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

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December 2012 Archives

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 -- it goes in the green bin

In Portlandia, nothing succeeds like failure

OPB reportedly had nutsy Jefferson Smith on the air this afternoon. The O is breathlessly reporting Neil Goldschmidt's latest health issues. These are the people that the Portland media can't get enough of. It's pathetic. The place gets smaller-minded with each passing year.

Your new cr-apartment

An alert reader sends along some photos of a new particle board monstrosity instantly blighting the corner of 14th and Pettygrove. We don't know about you, but we'd rather have an old single-story industrial building with a handful of real jobs in it than another hipster warehouse:

But what really gets to the reader is the cheapo-cheapo pavement on the public right of way on the side of the building:

I point you to the "sidewalks" they seem to be getting away with. Asphalt, really? City of Portland, are the codes slipping? Please note, they seemed to have enough dough to do their own walkways in cement, just not the public sidewalks.

This is the perfectly planned Portland. There must be a good explanation. Maybe it's some sort of eco-asphalt. Must be.

Alert! Alert!

To heck with the fiscal cliff -- there's more devastating news this afternoon: It's snowing! In Portland! Deadly frozen precipitation is dropping from the sky at this hour. Out to the Sylvan overpass we go! Remain indoors and stay tuned to bojack.org StormCenter 9000.2 for updates and team coverage. It's already been determined that schools will be closed tomorrow.

Dirty water

There was some nasty brown gunk coming out of our faucets the other morning. It cleared after a while, but not before we looked on the Portland water bureau website to see if there was any information about the problem there. Not a word. When we called the bureau, we got a gal on the phone who speculated that maybe some water main work that was being done about a dozen blocks from here might have been the problem. She seemed rather nonchalant about the whole thing -- told us that the water was perfectly safe to drink, even when it looked like there was sewage in it.

With what we pay for water, and with the legion of tweeters and flacks on the payroll at City Hall, you would think that accurate information would be readily available in a situation like this. Maybe a map showing where work is being done that day, and the customers who might be affected. Not the case. Skoal!

10... 9... 8... 7...

As the year ends, so too does the reign of terror of the Sam Rand Twins, who have done more to wreck Portland than anyone we can remember. As we bid them adios, we worry about what the new faces on the City Council will bring. Char-Lie Hales and Steve Novick promise to be every bit as daft, and probably almost as mean, as their departing predecessors. The nickel-and-diming of the average Joe is almost certainly going to get worse, and the looting of the city treasury and trashing of neighborhood livability by the developer weasels will no doubt continue unabated.

One agenda item for us to work on is a nickname for Novick. Anything having to do with his physical appearance is out, which takes a lot of fitting sobriquets off the table. The nicknaming process will be delicate, but we bet he'll outrage us all by Valentine's Day, and something will pop up.

Meanwhile, we're looking forward to seeing how the guys at WW handle Char-Lie. Last time around they helped push Creepy Adams into office, then immediately pulled the rug out from under him with stuff that they probably had before the election. We doubt they'll do the same with Hales, but if anybody can figure out what their agenda is over there, that somebody is smarter than we are.

And of course, the countdown for Sam Adams's make-work job at the Portland State University Patronage Center continues.

Our cup runneth over

It's been a most interesting inter-holiday week here at Blog Central. The Mrs. and we were out on the town three nights in a row. And the night before that, we threw the regular dinner and game for the poker crew. We never string together that many consecutive party nights in town -- probably haven't done so in 20 years. It's been a blast, but tonight while the revelers are on the streets ringing out the old and ringing in the new, we'll likely be in our jammies, enjoying a mild celebration to go with our larger ones. We won't feel like we're missing a thing.

U.S. soldiers nuked by Fukushima file lawsuit

They say Tokyo Electric lied about how bad the radiation levels were, coming off the four trashed reactors in the days after the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and triple meltdown. The Americans are citing unusual medical problems and a lack of candor by the Japanese utility and government. Like many other victims of nuclear power who have been poisoned before them, the Yankee soldiers are about to find out how difficult it is to get any sort of justice when you've been irradiated and lied to about it.

Meanwhile, here's a creepy story about the involvement at Fukushima of the U.S. "Consequence Management Response Team..., affiliated with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semi-autonomous agency of the Energy Department..." The Energy Department are the merchants of death in charge of manufacturing our nuclear weapons. The news that they have a "semi-autonomous agency" -- translation: not accountable to anyone -- which in turn has a vaguely defined "affiliate" that runs around the world compiling secret data on post-accident radiation levels? Its nothing short of spooky.

And here's an excellent summary of a year's worth of news from Fukushima that nobody in the American mainstream media thinks is noteworthy or interesting. It will go down as one of the major tragedies of our era, and the damage will last for many generations, but the press' attention span for it in this country was only about a month.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

And around the turn they come

The Dallas Cowboys fell to RG3 and the Washington Incorrects this evening, and so there were no additional points earned after dark (West Coast time) in our charity pro football underdog game. It's on to the playoffs now -- four games next week, four more the week after that, and two the following week.

This coming weekend, there are two games on Saturday and two on Sunday. Because of this schedule, all picks for the week will be due by kickoff time Saturday afternoon, 1:30 p.m. Pacific.

Here are our standings as we head into that week:

DB Cooper 57.5
Will 44
George 43.5
Michael K. 40
NoPoGuy 39
Drewbob 37
JMH 36
Tung 34
Pete Rose 33.5
Grizfan 31.5
Bad Brad 30.5
Paul 29
PDXileinOmaha 28
Broadway Joe 25.5
Tinknocker 25
John Ch. 24
Sola 23.5
Ted 22.5
Cinderella Story 22
genop 22
Juicen 22
Dr. D 21.5
Carol 21
Dave A. 21
Rudie 20.5
Pdxmick 19
Bob 18.5
Annie 18
Bayou Baby 18
genop's gal 17.5
Ricardo 16.5
Jeremy 15
Usual Kevin 15
John Cr. 14
Gordon 11.5
Pete Rozelle 11.5
Eric W. 10
Biggest Cubs Loser 9.5
Coastal Storm 8
MickeyMacNYC 6
Lucas 5
Gary 0

The top five finishers earn money for their favorite charities, and there is still the potential for several players to climb into the money from a lower rung on the ladder -- not to mention jockeying among the current leaders. A lot will depend on the point spreads, the first round of which we'll unveil officially on Tuesday. Here are the games for next weekend, wild card weekend:

Cincinnati at Houston, 1:30
Minnesota at Green Bay, 5

Indianapolis at Baltimore, 10
Seattle at Washington, 1:30

Players, once again, please note that the deadline for all games next weekend will be 1:30 p.m. PST on Saturday. See you Tuesday with the lines.

And it ain't the beast

We've seen enough of the dark beauty scholarship pageant world to know who to root for in this dispute.

The City That Pounds You

Do these look a little high to you? They do to us.

