MIAMI vs. Seattle
3 JACKSONVILLE at vs. Tennessee
2.5 NEW ORLEANS vs. San Francisco
2.5 GREEN BAY at New York Giants
1 TAMPA BAY vs. Atlanta
1 ST. LOUIS at Arizona
1 BALTIMORE at San Diego

Lots of pups there. But there are still three games as to which lines aren't posted at present: Carolina/Philadelphia Monday, Minnesota/Chicago Sunday, and Pittsburgh/Cleveland Sunday. By rule, we'll keep checking and add lines for those games as updates to this post, if and when we find any between now and Thursday night.

Players, if you are picking one of the three Thursday games, your pick is due by kickoff time of that game. Otherwise, picks are due Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Good luck!

UPDATE, 6:32 p.m.: Pittsburgh/Cleveland is a pick-'em and therefore off the board for the week.

UPDATE, 11/22, 5:54 a.m.: Jacksonville is at home this week, not on the road.

UPDATE, 11/22, 7:55 a.m.: Add this chihuahua:

1 PHILADELPHIA vs. Carolina (Monday, pick still due Sunday morning)

Holiday reminder

A public service message from the
Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

Ellis McCoy as Lee Harvey Oswald

The official City Hall version of the Portland parking manager scandal continues to be doled out in dribs and drabs. It goes something like this: He was acting alone. Nobody in the chain of command knew about his multiple counts of accepting bribes. And the halfhearted investigation into widespread reports of his misconduct? Well, it was all done according to the book.

Moreover, they say, the city has already fixed whatever was wrong -- if anything -- with its contracting processes. The latest pronouncements from the bureaucrats, repeated verbatim here without a trace of skepticism or criticism, should numb the mind. So stop wondering about what really happened. There's nothing more to see. He's gone now. And just think -- bike sharing is coming soon!

Does removing parking spaces violate disability laws?

A protest brewing in San Francisco over new bike lanes contends that it does:

Additionally, the bikeway's opponents have charged that the new route violates the Americans with Disabilities Act as it removes 55 parking spaces. "Although the loss of parking would be a hardship for the large numbers of people who live, visit and work in the neighborhood, it would disproportionately impact people with major mobility disabilities, such as wheelchair users and slow walkers," reads the lawsuit. "Many people with mobility disabilities rely heavily on private vehicles."

Oh, the poetic justice if that legal action should ever succeed. Battle of the PCs!

Riders on the storm

The Portland police had a bad day on wheels yesterday. First they were conducting off-road-vehicle exercises in the middle of the hellacious storm -- out on Hayden Island, of all places -- and Mother Nature was not pleased. A tree crashed down on top of a veteran officer, who wound up in surgery at Emanuel Hospital. It's not clear at this writing how bad off he is.

Maybe somebody up there is trying to tell the City Council something about Hayden Island. In any event, conducting four-wheeler training in yesterday's extreme conditions seems a wee bit too macho. Let's hope the officer comes out of it and makes a full recovery.

Then last night an officer left his patrol car in drive while he was getting out of it, and it ran over the chest of a suspect that another cop had on the ground. Supposedly the incident started with a jaywalking stop -- uh huh. The guy on the ground reportedly had a misdemeanor warrant outstanding, and the cop who had him down said he had tried to run away. A pretext stop and a runner -- always the precursor to sterling police work in Portland. Let's hope that the victim recovers fully as well. At least they didn't brutally beat and kick him to death, like they did to James Chasse.

Something tells us that these two incidents are going to wind up costing us local taxpayers a pretty penny. And sadly, neither seems to have been unavoidable.

Grover is so over

Is this the year that the Republicans in Congress allow a fair deal to be made on tax increases? Or will they continue to follow the preachings of this fellow, whose era, like Rush Limbaugh's, seems to have come and gone? It's way past time that the Democrats called all of these guys' bluff. If there has to be high drama, let there be high drama, but the majority of Americans think that the taxes that high-income folks pay are too low. Can we do what the voters want on taxes for a change?

Obama had better not sell out on this issue again, the way he did two years ago. All the White House has to do is nothing, in order for the so-called "Bush tax cuts" to disappear come Jan. 1. No more two-year extensions like last time, Mr. President. (They should really be called the "Bush-Obama tax cuts.")

If we had to guess, we'd predict that the lame duck Congress is going to let the nation fall at least part of the way off the "fiscal cliff," but then try to climb back up, retroactively, early in 2013. That will wreak havoc on tax filing season, but honestly, what do the senior Congresspeople care? They answer to no one. The bigger the oddball, the more secure his or her seat.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Da Bearss loose

Knock off the asterisks in our charity underdog game standings -- the Monday night 'dog from Chicago was more than a mite anemic, and the two players who picked that pooch gain no ground. The 'dogs of Week 12 are to be unveiled in the morning. The game goes on through the 17-week regular season and the first three weeks of the playoffs. Thus, there are still nine rounds of prognostication to come.

Clackistani rebels save Milwaukie Elks Lodge

The fraternal organization facility won't be torn down for low-income housing, as the rogue county commissioners had planned. Already the recent election is paying dividends for the neighbors.

Watching our wasteline

Eastbound commuters on Weidler Street in northeast Portland endure a new experience these days: the absurd new eastside streetcar making a right turn from the left lane, across two lanes of motorized traffic and a bike lane. A red light makes everybody else wait while the streetcar takes its sweet time sweeping across. Cars then have to wait for another light up the street a way, because the streetcar's red throws the signal synchronization off for motorists. You can almost hear the car haters in City Hall cackling with glee. Earl Blumenauer's peyote visions inflicted on normal people.

But the joke's on the bureaucrats, because the new setup allows drivers to get a good look at how empty the streetcars are. At 7:45 this evening, there were exactly two passengers on board. The failures of our central "planning" were never so apparent.

Mayor Creepy's last hustle

Portland's lame duck mayor has a delusional timeline for approval of the paving over of West Hayden Island wildlife habitat for the Port of Portland's wasteful new shipping terminal. He's driving everyone involved in the process crazy, and running roughshod over the overwhelming opposition to the proposal. With this guy, his nervous breakdown is all of our collective nervous breakdown.

Except for his evil twin, the Admiral, the rest of the mayor's colleagues on the City Council should just say no. Or maybe it's time for the opponents to lawyer up. Either way, it's way past time for the worst mayor in the city's recent history to get off the stage and get on with his retirement gig at Portland State, or wherever. His making it through four years as mayor without recall, indictment, or worse is achievement enough for him.

Bongo and Bono: U of O's African blood money

That sketchy deal between the University of Oregon and the corrupt government of the African country of Gabon includes a $20 million fund created by the Bongo regime for such goodies as advertising and a big kickoff event, replete with celebrities. UO Matters has the details, here.

How does dismantling Benson High advance "equity"?

The Portland school board will meet tonight, and of course, more "equity" talk is on the agenda. It's quite the rage in the local public school hierarchy these days to palaver up a storm about racial "equity." They've got all sorts of "equity" minions on the payroll, and a high-priced consultant touting "courageous conversations."

But actions speak louder than conversations, and we're intrigued by this message from a reader who laments the death by 1,000 cuts to which Benson High School in Northeast Portland is being subjected. She writes:

While PPS spends millions on unproven equity training, it is systematically dismantling Benson’s successful program that has provided many poor and minority students a ticket out of poverty to middle-class jobs. PPS could vote to approve another vo-tech charter school soon, which would siphon more students and resources from Benson.

Benson’s 81% graduation rate is second only to Lincoln, though many students are economically disadvantaged, and it is the only high school to graduate more black and Hispanic students than white students. Yet this year PPS cut engineering, computer technology and health technology programs and turned away 200 applicants to keep numbers up at Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Madison – identified as “drop-out factories” by the Oregonian.

The Portland Tribune reported that businesses such as Precision Castparts, Gunderson, Tice Industries, and Blount International want to work with Benson students and offer paid apprenticeships. Other businesses want to support Benson, but PPS is redirecting them to Jefferson through a partnership with Self Enhancement Inc. Perhaps powerful North Portland special interest groups aren’t making money off Benson students, because they have built-in apprenticeships.

As PPS starves Benson, advanced manufacturers such as Vigor Industrial and Gunderson have had to create their own welding training programs due to a lack of skilled workforce for high-demand fields that pay $45,000/year. While Oregon’s unemployment rate remains high, many well-paid positions go unfilled due to lack of an skilled workforce. Both the Washington Post and Oregon Legal Journal have reported on this national trend, calling it a skills crisis.

People have tried to mobilize Benson, but they have no political clout. Media will not cover this important story, though they've been plated up with compelling facts.

It's awful, but not too surprising. Talk loudly to the cameras, then do the opposite -- isn't that the Portland government way, through and through?

Next U of O outrage: semi-private golf course for the well heeled

It just gets crazier and crazier at UC Nike (soon to be Tostitos Bowl champs). Now the athletic department has been sneaking around planning to build a golf course, ostensibly for the university's golf teams, but funny thing, some selected mucky-muck old guys and gals will be allowed to play on it, too. Just not riffraff like the regular students, faculty members, average-Joe alumni, or taxpayers.

We'll bet old Moneybags Frohnmayer won't have any trouble getting tee times. Maybe he and Mike Bellotti will shoot a few rounds, using krugerrands as ball markers on the putting greens.

Rape of W. Hayden Island: Even architecture dude gets it

The paving over of wildlife habitat on West Hayden Island by the Port of Portland for a pointlessly redundant shipping terminal will be one of the final disgusting acts perpetrated by the Sam Rand Twins as they leave City Hall. Shame on the three continuing members of the City Council, who are playing right along, and shame on the Goldschmidt Party people who are pushing so hard to make yet more bucks for themselves and their friends at the expense of the birds and the bees.

The sacrifice of struggling wildlife for the sake of a quick buck is so egregious that it's even attracted the opprobrium of a local architecture critic, and that's saying something. Usually the architects are among the prime villains in the wrecking of Portland livability, and their media followers usually try to help them get away with it. But in this case, one such writer, Brian Libby, is speaking up eloquently:

Last night's hearing before the Planning and Sustainability Commission, the only opportunity for public comment, was practically a caricature of self-serving moneyed interests pitted against community members fighting only for values and their homes.

Whenever someone testified in favor of industrial annexation, he or she came from an organization that would directly benefit from the environmental usurpation. A union representative whose colleagues would be hired for the construction on West Hayden spoke of "family-wage jobs," implying that trying to save endangered species directly resulted in his babies going unfed. A series of business and port alliance representatives, neckties removed from their black suits, sung the praises of industrial development and finished their remarks to the sound of silence from the packed audience or some poor unironic single clap. Whenever a homeowner about to be displaced or choked by diesel fumes pleaded with the council for mercy, or an environmental group leader pleaded for the accelerated timetable to be slowed down, a chorus of applause rang out from the commission chamber and its filled overflow-room....

The annexation of West Hayden Island would be troubling enough in its own right, but now Mayor Sam Adams is attempting to skip the unfolding process and bring about a City Council vote by the end of the year. Even those at last night's hearing tentatively willing to support the annexation admitted they felt blindsided and disappointed by the mayor's effort to seal the deal before he leaves office at year's end. Most of the community groups at the hearing, such as a group of Native American tribes with ancestral connections to the Columbia and to West Hayden, told the Planning and Sustainability Commission they had never been brought to the negotiating table until the deal was already done....

The West Hayden Island annexation plan is to take 300 of the remaining 800 acres for Port of Portland expansion. That may sound like a fair trade-off at first: wildlife still gets more than half. But think of those 800 total acres as the last toothpaste in a tube already squeezed to the limit. Aside from a few tiny parcels here and there, the city has already taken virtually all of the wildlife area that ever existed in the Portland area. If we take 300 of 800 acres remaining on West Hayden Island, we're not leaving more than half to wildlife and the floodplain. We're going from 98 percent of local wild areas claimed for development to 99 percent. We're squeezing the very last remnants out of the toothpaste tube and expecting no future cavities to form.

The whole thing is here. It's one of the best commentaries on Portland hypocrisy in a long time, and one of the very best things written so far about the shabby farce being played out around the environmental atrocities soon to come to West Hayden Island.

Of course, there's not much architecture involved in a shipping terminal -- a giant parking lot and some cranes -- and so it doesn't cost Libby too much to speak his mind. But he's noble to do so. It's too bad that as usual, the fix is in in Portland.

Portland business group blasts school district, teachers union

We wrote about it here -- the school board passing on tens of millions in federal aid because it would come with the requirement that teachers be evaluated in part by use of test scores. Now the Portland Business Alliance speaks up to object that the teachers union and the scaredy-cats who "manage" the schools just cost the taxpayers big bucks so that they can continue to protect the dead wood in the classrooms:

For years, the business community has repeatedly been asked to come to the table to provide resources for schools. Not only have we supported campaigns for local levies and bonds, including the Multnomah County i-tax, operating levies and this year's capital bond, we also worked at the state level to provide more resources for schools. The business community's support for education funding has always come with the caveat that the district must effectively manage teachers and other personnel to ensure the best outcomes for students and prudently manage its budget. We are not seeing those objectives being met so, until the district and the union take meaningful steps to demonstrate that their actions are motivated by the best interests of students and not on preserving the entrenched status quo, the Alliance will suspend its efforts to support further funding requests.

Coming the week after the passage of the obscene school construction pork bond -- biggest in state history -- this protest smells a little funny, doesn't it? Nonetheless, the business folks are right: Super Carole and the school board bobbleheads are running the once proud Portland public schools right into the ground.

3.1 quake -- under Kelley Point

That's what this map seems to indicate. Happened about 6:15. We didn't feel a thing here at Blog Central.

UPDATE. 7:00 a.m.: We're getting conflicting reports of the exact location, but the feds say it was at 45.648°N, -122.765°W.

UPDATE, 7:02 a.m.: There have been seismic events at that spot in the past.

Fukushima tragedy continues to deepen

They have found thyroid cysts in 35% of the 100,000-plus Fukushima-area children tested so far, including at least two cancers. The second largest lake in Japan is contaminated, and concerns are that more radioactive cesium is washing into it all the time. And the Japanese government appears to be understating the current levels of airborne radiation.

But hey -- it's all under control. Fukushima is in cold shutdown now. There's no longer anything to be concerned about. You'll only get a little radiation, and that can't hurt you, now, can it?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Train pushers vs. farmers? No contest.

Down in California, they're ready to pave over some nice farmland to build a high-speed train from Merced to Fresno. A what? From where to where?

Wait 'til this comes to the Willamette Valley, as it will eventually -- should be quite a political bloodbath. No doubt Ted Wheeler and CH2M Hill will be there to provide the "innovative financing structure" for this "vital infrastructure."

Governor Retread singing "My Way" on pensions

There's actually noise coming out of Salem about public employee pension reform these days, but we think it's probably sound and fury signifying nothing. First, the new speaker of the House, who doesn't like us and the feeling is mutual, is already dog-whistling that she's not really on board:

New House Speaker Tina Kotek says PERS reform will "get serious consideration. But the majority of conversations we were having when talking to voters on doorsteps were about schools and jobs. That's what we need to focus on."

Kotek repeats what unions have been saying: Any reforms need to be fair, legal and generate immediate cost savings. But she offers no specifics.

Meanwhile, the Boyfriend-in-Chief sounds like his commitment is pretty conditional as well:

"If this gets ugly, if people try to make this into something about public employee bashing, I'm gone," Kitzhaber said. "I'm not going to do it."

So expect nothing to get done this biennium, with everyone in the Democratic Party blaming someone else for it.

Meanwhile, here's a wonky paper from some pension actuaries who dig into the question of how quickly pensions will eat up the budget for essential government services. And here's a table they prepared, showing Oregon as second worst in the nation in terms of what it's going to take per household for retired government bureaucrats. It's a grim scene.

Car hatred finds its way to the Coast

Here's a tune that's familiar to Portlanders, being played these days in Astoria:

"When I look at the communities that are really going to thrive and survive, it’s going to be the communities that are walkable and interconnected," said Michele Reeves, a downtown revitalization expert hired as part of the Building Blocks program.