'Dog lang syne

It's the last week of the regular season in pro football, and the players in our charity underdog game have spoken:

16.5 ARIZONA at San Francisco - Usual Kevin, Juicen, John Cr., Coastal Storm, Gary
16 KANSAS CITY at Denver - Biggest Cubs Loser, Jeremy, Annie
10.5 ST. LOUIS at Seattle - PDXileinOmaha, Gordon, pdxmick, Eric W.
10 MIAMI at New England - Bob
7 PHILADELPHIA at New York Giants - Cinderella Story, Tinknocker, Paul, Rudie, Will, Pete Rose, Broadway Joe, Dr. D
6.5 INDIANAPOLIS vs Houston - genop's gal, Michael K., Carol, George, NoPoGuy, Drewbob, JMH, John Ch.
5 CAROLINA at New Orleans - Bad Brad
3.5 DALLAS at Washington - Grizfan, Tung
3.5 MINNESOTA vs. Green Bay - genop, Bayou Baby
3 BALTIMORE at Cincinnati - DB Cooper, Dave A., Lucas

Quite a few of our players were AWOL as of early this morning, when this post was written. (It is being posted by a robot.) Maybe they've just forgotten what day of the week it is -- we've found it a bit of a challenge ourself. When we get back to the screen a little later, we'll post whatever selections came in over breakfast.

For most of the Big Daddies, it's the last game of the year. But there are still several unknowns about the playoffs, and the teams affected by those uncertainties will no doubt be watching the scoreboard and battling hard. We'll be playing the underdog game for three more weeks, but none of those beasts will be anywhere near the 16-pointers on the fields today. Enjoy the last Sunday of 2012, and the games, everybody.

UPDATE, 2:27 p.m.: There, we finally have the morning picks (and there were quite a few) added to the pack.

UPDATE, 2:30 p.m.: And in the early games, Indy and Carolina come through for our players.

UPDATE, 2:56 p.m.: JMH's pick corrected. He chose Indianapolis this morning, not Philadephia.

UPDATE, 4:03 p.m.: Ditto for John Ch. We had a little spreadsheet alignment problem there.

UPDATE, 4:45 p.m.: The Vikings do two of our players a favor with a win -- as well as helping themselves and the 49ers.

Dr. Dope

Maybe it's time for this charade to come to an end.

Comment contest winner stays the course

The winner of our recent comment contest, Info/Clackistani, has chosen the charitable designee for the last $250 check in our Buck-a-Hit Day charitable fund drive. It is Oregonians in Action Legal Center -- the same outfit chosen by last year's winner, who seems a lot like Info/Clackistani. Yes, it's a political statement, but that organization is an exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, which is our sole criterion for the prize. Congrats to Info and to his buddies at Oregonians in Action. And thanks again to the many people who played a role in Buck-a-Hit Day -- we've got about a hundred thank-you letters waiting for a snail mail drop.

Too bad about the Beavs

Oregon State played football on the national stage yesterday -- the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio -- and it ended badly for them. We caught the third quarter, when the Beavers were having some success, but they looked pretty shaky. We weren't surprised to tune back in at the end and see the Texas quarterback taking a knee to seal the victory.

The pundits were in agreement that the second-half play calling from OSU coach Mike Riley was terrible, and quite a few suggested that the team had the wrong quarterback in the game. Cody Vaz, the one who did play, did not look good. We'd much rather have his Texas counterpart, David Ash; he seemed like quite a footballer in the minutes we watched, although we hear he had a bumpy start to the game. Anyway, condolences to the Beaver faithful, who deserved a better outcome.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

It has begun

The sleeper cells are coming awake.

Another day, another farewell finger from Mayor Creepy

Does this guy have a new job yet? Please, please may it be a continent or more away from Portland.

"I'm saving lives" -- yeah, with multi-colored bike boxes that do more harm than good. Buffoonery of the lowest order.

Mike Schrunk gets the Saint Hatfield treatment

The kids at the O toe the party line, but we're not buying it. In all his years in office, has Portland's fearless district attorney ever busted (a) a crooked cop, (b) a murderer cop, (c) a public official on the take, (d) a businessperson giving a bribe, or (e) a pedophile politician? Schrunk has been a good keeper of secrets. In Portland's history as a dirty little place, the county d.a. position has been a real "linchpin," as the grifters in the real estate development world are wont to say. The hand-picked successor probably won't be much better.

A burning question

What the heck day of the week is it?

Friday, December 28, 2012

This 21st Century life

Today we had a wonderful experience, thanks to the iPad that appeared at Blog Central back around Black Friday, and the stand for it that showed up on Christmas: We watched live college football while seated on the toilet. In high definition, no less.

It gave new meaning to the term "download." We were streaming, too!

Have a great holiday weekend

Big Brother wins again

Once again, Gatsby gets nowhere with his colleagues. Dianne Feinstein and the White House keep us headed inexorably back into the McCarthy Era.

Your tax window is closing

While we all wait for the dolts in Washington, D.C. to tell us what the tax rules were for the year that's ending, you may find yourself realizing that there are only three days left to secure some deductions for the year. If you itemize deductions, the easiest way to pick one up is to give something to charity. For some suggestions, and a no-muss no-fuss way to get the job done in a hurry, there's no better place to go than here.

How many planners does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Quite a few.

Reader poll: Which level of government is more screwed up?

Here's an interesting question that came up over dinner with the poker cronies last night. We were talking about the inane "fiscal cliff" and the disgraceful special tax deal for Nike:

Which level of government is more screwed up?
pollcode.com free polls 

(And by the way, great thanks to the Mrs. for a dinner that couldn't be beat.)

The wrecking of Portland, cont'd

It's sad to think that this guy's about to make decisions about the Portland area's future. What a mess. Remind us to take the kids to see Spokane and Boise.

Damn right I'm cranky

We made the paper again. In the faux-alternative WW, we're labelled "cranky." If that's the opposite of Portland Polite, we're grateful for the compliment.

The torch is passed

How convenient.

Victory laap

The Brooklyn, New York version of Pok Pok appears on a New York Times list of "12 Restaurant Triumphs of 2012."

Oh where, oh where has my little 'dog gone?

The last week of the pro football regular season can get a little weird. Much of the playoff picture is already known, and a lot of the teams are playing for nothing but the sheer joy of competition -- which may be a bit muted given the future health problems that many players now know they face. As a result, the oddsmakers can be pretty shy with their predictions for a week like this.

In this year's version of such an odd week, we had no lines for three games as of Thursday night: Steelers/Browns, Raiders/Chargers, and Bucs/Falcons. And that means that by rule, those games are off the board in our charity underdog game. The lines for the other contests are here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Watch out where the huskies go

And don't ski on that yellow snow.

A Jersey curse

The Nets basketball team, which just left the Meadowlands of New Jersey for an "urban renewal" palace in Brooklyn, are playing so badly that today they fired their head coach, Avery Johnson. And get this -- former Blazer head case coach P.J. "Choke" Carlesimo is now taking the helm, at least for a while. Now, there's a recipe for success. Something's growing in Brooklyn, all right, but it ain't a tree.

Swallow all beverages before reading

Urban renewal is a state-authorized, redevelopment and finance program designed to help communities improve and redevelop areas that are physically deteriorated, suffering economic stagnation, unsafe or poorly planned.

The Portland Development Commission plays a major role in making Portland one of America’s most livable cities, using urban renewal as a tool to focus public attention and resources in specific areas of the city. PDC helps Portland realize capital projects ­– parks, streetscape improvements, community centers – that would not happen on their own.

PDC leads the planning and implementation of comprehensive projects that fulfill Portland’s goal of creating healthy, vibrant neighborhoods throughout the city. The agency focuses on implementing plans unique to each urban renewal area, using an integrated approach to revitalization that includes commercial, retail/institutional, residential/mixed use, streets, mass transit and parks development...

Urban renewal continues to evolve to meet the wisdom, goals and community needs of the times.

The fantasy starts here.

Pathetic and pathetic-er

It's to laugh:

As he prepares to leave office Dec. 31, Adams can point to accomplishments that could reshape the city for decades: an office dedicated to equity, a tax for arts organizations and teachers, an eastside streetcar line, an expanded bike boulevard network....

"I think he had an incredible four years," said former Mayor Vera Katz, for whom Adams was chief of staff for more than a decade. "Had we not had this scandal, he would have run for re-election and he would have had an incredible legacy.

"He still will."

Part of us wants to make a list of what has really happened to Portland over the last four years, but it's too depressing to contemplate. Maybe readers can help us get a catalog started in the comments here.

It can't happen here -- can it?

There's a big, dangerous design problem with a new bridge in The Real Vancouver -- and jeepers, that bridge design looks awfully familiar. Where have we seen that one before?

Throwing good money at good

We've been busy here at Blog Central, thanks to our readers. We've been writing and bundling checks to our six charities from Buck-a-Hit Day last week. If you gave during that fundraising event, your money is now in the mail to the charity or charities you selected. Since all the recipients are local, the funds should be there before year-end, perhaps with a day or two to spare. Thanks again to everyone who participated.

We're still waiting to hear from Info/Clackistani about which charity he would like to receive a $250 gift; he gets to call that shot for winning the comment contest on fund drive day. Meanwhile, we'd better take a break from licking envelopes -- we don't want to end up like George Costanza's fiancee.

The obvious question

Well, whaddaya know, Senator Merkley has been named "most valuable senator" by the loosey lefties at The Nation. But what should Senator Wyden be named?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Your tax dollars at work: Stand-up comedy by mentally ill people

The latest round of grants by the Portland-area "arts council" have been announced, here. Warning: The list is not safe for curmudgeons. Hundreds of thousands of tax dollars are being pumped out to artsy pals for odd creations -- and to school programs, which seems an end run around the state constitutional limit on property taxes for schools.

We hope they're not already spending the revenue from the new City of Portland arts head tax. That one is going to be challenged in court, and there's a good chance it will be held unconstitutional.

Above the law

The restaurants at the Portland zoo never get any health inspections. No wonder people are getting food poisoning up there.

Equally sad is the fact that the Metro's overpaid chief p.r. flack (a) is caught apparently lying about the reason why, and (b) is comfortable with the concept of the restaurants inspecting themselves:

Metro spokesman Jim Middaugh says county inspectors were always welcome to examine the zoo’s restaurants.

But Jon Kawaguchi, environmental health supervisor for Multnomah County, says the county repeatedly offered to inspect zoo restaurants but was turned down by Metro.

"We offered consultative inspections," Kawaguchi says. "They did not accept our offer to be inspected."

Middaugh says zoo restaurant employees do daily inspections, adding there's no evidence county inspections would have prevented the suspected norovirus outbreak.

One more reason to stay out of the zoo, and to figure out a way to clean house at Metro.

Harry through the back door

Nowadays everybody and her brother are deejays. People carry entire record libraries around on devices about the size of a credit card, and with something not much bigger they can pull just about anything ever recorded out of the sky. It's less necessary than ever to enlist someone else to make the selections for you -- especially not a live human.

But of course, it hasn't always been that way. In our youth we were glued to the radio, first Top 40, then Free-form Rock. Sometimes it felt as though we got more out of listening to jocks like Dan Ingram, Scott Muni, and Cousin Brucie than we did from attending to the teacher in the classroom. And we've always wanted to play the game ourselves, with tons of vinyl records, then reel-to-reel tapes (no scratches, just hiss), followed by the miracle of cassette tapes (with Dolby noise reduction, and they worked in the car), and the CD, and now the i-whatever. (We missed eight-tracks by a year or two.) To us, our soundtrack has always been important. It's a little less crucial in our older years, but still a big deal.

And so on Christmas Eve we carefully laid out the sonic backdrop for the next morning's package-opening here at Blog Central. We decided it would be the same as it's been for years, and at our place the tunes in question are all on cassettes: John Fahey's Christmas Album, Odetta singing Christmas Spirituals, and The Gift, by Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel. All lined up and ready to go.

Christmas morning found us a little off balance from not enough sleep, but it was easy enough as a first order of business to slip two of the tapes into a dual cassette deck that we've been using for more than a decade. We could just hit Play and let the music go for a couple of hours.


We hadn't played a tape in that player in months, and as it turned out, something mechanical inside the box wasn't right. Nothing would play, because the reels wouldn't turn. Not only that, but the tapes wouldn't come out.

By the time we realized the gravity of the situation, the gang was getting restless. There is nothing worse than technical difficulties when you're deejaying. With gifts beckoning, we threw Andy Williams into the CD player, vowing to get back to the music machines at a suitable break.

Now, don't get us wrong, we love Andy, but for Christmas morning, he's way too brassy. After a few numbers from him, we ducked out for a moment for a change. But what? Nothing looked right. The situation called for Odetta and Fahey, darn it! But we decided to take a flyer on Harry Connick, Jr., who was added to our Christmas collection pretty recently. We don't think we'd been all the way through that one even once.

As it turned out, Harry was pretty good. Good musicians, some schmaltz, but mostly just well played and interesting, with some jazz and New Orleans popping up now and then. We played him all the way through, and then some on Repeat.

By then, we had our bearings and saw that Ramsey Lewis would be a good followup. His piano jazz version of Christmas classics has always seemed a bit too lightweight to carry a party, but it lifted our gift-opening ceremonies with its grace and cheer. It was there with us, but not in the way.

In the afternoon, we switched out cassette decks -- a bit of an ordeal, the way the stereo is set up in our place, but eventually accomplished amidst a few Scrooge-like utterances. And so we got half our Odetta, and most of the Fahey, and most of The Gift over a late lunch.

Later, on the intertubes, we learned that the old cassette deck probably needs its belts replaced. There are some YouTube videos of enthusiastic young guys actually doing the replacement, but to us it looks kind of scary. It's probably not worth paying someone to do the labor, though, and so maybe we'll try to order the belts from Sony and give it a go. Otherwise, the thing's headed for Arlington.

We learned some things from this experience. First, sometimes the soundtrack isn't perfect, but the day turns out great anyway. Second, if you really want to be prepared, test your equipment in advance. And last but not least, in a pinch, you could do a lot worse than Harry Connick, Jr.

Portland lags behind L.A. on animal welfare

Just as the rest of the world catches on that elephant shows are cruel and pointless, the Portland zoo and the bobbleheads in Metro government are moving in exactly the wrong direction.