She focused a lot of the night on creating a city around changing societal trends, most notably the lessening popularity of car-centric towns....

Reeves, who owns Portland-based Civilis Consultants, spoke about how she’ll research the entire city of Astoria – downtown, Uppertown, Uniontown and all around – over the coming months and come up with recommendations that might lead to a more successful commercial core....

"Every single downtown has troubles with parking," she said. "What I say is create a parking problem."

Using northwest 23rd Avenue in Portland as an example, she said an area mired in traffic and a lack of parking can be one of the most successful commercial centers around, frustrating yet attracting shoppers with its busy nature. Increased foot traffic, she said, equals higher sales. She used Lake Oswego as an example of a struggling downtown – even in an affluent suburb – that invested in a lot of parking that ultimately has detracted from people walking around.

Look out, Astoria -- you're about to get Bluumenauered.

These 'dog picks are for the birds

We don't know offhand who the backup quarterback is for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he isn't getting much respect from the players in our pro football underdog game. Here are this week's picks by our 'dognosticators:

16 JACKSONVILLE at Houston - Gary, Lucas, Cinderella Story, Ted, MickeyMacNYC
10 ARIZONA at Atlanta - Bob, John Cr.
9.5 INDIANAPOLIS at New England - Jeremy, George, Rudie, PDXileinOmaha, Dr. D, Usual Kevin, Pdxmick, Drewbob
8.5 SAN DIEGO at Denver - Biggest Cubs Loser, genop's gal, Eric W.
8.5 CLEVELAND at Dallas - Gordon, Annie, Coastal Storm
5 CHICAGO at San Francisco (Monday) - John Ch., Paul
4.5 OAKLAND vs. New Orleans - genop
3.5 BALTIMORE at Pittsburgh - NoPoGuy, Dave A., Michael K., JMH, Will, Bayou Baby, Sola, Tinknocker, Juicen, Bad Brad, Grizfan, Broadway Joe, Carol, DB Cooper, Tung, Pete Rose

A big contingent is hoping that their Luck holds up in Boston, and making our Sunday morning complete, we hear five Hail Marys. Have a great day and enjoy the games, peeps.

UPDATE, 4:15 p.m.: Lots of thrills, but no points in the early games. The Jets win, when nobody's on them. Three 'dogs currently trailing in the afternoon contests.

UPDATE, 4:53 p.m.: It's official. No winners in the afternoon contests. On to the nightcap, on which so many of our players are relying.

UPDATE, 8:36 p.m.: The vote of no confidence was well deserved, as the Steelers blow it to the Ravens. DB Cooper does it again, and he has lots of company picking up 3.5 points each. The revised standings, with two players (marked with asterisks) going tomorrow night:

Continue reading "These 'dog picks are for the birds" »

The best part of Stanford beating the Ducks

Redemption for this guy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stanford beats Ducks!!!!

Good night, UC Nike -- karma, baby! Chip Kelly, call your realtor, cancel the listing. WOOO HOOOO!

Make an exception

Yeah, we know you don't watch college football. But the Ducks and Stanford are going into overtime. Channel 2 in Portland.

Save your screen

Do not attempt to drink a beverage while scrolling through the photos here.

Reader poll: Who killed Nancy Bergeson?

It was three years ago today that federal public defender Nancy Bergeson was found murdered in her southwest Portland home. The police bungled the initial investigation, and it wasn't known that she was murdered until the autopsy the next day. They apparently don't have a suspect, and the trail is cold indeed. At first the police said there was no sign of a struggle, but last summer they changed that tune. She apparently was strangled with a soft cloth that didn't leave outward marks. Her golden retriever was found with Bergeson's body and was unharmed.

When a prosecutor or defense lawyer is killed, it's important for everyone in the community that the killer be brought to justice. The court system is central to the protection of everyone's safety and liberty, and when an officer of the court is murdered, that safety and liberty is badly compromised.

In the recent stories about the Bergeson murder, not many mention the case that Bergeson was working on when she died. It was the trial of three men charged with tax crimes in connection with their resistance to the federal tax system. The three of them were found guilty the day before Bergeson was found dead. Bergeson, a veteran trial lawyer, told a friend that she was upset about the verdict. A Milwaukie man, M. Roy Bendshadler, was one of the three defendants, and he was Bergeson's client. He subsequently did jail time for the tax-related crime. Internet postings purporting to be by Bendshadler suggest that Bergeson was killed by someone connected with the federal government, because she was looking into jury tampering in Bendshadler's case. That suggestion has been picked up by many internet sites with an ax to grind against the feds, although its truth has not been substantiated by hard evidence.

Not that speculation on a website like this matters at all, but if you had to guess, who would say killed Bergeson? If you think it was murder for hire, who hired the killer?

Who killed Nancy Bergeson?
pollcode.com free polls 

The Pac 12 is a bust

Our buddy Dwight Jaynes hits the nail on the head with these observations:

For the second season in a row, the Pac-12's championship game is really not going to do anything for the conference but hurt it. If Oregon were to go into that game undefeated, all the game does is jeopardize its chances of making it to the BCS title game -- which means a lot of dough to every school in the conference.

And either way, I see no reason for USC or UCLA to have a chance to play for a conference championship. They aren't good enough. There aren’t enough games in a season to waste one on a matchup like this.... This conference didn't need Utah and Colorado and it didn't need a championship game.

Word. The whole thing (along with some thoughts about tonight's gridiron battle in Blugene) is here.

Jumping off the S.S. Creepy

There are plenty of cushy life rafts.

Lehan concedes, sort of

The childishness in Clackistan rolls on. Now the lame duck county chair, Charlotte Lehan, admits that she lost the election last week, and she says she won't bring a legal challenge against the outcome. But she says she's not "conceding." She's going to await the results of the "investigation" being done by Oregon secretary of state Kate Brown and state attorney general Ellen Rosenblum. That's pretty amusing. An election worker was caught changing a handful of votes at most; Lehan lost by more than 6,000. What does she think Salem is going to do? Order a "do-over"?

Lehan hasn't been seen in public in 10 days. Now she's babbling about the "investigation," and reportedly visiting her office while the press is being told she's on vacation. She and her comrade in defeat, Jamie Damon, have been engaged in this kind of tomfoolery for a long time. If Lehan keeps it up for another month or so, her political career, critically wounded by her rogue behavior on behalf of the Mystery Train to Milwaukie, will die entirely. Apparently she's still not listening to anyone with any sound political judgment. Hey, it's her life.

Changing of the guard in Lake O.

So far, we really like the guy who's the new mayor of Lake Oswego. We hope he can keep his even temperament while the Goldschmidt Network attempts to undermine him at every turn. Here's what he's saying on the way in the door -- the same things he said on the campaign stump:

What do you want to see Lake Oswego look like at the end of your term?

Lake Oswego will be known throughout the region as a dynamic city with great character, a stable fiscal future and a sustainable population and environment.

- There will be continued redevelopment of the commercial and industrial areas.
- The streets and parks will be better maintained.
- Opinions will have been heard and respected.
- There will be a long-term strategic plan.
- City government will be more efficient and effective.
- We will have realigned our priorities and stopped the increase in debt.
- The character of the residential neighborhoods will have been preserved.

Go for it, Mayor.

Who needs turkey dinner?

When you can have ham loaf in a blanket!

To heck with Twinkies

We can't believe that these are going away. We haven't had one in decades, but they were so bad, they were perversely good.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fun new character in Petraeus sex scandal

It's Bubba the Love Sponge. No, we are not making this up.

Have a great weekend

Is there already a SoWhat hotel?

A reader reports:

I was in the SoWhat district a few weeks ago, passing by the Ardea. A woman came running out a called to a couple of people asking if they were checking out today, and reminding them that checkout was at 11 a.m. Seems a hotel operation may be going on there. Is it licensed? Does it pay taxes and fees?

Is the reader's observation true? We suspect it's as true as the story that one of the SoWhat towers is leaning.

Sobering numbers in Hillsboro

The Portlandia suburb of Hillsboro is going to the well to borrow $12 million this month, for the new baseball stadium. They've got bond attorney Harvey Rogers, scourge of the Clackistani rebels, in tow to hold the bankers' hands. And in the course of that borrowing, the city has to come clean with the prospective bondholders about how it's doing financially.

The bonds are rated Aa3 by Moody's, several pegs down from the top. The city's long-term bonds work out to around $4,000 per resident, not that far behind Portland's $5,500 or so. And the government employee pension situation out there is moving in a bad direction:

That's a 42% jump in unfunded liability over just two years. But then again, if we're doing our math correctly, all of Hillsboro's unfunded retirement obligations amount to less than $500 per resident. Portland's is around 10 times that much per resident.

A penny returns

Peter Kohler, the former president of Oregon Health and Science University who took Portland taxpayers for a joy ride to nowhere on the SoWhat aerial tram [rim shot], continues to roll up the professional honors. Now he's been put on the Pacific University board of trustees. No doubt he'll chuckle as he flies into Portlandia to hang out with his Goldschmidt Network chums a few times a year.

Kohler's day job these days is as vice chancellor of a medical school in Arkansas. Guess he moved there to be closer to all those much-heralded biotech jobs that he delivered -- to Florida.

Adams declares Vietnam victory in faded downtown

This is remarkable. Does any of it correspond in any way with reality?

Then there's this feel-good story: Downtown added 550 jobs last year. But read on: Government downtown added 950 jobs. By our math, the private sector lost 400. And:

Factors that need improvement, according to the survey, include panhandlers, cited by 59 percent of respondents, followed by transients at 52 percent, the cost of parking at 37 percent, taxes at 24 percent and the availability of parking at 23 percent.

Go by streetcar!

More homeless students in Beaverton than Portland?

That's what this story tells us. But we suspect the numbers are skewed by the vagueness of the term "homeless," as used by the reporter:

Across Oregon, 20,370 students -- or about 3.65 percent -- were identified by school districts as having unstable housing at some point during the 2011-12 school year, according to data from the Oregon Department of Education's annual count. Since the count began during the 2003-04 school year, Oregon's numbers had steadily climbed until it reached last year's high of 20,545.

Students are counted as "homeless" under the definition of the federal McKinney-Vento law. It includes students who are living in shelters, sleeping in cars, living on their own or living with relatives. It also includes students whose families are living in doubled-up housing situations.

A child "living with relatives" is "homeless"? Okay, we missed that memo.

More paper bags to recycle in Portland

The Church of the Holy Green held services again yesterday in the Portland City Council chambers. At the high point of the ritual, plastic bags for customers were permanently banned at thousands more businesses in the city. This is going to save the planet, apparently.

At our house, we dispose of landfill garbage in plastic bags. Sorry, earth, the alternative makes too much of a mess. And so now we buy sturdy plastic bags by the box at the store. We also bring home more brown paper bags than ever before, of course, and we have no use for most of them. And so we send those off to be recycled. We're actually creating more solid waste, and sending no less plastic baggery to the landfill, than previously. (We always have, and still do, drop off smaller plastic bags to be recycled, and so that's been a wash.)

Are other households like ours? If so, Portland's wonderful new program is making waste matters worse, not better. Do you think the city would ever take an honest survey to ask that question?

Wheeler lectures us on "facts," offers few

This site got a rare visit yesterday from the Oregon state treasurer, Ted Wheeler. Wheeler took umbrage at our questioning of his new pet project, a consortium of states and local governments called West Coast Infrastructure Exchange, or WCX. According to him, we were wrong to describe it as a move to "privatize" public infrastructure projects, and he criticized us quite pointedly for allegedly not knowing the facts:

The first message is that the infrastructure projects remain under public ownership. Period.

The goal is to reduce the costs associated with planning, procurement and financing projects - something you mention frequently on this blog.

Another goal is to encourage more private sector investment in the bonds associated with these projects - this reduces the cost to taxpayers as well as investment risk - again something you raise on this blog repeatedly.

We often find that local jurisdictions lack the technical expertise to design, finance and build complex projects. We want to provide more technical assistance to local jurisdictions so that they don't waste taxpayer money - something I would think you would support.

Finally, we are encouraging the West Coast to think more about who we can compete in a Pacific Rim economy as a competitive region. This means we want to work together where it makes sense.

I don't mind criticism when due, but please make an effort to get the basic facts correct. You can always inquire in advance if you have specific questions.

We have many questions, but let's start with the first point Wheeler made it in his condescending comment: "the infrastructure projects remain under public ownership. Period." If that's the case, why does all the literature surrounding this expedition keep telling us we are going to be entering into "performance-based partnerships" with private financiers?

What is a partnership? Let's look at the legal definition, shall we? Oregon Revised Statutes 67.005(7):

"Partnership" means an association of two or more persons to carry on as co-owners a business for profit created under ORS 67.055, predecessor law, or comparable law of another jurisdiction.

If the financiers are going to be "partners," doesn't that necessarily mean that they will be co-owners of the assets of the "partnership"? And if those are street lights and public water systems, then public assets are being privatized. Only Humpty Dumpty could make the word "partnership" mean something different.

It's basic corporate finance that there are two ways to finance an asset or venture: debt or equity. We already have a municipal bond market, where debt financing is provided to state and local government on a daily basis. If we're talking about some other "innovative" mechanism to raise money, we must be talking about equity. That is, private ownership.

As far as "making an effort to get the basic facts correct," we'd like to, but for all the glossy p.r. shinola being pumped out by Wheeler's office and his BFF's at CH2M Hill, there are precious few "facts" available for public view. Here's the sparkly website. Click around -- see if you can find any details about the structure of the mysterious deals that this group is proposing. Who will have ownership of what? What will the rights and the obligations of the parties be? Supposedly they're going to lure investors who have never wanted, and still don't want, municipal bonds:

Creating and advancing new mechanisms for project finance, including those that could be attractive to private investors that have traditionally not invested in public infrastructure...

What promises will need to be made to draw the new money in? Unless we turn off the p.r. machinery and get to the details, there are no meaningful "facts," just happy spin: "innovation in infrastructure finance and delivery through performance-based partnerships... innovative financing and management structures can help to make critical projects more feasible... create and develop innovative new methods to finance and facilitate development of the infrastructure needed to improve the region’s economic competitiveness... connect projects to innovative financing, including potentially private capital." Until the money boys come clean with exactly what they're after, such turgid language is suspicious -- indeed, alarming.

The other thing that's worth noting here is that while this is a confab of various governments up and down the West Coast, it's clearly Wheeler's baby. Here's the loose contract that the government players have signed. In it, there's more Oregon involvement than anyone else's:

During the start-­up phase (2012-­2013), the WCX will operate as a non-­profit entity with an interim management team representing each partner office, with coordination by the Oregon State Treasury, and financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation.... Operating under the non-­profit rules of Oregon law, WCX will be governed by a Board of Directors and employ an Exchange Manager who will hire and manage loaned staff subject to the Board’s approval.... Sponsorship will be provided by the Oregon Treasurer’s Office, continuing under the auspices of a state-­sponsored non‐profit corporation, and financial support will be provided by the Rockefeller Foundation.

It's no surprise that our state treasurer is protective of his newborn baby. But until more cards are shown, residents have every right to be wary. That baby's head could wind up turning all the way around and shooting out pea soup.

Picking out his new office, no doubt

There's always room for one more played-out politician at the Patronage Center. But don't try the Mike Burton travel move, buddy!

Arrogant planners -- no, wait, that's redundant

There's a new economic development plan floating around for our nation's capital city, and it's prompted one comment that apparently could be about Anywhere, USA:

Dorothy, below, writes about the mayor's five-year economic development strategy, which was written largely without the input of District residents. This follows the usual pattern of government planning — zoning revisions, libraries, school closings, etc. — in which residents of DC neighborhoods are an afterthought, brought in at the last minute after the plans have already been developed. Residents are then presented with the finished plans at highly structured public meetings, at which the government officials present them and residents are given a few minutes to consider them, after which their comments are barely tolerated. After all, the experts have already met and made their recommendations; why should the government officials have to waste their time listening to the uninformed opinions of NIMBY naysayers, who just don’t want their neighborhoods improved by the experts, developers, and officials who already know what’s best for them? After all, the residents are nothing but complainers, and their opinions of what happens in their neighborhoods have no weight except that they happen to live there and pay taxes there. If they don't like what has been planned for them, they're standing in the way of progress and the future, and they should just move elsewhere.