Here's the money quote -- literally: "Any time animals are used for profit, you’re going to see corners cut on their welfare, because it’s not the top priority."

It's apparent to us that the Portland zoo needs fewer elephants, not more. And Portland's taxpayers have better things to spend their money on than ugly partnerships with greasy carnival outfits and their bullhooks. It's time to rethink the whole elephant thing, Portland. Let's let the professional elephant sanctuaries try to save the species, and get the Portland zoo out of the business of being a calf mill. And in the meantime, if you don't want to be part of the problem, stay out of the zoo.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Great Danes and St. Bernards

Big dogs are fun, but do you want to take one home with you? The players in our charity pro football underdog game will have to make that decision this weekend. Many seem to be in need of a large winner:

16.5 ARIZONA at San Francisco
16 KANSAS CITY at Denver
10.5 ST. LOUIS at Seattle
10 MIAMI at New England
7 PHILADELPHIA at New York Giants
6.5 INDIANAPOLIS vs. Houston
5 CAROLINA at New Orleans
4 JACKSONVILLE at Tennessee
3.5 DALLAS at Washington
3.5 MINNESOTA vs. Green Bay
3.5 NEW YORK JETS at Buffalo
3 BALTIMORE at Cincinnati
3 DETROIT vs. Chicago

All the NFL action is on Sunday this week, and so all selections must be in by 10:00 a.m. PST that day. Good luck, 'dog pickers!

UPDATE, 12/26, 2:28 a.m.: Nothing on Steelers/Browns, Raiders/Chargers, or Bucs/Falcons as yet. Our oddsmaker will keep an eye out for lines on those; if they show up by tomorrow evening, they'll join those already on the board.

UPDATE, 12/30, 2:42 a.m.: Those other three games never showed up.

Merry Christmas

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Monday, December 24, 2012

O holy night

Very far

Triple dipper

The "green" kids have got nothing on us. We reuse and recycle, although maybe we're not so great on the "reduce" part of the prayer. Anyway, back when it was jack-o'-lantern time, the Mrs. and the kids brought home a tall gourd that was so interesting in its natural state that they left it uncarved. We're not sure you would even call it a pumpkin. Anyway, it joined our front porch Halloween display, then added to the atmosphere of Thanksgiving, and now is doing one more turn as a Christmas elf:

When the new year is here and the holiday trim is put away, that gal is heading for North Plains. But not before we will have gotten our money's worth out of her.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Better. Much better.

Last night we told the tale of our attempting to mix a Last Word cocktail with a wrong -- very wrong -- ingredient. Man, was it bad. But thanks an alert reader, who showed us how to track down a liquor store that had the right stuff, we gave it another shot tonight. And it was good.

Merry Christmas!

Another quake at Kelley Point

This one's a 2.8, at 4:25 this afternoon local time. Things are slipping under that part of town; there was a 3.1 nearby last month.

Crap! Crapo DUI!

The tighty righty senator from Idaho apparently got too tight last night. Wonder if he was packing.

Yo, Adrian!

The players in our charity pro football underdog game have chosen the puppies they hope to find under the tree:

14 JACKSONVILLE vs. New England - Usual Kevin
13 TENNESSEE at Green Bay - Gary, Ted, Annie
13 CLEVELAND at Denver - Jeremy, Biggest Cubs Loser, Eric W.
9.5 OAKLAND at Carolina - Tinknocker, genop's gal, Coastal Storm
9.5 MINNESOTA at Houston - PDXileinOmaha, NoPoGuy, Rudie, Bob, George, Will, DB Cooper, Tung, Cinderella Story, Drewbob, Bad Brad, Dr. D
6.5 KANSAS CITY vs. Indianapolis - Pdxmick, Broadway Joe, Juicen, Gordon
5.5 ARIZONA vs. Chicago - genop, John Cr., John Ch.
4.5 PHILADELPHIA vs. Washington - Lucas
4 CINCINNATI at Pittsburgh - Carol, Sola, Paul
3 ST. LOUIS at Tampa Bay - Pete Rose, JMH, Dave A., Michael K., Grizfan
1 NEW ORLEANS at Dallas - Bayou Baby

Quite a few are following our leader, who revealed his pick publicly a few days back. We'll see if he jinxed himself with that move. In any event, happy holiday weekend, and enjoy the games, all!

UPDATE, 2:27 p.m.: Four 'dogs produce points for our players in the first games, including, of course, DB Cooper's pick, Minnesota. St. Louis, Cincinnati, and New Orleans all succeed.

UPDATE, 9:00 p.m.: With no winners among our players in the later games, here's where we stand going into the final week of the regular season:

Continue reading "Yo, Adrian!" »

We can't regulate guns, but...

... we're proud to know that Uncle Sam has the kitty cats under control.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Blazers win again

Many a Blazer team has run up a win streak in December or January. Often it comes to naught in the spring, but it's a great time to be a fan in Portlandia. Tonight Lillard, J.J., and the boys made it five in a row. All at home, of course, but still... go, Blazers!

Satur-'dog didn't

In case anyone was interested, none of the players in our charity pro football underdog game picked Detroit this evening. And apparently, that's a good thing.

Worst. Cocktail. Ever.

Here at Blog Central, Christmastime is our excuse to imbibe some fancy cocktails. The other night we indulged in a Butterfly Kiss (vanilla vodka and Frangelico), and tonight we were ready to try something new for us -- a concoction known as the Last Word. The Mrs.'s cousin left us a wonderful gift yesterday: all the ingredients you would need for this drink, which we're told is the hot item at trendy bars from coast to coast this year. It's equal parts gin, lime juice, green chartreuse, and Luxardo liqueur. Tonight, with most of the shopping done for the holiday, we were ready to give it a go.

We dutifully squeezed and strained the limes, measured out the various shots, and shook it up with ice. When we poured it, we were a little taken aback by the color -- a bit like prune juice:

But hey, they say it's the latest and greatest, and so it was bottoms up!


Man, that was bad. Maybe the first, unfavorable impression would subside with the second sip...


Just as bad, maybe worse. A thought occurred to this: They should serve this at A.A. meetings. You taste this, you will never drink again.

Nowadays, when adversity strikes, we reach for the smart phone, and we immediately did so in this instance. Soon we discovered what was going on. The recipe apparently wants Luxardo's Maraschino liqueur, not its wickedly bitter licorice colleague, Fernet, which is what we had. Thank goodness. We'll try to get it right next time.

Meanwhile, it's back to the Butterfly Kiss. Use that cinnamon stick garnish as a straw. Merry Christmas!