Uncanny parallels to Portland, that's for sure. Talk to the hand.

High times in Seattle

The legalization of pot under Washington state law has prompted the police in the Emerald City to put out an FAQ sheet that definitely has some moments in it. A sample:

Can I legally carry around an ounce of marijuana?

According to the recently passed initiative, beginning December 6th, adults over the age of 21 will be able to carry up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. Please note that the initiative says it "is unlawful to open a package containing marijuana…in view of the general public," so there’s that. Also, you probably shouldn’t bring pot with you to the federal courthouse (or any other federal property).

The whole thing is here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

BBC enjoys some Kool-Aid

The "planning" cabal's conversion of the central east side of Portland from a center of blue-collar jobs to the next row of flash-in-the-pan hipster hangouts gets a big thumbs-up from the U.K., here.

It's so pitiful. At 8:55 this evening we had to wait while a streetcar made the right turn across three lanes of traffic on Weidler. There was exactly one passenger on board.

No kiddin'

We weren't expecting any of the players in our charity pro football game to choose Miami for a measly single point this evening, and none of them did. The deadline for the week is Sunday 10:00 a.m. PST.

The eastern world, it is explodin'

It's nice that they waited until the Presidential election was over to start World War III.

Nickels and dimes

The slow strangulation of Portland's livability by the Sam Rand twins is chronicled, in part, here.

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Hope the opera isn't spending the money yet

The Portland tax for the arts passed at the ballot box last week, but that doesn't mean it's constitutional. We've been looking at the law in this area, and we are as convinced as ever that what's been passed is an unconstitutional head tax. We won't be laying out all of the legal arguments here, but one thing is for sure: There's no way the city is collecting $70 a year from our household without a protest. They won't have our money unless and until the Oregon Supreme Court tells us we have to pay it. See you in court, Sammy boy... no, wait, by then you'll be working at the Portland State Patronage Center. Guess we'll be seeing someone else.

Coming soon to your neighbor's backyard: hipster-in-a-box

In any sane place, this would be outlawed, but remember, we are in Cascadia -- and Portlandia at that:

Small backyard cabins without kitchens and bathrooms do not require permits in many states.

"We have a model you can build in a weekend," says Zalduondo. "It comes flat-packed. It's tight and weather-proofed and you don't even need to pour a full slab. You can just prepare a lightweight foundation and put the cabin on top of it."

Seattle resident Isaac Vicknair pioneered a new kind of off-the-grid, backyard living in his quest for affordable housing. He builds simple 8-by-8-foot sheds in exchange for free rent in them for three to six months after completion....

Vicknair picks a neighborhood he wants to live in and posts flyers advertising his trade proposal. He says he generally receives calls from three or four interested parties, and takes the project that seems most appealing.

The cabins are built without plumbing or electricity, so Vicknair runs an extension cord from the house and makes do with a space heater, electric skillet, small fridge and a couple of lamps. He bought a portable marine toilet that he sets up behind the cabin, and he showers at friends' houses or the gym.

It's positively Bluemauer-esque, isn't it? Send in the losers.

Portland radio and the big bleat

Portland's left wing is pretty amusing, as long as it isn't spending your money. Now the Blue people are all a-twitter about how they're going to try to force Clear Channel radio to resume broadcasting "progressive" programs. They've got to be kidding. In commercial radio, the corporate boys do as they dang well please, and there's nothing anybody can do about it. "Let's get Ron Wyden after them." Ha! Ha! That is pathetic, on more than one level.

Left-wing talk radio doesn't sell advertising time, even in Portland. When it does, if it ever does, it will be back on the commercial airwaves. In the meantime, there are OPB and KBOO -- slight left, and way-way-out-there left. That's going to have to be good enough.

With all the stations on the dial, maybe there should be a place for the Wolfson guy. But hey, a lot of things should happen that don't. There should be a Bojack radio show. Can you imagine? Dream on -- we have. If it was going to happen, it would have happened by now.

Vestas job creation pledge was fake

If you have at least half a brain and live in Portland, nowadays you spend much of your life walking around more than mildly outraged at the stupidity and arrogance of local government. But here's a story that really, really boils the blood. In a rare moment of lucidity, the Portland Business Journal finally gets around to reporting what actually happened with the Vestas office building deal:

When Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas announced plans to invest $66 million to renovate a historic Pearl District building for its new North American headquarters,... [a]mong the incentives it received from the state was a $1 million forgivable loan from the governor’s strategic reserve fund. But in order for the loan to be forgivable, Vestas was required to add 102 jobs within a five-year period and sustain that level of employment for eight consecutive quarters. If it failed, the company would be required to pay back a portion of that money.

When it announced its headquarters plans on Aug. 18, 2010, Vestas said it had 400 local employees. Based on that, Vestas would have been required to grow that total to above 500 and sustain it for essentially two years.

But in the time since that announcement, its employment has only shrunk. Today, the company says it has fewer than 300 workers, and earlier this month it announced plans to cut another 2,000 jobs worldwide. So is Vestas at risk of having to pay back the state funds?

According to Business Oregon, the state’s economic development division, the answer is no.

Marc Zolton, a spokesman for the agency, said Vestas fulfilled its job-creation obligation on Sept. 30, 2010 — less than a month after the company first announced plans for its project.

No, Vestas didn’t miraculously create 102 jobs in three weeks and then magically compress time to keep that level for eight weeks. Zolton said the state’s deal required Vestas to create those new jobs within a five-year period dating back to when the state began negotiations with the company. In this case, the start date was October 1, 2008.

What farookin' weasels we are dealing with here, friends.

So much of what the public was told about this deal was false and misleading. First of all, the city and state governments made it sound as though the sweetheart financing was being given to Vestas. It wasn't until much later that it was revealed that the subsidy actually went to Mark Edlen, Vestas's landlord, who has surely surpassed Homer Williams as the all-time biggest single fleecer of the Portland public treasury. Now we learn that the Vestas job creation promise was bogus. One shudders to think what other scandals lie in the details of the deal. Not that anyone in the mainstream media has actually ever even looked at them.

In 2010, Mayor Creepy specifically said that the transaction would "retain 400 living wage jobs, put 450 construction workers back to work and pave the way for 100 to 200 new jobs in the next five years." What a weasel.

Did the governor and the mayor tell us the truth? No. Did the media ask the right questions? No. Or else they didn't report the true answers.

And so we live with another Portland real estate development scam. 'Round and 'round it goes, and where it stops, nobody knows. What a dirty little town.

Kitz, Wheeler gung ho on privatizing street lights, water

That greasy press conference in San Francisco yesterday, unveiling the latest self-enrichment scheme to be inflicted on taxpayers by CH2M Hill, had quite the sinister ring to it. The official press release from Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who ought to know better, had the wretched stench of "public-private partnership" all over it:

The West Coast Infrastructure Exchange (WCX) brings together governors, treasurers and key infrastructure development agencies in the three states and British Columbia.

The shared goal: Make vital public works and energy projects more feasible in order to improve economic competitiveness and to maintain the region’s unparalleled quality of life.

The exchange plans to achieve that goal by helping West Coast states and British Columbia explore strategies such as bundling and alternative funding methods, including the potential of private capital, to finance critical infrastructure projects....

No projects have been selected. But the Exchange is laying the groundwork to identify a first wave of projects. These could include energy efficiency, municipal lighting, water aquifer recharge, and other projects constructed through performance-based partnerships with the private sector.

Bring on the graft! Bring on the profiteering! God help America, and especially the State of Oregon. The looting never ends.

UPDATE, 11/16, 11:21 p.m.: We follow up here.

An inconvenient truth: Portlanders are driving more

All the "planner" bullpuckey about "car-free lifestyles" being just around the corner is belied by a new study finding that Portland commuters are driving more and taking transit less. The City Hall know-it-alls and their well meaning dupes will tell you that a million people are moving here any minute now, and they're all going to ride the rails, but it ain't gonna happen. Not at $2.50 a ride.

Can you believe that the entry fee to downtown Portland is now five bucks, and the vicious parking meter attendants prowl well into the evening and work on Sunday? The corner restaurant and the suburban mall never looked so good.

And so when unshaven, unemployed, Pabst-guzzling cyclists, deeply programmed in Portland State urban planning courses taught by Vera Katz, preach to you that apartments don't need parking, don't get mad. But it's okay to laugh at them. As loudly as you like.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Microsoft burns more of your valuable time

Our computers are being subjected to Windows Update Hell this evening. Takes forever, requires a slow-ass reboot, may or may not require additional restarts before everything works right... it's definitely reminiscent of the federal government. Maybe some folks in Redmond, WA are getting biographers out of the deal.

5-Hour Energy is a heck of a way to die

We swore off caffeine nearly a decade ago. We cheat with tea, particularly iced tea, and a regular Coke now and then. But the decaf life is a lot better for us than the world of real coffee and Diet Coke, which definitely messed with our electrical system. (We try to drink water-processed decaf coffee, to avoid the solvents they use to yank the caffeine out of most coffee.)

People popping shots of heavy caffeine? It just seems dangerous to us in our geezerhood. That stuff would kill us in a short time. If you use it, you grow dependent on it, and there are moments when it's the absolute wrong thing to do to your body. Yet it's advertised in the mainstream -- on TV, at the ballgame -- like it's a modern convenience you needn't do without. "I wake up in the morning and down a 5-Hour Energy instead of eating breakfast." Good luck with that.

Given that our nanny state won't let you drink a quart of Sprite at a sitting, it's amazing that we're letting people wire themselves to death.

What country are we in again?

Here's an interesting sentence from the O:

Lehan and Damon, both Democrats, benefited from labour groups.

Blimey, is that so?

The loss of all copy editing at the local rags is exposing quite clearly the youth and inexperience of the people doing the writing. Meeker had it right: We're in trouble, folks.

Nagging question

Which group was better: Question Mark & the Mysterians, or Cannibal & the Headunters?

It's time for a showdown with the PoPo union

We grew up in a union household. Without unions, we probably wouldn't be here. But you know what? The Portland police union is completely and totally out of control. If it won't behave even close to reasonably, the union needs to be broken. It will be traumatic, it will be painful, but at some point it is going to have to happen. It's either that or bankruptcy. Tough call for the City Council. But now that Admiral Randy is leaving City Hall, it's time for everybody on both sides of the bargaining table to grow up.

A cautionary tale from the California desert

Although it may be too late for Portland:

Yet on close examination, the city's decades-long journey from prosperous, middle-class community to bankrupt, crime-ridden, foreclosure-blighted basket case is straightforward — and alarmingly similar to the path traveled by many municipalities around America's largest state. San Bernardino succumbed to a vicious circle of self-interests among city workers, local politicians and state pension overseers.

Little by little, over many years, the salaries and retirement benefits of San Bernardino's city workers — and especially its police and firemen — grew richer and richer, even as the city lost its major employers and gradually got poorer and poorer.

Unions poured money into city council elections, and the city council poured money into union pay and pensions. The California Public Employees' Retirement System (Calpers), which manages pension plans for San Bernardino and many other cities, encouraged ever-sweeter benefits. Investment bankers sold clever bond deals to pay for them. Meanwhile, state law made it impossible to raise local property taxes and difficult to boost any other kind.

No single deal or decision involving benefits and wages over the years killed the city. But cumulatively, they built a pension-fueled financial time-bomb that finally exploded.

The whole thing is here.

Another p.r. flack for Portland City Hall

This one will be in charge of selling "equity" to the unwashed masses. Salary: $5,028 - $6,706 a month. Just what our cash-strapped city needs.

Portland mayor write-in votes topped 19,000

"None of the above" did quite well in last week's Portland mayoral election. According to the city auditor (whom we wrote in), there were 19,162 voters who couldn't bring themselves to vote for either Nutsy or Char-Lie. That was out of about 253,000 votes cast.

You have to look for the bright spots in life, and to us this is one of them. More than 19,000 Portlanders took the time to just say no to bad local government. That's got to be some sort of record.

Can an "urban renewal" area shut itself down?

A reader in the Lents neighborhood of southeast Portland complains that he's given up on "urban renewal" ever doing anything good in his part of town. And so he'd like to see the "urban renewal" district out that way disbanded, with the diverted "tax increment" (property tax) money going back to basic services. He asks us if the majority of property owners in an "urban renewal" area can shut down the district -- to secede from the Portland Development Commission, as it were.

We're no expert on these matters, but we doubt it. We'd bet that it all rests in the excellent judgment of the five members of the City Council. A Clackistani-style rebellion with a ballot measure might do the trick, however. Perhaps our readers can offer some helpful thoughts.

The next Fuku

There's only one nuclear power plant currently operating in Japan -- the one that's built on what appears to be an active earthquake fault line. Oi vey! Enjoy your cesium, Oregon.

Linchpin alert! Another big loser for the PDC.

The Portland Development Commission has a pretty lousy track record of doing anything but making the real estate sharpies in town richer. But under the Adams "administration," the agency has outdone itself in failure. It's been a complete and utter black hole, achieving pretty much nothing but at enormous taxpayer expense. The whole shop should be dismantled and its few useful functions farmed out to other bureaus.

Anyway, here's a typical PDC deal: Buy a wreck of a building for $3.71 million, blow a million or two making up fruitless plans for it, then sell it to some pals for $550,000. And then subsidize said buddies as they renovate the building into something no one in his or her right mind would ever think Portland needs.

[O]fficials with the urban renewal agency say it's the only way to forge ahead with a plan for private developers to renovate the old Grove Hotel into a youth hostel, giving the gritty area an anchor and attracting young people who someday could fill local tech jobs.

Have you ever read such a crock of nonsense? Tech jobs in Portland? And oh yeah, the Stanford engineering students are really going to want to spend quality time amidst the pitiful denizens of Old Town. This is stupidity, corruption, or both, and so obvious for all to see.

It wouldn't be complete, though, without the classic line from the car-hating bobblehead currently running the PDC into the ground: "We think this is kind of a linchpin project for Old Town." Indeed, buddy. Linchpin City.

Another 128 jobs flee Sam Rand Portland

There's just too much bureaucrat nickel-and-diming going on in Portland, and so the Sealy Mattress folks are heading out to Lacey, Washington. That's a backward place without skateboard lanes; they probably don't even hand out food slop buckets.

We wonder whether the City of Portland even tried to get Sealy to stay. We have millions to shell out to hopeless losers like this company whenever there's a real estate development scam involved. But 128 old-fashioned factory jobs, in an established location, making an age-old product that people actually use? Let's face it, Portland's not interested. Go by streetcar, peeps. We've got a new youth hostel to build on Skid Row.

Life in city government

It's cushy, according to this author:

The time I spent not working that summer enabled me to observe others not working. The engineering department of Livingston had three full-time civil engineers. There wasn’t enough actual work to keep even one busy. We surveyed land that had already been surveyed. We observed a road construction project and some housing construction. Very little of what any of us did had any practical purpose.

The water department was slightly more productive. Every morning the water department van would go out to fix broken water mains. Most of the time there were none to fix, so this crew of about a half dozen men would be "on call." How often did water mains break? Once every month or two. How long did it take them to fix a broken main? Two or three days. Do the math and it is obvious that these men were paid to do nothing most of the time. What did they do? They would hang around the local parks, the Livingston Mall, the Donut Basket, or somewhere else.

But that was in New Jersey. Nothing like that could happen in Oregon. So you Oregonians, go back to your corn flakes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

And now... a shady charity!!!

The attention that the "unpaid social liaison officer" has drawn to herself could soon result in some serious tsuris from the IRS.

We want a perp walk! We want a perp walk! What will she be wearing?

UPDATE, 9:37 p.m.: Did we eat a bad mushroom? Now Adrian Chen is covering the story for Gawker, and he's got a new, bizarre tidibit.

CIA goes MTV, cont'd

Now the "unpaid social liaison officer" claims "diplomatic inviolability." In her 911 calls. It's positively Snooki-esque.

Why they're wrecking Portland

It's for the "poor twenty-something who doesn't own a car and probably never will, let alone a house." For him or her, let's chase out people who own houses and cars -- who needs them? Let's go ghetto!

Stories we stopped reading after one sentence

The uncertain fate of the federal Production Tax Credit has slammed the breaks on Vestas' fastest growing market.

Getting better all the time

First there was a "biographer." Then the "unpaid social liaison officer" appeared. Now one of them was "connective tissue." And then:

A military officer who is a former member of Petraeus’s staff said Kelley was a "self-appointed" go-between for Central Command officers with Lebanese and other Middle Eastern government officials.

We keep waiting for Bill Clinton to show up in this somewhere.

Gumby busted

This just in from the PoPo:

Car haters zoom in on Foster Road

You know that no neighborhood is immune from Portland City Hall "road diet" mania when there's talk of Blumenauering Foster Road. Not only are bike lanes galore in the offing, but the dwindling car lanes are going to be "streetcar ready." The pretty pictures are here.

Sustainable Susan flips Char-Lie the bird

This is getting interesting. The bureaucrats in the City of Portland "sustainability" office are dismissing out of hand the mayor-elect's calls for a moratorium on the building of parking-less cr-apartments in the city's established inner eastside neighborhoods. Will the mayor be sufficiently miffed at this to clean house in that bureau when he takes over a month and a half from now? One can only hope. That group is out of control and as arrogant as City Hall gets -- which is saying quite a lot.

Do state income taxes breed strip malls?

That's among the fascinating conclusions of this essay, comparing New England with the Midwest:

Local Taxation. The manner in which local taxes were levied in Connecticut is very different than in Ohio. In Ohio, income tax (charged where you work, not live) funds much of the local revenue for cities and townships, with property taxes going to fund school districts which are operated as separate governmental subdivisions. In Connecticut, property taxes support most of the local level spending, so property value is king. In a majority (although not all) of the communities the school district is only semi-autonomous and is funded directly as a line item in the municipal budget.

The impact of this is actually quite dramatic. In Ohio it pays to cram as many jobs as you can into your community. Many communities welcome every office, strip mall and warehouse they can get. In Connecticut, many people tend to react the opposite way-they don’t want these uses. They bring traffic and pollution, which can bring property values down (at least that’s the fear), thereby weakening the municipal coffers. Exclusivity pays when keeping out more intense uses to preserve the bucolic countryside atmosphere leads to wealthy residents building large estates that pay lots of taxes. There is likewise much less of an incentive for local leaders to welcome the newest strip mall into their community, especially when they need to provide more police services and bigger roads. In Ohio, almost every highway exit, even the ones in high-end communities, has several commercial establishments near them. In Connecticut, many exit onto leafy drives that run to quiet residential areas.

The whole thing has a lot to think about.

Same 'dogs, different week

Here are the lines for this weekend's pro football games. Players in our charity underdog contest must find one (in caps) that they think can win its game outright. Many familiar names appear on the list:

16 JACKSONVILLE at Houston
10 ARIZONA at Atlanta
9.5 INDIANAPOLIS at New England
8.5 SAN DIEGO at Denver
8.5 CLEVELAND at Dallas
5 CHICAGO at San Francisco (Monday, pick still due Sunday morning)
4.5 OAKLAND vs. New Orleans
3.5 BALTIMORE at Pittsburgh
3.5 DETROIT vs. Green Bay
3.5 KANSAS CITY vs. Cincinnati
3.5 PHILADELPHIA at Washington
3 NEW YORK JETS at St. Louis
1 CAROLINA vs. Tampa Bay
1 MIAMI at Buffalo (Thursday 5:20 p.m. PST)

Some intriguing matchups and numbers there. We've been expecting a big upset for a couple of weeks now, but it hasn't materialized. Could this be the week?

If you want the Dolphins, see your doctor, but also get your pick in by 5:20 on Thursday afternoon, Pacific Standard Time. Good luck, players.

Shortcuts to disaster

Warning: This is a slightly nauseating entry, from Oregon treasurer Ted Wheeler's flack desk:

SAN FRANCISCO – A press conference Wednesday will outline a new study and the resulting effort to make it easier to build and maintain infrastructure projects in the Pacific Coast region.

WHO: Leaders from three Pacific Coast states and the province of British Columbia:
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber
California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer
Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler
Representative of the Washington State governor
Representative of the Province of British Columbia

Also scheduled to attend:
Study author from research firm CH2M HILL
Representative of the American Society of Civil Engineers
Investor consultant
Labor union representative

WHAT: A Rockefeller Foundation grant allowed a partnership of governments to consider innovative strategies to make it easier to build infrastructure projects. A feasibility study was conducted by CH2M HILL. The effort is being coordinated through the Oregon State Treasury.

Ah, CH2M Hill. These are the guys who make a mint getting local politicians to build aerial trams, streetcars, light rail trains, heavy rail trains, underground water tanks, and who knows what all other unnecessary construction projects that are sending the cities careening toward bankruptcy. Oh, and the engineers and construction unions will be there, too, of course. Mmmm... pork...

Well, thank heaven somebody's making it easier to rob the public blind. There's no sense being difficult about it. It's like "legitimate rape," only with public money.

And although attendees will be from B.C., Washington, and Oregon, we see they're holding the show in San Francisco. That's a darned expensive place to get in and out of. But hey, it's only taxpayer money. Go first class -- it's the CH2M way.

Cr-apartment parking showdown this afternoon

The City of Portland planners have scheduled a public forum for this afternoon to discuss all the apartment bunkers going up in inner eastside neighborhoods without off-street parking. Of course, it's being held when people with actual lives can't go, but even so, we suspect the smug city bobbleheads are going to get an earful. Details are here.

City of Portland subsidizing solar power -- in Roseburg

Rogue misspending of revenues runs rampant in Portland city government. Sometimes it's millions, like Fireman Randy's water bureau spending benders and Mayor Creepy's bike fantasies paid for out of sewer revenues. Other times, it's just thousands. But the variety of ways City Hall can misdirect public moneys is breathtaking.

Here's a new one, sent in by an alert reader:

I was at a meeting earlier today where a person from the Southern Oregon Clean Energy Alliance (SOCEA) was reporting on an effort to start a "Solarize Southern Oregon" program. These programs are great. They enable bulk purchasing of solar PV panels so that costs are reduced to the person installing the panels. The savings have been 10 or 15% over what an individual homeowner can otherwise obtain on their own. It doesn't cost the taxpayer for the program (the tax credits for installing systems are another story), and the program supports installers who really can use the business. In fact, I took advantage of a Solarize Portland program and feel pretty good about it. Solarize programs have been around in Portland for a few years and have spawned spin-offs including Solarize Salem and now this Solarize Southern Oregon effort. More on the Solarize Southern Oregon program is here.

So far, so good.

If you tool around on their website, you'll note that the organization has an interesting list of supporters and partners... including the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Of Portland.


And the site also shows supporters of Solar Now! They include, yup, the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

What started me digging was that as I was listening to the presentation, the person from SOCEA noted that they had received a grant from the City of Portland, BPS, in order to help get the whole thing off the ground. She didn't say how much, and the only evidence of the amount or grant I found is in the minutes of a meeting down south, here.

While $8,000 is a small amount, to be sure, it probably could have fixed a few Portland potholes. But now it is going to help people in Roseburg put solar on their rooftops. WTF. I really can't fathom what was running through the CoP employee's head who approved that grant. If anything.

Portland's "sustainability" office, which is also constantly writing and running free advertising for its favored friends on the city's website, is out of control. They're giving "green" a bad name. The backlash that is coming if the new mayor doesn't shape things up over there won't be good for the earth. Eventually, another lawsuit, like the one calling out the water bureau abuses, may be necessary. But it shouldn't be.

Is Stenchy moving to Lake Oswego?

The very-lame-duck Lake Oswego City Council is meeting tonight to approve a 10-year extension of its garbage hauling contract with an outfit known as Allied Waste. Critics wonder why the council is in such a rush, since the existing contract doesn't expire until 2014. But hey, this is solid waste management, and we can tell you from our youthful experiences in New Jersey that there are many mysterious aspects to that particular industry. Ahem.

Anyway, buried in the documentation for the new deal is this paragraph, which caught our reader's eye:

Does this mean that residents of Lake O. will soon be scraping the contents of their Royal Copenhagen china into a slop bucket for shipment to some God-forsaken hamlet like North Plains or Stafford? Who will clean out the disgusting bins lining the cul-de-sacs every summer? Let's hope they still have good help down there.

Mayor Char-Lie word weaseling officially begins

As we suspected last evening, when the mayor-elect of Portland opens his mouth, everybody hears something different.

Another general with a "biographer" problem

Or is it an "unpaid social liaison" problem? We're getting those confused. Anyway, move over, Honey Boo Boo -- there's a rival show on the news stations now.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ground 'Dog Day

We've seen this movie before: Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel screws up at the end of the game, and his team loses. Kansas City gives our underdog players a thrill, but no points for Carol. Our standings remain where they were last night, but without the asterisk. We start another week of 'dognostication tomorrow.

Vestas cans head of Portland office

The troubled Danish windmill maker at whom Oregon taxpayers have thrown tens of millions is now bringing in Chris Brown, above, a city bureaucrat from Detroit, to take over its U.S. show. Detroit's finances are in such bad shape that there's been talk of shipping Brown out of there since last spring. He lasted less than two years in Motown, and he's bounced around like a pinball in his career, which started out in law school:

A native of Delaware, Brown holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Delaware, was a Fulbright Scholar in finance and economics at Bonn University and earned a law degree from Pennsylvania-based Villanova University.

After graduating from law school in 1987, Brown worked as legal counsel at two East Coast law firms, transitioning from legal counsel to business development in 1992 at Baltimore-based Constellation Energy. He moved overseas in 1994, establishing an Asian office for U.S. utility Entergy Power Group. He joined Singapore Power in 1996, where he served as a senior vice president and managing director.

Brown left Singapore Power in February 2004. He took a job with Ann Arbor-based DTE Energy Resources in 2005, a position he left in 2008, when he became CEO of New Jersey-based wind farm Deepwater Wind. That position lasted six months, ending in December 2008. When he joined the city, Brown's résumé listed his current position as founder and CEO of Ann Arbor-based Brown Equity Group.

He became Bing's COO in January 2011. He earns about $141,000 a year, after a 10 percent pay cut taken by all Bing appointees.

How long will he last in Portland? Eighteen months or less would be our guess.

Heresy from Hales

Portland's new mayor is described as saying that "bike projects are important, but the city has ignored road maintenance for too long," and that he "wants Portland’s 60 miles of unpaved streets covered as soon as possible before there are any more bike projects." We doubt that he said exactly that, and we really doubt that he will do exactly that. Reporters will learn soon that Char-Lie speaks in weasel words that must be parsed word for word. But what's been reported there is a lot saner sentiment than anything that's come out of City Hall in the last four years under the Creepy administration.

Phrase o' the Day

"Unpaid social liaison officer."

When do the reality TV people show up?

The Clackamas River Water Board craziness is as trashy as anything MTV ever thought up.

Hanging in the balance

We're still waiting with bated breath for the outcome of one race still undecided, five days after the election:

Vote For 1
NO CANDIDATE FILED . . . . . . . 0
WRITE-IN. . . . . . . . . . . 27,253 100.00%

Who will it be? And will they publish the complete list of names written in? Inquiring minds would sure like to know.

Didn't quite make the cut

On this list of the top 25 U.S. cities for walking, Portland received a mere honorable mention. But the authors of the list seem enamored with places like Jersey City, Newark, and Elizabeth, N.J., and East L.A. Having spent time in all of those locales, we can't help but add that they give walkers the additional health benefit of running for their lives from time to time.

Invasion of the "green" scofflaws

A reader near the corner of Barbur and Hamilton writes:

I've been disturbed about something I've seen in my neighborhood lately. It seems like these little Car2Go runabouts are being staged around town as adverts. We will often see 3 or 4 of these little guys parked within a block of each other, and I know they aren't being used by my neighbors. Furthermore, I've seen them parked, plastic still on the seats, where another C2G drives up, drops a driver off and both of them take off in formation (I saw this at IKEA of all places).

My neighbors and I are starting to work this through our neighborhood association. We're generally a little testy about traffic as we're a cut-through neighborhood for OHSU commuters being between Barbur and Terwilliger, and we generally get the brushoff from the city (as they always know what's happening with their streets better than those of us who live on them).

We suspect they are at a minimum getting a pass from the city with parking permits (we are in an APPP zone so our street doesn't become a park-and-ride) if not fully sanctioned by City Hall.

He sends along some photos, which tell his story pretty well. Here's one that was parked in the same spot all day on Thursday:


Here's one parked facing the wrong way:

Here's one parked in a no-parking zone:

Here are three in a row taking up space on Terwilliger Boulevard:

Isn't it something how the friends of the politicians and bureaucrats in Portland don't have to play by the same rules as everybody else? It never ceases to amaze.

Adams's solution to everything: a new tax!

The creepy mayor behind the leaf pickup tax, the (soon-to-be-proven unconstitutional) arts head tax, the emerging grocery bag tax, and countless other nickel-and-dime schemes to chase people with real lives out of Portland, has announced how he's going to pay for the hot new police brutality reforms. Ready? An increase in telephone taxes!

Those poor grandmas with land lines from CenturyLink, who already wonder whether to pay their water bill or buy food, are now looking at another four bucks or so on every phone bill, to be fed into the insatiable Portland City Hall money-burning machinery. Without it, apparently Portland can't afford to have a police force that doesn't beat 90-pound schizophrenics to death and shoot unarmed people in the back.

What a fitting testament to the Sam Rand regime and the three bobbleheads who go along with their madness. Under their stewardship, Portland had a pass a special property tax levy just to buy fire trucks. Now we need a telephone tax to pay for an improbable cure to the police force's mean streak. But streetcars and private bike share programs? Funding approved, instantly. If you're not outraged at the grotesquely twisted priorities, you're not paying attention.

A blogger making a difference

Bill Harbaugh, economics professor and the writer behind UO Matters, a blog about the state university in Eugene, is blowing his own horn a bit this week. And he deserves to:

Starting last fall I posted a series of stories on the UO athletic department's overhead rate, using documents obtained with public records requests and petitions.

While athletics had originally been scheduled to pay 7%, instead they were only paying 3%. Eventually I traced this to a secret agreement between Dave Frohnmayer and his athletic director Pat Kilkenny, signed 2 weeks before Frohnmayer stepped down as Pres. Steve Duin had a good column about it in the Oregonian. Jamie Moffitt knew about this deal, but she and AD Rob Mullens kept the Senate IAC [Intercollegiate Athletic Committee] in the dark until the public records requests made her reveal it....

Bob Berdahl tried to shut down the IAC over these sorts of questions. But now UO has a new president, Mike Gottfredson, who has as of today gone up several points in my book, though not a full letter grade. OUS rules forbid overhead subsidies and require that overhead rates be established using an "auditable" procedure. So Moffitt had no choice but to revisit the calculations -- especially with a president who wouldn't look the other way. Today her report came out.... Athletics will have to pay $555,227 in new money to UO every year - funds now available for the university's other functions. Yippee.

Blogging about one's workplace is one of the most hazardous activities we can imagine. We're amazed that Harbaugh has the guts to do it. But he does it well, and we admire him for it. Let's hope he keeps turning over those rocks down there.

Back from the other side

Josh Berger, the Portland artist and designer whose cycling accident rocked his world and rallied friends and strangers, has recovered sufficiently to resume creating art. He posted it, along with a message, here last week.

Obama is on a roll

But it seems a little fishy.

Surprise! Lakers hire D'Antoni.