An amazing Portlander needs your vote

A neighbor of ours is in the running for the international title of Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year 2012. In these parts, she's known as a faithful volunteer at the aquatic therapy program of the Providence Hospital Center for Medically Fragile Children. But around the globe, she's known as a champion distance swimmer and a superb leader:

Karen Gaffney is a champion in every sense of the word: a humble heroine, a remarkable role model, a spectacular speaker. The English Channel relay swimmer has dedicated herself and the tools at her disposal to champion a journey to full inclusion in families, schools, communities and the workplace for people with Down syndrome or other developmental disabilities. With dramatic open water swims to emphasize one’s potential, as well as her speeches, video tapes and resource materials, she constantly installs hope for others with Down syndrome. Her lifestyle proves a full productive and inclusive life is in store for parents and families of a child born with Down syndrome or other learning disabilities. For her swims across Lake Champlain, Lake Tahoe, in Hawaii and in San Francisco Bay, for her ability to heighten awareness and raise expectations of students, counselors, educators and those in the medical profession of the capabilities of children with Down syndrome to learn, grow and contribute in an inclusive setting, Karen Gaffney is a worthy nominee for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

We all get to vote on this, even those of us who can hardly go about 50 yards without stopping. The balloting is taking place here, and there are just nine days left.

Info/Clackistani wins comment contest

A commenter going by the moniker Info/Clackistani/tighty righty ran away with our comment contest the other day, and so he gets to designate where $250 of our charity donation goes from Buck-a-Hit Day. Any organization covered by tax code section 501(c)(3) is eligible. Given the nature of the winning comment, it will be interesting to see which charity gets the dough. Congratulations to Info, thanks to everyone who voted, and thanks to everyone who participated in any way in our 10th annual charity fundraising event.

Uncle Phil has been shopping

One place he looked was the 'Couv.

Good in the 'hood

We like to buy local, despite our annoyance at our city government's burning money for frivolous flacks who hound us to do so. A few weeks back we were in our local market when we met a local guy who makes hot sauce. It tasted pretty good at the little sampling table, and so we bought a bottle. Since then, we've been into it a few times at the house, and confirmed that it's really good. It's called Bushwacker, and it would be a fine way to take up space in somebody's Christmas stocking. (In case the FTC is reading this, we got absolutely nothing in exchange for this post.)

The season's first Satur-dog

Players in our charity pro football underdog game, take note: The Saturday games have begun, and there's one this evening. If you want home-'dog Detroit over Atlanta for 4 points this week, you must send us your pick by kickoff time, today at 5:30 p.m. PST. Everyone else, your deadline is 10 a.m. PST tomorrow. Good luck!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Have a great holiday weekend

Time for the ultimate Friday surprise

Late Friday afternoon is usually when politicians and bureaucrats announce something they'd rather not have people notice or talk about. And with Christmas coming on a Tuesday, they're really going to be tempted to unload some bad news over the next few hours. By the time anybody focuses again, it could be next Wednesday -- or even the Wednesday after that.

99% - $260

So far, not so good for the famous Portland pepper spray poster child. She may have the last laugh, though, as she's suing back.

Nick Fish loves the Sam Rands to the bitter end

With his deciding vote to try to rig the water fluoridation election that he tried to prevent in the first place, Spineless Jelly is throwing down a gauntlet. He seems to be overestimating his political clout, and forgetting that he couldn't beat Sam Adams for a City Council seat. Fish now has "vulnerable" written all over him. He'd better start dialing for dollars now, because he's going to need all the Mark Wiener he can afford in 2014. If somebody else gets Wiener, Fish's political career will, well... sleep with the fishes.

Nutsy's looking for a new gig

Having wasted everyone's time with his fatally flawed bid to be Portland mayor, the unemployed ex-state legislator is calling together his faithful to talk about future political causes that he might espouse. Holding a real job is, as we all know, out of the question.

Buck-a-Hit Day finishes with $13,025

The final tally of our Buck-a-Hit Day fundraising is now complete. Our generous sponsors have all kept to their original pledges despite our missing our traffic goal by a bit, and contributions by other readers went far beyond our expectations. And so the amounts that will go to charities over the next week are as follows:

Virginia Garcia Memorial Medical Center$1,434
Children's Heart Foundation, Ore. Chapter$ 998
Sisters of the Road$1,463 $1,513
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Ore. & SW Wash.$2,104
Human Solutions$1,228
Oregon Food Bank$5,498
Charity to be named by comment contest winner$ 250
Total$12,975 $13,025

So nice. Thanks again to all who visited, and especially to all who gave.

UPDATE, 10:08 a.m.: A very-last-minute $50 gift to Sisters of the Road has pushed us over the $13,000 mark.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Welcome to our Cyber-office Christmas Party

Please take off your shoes and grab a cup. Coats in the foyer. There's ice out back. Smoking out on the deck.

Char-Lie hires a flack

And in refreshing change from the current mindless regime at Portland City Hall, it's somebody with meaningful experience at something. But let's hope he's good a twisting language, because his new boss is one of the great double-talkers of all time.

Cyber-office Christmas Party today, 4 to ?

Don't forget, we'll be holding our annual Yule party this afternoon -- perfect for all you telecommuters out there. Everybody else gets a chance to make a fool of themselves at an office party -- why not you? Come as you are. What happens at the Cyber-office Christmas Party stays at the Cyber-office Christmas Party.

Ducks don't make quick escape from NCAA probe

It looks as though the inquiry into irregularities in the UC Nike football program will linger long past the Tostitos Bowl. For an inside perspective, there's no better source than UO Matters.

Reader poll: Who left the best comment?

It's time to pick the winner of the comment contest from Buck-a-Hit Day yesterday. The winner gets to steer $250 of our charity donations to the nonprofit (501(c)(3)) organization of his or her choice.

Here are our contestants, in chronological order:


Jack, thank you for your blog. In an era of diminished journalism, this is what a blog is supposed to be. It provides information not covered, or lost under bigger headlines. It provides new perspectives. It's focused, but willing to step outside its bounds to look at other issues from time to time. It balances news with humor. For all these reasons, I visit the site every day.

As for my contribution. Well, it's been a rough week. And after weeks like we've collectively had, you have to make a choice of either growing bitter and retreating from an increasingly crazy world, or you have to chose to find a path forward and make society grow from the experience. And so I share with you a fitting poem by Whitman:

A Christmas Greeting - Walt Whitman

Welcome, Brazilian brother--thy ample place is ready;
A loving hand--a smile from the north--a sunny instant hall!
(Let the future care for itself, where it reveals its troubles,
Ours, ours the present throe, the democratic aim, the acceptance and
the faith;)
To thee to-day our reaching arm, our turning neck--to thee from us
the expectant eye,
Thou cluster free! thou brilliant lustrous one! thou, learning well,
The true lesson of a nation's light in the sky,
(More shining than the Cross, more than the Crown,)
The height to be superb humanity.

Allan L.:

Be generous, folks! Use your credit cards. Remember, the world is ending on Friday, before the bill comes.


Happy "Buck-A-Hit" day! Before breaking out the credit card this year I decided to Google the history for the organizations listed, because I really knew just a smidgen about each. I wanted to read the real story about why each was started, and why. Better than reading the news lately, right? I was a little worried it might be depressing, but hell, surfing the net couldn't get much worse than the info posted this week anyway. Luckily, I was inspired and lifted into a renewed Christmas spirit. That's why I intend to give a little today, and still have a strong desire to stick around this nasty old world for as long as I can (at least until the end comes Friday).