Everybody figured another term for Phil Jackson was a done deal, but no.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Freaky NFL tie sends fans to calculators

The Rams and 49ers played to a tie today -- neither team scored in the single overtime period that's allowed in regular season games -- and so each gets a rare digit in the tie column of its record. Interestingly, in computing the teams' won-loss percentages, the league counts the game as a half-win. And so for the Niners, who are now 6-2-1, the official NFL standings page shows a won-loss percentage of .722, which is 6.5 out of 9. The lowly Rams, who are now 3-5-1, are at .389, which is 3.5 out of 9. For a team with a winning record, the tie lowers their percentage, and for a team with a losing record, it increases it. For a team right at .500, the tie maintains the status quo.

It makes sense. The Niners are now behind a team that's 7-2 (.779), but ahead of a team that's 6-3 (.667) -- exactly halfway between the two. The Rams are behind 4-5 (.444), but ahead of 3-6 (.333), also right in the middle.

A different kind of bailout

Here's an interesting way to help people in default on their debts -- if you're inclined to do such a thing. Step 1: Take up a collection. Step 2: No, don't give the debtor the money they need to pay the debt off. Go the lender instead, and offer them pennies on the dollar, which is all the insolvent person's debt is worth, anyway. Step 3: After the lender sells you the debt at steep discount, forgive it in full. This way the bankers get what they deserve, and the borrower is off the hook.

Chilly 'dogs chosen

There's frost on many a pumpkin, and the Big Daddies of pro football are getting serious. Players in our charity underdog game have selected these 'dogs (in caps) to come in from the cold with a win:

11.5 KANSAS CITY at Pittsburgh (Monday) - Carol
11 ST. LOUIS at San Francisco - NoPoGuy, Gary, Biggest Cubs Loser
9.5 OAKLAND at Baltimore - Bob, PDXileinOmaha, Dave A., Bad Brad, John Cr., Cinderella Story, Coastal Storm, MickeyMacNYC
6.5 NEW YORK JETS at Seattle - Lucas, Bayou Baby, Tinknocker, Pdxmick, Broadway Joe, Dr. D, Annie
6 TENNESSEE at Miami - Jeremy, Usual Kevin, DB Cooper, JMH
4 CINCINNATI vs. New York Giants - Paul, Grizfan, Pete Rose, Drewbob
3 NEW ORLEANS vs. Atlanta - George, Michael K., Gordon, Tung, Ted
3 SAN DIEGO at Tampa Bay - genop, genop's gal, Juicen, Eric W.
3 JACKSONVILLE vs. Indianapolis (Thursday, unsuccessful) - Rudie, Pete Rozelle
2 DALLAS at Philadelphia - Sola, Will, John Ch.

Not much confidence placed in the Seabirds. Will Sanchez snap out of it? Will Jets turn on their Tebow? The Raiders in an East Coast morning game also received votes of confidence, from brave souls, while the Saints drew a more conservative crowd.

Please note: 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 fine Sunday, and enjoy the games, all.

UPDATE, 1:22 p.m.: Nine Sunday morning picks added.

UPDATE, 1:24 p.m.: Three early 'dogs get their bones -- Tennessee, Cincinnati, and New Orleans. Bow wow!

UPDATE, 5:23 p.m.: Oh, the frustration for the three players who took the Rams. That game ends in a tie, after St. Louis had it won, twice. The Niners didn't want it, either. Strange outcome, but no points for a tie. Three players pick up a deuce on the Cowgirls. Nobody on tonight's game, and only one flyer for tomorrow.

UPDATE, 5:28 p.m.: Here are the new standings, with the asterisk denoting tomorrow night's player:

Continue reading "Chilly 'dogs chosen" »

On Armistice Day

We honor the veterans in our midst, and those who gave their all.

So, did your vote get counted?

A friend of ours is a little upset that the vote cast by one member of his household apparently didn't get counted. We're not sure what happened there, but if you want to see if your Oregon vote made it to the county elections officials, you can go here and check.

A way with words

Nobody -- but nobody -- does it like the Post:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stranger in a strange land

The temporary head coach of the hated L.A. Lakers -- who won last night after their head coach, Mike Brown, was fired -- is a familiar face to long-time Blazer fans. It's Bernie Bickerstaff (right), former assistant coach with Portland. He's only been with the Lakers for six games, having bounced around the league quite a bit. But at the moment, he's at the helm. The next permanent coach would be smart to keep him on for a while, but that remains to be seen.

Gettin' it on with Petraeus

You talk about a surge. Apparently the FBI picked up on it when another woman complained that the girlfriend was sending her harassing e-mail messages. Yikes!

Our tinfoil helmet tells us that there's something more than one incident of extracurricular whoopie that led to the big man stepping down. It's a CIA thing, and the FBI is also involved. Therefore, believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.

Getting ready

Wolf! Wolf! Obama's talking tough on taxes again.

Our president is huffing and puffing about how he's determined to raise taxes on high-income individuals. It was part of his campaign spiel, and now he's speechifying about making it a reality.

The problem, of course, is that we've already seen this movie. It was the same rhetoric right after he was first elected, but even with a majority of the House and 60 Democrats in the Senate, he didn't get it done.

Indeed, he and sellouts like Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) affirmatively extended tax breaks for the wealthy in late 2010. They claimed it was necessary to stop the Republicans from gutting unemployment compensation, but let's be real. They didn't fight for their supposed tax platform because they didn't really want to. What people routinely call the "Bush tax cuts" should be referred to as the "Bush-Obama tax cuts," because they were set to expire at the end of 2010, and Obama and the Democratic Party-controlled Congress extended them for two years. All they had to do was nothing, and the cuts would have expired right then.

Obama says he won't back down this time. But now the Republicans control the House, and besides, they have the country ready to go off the "fiscal cliff" come the first of the year, with major government spending cuts and tax increases programmed to come into effect if no action is taken. The hostage-taking potential is far greater than it was two years ago, and Obama's got far fewer troops. And now he's going to fight them?

It's okay with us. If the Republicans don't want to play along, then it's time to go ahead and go off the "cliff." Reagan closed the government for a few days to make a point, and it didn't tarnish his star much. It will only be a brief dramatic episode. Spray Tan Boehner will come around when his constituents start screaming. But it's going to take cojones on the part of the Obama White House -- cojones that it's never shown it has.

Mac concedes

It appears the Lake O. mayor's race is over. Does that mean that the Homer Williams scam machine will be sent packing from that lovely burg? As a Portland resident, we certainly hope so. You can bet that old Char-Lie Hales will do whatever it takes to help Uncle Homer move the Portland sewage treatment plant, build a streetcar, and bunkerize the east side of L.O. -- much of it at Portland taxpayers' expense.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Rogue Clacky commissioners hiss nastily in defeat

Clackamas County chair Charlotte Lehan and commissioner Jamie Damon, who were decisively defeated in their re-election bids on Tuesday, are refusing to concede their elections, intimating that it has something to do with a county elections worker who was caught tampering with somewhere between two and six ballots. Lehan and Damon each lost by more than 6,000 votes.

It's catty of the two of them not to bow out gracefully, but it's not surprising. They were voted out of office because they refused to honor the will of the majority of residents in their county -- a will that was consistently expressed at the polls several times during their terms, in initiatives that they forced the populace to file about "urban renewal" and light rail. It's fitting that the two of them should be in denial about the results of the very election that ousted both of them. And the longer they throw this latest tantrum, the tighter the seals will be on the coffins of their political careers.

Have a great weekend

Nearly 19,000 write-in votes for Portland mayor

Nutsy Smith got about 78,000.

Lefty talk radio falls off Portland dial

KPOJ is switching from discussing the Gallup Poll to discussing the BCS Poll, effective Monday.

Creepy's last-minute plan to screw the bald eagles

Friday afternoon, last 52 days of his political career -- time for Portland's lame duck* mayor to announce that he's going to ram home a deal for paving over wildlife habitat on West Hayden Island. What else would you expect? Maybe they'll find a job for him at the Port -- he could be a restroom attendant out at the airport.

Let's hope that Nurse Amanda, who doesn't need the Sam Rand goofballs any more, and Nick Fish, who's been painting a target on his own back lately, decide that it would be better to let the new lying mayor, rather than the old lying mayor, handle this. Not that the final outcome is going to be any different.

* -- No offense intended to birds.

A bum is out on his bum

We never thought Mike Brown was a good basketball coach. He squandered talent in Cleveland, and it was clear that no one in Los Angeles respected him. He's available for a new job as of today. Maybe soccer.

New numbers, same outlook for Lake O. mayor

Clackamas County:
Kent Studebaker - 9,151 - 50.66%
Greg Macpherson - 8,911 - 49.34%

Multnomah County:
Kent Studebaker - 554 - 45.90%
Greg Macpherson - 640 - 53.02%

Washington County:
Kent Studebaker - 2 - 100.00%
Greg Macpherson - 0 - 0.00%

Kent Studebaker - 9,707 - 50.41%
Greg Macpherson - 9,551 - 49.59%

Oregon corporate tax spat makes ripples in state bond deal

The State of Oregon is currently in the process of borrowing about $11.4 million for pollution control projects, but in a somewhat unusual development, it had to amend its sales document for the IOUs with a disclosure of a pending tax dispute that could eventually have a significant impact on the state budget:

A case is pending in the Oregon Tax Court that challenges the State's departure from provisions in the Multistate Tax Compact ("MTC") when apportioning income attributable to corporations operating in more than one state. Under the MTC, the income of a multi-state corporation is apportioned to a state using an equally weighted three-factor formula. The formula compares in-state payroll, property and sales to the corporation's overall payroll, property and sales. Many states, including Oregon, have diverged from equally weighting each of the three elements to determine the amount of income in a particular state. Currently, the State uses only sales in Oregon and does not use the other two factors to apportion corporate income.... The taxpayer in Health Net v. Dept. of Revenue asserts that the MTC is a binding contractual arrangement that cannot be unilaterally changed by a participating state. Therefore, the taxpayer argues, the State must apportion multi-state corporate income based only on the formula in the MTC. The amount at issue in Health Net is approximately $350,000. If the taxpayer prevails, however, and a court determines that the State must use the MTC formula, other corporations may seek refunds based on the same theory and the State may collect less corporate income tax in the future. The State has insufficient data to accurately predict the amounts it could be required to refund or the overall impact on future revenues. Those amounts would depend on the circumstances of individual corporations that may, or may not, seek refunds and actions the Legislative Assembly may take in response to an adverse ruling. Such actions could include withdrawing from the MTC or adopting legislative changes to apportionment statutes. Preliminary estimates, however, indicate that potential maximum refund liability and reductions in corporate income tax revenues, without any legislative action, would exceed the materiality threshold stated above of $50 million. The State anticipates that the Oregon Tax Court's ruling will be appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court by the State or the taxpayer. Similar litigation is pending in the California appellate court.

Sounds like an interesting case -- at least, to us tax wonks. If the taxpayer in that case wins, there will likely be many winners and losers among the national and international companies who ply their trades in the Beaver State. But it sounds as though, on the whole, the state's treasury has got a lot to lose if the revenuers' current reading of the law goes down.

Dear Mayor Hales

Why are we paying people to post this sort of commercial material on the City of Portland website, week after week?

Want to learn to fix your bike? Check out the adult or youth programs offered at Community Cycling Center or do a quick fix or take a class at City Bikes.

Have you always wanted to make your own curtains? Find inspiration at Bolt Fabric Boutique or learn about classes and events happening at multiple locations of Montavilla Sewing Centers.

Need shoes repaired before your next adventure? Mountain Soles offers sewing and footwear repairs for outdoor adventures while Derek’s Shoe Repair and Accessories offers shoe care tips and a full line of repair services.

Interested in technology and gaining skills? Free Geek offers classes a variety of classes, including learning the basics of computer programming, using free programs to create digital artwork, using technology to increase your chances of finding employment and internet publishing.

Just need a quick computer fix? There are two Portlandlocations of Happy Hamster Computer Repair if you need assistance with your Mac or PC, desktop or laptop.

Is it going to take another lawsuit to put a stop to these shenanigans?

The drone may not kill you

But your computers are toast. America's pretty good at finding new means of destruction.

Come on, Oregon lefties!

Get going on this. Limit it to the Oregon constitution. We'll sign your petition.

Flop sweat shining

Since it moved into the heavily subsidized Mark Edlen palace in the Pearl District, Vestas has done nothing but cut its Portland workforce. Since the first of the year, the payroll here has been reduced from 400 workers to 300. The city was talking about a 200-job increase once the local taxpayers handed out the millions. Instead, we've gotten a 100-job decrease, and counting. But gosh, it shore is a purty buildin' that there Mark fella has, ain't it?

More monkey business in Portland "transportation" bureau

Portland City Hall gets stranger and stranger by the week. Now the city's lame-duck "transportation" director, Tom Miller, is hiring a new p.r. flack when he knows that he'll be out on his ear in a couple of months. Miller, you may recall, recently lost a new job that he had lined up in Tucson because he flunked the background check -- we are not making that up -- but he didn't miss a beat in his cushy Portland gig, in which he was parked by Mayor Creepy. The new mayor wants Miller gone. He recently laid off his last p.r. person, citing budget problems, but now he's hiring a new one. Does that not smell funny to you? It does to us.

Studebaker hanging on in Lake O.

Clackamas County:
Kent Studebaker - 8,994 - 50.65%
Greg Macpherson - 8,762 - 49.35%

Multnomah County:
Kent Studebaker - 554 - 45.90%
Greg Macpherson - 640 - 53.02%

Washington County:
Kent Studebaker - 2 - 100.00%
Greg Macpherson - 0 - 0.00%

Kent Studebaker - 9,550 - 50.39%
Greg Macpherson - 9,402 - 49.61%

5.2 quake off Japan coast near Fukushima

Light a candle.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Two takers for a Thursday home 'dog

In our charity pro football underdog game:

3 JACKSONVILLE vs. Indianapolis (Thursday night) - Rudie, Pete Rozelle

Good luck (that is, bad Luck), gents!

UPDATE, 8:35 p.m.: Nuh-uh.

Portland cr-apartment "study" confirms the obvious

According to the O, "A city of Portland study released Wednesday plays down the effect of no-parking apartment buildings on nearby residential neighborhoods," but the report also says this:

- Among residents of those buildings who responded to a survey, 72 percent owned cars, and two-thirds of car owners park on the street. But only 36 percent use a car for a daily commute.

- Residents of no-parking apartment buildings aren't less likely to own a car.

And their cars get stored in front of nearby businesses and homes that used to have adequate parking. This decreases the value of those other properties. It's just a transfer of wealth from the existing taxpayers of Portland to developer weasels from places like Lake O. As long as everyone's okay with that, Portland "planners" are doing a bang-up job.

Dirty job up for grabs

Wonder who's going to win the elections for the East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District Board. We wrote in Jefferson Smith for both open positions. One of the races had no listed candidate. Somebody's got to win -- don't they?

Avakian pumps out 10 press releases in October

Oregon's labor commissioner, who was running for re-election, vigorously churned the publicity butter last month, having his government flack send out 10 press releases. Secretary of State Kate Brown was close behind with 6, followed by Treasurer Ted Wheeler with 3 and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum with only 1. All four got to keep their positions and will now resume posturing to become governor in a couple of years.

The year-long tally stands as follows:

The meter misses Kroger. That guy was a machine.

If your 'dog is a cat...

Players in our charity pro football underdog game, a reminder that if you want the Jaguars this week, your pick must be delivered by 5:20 p.m. this afternoon, Pacific Standard Time. Will they change Indy's Luck, winning you 3 points on their home field? Everybody else, the deadline is Sunday 10:00 a.m.

Sobering thoughts from the pot paper publisher

In his annual letter to readers, Willy Week publisher Richard Meeker says some smart things about Portland and his journal's role in it. For one thing, he admits that WW is not really an "alternative" publication any more, but more importantly, he laments the fact that there's less and less media to be an alternative to any more. The O, he points out, is going downhill fast, and its downsizing isn't healthy for the city.

As for his own outfit, Meeker says:

To grow and flourish, a city like ours needs a sustained narrative — one that originates in careful questioning and discussion. This kind of reporting — not just of news, but of culture and imagination — is at the heart of the complex buzz of ideas and thoughts that holds us together as a community and gives us our sense of possibility.

As to WW’s role in all of this, consider the following: Our newsroom has a staff of nine. We have a production staff of five, an advertising and marketing team of 12 (including classifieds and events), a single circulation manager, a Musicfest staff of two, and five of us in operations. We also have a number of freelance contributors and other independently contracted help.

In other words, we have nowhere near enough resources — for our aspirations or Portland’s — which is why I believe this to be the challenge that will animate the years ahead.

Nowadays there are more government p.r. flacks in Portland than they are reporters, and that ain't good. The internet has ripped the news business apart, and it isn't going to be put back together in anywhere near the shape it was in in the old days. As much as they exasperate us, the print media stand between the public and disaster. We had better hope that the few serious journalistic forces this city still has, figure out a way to survive.

Your library district vote already at work -- building bike lanes

When it comes to perverting the will of the taxpayers, nobody does it better than the local politicians in Portland and vicinity. The Clackamas County commission will take the prize for this year's biggest outrages in that regard, but the Portland City Council is deserving of a lifetime achievement award. And ever since Ted Wheeler left town for Salem, the Multnomah County commission is stepping right up to join in with the egregious weasel moves.

Yesterday gave us the perfect example. In the morning we learned that the new county library district had passed -- guaranteeing that the library would have stable funding. The voters wanted it that way, even though it meant diverting funds from Portland City Hall under the byzantine feature of the Oregon property tax system known as "compression." To us, the steering of funds away from the city's pet project factory was a good idea; it might force the cartoon characters on the City Council to stop building a fantasy theme park and get back to providing basic services, which are being sorely neglected.

But by afternoon, the whole picture had changed, as county chair Jeff "Farquaad" Cogen suddenly broke the shocking news that he had decided essentially to fork over $12 million to the city to make up for the city's lost tax revenue. It's being cast as a reduction in the city's share of the cost of fixing the Sellwood Bridge, but of course that just means more money for the city's transportation bureau to blow on frivolous junk like a bicycle-gaga "road diet" for the main drag through the Lloyd District.

Is Farquaad kidding? This is the Multnomah County government, which is supposed to be doing something about the army of mentally ill people wandering the streets and making downtown unpalatable to anybody with eyes and a nose. Now that it's out from under the library, does Cogen allocate more funds to addressing that problem? Of course not. He hands over eight figures to the Portland transportation children. What a sellout. And was there any public input on this? Little or none. The arrogance is breathtaking.

Worst of all, Cogen prattled on about "cost savings" from this and that, bragging that with the county's good credit rating, it can run out and borrow more money at cheap interest rates. Borrow more money -- as if it were free. It's the same sort of mindless drivel that regularly pours from the mouth of Portland's creepy mayor. Portland's in serious trouble, and make no mistake -- Cogen, who's also sold out to "urban renewal," has become a big part of it.

Meanwhile, our vote for the library taxing district apparently just helped Portland City Hall build some more bike lanes. Quite an achievement.

Kitz to soccer moms: Give me a sales tax or shut up

The public schools of Oregon are doomed -- "no money." But the state had $250 million of lottery money to throw at a ridiculous train from Portland to Milwaukie. All told, that boondoggle will cost taxpayers somewhere close to $2 billion. Will the public here ever open its eyes? It seems highly doubtful. Too bad the kids will pay for it all, both with a lousy education and with future tax increases. Go by streetcar, Governor!

Anything's possible

Here's an amusing press release from the Portland police:

On Wednesday November 7, 2012, at 3:17 a.m., Portland Police officers assigned to North Precinct responded to the report of a burglar alarm at Tran Pharmacy, located at 7816 Northeast Sandy Boulevard.

Officers arrived and discovered one of the front windows smashed out, large enough for a person to enter. Officers checked the inside of the building but did not locate anyone inside.

Officers noted that several things had been rummaged through but nothing appeared to be stolen. The victim responded and confirmed that nothing was missing.

At 3:43 a.m., officers responded to another burglar alarm at Paulson's Pharmacy, located at 4246 Northeast Sandy Boulevard. Officers arrived at the location and saw that a large window next to the front door was shattered. Officers checked the inside of the pharmacy but did not locate anyone inside.

The victim responded and was able to determine that an undisclosed amount of prescription medication was stolen.

At this point, investigators do not know if these two incidents are related.

Jeez, d'ya think?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I'll tumble for ya

Stocks took a bruising today, as we suspected they would. Both sides of the Presidential election were thinking wishfully, and only one side could win. Lots of Romney-based bets were abandoned this morning.

A day late and thousands of dollars short

Typical Oregonian -- the day after tax increase ballot measures pass, they start warning people how much they're going to cost them. Did they do that two weeks ago, when the ballots went out? Not hardly. The editors over there must not realize how easy it is to see through them. Farquaad Cogen, Mr. "Urban Renewal," chimes in, too. Like he wants you to think about your tax bill. It's all part of the ongoing tragicomedy known as Portlandia.

Baldwin wins

Neither was predicted to prevail in the crowded fields that started the races last spring, but both our picks for the state's appeals courts, Richard Baldwin and James Egan, won.

Write-ins for Portland mayor: 15,792

The number is holding steady at about 7.7% of all votes cast. (Numbers do not include the tiny part of Portland in Clackamas County.)

Studebaker pulls slightly ahead for Lake O. mayor

Clackamas County:
Kent Studebaker - 8,845 - 50.7%
Greg Macpherson - 8,604 - 49.3%

Multnomah County:
Kent Studebaker - 506 - 45.26%
Greg Macpherson - 601 - 53.76%

Washington County:
Kent Studebaker - 2 - 100.00%
Greg Macpherson - 0 - 0.00%

Kent Studebaker - 9,351 - 50.39%
Greg Macpherson - 9,205 - 49.61%

Hush hush, sweet Charlotte

The Clackistani rebels appear to have bounced both incumbents on the county commission out of office. John Ludlow and Tootie Smith both have greater than 4% margins over Charlotte Lehan and Jamie Damon.

Lehan and Damon gave up their political careers for the Mystery Train to Milwaukie. They behaved like complete rogues in forcing that awful project on taxpayers who clearly didn't want it. And so the two of them got exactly what they deserved. Congratulations to the people who defeated them.

Chasse murderer now Wheeler County sheriff

Remind us never to go there for any reason.

Here comes the Oregon sales tax again, cont'd

As we understand it, both houses of the Oregon legislature are going to be controlled by the Democrats for the next two years. With the governor of the same persuasion, you can expect "tax reform" to be a big topic. And that is likely to include talk of a sales tax -- but just an itty-bitty one, of course, "for the children."

Defeated by 34 points, and looking for the next angle

Jefferson Smith's political career is in the yard debris bin. But the denial marches on. He'll be back, or so he thinks.

[O]ne of the turning points, Katy Smith said, was "when the focus came off of what Jeff was talking about for the city, and turned very personal. Not just for him, but Charlie. That was one of the most unfortunate things that could happen in this town."

To the contrary: Focusing on this strange individual's lack of character was a great moment in the city's history. The only person it was unfortunate for was the balding man child with major impulse control issues and a stunning lack of judgment. For the rest of us, it was dodging a bullet.

Smith said he has no plans to leave Portland.

"The world's a big place," Smith said. "I want to be somewhere where I'm useful."

With any prospect of a real job being out of the question, it's hard to see where that might be. It could be time to pull an Opie Sten, buddy, and get the heck out of Dodge. Because you know there's more dirt on you, and it's going to come out the next time you run for anything but dog catcher.

You know who we feel sorry for? The people who sat through a half-hour speech by Smith last night. There's 30 minutes of your life that you'll never get back.

U of O strengthens ties with tyranny, corruption

No, we're not talking about another endorsement deal for the athletic department. We're talking about the pitiful "strategic partnership" concerning "environment and development" with the government of the West African nation of Gabon, one of the most corrupt in the world. It's moving right along:

Through the UO’s Global Oregon Initiative, UO faculty and Gabonese researchers will team up to study common challenges – in Gabon, in Oregon, and in other places - looking to balance sustainability, human well-being and environmental conservation.

"The UO-Gabon partnership is very exciting to me, as an environmental scientist, an educator and a sustainability scholar," says Brendan Bohannon, a professor of biology, director of the Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and chair of the UO Sustainability Council. "We are already leaders in sustainability research and practice, but the UO-Gabon center will provide us with new possibilities for international leadership."

And to think Mercy Corps is taking heat for sending food to North Korea. This deal is a worse disgrace, and it sends a terrible message to the Oregon students -- one of many they regularly receive from the suits running the university. [Via UO Matters.]

Vestas keeps tanking

More bad news from Denmark this morning.

Lake O. mayor race is barnburner

Some new numbers -- tight as ever, but Studebaker is now ahead by a hair:

Clackamas County:
Kent Studebaker - 7,680 - 50.4%
Greg Macpherson - 7,566 - 49.6%

Multnomah County:
Kent Studebaker - 445 - 45.09%
Greg Macpherson - 532 - 53.90%

Washington County:
Kent Studebaker - 2 - 100.00%
Greg Macpherson - 0 - 0.00%

Kent Studebaker - 8,127 - 50.09%
Greg Macpherson - 8,098 - 49.91%

Ludlow, Smith increase leads

Here are the 2:30 numbers in the Clackistan commission races:

John Ludlow - 62,613 - 51.8%
Charlotte Lehan - 58,350 - 48.2%
Margin - 4,263

Tootie Smith - 62,634 - 51.7%
Jamie Damon - 57,739 - 48.3%
Margin - 4,895

It's looking better for the rebels all the time.

Write-ins for Portland mayor: 13,600 and counting

That's about 7.7% of the votes cast in the race. These numbers don't count the tiny bit of Portland that's in Clackamas County.

Baldwin lead over Cook for Supreme Court is holding up

It's been steady at about 30,000 votes for quite a while. The later it gets, the better that looks.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lake O. mayoral race still a virtual dead heat

Clackamas County:
Kent Studebaker - 7,332 - 50.3%
Greg Macpherson - 7,258 - 49.7%

Multnomah County:
Kent Studebaker - 387 - 44.43%
Greg Macpherson - 478 - 54.88%

Washington County:
Kent Studebaker - 2 - 100.00%
Greg Macpherson - 0 - 0.00%

Kent Studebaker - 7,721 - 49.95%
Greg Macpherson - 7,736 - 50.05%

Ludlow, Smith stay 3,000 votes ahead

The Clackistani rebels remain in the lead. Big changes could be in store for the county commission.

John Ludlow - 57,125 - 51.5%
Charlotte Lehan - 53,855 - 48.5%
Margin - 3,270

Tootie Smith - 57,031 - 51.7%
Jamie Damon - 53,356 - 48.3%
Margin - 3,675

Three-and-a-half-hour wait for second Clackistan returns

It's taking an awfully long time to get more than the initial election results in Clackamas County. Maybe they're busy filling in blanks on some of the ballots. The county clerk is sure a mysterious person when the chips are down.

Egan wins court of appeals race

His opponent keeps expanding his lead in Multnomah County, but statewide Egan crushes.

Baldwin leads Cook by less than 30,000 for Oregon Supreme Court

Still too close for comfort.

Oregon Republicans need more youthful appeal

The GOP was routed once again in statewide races in Oregon tonight. Will they ever come back? Not until they reinvent themselves. Look around, Republicans. The young voters are lining up against you. Legalized pot is coming -- gay marriage, too. If you don't start speaking to the concerns of people in their 20's and 30's, rather than talking down at them, you'll be pouring old money down rat holes for many elections to come.


The Republican ticket has been defeated, but sources say that in a few moments Paul Ryan is planning to make good on his promise to get up on the stage and do one pushup for every electoral vote that Romney won.

Real estate transfer tax ban passes handily

It isn't close -- statewide, Oregonians don't want there ever to be a real property transfer tax. Multnomah County voters are fine with the idea, of course -- us included -- but in this case, they'll be outvoted.

Fritz wins

There's no way Nolan can make up 16 percentage points in Multnomah County. Given her war chest, Nolan ran a truly lackluster campaign. That's one less developer shill on the Portland City Council.

Volpert gets big lift from Multnomah County in court of appeals race

It's not a good trend for his opponent, James Egan. Multnomah delivers lots of votes in the middle of the night.

Dems keep lock on statewide offices

Her website is so lame that you can hardly get to the information, but Kate Brown keeps her job. Maybe over the next four years she can get it right. Wheeler, Avakian, Rosenblum, they'll all be back as well. Press releases galore!

Gay marriage, legalized pot ahead in Washington State

The pot measure is clearly ahead, the gay marriage measure holding a slimmer lead.

Nearly 8% write in for Portland mayor in early returns

Just short of 12,000 write-in votes, and counting. So many people can already see how terrible Char-Lie is going to be. Meanwhile, Nutsy Smith is 32 percentage points behind Hales -- time for a beer with Jesse Cornett.

End of the line for Romney

Fox just threw in the towel, joining NBC. That's a relief. It's all based on projections, of course, and there is always the possibility that the actual votes won't match up to what the pundits say. But they say Obama is going to win.

Egan ahead statewide in court of appeals race

There's still a lot of Multnomah County influence yet to be felt, but Judge Egan is ahead by 9 percentage points statewide.

Oregon secretary of state election results page is worthless

Why are we not surprised?

Cook-Baldwin Supreme Court race tight

Baldwin's slightly ahead in Portland, but Cook's got a slight lead in the 'burbs.

Studebaker and Macpherson neck and neck in Lake O.

Go by streetcar? We don't know yet if that will be an option.

Portland head tax for arts is passing

See you in court. The school construction pork tax increase is also breezing to victory.

Ludlow, Smith up by 3,000 votes in Clackistan

The rebels look strong out of the starting gate.

Fritz pounding Nolan in early returns

Buehler's getting pummeled in Multnomah County.

For White House outcome, take nap and come back in couple of hours

It's nearly 11:00 on the East Coast, and the presidential election is still way in doubt. It looks as though Obama gets Ohio and Romney takes Virginia, with Florida very much in Hanging Chad Land. All three could change on a moment's notice.

UPDATE, 7:58 p.m.: Romney's ahead in Wisconsin, but the pundits say Obama will win that state.

Where the local results are

As best we can tell, here's where you can see what the county elections officials are posting for election results once the "polls" "close" this evening:

Multnomah County

Clackamas County

Washington County

Clark County

State of Oregon

State of Washington

UPDATE, 8:00 p.m.: State of Oregon results link updated.

Guess it's time

We still haven't turned in our ballots. We should probably be saddling up the monkey and heading over to the elections office pretty soon.

More water bureau mission creep: public schools fundraising

A weary reader writes:

I'm paying the water bill this morning, and on the returnable part of the statement, I notice an option box inviting me to "Check here to sign up for GreenBucks (please see reverse.)"

Of course, I'm not about to send these guys any more money, but having never heard of GreenBucks, I looked on the back of the bill, finding this: "Your voluntary GreenBucks contribution helps public schools in Portland protect water quality in local rivers and streams. Select your GreenBucks contribution level (boxes for $1, $3 and $5). Contributions will be charged each billing period."

To begin with, "Contributions will be charged each billing period" seems to undercut the "voluntary" aspect of this. But my main question is: How exactly does this help public schols "protect water quality in local rivers and streams?" And going further, how can public schools do that? Have you heard anything about this?

This is Sam Rand World, my friend. Money comes in many colors and does magical things.

Take a screenshot

Get a good look at this blurb while you still can: It's Portland's next mayor, Char-Lie Hales, bad-mouthing "urban renewal" in order to get votes:

Right now, our local schools, libraries, community colleges and other children’s programs are losing funds to older urban renewal districts. We need to get those funds back to these vital services by exempting voter approved bonds and levies from tax increment financing of urban renewal. When voters approve levies and bonds, they are agreeing to pay taxes for the service specified in the ballot measure. They aren’t told that a percentage is siphoned off by urban renewal. And, we really need those dollars for the approved services.