INFO/Clackistani/tighty righty:

Hi there all you people.

This is my first comment here.
Just kidding.

I've been reading bojack, for a long time.

How is it that Jack, a liberal democrat, can be so much like me while at the same time remaining liberal in many other ways?

He's messing up the natural order of things.
We can't maintain the great divide in this country if clowns like Jack are continually blurring the stereotyping lines of separation.

I've noticed the local deep blue progressives don't like him at all and the far righies get agitated when his liberal core surfaces.

So how are we to label this bojack guy?
A freak of nature? That can't be.
He a charitable guy with a nice wife, two lovely little girls, a home in a neighborhood and Stenchy.

Is he just too normal? The new normal?
Eeek! That's got to be offensive to a lot of people.
Too bad.

I'm going with that for now.

So Merry Christmas to Jack "the new normal" (and family) for disrupting the polarization of society one clever blog at a time.

Linda Kruschke:

So this is a little more serious than I was planning, but in looking at some of my original poems to share I found this one. I hope you like it.

Words are powerful. Let’s use their power for good, and not for evil.

The Power of Words

Sticks and stones
will only break bones
but words cut hard and deep
crushing heart and soul
when cruelly we speak
leaving scars no one can see

Sticks and stones
can make buildings and homes
but words sink soft and deep
lifting heart and soul
when lovingly we speak
healing scars only God can see

Take care with your words
use encouraging ones
let the cruel ones remain unspoken
shower kindness and love
offer mercy from above
in a world already too broken

Merry Christmas, Jack!


Here is my hope and prayer for the New Year.

Each among us has a relative, friend, neighbor or acquaintance who seems strange, doesn’t fit in, is distant and disillusioned or isn’t all there. That’s someone who especially needs a hug, a warm smile, a friendly wave or a kind word. Please find it in your heart. Someone who acts out horrifically does so only when he has lost hope. A small gesture guarantees nothing, but it can go an incredibly long way. This, each and every one of us can do.

Thank you.


Your "No donation is too small" got me. We had a wicked year, mostly owing to enormous medical expenses. But I made a "too small" donation, in thanks for everything you do here and my partaking of it, to Ronald McDonald House.

Separately: my mother is well advanced into some sort of dementia, in all probability Alzheimer's. But I happened to speak with her last Friday, the day of the horror in Newtown, Connecticut. Somehow that monstrosity had penetrated past and through all the disconnections and un-comprehensions in her brain. We had a conversation almost like those we would have had, and did, years ago. She even sounded like her old self. Somehow that tragedy brought a few moments of clarity as well as tears. Things that make you wonder.

Portland Native:

There but for fate, joss, luck, the gods, whatever....those in need could have been or be any of us.

* * * * * * * * *

And the winner is:

Who left the best comment?
pollcode.com free polls 

We'll leave the balloting open until noon tomorrow, and formally announce the winner tomorrow afternoon, just in time for the big holiday weekend.

Thanks to everyone who visited here yesterday, left a comment, or made a donation. You are greatly appreciated.

Leave it to the mainstream media

They relentlessly milk the misery of the mass shooting of children, but when the President wants to talk about gun control, they immediately change the subject.

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Another record for Buck-a-Hit Day

The clock has struck midnight on our 10th annual Buck-a-Hit Day -- actually, we slept through the final bell -- and once again we broke our record for this charity event. As of the close of the day, we amassed $12,093 for our six charities, bettering last year's mark of $10,410 by more than 16%. That's pretty darned good.

Seventy-nine readers clicked on our donation buttons, with gifts ranging from $5 to $1,000, and the six members of our "inner circle" of sponsors primed the pump with contributions as high as $2,000. The $5,890 of reader money that came in during the day was by far a record; last year, the number was $4,762.

We fell a little short on traffic, however, clocking only about 4,600 unique visits for the day; even counting an estimated 100 missed because of a brief server outage in morning prime time, we were shy of the 5,500 hits we had been hoping for. We are now consulting with our sponsors to see if they might be persuaded to give the full amount of their original pledges even though our hit total was shy of our goal. We'll see what they say -- it's up to them -- but as noted earlier, we have racked up at least $12,093, which is a great day.

Once we have the final word from our sponsors, we'll have a detailed breakout of which charities are getting how much of the pot. The largest share will go to the Oregon Food Bank, the perennial favorite charity here; it should get around 40% of our total. Ronald McDonald House is second with about 16%; followed by Virginia Garcia, Sisters of the Road, Human Solutions, and Children's Heart Foundation (about 8%), in that order. If you'd really like to blow our mind, the donation buttons still work; we'll add in any additional amounts that arrive before 3:00 this afternoon, just around the time the cocktail wieners go into the oven for our Cyber-office Christmas Party, which starts at 4-ish.

We're grateful beyond words to everyone who visited, everyone who sent traffic our way, everyone who left a comment, and especially everyone who donated money. It wouldn't be Christmastime at Blog Central without all of you. In the darkest time of a dark year, you have helped some people who need help, which is what the season should be about.

Buck-a-Hit Day ends without us

There's a first time for everything, and this year we dozed off and missed the last hour and a half of Buck-a-Hit Day. But no worries -- our eye in the sky knows all. We beat our main goal of $11,000 with room to spare, and now we'll undertake the final accounting. Thanks to everyone who made the day a success!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Buck-a-Hit Day enters new territory

We're past $10,600 in our annual charity fundraiser day -- eclipsing last year's record of $10,410. Any unique visit, donation, or both between now and midnight (Pacific Time) takes us further into the record books. Thanks for coming, and please think about dropping a few dollars into the hat. Our goal for the day is $11,000, and the sky's the limit.

UPDATE, 10:04 p.m.: We have reached our day's goal of $11,000, with generous reader donations more than making up for a slight shortfall in unique visits. But hey, we will take it any way we can get it. Our charities are going to be so happy. Let's keep it going to midnight. See if you can rope in some more hits -- they're still worth a buck apiece and will be so until our day is over.

Welcome to Buck-a-Hit Day

Thanks for coming to this blog on our 10th annual Buck-a-Hit Day. Just by visiting here today, you have caused the bojack.org Gift-Giving Team to give $1 to one of our six designated charities. We'll throw in a buck a hit for the first 5,500 unique visits (as measured by SiteMeter).

Now that you've shaken a dollar out of us, please don't leave just yet. Don't miss your chance to subvert some of the action to your own favorite charity. The writer of the best comment left attached to this post will get to designate where $250 of our kitty goes. Make us laugh, make us cry, tell us why you gave, make us think, whatever -- the criteria for "best" are wide open. Something having to do with the spirit of the season would be welcome. Even a link to an original photo of yours would be good. We'll pull out six or so contenders from the comments tonight, and hold a reader poll tomorrow to see which commenter gets to make the call.

Last but not least, here is your chance to help our charities. Please click on one or more of the six buttons below and give generously to the organization pictured. You'll go to a secure PayPal site, which will take your credit card info if you don't have a PayPal account. (We pay all PayPal fees; every dollar you give goes to charity.) Please enter the amount of your donation, and "Update" or "Update Total." Then either log in to your PayPal account or click where indicated to pay by credit card.

No donation is too small!

For more information about these excellent charities, you can check out their websites here:

Sisters of the Road Cafe
Children's Heart Foundation, Oregon Chapter
Human Solutions
Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
Oregon Food Bank
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Washington

If you'd like a receipt (contributions are tax-deductible for you deduction-itemizers out there), just be sure that PayPal has your current address; we'll see to it that you get proper acknowledgment in the mail for the amount you've contributed. And if you've got questions or concerns, please email me here.

If we get our 5,500 unique visits and collect $4,300 in donation from readers, then taking into account matches from the Gift-Giving Crew, we'll be raising $11,000 for good causes here today. Now, that would be awesome.

Regardless of whether you donate or comment, thank you for coming by today. If you are a newcomer to this blog, we hope that you will look around the site a bit (the archives are on the left sidebar, if you're interested), and come back again another day. And please don't hesitate to get out the word to others who may want to visit and give before this day is out. It's a tough time for a lot of people, and we need all the help we can get.

[Note: The time stamp on this post will be changed throughout the day to keep it on top of our main page. It was first posted just seconds after midnight this morning.]

Buck-a-Hit Day breaks the $10,000 mark

With four hours to go, Buck-a-Hit Day is ahead of budget on reader donations -- thank you so much! -- but behind on visits to the site. We need some combination of 941 hits or $941 in the next four hours. Please see if you can round up the cavalry. Let's finish strong!

Portland's falling behind the times

Why haven't we seen these on the streets yet?

Readers are stepping up to help others

We ran out on a little family Santa errand a while ago, and when we checked our email over a slice of pizza on Trendy-third Ave., lo and behold, a reader had pushed us up and over -- way over -- our $500 afternoon match for the Oregon Food Bank. Then another reader shot a thousand bucks to Ronald McDonald House. Amazing stuff, people, thank you.

We are now within striking distance of our reader donation goal for the day, but we're still 2,500 hits short of our 5,500-hit goal. Please pull out whatever stops you can to get us some more visitors. Tweet it, Facebook it, shout it from the rooftops. Would you be cheating if you logged in again from another IP address? We'll never tell.

You met your match

We have made our $500 match to the Oregon Food Bank, and then some. Our readers are overwhelming us with their generosity. We'll have a full report in a few minutes.

Our readers' choices, cont'd

Here's an updated, unofficial progress report of where our readers' contributions have been going so far today (not counting our splendid sponsors, who are funding the "buck a hit" tally):

Oregon Food Bank (including match) $1,145
Sisters of the Road $375
Children's Heart Foundation, Oregon Chapter $215
Human Solutions $115
Virginia Garcia Clinics $190
Ronald McDonald House of Oregon/SW Wash. $175

See somebody there you'd like to help? You know what to do.

E-mail we never finished reading

We didn't get too far into it when...

Another lame duck City Council, another middle finger

Down in Lake O., the losers hurl a final insult at the winners. Don't let the door hit you, folks.

$500 match in progress for Oregon Food Bank

We have just received a $500 pledge from a good friend of this blog. She wants it to go to the Oregon Food Bank, but only if readers will match it. Let's try for $100 an hour, which would make the match run until 4:04. Come on, readers -- your $1 now equals $2. No amount is too small! Just head here and click on the food bank. And/or any of our other five excellent charities. [Originally posted at 11:04 a.m., with time stamp changed to keep this post at or near the top.]

UPDATE, 12:14 p.m.: We had about a 20-minute outage a little while ago, and so we're extending the deadline for the match to 4:30.

Our readers reach out

At the risk of doing something new when something old would probably be just fine, here's an unofficial midday progress report of where our readers' contributions have been going so far today (not counting our splendid sponsors, who are funding the "buck a hit" tally):

Oregon Food Bank (including match) $655
Sisters of the Road $375
Children's Heart Foundation, Oregon Chapter $20
Human Solutions $115
Virginia Garcia Clinics $160
Ronald McDonald House of Oregon/SW Wash. $155

See somebody there who's underappreciated? You know what to do.

Lesson learned -- not

Down in Wilsonville, they're pushing another "urban renewal" plan. They're putting it up for a public vote. Given that they're in Clackistani rebel territory, they've got to be kidding.

Yikes -- we were down for about 20 minutes

Something just went kerblooey on the intertubes for a few minutes there. On Buck-a-Hit Day, of all days! We're looking into what happened, but we're back up and at 'em now. Please send some friends our way -- we now need to make up for lost time!

A nightmare every day

Here's your dose for this day -- let's hope it's the only one you get.

Oregon tax law now being made in secret

The Nike special tax law saga gets more and more outrageous as the details are revealed. Turns out that Governor Retread's minions in state government starting making a deal with the shoe and apparel behemoth last summer. And the state signed a confidentiality agreement in which it promised not to tell anyone what was going on. State legislative "leaders" also signed it, although it isn't clear when. The City of Portland may have signed it, too -- they won't even say whether they did.

These are public officials -- some of them elected officials. In a back room with a corporation. Signing agreements not to tell their constituents what they were discussing. That ought to be illegal, if it isn't already. This state has become quite a dirty little place.

Meanwhile, despite the rumors, we're not buying the prospect of Nike's moving into the impassable, expensive traffic thicket known as the SoWhat District in Portland. We suspect that's a head fake. If we had to bet, we'd say they're either staying near their current digs in Washington County or moving somewhere like Wilsonville -- or maybe even Eugene.

Think of it as becoming a subscriber

Of the 1,089 visitors who have dropped by this site so far today, 18 have made cash donations to one of our charities, including a few who have contributed to more than one. That is fantastic, and we thank them!

Now, if the rest of you need a little fundraising speech, here goes: We blog here 366 days a year, and we don't ask readers for money in exchange for what we offer. If you like what you find when you visit here, maybe you should acknowledge that. And the way to do it is to make a contribution, large or small, to one of our charities today. So far today, readers' gifts have ranged from $10 to $250. It's all good.

Thanks again to the first 18; now come on, other readers!

Food slop stink neighbors being strung along a month at a time

The Washington County commissioners just extended the permit for the obnoxious food composting operation that's stinking the people of North Plains right out of their houses and homes. But just for a month. Then they're going to decide on renewing it again. But just for nine months. They're on track to make a permanent decision in, oh, say 2099.

As the string is being played out, the official story is also changing. Now they say that most of the wretched food slop is coming from commercial outfits, and that only a small portion of it is coming from Portland homes. That sure seems odd, since the complaints about the ungodly stench began right around the time that Portland started twisting its residents' arms to throw food waste in with their yard debris.

In any event, the county commissioners who are jerking the population around out there ought to suffer the fate of the rogue commissioners in Clackistan. As the rebels on the other side of the big city have figured out, you can get even as well as mad.

Early birds start gift-giving off with a bang

Thanks to our faithful readers who have gotten us off to a flying start on Buck-a-Hit Day. At 7:17 this morning, we had garnered 451 unique visits and $670 in reader contributions. We're more than 20% of the way to our goal for the day of $11,000. But we need more visitors if we're going to make it to $5,500! Please link to bojack.org, early and often, on your social media and other pages today. All your friends and followers have to do is lick on your link to this site, and another buck goes to a worthy cause.