You can bet that tune will be changing around 8:00 tonight. Old Homer Williams and the other development maneuverers are licking their chops. And notice, if you read the fine print, Char-Lie's only down on old urban renewal districts, not new ones. Lincoln High School condo towers, here we come.

Adopt a Great Dane?

Political drama or not, we've got another weekend of pro football ahead of us, and players in our charity underdog contest have some mighty big, and mighty ugly, pooches to pick from:

11.5 KANSAS CITY at Pittsburgh (Monday night)
11 BUFFALO at New England
11 ST. LOUIS at San Francisco
9.5 OAKLAND at Baltimore
6.5 NEW YORK JETS at Seattle
6 TENNESSEE at Miami
4 CINCINNATI vs. New York Giants
3.5 CAROLINA vs. Denver
3 NEW ORLEANS vs. Atlanta
3 SAN DIEGO at Tampa Bay
3 JACKSONVILLE vs. Indianapolis (Thursday night)
2 DALLAS at Philadelphia
1 MINNESOTA vs. Detroit
1 HOUSTON at Chicago

Players, if you're taking the Jags, you've got until Thursday at 5:20 p.m.West Coast standard time to say so. All other picks (including the Chiefs) are due at 10:00 a.m. Sunday, also PST. It's been a while since we had a big 'dog bring home a bone. Is this the week?

Suits running UC Nike now have a blog

The official version of goings-on at the university can be found here. But if you really want to know what's happening inside the ivy halls in Blugene, you should go here.

Lloyd Center "road diet" is in effect

A reader reports that they're painting the bike lanes this morning near Lloyd Center, along Multnomah between Grand and Eighth:

It's all part of the wonderful new alternative transportation paradise going in over there. Really amazing that this is a priority, when the city's "transportation" bureau is pleading poverty.

Meanwhile, another reader sends along another photo, with some pointed observations:

Here is a current picture of the now-unsafe bike lanes on Multnomah with leaves piled up. I'm not sure if there is room for a street sweeper to go through and pick up the leaves or not. (Even if Lloyd Center cleans up the leaves, the gravel after the first "sanding" of the road will make these bike lanes more dangerous.)

And I think with cars kept further away, the bike lanes will collect more gravel, broken glass, etc. I would have to imagine that a number of bikers will now just use the normal automobile lane. (Since that is allowed if the conditions in the bike lane are bad.)

I can't wait to see traffic in this area during the pre/post holiday rushes at the mall. It ought to be entertaining.

The revenge of the car haters. Do you ever wonder what Portland would look like if Earl Blumenauer had had a happy childhood?

Portland bribe "investigation" skips supervisors

How could Portland parking meter manager Ellis McCoy have been taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from contractors without his supervisors knowing about it? Did his managers know what was going on? Were they in on the graft? It's interesting that no one at City Hall is looking into those questions:

According to documents released to The Oregonian last year, city officials conducted at least a half-dozen investigations of McCoy, twice gave him written reprimands, and in 2009 suspended him without pay for an inappropriate relationship with a city vendor.

But Anna Kanwit, the city's human resources director, said Monday that her office's investigation did not review management oversight of McCoy because "we were not charged with doing that." "In 20/20 hindsight," she said of managers, "perhaps they should have been more aggressive."

"Move along, folks; go to your homes. There's nothing to see here." Uh huh.

Clackistan ballot tamperer exposed

The tragicomedy surrounding the ballot tampering in Clackamas County continues to unfold. The perpetrator, one Deanna Swenson of Oregon City, reportedly admits that she altered two ballots, but she claims that that is all. Even if her transgressions were that minimal, she ought to go to jail for a while to think about them. And if anyone put her up to it, they ought to be sitting in the next cell.

Meanwhile, since she's a Republican, the people of the blue pods are screaming for her head, and intimating that the elections they have lost in Clackistan must have been fixed. Uh huh.

The county is taking remedial measures -- no more pens or pencils in the room where the ballots are counted. Swell, but why has this not been standard operating procedure all along? And aren't there supposed to be several people at every table, watching to make sure that this sort of thing doesn't happen? Why aren't there video cameras, like there are at every 7-Eleven in the world?

The O reporter is acting as if no one knows what will happen. "Questions loom," the headline shouts. But it's clear what's going to happen, isn't it? The two ballots that someone saw Swenson doctor will be thrown out, the rest will be counted, and whichever side loses tonight will blame its defeat on this incident. If the Clackistani rebels win, the incumbents will claim that some of the votes were fraudulent. If the incumbents win, the rebels will claim that the county overreacted to the Swenson episode and unfairly implied that the rebels were involved, thus swinging undecided voters at the 11th hour.

The politics of Clackistan are ugly enough without Oregon's crazy snail mail voting system adding to the nastiness. Having unscreened part-timers drifting in and out of a ballot processing ordeal that lasts two weeks or more doesn't seem to us to be the right way to run an election.

Speaking of voter fraud, you know what we'd also like to see investigated and prosecuted? Someone who votes in Oregon while domiciled in another state. Like the incoming mayor of Portland apparently did. None of the bobbleheads current decrying "crimes against humanity" in Clackistan gave a rat's derriere about that one.

On the lighter side

This is pretty funny: The Occupy Portland people are giving out "responsible banking" awards. Occupy -- responsible? It does not compute. Adding to the madcap humor is one of the two first recipients, Mayor Creepy himself. And then Nutsy Smith had to elbow his way in for a photo op.

"There's more that needs to be done," Smith said. "I'll be there to help if I can."

Oh, no -- must he?

Ashley's mother knew the whole story all along, police say

And she didn't do the right thing, according to authorities. The case didn't break until the killer drunk driver's friend finally broke down to a friend of hers, who ratted out the whole conspiracy crew to the police. Mom could have saved a lot of people a lot of heartache by dropping the dime on her daughter, but she didn't. No doubt that had the effect of adding to her child's sentence.

What would you have done if you were in that mother's shoes?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Last 'dog is for the birds

The Eagles did not fly on Monday -- they looked terrible -- and so the two players who picked them in our charity pro football underdog game got nada for their efforts. The standings remain as they were last night.

A knowledgable friend of ours points out that there are some really weak teams in the NFL this year -- teams that could be beaten by good college teams. The Eagles who showed up tonight would definitely have their hands full with the Ducks, for example.

We'll have new lines in the pro game tomorrow, Election Day.

We have ways of making you vote

The union crew was back on our porch this evening. They left another one of these door hangers on our door handle, to pester us because we haven't turned our ballots in yet. These people sure are dedicated to their cause -- Gee-Hoffa's Witnesses, as it were. Unlike the spiritual walkers, however, the Defend Oregon crew seems to be a lot about their money.

"Road diet" your way to starvation

The City of Portland "transportation" bureau has an endless supply of money for bike toys, but then it cries the blues about its budget being short by millions of dollars. New blood is needed at the top of that office, and very badly. Only 56 days remain until the chance for de-creepification.

75 months for Burnside hit-and-run drunk driver

Her cohorts in the coverup got days in jail and a bunch of community service. Whatever it is, it's too good for them.

Battle of the questionnaires

Local government in Portlandia is big on taking surveys these days. When they say what the politicians want to hear, you hear all about the results; when they don't, the sound of crickets is not unusual.

Some folks who are concerned about the parking-less apartment bunkers that are being slapped up on the city's inner east side are taking their own poll on the subject. A portal to the survey, which isn't short, can be found here:

Who's behind the survey?

The Citywide Land Use Group (CWLUG) consists of the Land Use Chairs of the 95 neighborhoods in the City of Portland. As volunteers for our respective neighborhoods, we recognize apartments with little or no off-street parking have serious impacts on the community. It is our wish to identify your concerns.

Why is this worth my time?

The results of this survey will be presented by the CWLUG to the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission at their forum November 13th at 1:30 p.m. Together with the results of the City's own apartment-users survey, we propose to begin a dialogue and promote a series of actions that will have a direct affect on retaining community livability. Your input can help change what are considered important factors in dealing with this issue.

What will the CWLUG do with the survey information?

-- We will present a summary of the Apartment Parking Survey to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) on November 13.
-- We will submit A "white paper" report to the City Council and PSC which summarizes the Survey results and recommended next steps.
-- We will use the results as a resource base for furthering the CWLUG process of gathering the community's input and making sure the full range of issues and ideas are addressed.
-- We will develop a set of recommendations for changes and improvements to the City zoning code and permitting process.

If you're interested in chiming in, the questionnaire starts here.

Uneasy rider

A reader sends us a photo and -- can you believe it? -- a complaint about Tri-Met:

Take a look at the attached photo. This is a seat on one of the new MAX trains. Notice the white lip encroaching on what should be leg space? This is just one of many horribly designed features of the train. Probably half of the seats only fit people under 5'5". The train fits bikes well and stand up passengers. I feel totally fleeced.

It is to humble you, comrade. Humility builds strength -- strength that can be put to work in the service of our dear leaders in the West Hills. And so you must treasure that cramping in your lower extremities; it is the sensation of freedom from planet-destroying fossil fuels.

Survey says

The results of the Portland city auditor's annual satisfaction survey were published last week. The headline-grabber was the decline in the public's opinion of garbage pickup in the city, now that the Sam Rands and their ecological holy people have given everyone food slop buckets and reduced landfill pickup to every two weeks:

But there many other interesting angles to the survey results. For example, most of those responding were generally satisfied with the services they get from City Hall. But street maintenance is getting bad grades from 37%, outvoting the 33% who said it is good. That's the first time that bad has outvoted good in that service.

Two thirds think downtown is a safe place, but fewer than one third think it's safe to walk down there alone at night. Fully 30% think the police bureau's internal discipline system is bad, compared to 35% who give it a positive rating. For 68% of those surveyed, driving alone in a car was their primary mode of transportation; biking was 4%.

Portland was rated a good place to do business by 57%. As usual, more people said their opportunity to affect city decisions was bad than those who said it was good.

In deciding how much weight to give these findings in formulating our own opinions, we found the demographics of the survey set interesting. There were 3,468 survey returns counted. Females outnumbered males 61% to 39%, 65% had graduated college, and 87% were white.

The Greeks had no word for it

On Twitter, when you pass someone else's tweet along, that's called "retweeting." But what do you call it when you discover that one of your own past tweets was incorrect, and you retract it in a new tweet, as the mayor of Newark did yesterday? "Detweet"? That doesn't quite capture it. Readers, help us out.

City starting to admit water bureau mission creep is illegal

City Hall announced it on Friday afternoon so that you wouldn't talk about it, but there's big news in the lawsuit challenging illegal expenditures by the Portland water bureau under the direction of Fireman Randy. It appears that the city is going to "voluntarily" pay back the bureau from other general funds for expenditures incurred for setting up the Rose Festival headquarters building, which has been one of the subjects of the lawsuit. A new resolution to go before the City Council this week specifically refers to the suit, states that the council disagrees with it, but then reverses the expenditures and transfers the property, formerly the site of McCall's Restaurant, back to the parks bureau, from which the water folks acquired it in February 2009. (We questioned the move back when it was happening.)

This is major. And it is not the end of the litigation. It challenges many other expenditures, and it's not clear that all of the abuse has yet been uncovered.

There's an important lesson to be learned here. The City Council and bureaucrats in Portland are extremely arrogant people who abuse power. The Fireman, who walks around these days with his middle finger continuously extended to all the world, illustrated his attitude perfectly on Friday:

Portland Commissioner Randy Leonard oversees the Water Bureau and has been the fiercest defender of the Rose Festival building. "We're not backtracking on what we've accomplished," he said. "To satisfy the city attorney's office, they've suggested an alternative way to fund a project I wanted to get done. And I'm fine with that because the project's done."

We love you too, sweetheart.

Portland government officials do not listen to criticism. The only thing they understand is litigation. This one is getting their attention. Let it be a continuing lesson.

There are probably a dozen more lawsuits like this one that need to be brought, in many areas of city government operations, with a new outrage cropping up seemingly several times a year. Portland badly needs a good government league that will bring that kind of litigation as it's needed. And no, like you, we are not volunteering.

Will water rates go down as a result of the repayment? We doubt it. Because the council is also going to pass another ordinance this week, fattening one of its sweetheart consultant contracts with the ever-hungry CH2M Hill firm. The city will be throwing about $2 million more to that company for more work to replace the city's existing reservoirs with underground tanks. The contract started out at $8.5 million; it's now going up to $12.3 million, and counting. That's about a 45% increase so far.

The Hill crowd includes some of the same experts who helped federal officials write the rules that require the tanks, and now they cash in on the backs of little old ladies taking a bath in Portland. Meanwhile, other cities are getting excused by the feds from building tanks, but Portland really wants to build them and will do whatever it takes to get the multi-millions to the politicians' friends. We're happy that a little bit of justice is being done this week, but the overall picture is still disgusting. Portland needs new blood in the water bureau in the worst way. Let's hope Char-Lie puts Nurse Amanda in charge, if she makes it through tomorrow.

Reader poll: Who will win the White House?

Well, here we are, folks -- election eve. Who do you think will prevail in the presidential election? Not necessarily the candidate you voted for, or the one you want to win. We want your prediction:

Who will win the presidential election?
pollcode.com free polls 

Emergency! Emergency!

The allegations of ballot tampering in Clackistan are disturbing, to say the least, but we get a real kick out of watching Oregon secretary of state Kate Brown and county chair Charlotte Lehan posturing around, calling emergency meetings and sending multiple monitors to watch over everything. Both Brown and Lehan are up for re-election themselves and facing significant opposition, and if tampering did occur, it was reportedly done to favor their opponents, among others. The sudden crisis mentality of the two incumbents coincides with their desire to impress undecided voters and get as much screen time as possible. The media is certainly cooperating.

If there's been ballot tampering, we hope that everyone involved goes to jail. But we also hope that the grandstanding about the allegations falls on deaf ears.

Time for the worm bin

The jack-o-lantern reminds us of the election. It's been fun, but it's gotten old fast:


Reality check needed

Early this morning, some clown on a bike reportedly threw a Molotov cocktail at a Portland police car parked across the street from the North Precinct. The guy was immediately arrested. No one was hurt, and there was apparently no damage to property, but that sort of stuff deserves some serious jail time.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Have you not forgotten something, comrade?

We experienced another of the joys of the Oregon vote-by-mail system last evening when we got home from a party:

It wasn't that there was a hanger on our door -- that's pretty standard at this time of year -- but it was more the message inside. Our "neighbors," it seems, stopped by to pester us because we haven't voted yet:

On the back was the list of what this particular group of cavassers, from the "Defend Oregon" union front, wants us to vote for. We already got one of these lists in the mail, which we displayed here.

After thinking about it for a while, we realized that with vote-by-mail, you get two choices: (a) vote early and have your completed ballot lying around for a couple of weeks to be tampered with, or (b) vote late and get a lecture on your doorstep from the union troops. But it's a great system -- really.

21st Century nightmare

We had a rough night last night. You know you've been spending too much time in front a computer screen when you start getting pop-up ads in your dreams.

Too cozy with Kim?

The tighty-righty Weekly Standard takes a swipe at Mercy Corps' food aid program to North Korea, here. The Portland-based international relief charity is criticized for empowering that country's oppressive regime. It's an interesting dilemma: Let everybody starve, or just the people that Kim doesn't like?

Denmark's got nothing on Portlandia

We noted the other day that when it comes to cycling, Portland's got a bad case of Copenhagen Envy. But hey, we outdo the Danes in one area: We hand out more tax dollars to the Vestas windmill company than its home country will.

Mutt picture muddled

We're at the halfway mark of the fall, and halfway into the regular season in pro football as well. And it's an unsettled time: Among the players in our charity underdog game, there's less agreement than there has been in recent weeks. Their picks for this weekend are:

11 ARIZONA at Green Bay - Lucas, Michael K., Cinderella Story, Coastal Storm
10 BUFFALO at Houston - Bob, NoPoGuy, John Cr., Biggest Cubs Loser, Tung, Gary
9.5 KANSAS CITY at San Diego (Thursday, unsuccessful) - Usual Kevin, Pdxmick, JMH, Gordon
5 MINNESOTA at Seattle - Paul, PDXileinOmaha, Dave A., Bayou Baby, Broadway Joe, John Ch., Eric W., MickeyMacNYC
4 DALLAS at Atlanta - Jeremy, George, Ricardo, Annie, Grizfan
3.5 PHILADELPHIA at New Orleans (Monday) - Dr. D, genop
3.5 PITTSBURGH at New York Giants - Carol, Sola, DB Cooper, Bad Brad
3.5 CAROLINA at Washington - Will
3.5 JACKSONVILLE vs. Detroit - Pete Rozelle, Tinknocker, Juicen, genop's gal
3.5 TENNESSEE vs. Chicago - Rudie, Ted
3.5 CINCINNATI vs. Denver - Drewbob
3.5 CLEVELAND vs. Baltimore - Pete Rose

We've been smelling a big one this week, but it wasn't Kansas City, which would have been our choice. The other two large 'dogs seem even less likely to win, but hey, that's why they play the games.

Please note: 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.

When the afternoon games are over, it will be starting to get dark outside here in the northwest. Enjoy the games as we take that turn toward winter, but give yourself some fresh air somewhere during the day.

UPDATE, 1:29 p.m.: Morning picks by Coastal Storm, Drewbob, Eric W., the genops, and MickeyMac added.

UPDATE, 1:33 p.m.: Carolina wins an early game, pulling in 3.5 points for Will. The biggest 'dog left on the board is Minnesota for 5. That must have been something else we were smelling.

UPDATE, 4:30 p.m.: The Steelers add to the devastation in New Jersey and score 3.5 points for five of our players, including game-leading DB Cooper, who's been right five weeks out of nine. We've got five players hoping for a Cowboys win tonight.

UPDATE, 8:26 p.m.: Dallas does not come through for tonight's hopefuls. Two guys (designated with asterisks) are still in the hunt tomorrow night, but at the moment the standings are as follows:

Continue reading "Mutt picture muddled" »

Land that I love

Now the Occupy kids are getting themselves pepper sprayed to protest "government austerity." At first it sounds ridiculous -- government policy these days is the opposite of austerity.

But on closer inspection, it appears that what the protesters really want is higher taxes, on other people. Now, that's a classic American idea. Maybe they're not so far out of the mainstream after all.

Would you believe vote-by-email?

If, like us, you think Oregon's vote-by-mail system invites abuse, think about what it would be like if votes were being cast by e-mail. They're actually talking about doing that in New Jersey, where parts of the state remain crippled by Hurricane Sandy. According to published reports, voters can e-mail the county requesting a ballot, and one will be sent to them electronically. They can then fill it out and e-mail it back. People would never impersonate someone else on the internet.

But confusion reigns, as the mayor of Newark says the reports are incorrect:

In addition, some officials have said they're also going to accept any snail mail ballot postmarked by Tuesday, even if it is not received until two weeks from tomorrow. Expect nothing but chaos, and accusations to fly for weeks in any race in which the results are close.

Here in Oregon, the integrity of vote-by-snail-mail is being rightly called into question like never before, with trouble on three different fronts: alleged ballot tampering in Clackamas County, police stopping canvassers from collecting filled-in ballots from strangers, and startling questions about the status of ballots mailed without postage. It's a mess, and the problems are surfacing in the midst of a hotly contested race for the state's highest election official, the secretary of state.

It's pretty disappointing how little genuine choice we are offered in our elections. Do you want the red or the blue version of corporate rule? But the least we could do is come up with a system of vote collection and counting whose accuracy people can trust. America put a man on the moon, but sadly, it can't do something as simple as that.

UPDATE, 1:45 p.m.: The New Jersey vote-by-email event is on. Mayor Booker has reversed his earlier Tweet:

Jiggle me chowder

They had a 2.9 earthquake late yesterday afternoon, out in the ocean but just seven and a half miles northwest of Lincoln City. Nothing's in the news, so we assume nobody felt it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Are we there yet?

We enjoy politics, but the current election seems to have gone on forever. The last-minute bleating and shrieking are unbearable. We will be very happy 72 hours from now, when it will all be over and with any luck most of the results will be known.

It's never too late to mislead

Yet another piece of election porn showed up yesterday, for the proposed new Portland tax for the arts. They seem to have quite a crew of cute minority children to show us:

What they're not showing is the fact that half of the tax would go to the opera and other rich folk pastimes that don't need our money. Nor is there any discussion of the fact that this so-called "income tax" is a head tax with a low-income exemption -- which is terribly regressive, if not downright illegal. We're voting no, and certainly wouldn't pay the tax unless and until its legality is established in court.

There are only a couple of deliveries of this stuff left. Maybe we should have a contest for the worst mailer of the election. So far, we think "Alien Claw" takes the cake.

Damned if they do

The post office is delivering to Portland officials completed ballots that don't have postage on them. And the elections people are criticizing the post office for doing it. Now there'll be an argument about whether the ballots delivered without postage should be counted.

Can you imagine the heat the post office would catch if it didn't deliver the ballots? By the time they got back to the voter, the election would be over and there'd be all sorts of recriminations. Vote-by-mail -- what a great innovation. (Speaking of which, it's time for you to go fill out your ballot, and that of your spouse, housemate, or deceased relative.)

A Friday afternoon surprise from Admiral Randy

Here's a story the Portland City Council really, really doesn't want you to see. Not only do they break it on a Friday, but on an election weekend Friday. That buries it about as deep as a story can be buried, short of Christmas.

The council is essentially admitting that the city's water bureau is guilty of illegally spending water revenues on things that have nothing to do with water. They're undoing the water bureau's purchase of the old McCall's Restaurant for a new Rose Festival headquarters. There's much that needs to be said about this development -- it's major -- but we'll refrain from taking the city's bait. We'll write about it again on Monday, when more readers are here. For now suffice it to say that we pointed out the problem as it was happening, in February 2009.

Clacky ugly intensifies

The wonders of the Oregon vote-by-mail system continue to manifest themselves in the embattled suburbs of Portland. The police are stopping canvassers who are collecting ballots from strangers, while ballots that get turned in early and sit lying around for weeks are allegedly being tampered with. Other than that, the system is working great.

U.S. will press Japan to keep nukes

As all the flag-waving goes on this weekend, we're still a pretty arrogant player on the world scene.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Have a great weekend

Lesser of two evils

Our two favorite college sports teams are Stanford, and whoever's playing the Ducks. But one weekend a year, it's UC Nike vs. USC, and we never root for the Trojans under any circumstances. It's that time again. May the Ducks win, narrowly and with great strain.

Round 2 in Oswego Lake access lawsuit

Was it a navigable waterway when Oregon became a state? Or just a swampy muck? We will likely find out in the new year.

Union stance on testing costs Portland schools big bucks

Rightly or wrongly, the Portland public schools, who are currently asking voters to pay for for the biggest borrowing in state history, are passing up on eight figures of federal grants because they won't evaluate teachers in any way based on student test scores. According to the news reports, the public school teachers' union won't allow it. We're voting no on the school bond, and we feel more confident every day that that's the right vote for this school district at this time.

Reader poll: Should they run the NYC Marathon?

The City of New York, rocked by this week's superstorm, still has hundreds of thousands of households without power. People are threatening to kill each other over their spots in the gasoline lines. The city is handing out free food to try to maintain some semblance of order. And there's quite a debate about whether this Sunday's New York City Marathon should go on as scheduled. The event takes up a lot of city resources at a time when many people think those resources should be devoted elsewhere. Many are calling for the race to be cancelled or postponed.

Some stories about the controversy are here and here. What do you think?

Should they run the New York City Marathon on Sunday?
pollcode.com free polls 

Getting with the program

The Portland State Patronage Center is also an indoctrination center for the local dogma. Here's our congressman, Earl the Pearl, preaching last evening.

Fed-Portland police brutality reform deal looks fake

Funny thing, the big settlement of the federal investigation into violence by the Portland police is based largely on the city quickly setting up a walk-in mental health center, which has zero funding and lukewarm support from people who actually know how to treat mental illness. And there's unlikely to be any money for it ever, what with all the "urban renewal" we've got to do at Portland State, Goose Hollow, and elsewhere. But the lame-duck mayor and possibly lame duck Chief Nurse needed some headlines on this, and they got them. Meanwhile, look at the bright side -- streetcar rides are only a dollar!

Wilder and wackier

As if it weren't ugly enough, the Clackistan War now has charges of ballot tampering in the mix. Thank goodness the current round of insanity will be over in less than five days.

Nutsy's last stand

Jeffer-Slam Smith's election-eve campaign commercial doesn't even ask people to vote for him for mayor any more. Now he's into some sort of vague theme about the outer east side being neglected. Yeah, the outer east side that he carpetbagged into from Irvington so that he could skate into the state legislature. And he shamelessly wheels out his poor spouse as part of the spiel. Yuck. Just yuck.

"We need you." Who's "we"? And what do you "need" us for? It's creepy.

But if you look closely, as always, there is a moment in which truth comes to the light:

Look, everybody, it's Waldo!

We got another campaign mailer from the library taxing district people, and lo and behold, it's got an adult white male on it:

Of course, he's portrayed as clueless, but it's a breakthrough nonetheless.

A big, slimy fish getting fried

They've charged the former president of Penn State University with eight counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and endangering the welfare of children in connection with the child sex abuse scandal that has engulfed that school's out-of-control football program. It's gratifying to see a big-shot CEO type go down with the perv that he and his cronies hid. The sex abusers are twisted, sick people with horrible impulses that they can't control; the cover-up artists are more worried about their own money. Who's more deserving of punishment?

E-mails referenced in Thursday's presentment suggest they understood at the time they were dealing with something more sinister.

In one, Spanier worried that the university might become "vulnerable" should Sandusky not be reported to police. It was agreed, however, not to do so.

The former university president told grand jurors in 2011 that he had never discussed whether the incident should be reported to child protection authorities.

Let's hope there's some jail time for all three suits charged. Maybe the Prez could get a cell with the bishop.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Oh, goodie!

The unions and Hyatt Hotels are back in bed together, and so now Portland taxpayers can throw $111 million and up at a white elephant hotel complex to go with the white elephant convention center. Awesome, simply awesome.

By the early 'dog's light

We've got some stalwart gamblers in the charity underdog game taking K.C. this evening:

9.5 KANSAS CITY at San Diego - Usual Kevin, Gordon, Pdxmick, JMH

We smell a big one this weekend, and this may be it. We'll see. It's 10-0 San Diego in the second quarter. Enjoy the game if you can get it, players.

UPDATE, 8:24 p.m.: Well, that was an utter fiasco. Guess that's why they call them underdogs. All other players, picks are due Sunday morning at 10 Pacific Standard Time.

Nolan would dig "urban renewal" hole deeper

Here's an interesting Q&A with the two candidates for the remaining Portland City Council seat. And a reader of that exchange sums it up well:

Amanda: I will support smart investments, and try not to burden Portland with more garbage.

Nolan: I will give a long winded non-response and a history lecture. My contractor friends will be rewarded with urban renewal money!

The Portland bike dream

This article shows you what the cycling advocates in Portlandia are lusting after. Note the key message that urban cycling is dangerous only because there aren't enough people doing it. And here's what's coming: heavy taxes on cars, systematic parking space removal, and many streets closed to autos altogether.

And here's one bike "improvement" that's already wasting drivers' time -- as reported by a reader:

I drove into work the other day. The traffic lights along Lloyd Blvd. are synchronized to bicycle traffic. This means every light you hit turns red and turns green right when the bicycles catch up. Of course this causes traffic gridlock. The same case is true on N. Interstate. Try driving north from the Rose Garden to Kaiser. Exact same deal. Why are we doing this? Will this insanity ever end? I'm just beside myself.

It's so we can be like Denmark, reader. And you can bet old Char-Lie's going for it lock, stock, and barrel.

Meanwhile, in the central eastside industrial district, some people have no qualms about promoting the wrecking of Portland's economy for hipster pipedreams. In Portland bike entitlement trumps jobs -- proudly so.

Reality improved

Yesterday we posted a scan of parts of some election porn we had received from the Mary Nolan City Council campaign. An alert reader pointed out that in one of the photos in the mailer, Nolan's hands appear to have had an odd Photoshop job done on them:

Anyone disagree that the shot was doctored? And if it was altered, does anyone know what was in the photo originally?

Blazers end month undefeated

They're not going to get too far with their weak roster, but Portland beat the Lakers last night, and that's a good thing. Rookie Blazer point guard Damian Lillard had an outstanding night. Keep the word "sensation" at the ready.

Do you think L.A. coach Mike Brown will make it to the end of the season? We don't. He's never been great, and if he can't make something out of Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant, he'll have to go.

Epic, epic election porn fail

It doesn't get any dopier than this screwup by the realtors of the 'Couv.

Thursday's here

Players in our charity pro football game, a reminder that if you're picking Kansas City, you must do so by 5:20 p.m. West Coast time today.

Scam smell strengthens around county "urban renewal" pork

Using "urban renewal" money to build buildings that aren't going to pay property taxes is bad enough. But now it turns out that when Multnomah County erects a new health department building in Old Town Portland, a huge fee is going to be paid to a well connected low-income housing outfit, formerly called Housing Authority of Portland (HAP) and now catchily relabeled "Home Forward." Problem: There isn't going to be any housing in the building.

Home Forward is another shadowy government agency of some kind, like Tri-Met or the Port of Portland, with much less visibility but with all sorts of money sloshing through it. Apparently Home Forward has the power under state law to build community health facilities, but it's mostly supposed to be about low-income housing. And it's certainly unusual for such organizations to be building office buildings on contract for someone else. If government is going to run general contractor businesses on the side, it's hard to see how private companies, who have to pay taxes on their profits, can compete.

In any event, the fact that Home Forward can get a cushy contract for this project without a competitive bid indicates to us that there's something not right about the way local government does business in Portlandia.

Are Portland public schools going off deep end on race?

We spy no fewer three stories in today's Trib that raise serious questions about whether the Portland public school district's obsession with racial "equity" has gone too far to be productive:

[L]ast week, PPS sent no less than 93 teachers, principals and administrators to San Antonio, Texas, to attend and present at the 4th Annual Summit on Courageous Conversations....

Adds another teacher: "Our whiteness is constantly thrown in our face. We’re taught we’re incapable of teaching students of color."...

[R]ace is also very much a factor in how students go through their day, [a middle school instructor] says. "The white kid, he’s got carte blanche. A black kid, it’s a totally different reality," he says.

Then he launches into what he calls "the big picture."

"Most white politicians want to be in political office for life," he says. "Who’s going to vote against you? People of color. It’s in your best favor to get as many people of color convicted as felons, so they never have the privilege of voting again. That’s a win-win situation for you."

Barber adds: "Plus, police get to liquidate your assets after you’re locked up. It’s like hitting a home run for them. There’s just so many weapons used against people of color, particularly children of color, that they’re not aware of and most adults are not aware of."...

"All the other kids say I can’t be in the class because I’m white," [a student] says. "I’m not black, Hispanic, African or anything like that. I kind of find it stupid I can’t be in the class just because I’m white."

The people running the Portland public schools don't know what they're doing. One of Portland's great livability factors, decent public schools, has been trashed. They want money for construction pork, but they don't deserve it. They need to get their act together academically. And this craziness about "courageous conversations" is more of a money pit for somebody's nephew's consulting business than it is a tool for racial justice. It's causing more problems than it's solving. Heads should be rolling, starting with the bobbleheads we elect to the school board.

Scarier than any goblin

This web page has so many buzzwords, with virtually no content at all, that it is truly frightening. We're almost afraid to ask, but what in the name of heaven is that guy talking about?

Vestas lays off another 60

In Colorado again. But don't worry -- the tens of millions that Oregon and Portland have handed them and their landlord, Mark Edlen, are going to pay big dividends. You wait and see.

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