Before it fades from view

Should Portland's Metro government be in the business of breeding elephants, in two separate herds, on a large scale?

"The model assumes a robust reproductive rate with births occurring every four years per reproductively viable female," the plan reads. "To develop an unrelated multigenerational matriarchal herd at the remote elephant center, the zoo plans to acquire four unrelated females."

The plan calls for two bulls—Tusko and Samudra—to live on the reserve. Zoo officials say the current female elephants would stay at the zoo, and not visit the reserve. They won't make any promises about Packy.

What the zoo does to elephants is pretty sick. And it gets in bed with private carny operations that are even worse. To ramp up the misery, and the expense, seems to be against the public interest. Where's the voter pushback on this budding animal mill?

A 401(k), with nuclear weapons

Loath to raise taxes on the middle class yet unwilling to cut deeply into the budgets for Social Security or Medicare, the president and his advisers proposed cutting the discretionary part of the budget devoted to everything except defense and other security agencies to 1.7 percent of economic output by 2022, down from 3.1 percent last year.

This is not irrelevant spending. It accounts for every government expenditure except entitlements, security and interest. It pays subsidies for higher education and housing assistance for the poor. It finances the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration. It pays for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and training programs for unemployed workers. Without such spending, the government becomes little more than a heavily armed pension plan with a health insurer on the side.

The whole thing is here.

"Fiscal cliff" show getting nowhere fast

With every day, it seems more likely that we will actually go off the precipice and see what happens. Maybe the new Congress and the White House can work something out and fix everything retroactively come January or February, but that's an even bet at best. In any event, it's looking like a highly screwed-up tax filing season is ahead of us. The IRS can't really publish the 2012 forms until the current clown show comes to a conclusion.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Countdown is on for Buck-a-Hit Day

In a couple of hours, we'll flip a switch and it will be Buck-a-Hit Day on this blog. We and our sponsors will give $1 to charity for each of the first 5,500 unique visitors to this site over the 24 hours starting at midnight West Coast time, and we hope to raise enough donations from readers that we can send $11,000 to six worthy charities. Please come on back sometime tomorrow and help us reach our goals.

Now dash away, dash away, dash away, 'dogs!

The Big Daddies of pro football don't stop for shopping, and so players in our underdog game have work to do in the prognostication department:

14 JACKSONVILLE vs. New England
13 TENNESSEE at Green Bay
13 CLEVELAND at Denver
9.5 OAKLAND at Carolina
9.5 MINNESOTA at Houston
6.5 KANSAS CITY vs. Indianapolis
5.5 ARIZONA vs. Chicago
4.5 PHILADELPHIA vs. Washington
4 BUFFALO at Miami
4 CINCINNATI at Pittsburgh
4 DETROIT vs. Atlanta (Saturday, 5:30 p.m. PST)
3 ST. LOUIS at Tampa Bay
1 NEW ORLEANS at Dallas
1 SAN DIEGO at New York Jets
1 BALTIMORE vs. New York Giants
1 SEATTLE vs. San Francisco

This is the next-to-last week of the regular season, followed by three weeks of the playoffs. We play all the way through Week 20, although the numbers of games and point spreads dwindle after next weekend. The standings are here. Players, you may want to pick accordingly.

If you want the Lions, your pick is due by kickoff time on Saturday, 5:30 p.m. PST. Everybody else, your pick is due at 10:00 a.m. PST Sunday. Good luck!

Whatever it is, it can wait

We are looking out the window here at bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2, and to our horror we see foolhardy people actually out in the current weather. Not only are these people endangering themselves, but they're also jeopardizing the well-being of first responders who may have to pick them up if they fall in a puddle. People, there is a chance of snow -- repeat, snow -- in Portland! Tri-Met is chaining up all 11 of its buses, and the city has both snow plows ready for operation at any moment. Stay indoors, cancel all activities, and stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 for the latest updates. Play it safe until you get the all-clear signal from the nearest food cart pod.

Last call -- the very, very last call

Does anyone know what time the Mayan Apocalypse is supposed to happen on Friday? We are having our Cyber-office Christmas Party here on Thursday evening, and may try to party all the way through. Thanks.

Nick Fish ready to double down on fluoride

We thought he liked being on the Portland City Council, but if he goes along with the Sam Rand Twins to manipulate the date on the water fluoridation vote, Spineless Jelly is going to make his own re-election in 2014 quite problematic.

People keep score, Nick -- and your army of homeless fans don't vote. The referendum easily got the signatures you didn't think it would get. If you think jerking the voters around isn't going to bring good candidates out to send you back to law firm timesheets, you're probably mistaken again.

'Tis the season

Stenchy, the Portland food slop rat, is ready to party.

Please link to Buck-a-Hit Day -- it's tomorrow

Just a reminder: Tomorrow is our 10th annual Buck-a-Hit Day on this blog. We and our gift-giving elves pay $1 to charity for every visitor to this blog on that day, and with the help of some generous sponsors, this year we can keep giving those dollars all the way up to 5,500 visitors -- $5,500.

But the bucks will flow only as the hits come in -- that is, if and when visitors show up on this blog between midnight tonight and midnight tomorrow night. Fifty-five hundred hits is ambitious for a mid-December day, and so we need your help. Please alert your social media contacts, other friends, and readers if you have them -- all they have to do is click on your link to this blog any time tomorrow, and a buck of somebody else's money will go to charity.

Here are the beneficiaries of the day:

- Sisters of the Road Cafe
- Children's Heart Foundation, Oregon Chapter
- Human Solutions
- Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
- Oregon Food Bank
- Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Washington

We'll also be holding our annual comment contest tomorrow. The author of the best comment (determined by our readers' vote on Thursday) will get to steer $250 of our contributions to his or her own favorite nonprofit (501(c)(3)) organization.

Visiting here is a painless way to do a good deed, but we need those visitors. Please help us bring them in tomorrow. Thank you.

It has begun

It is snowing here at Blog Central. Repeat: Snowing. In Portland. Remain calm. Remain indoors. Cancel all activity. This is an actual alert. We are headed to the Sylvan overpass at this hour for team coverage.

Homer's pitch to the Chinese

He had Mayor Creepy giving the sales job for the money for the new Pearl District hotel:

Lots of unforgettable moments there, especially this one:

If there isn't some sort of law about using the city seal and one's City Hall office for the private gain of some crony's business, there oughta be. Because the new mayor is going to be even more owned by these developers than the old one was.

Anyway, the foreign investors will own the whole project and can come by any time with their green cards. Homer and crew get paid up front. It's happening all over the country, apparently. What a scene.

Legend Dan says no to rushing fluoride vote

A reader forwards this e-mail message:

Thank you for your email regarding the City Council's proposal to move up the vote on fluoridation.

I do not support changing the date of the public vote on fluoridation. I did support Council's decision earlier this year to add fluoride to our water and I continue to believe it's the right decision for our community.

But, I recognize that the public has spoken and wishes to engage in a community dialogue that culminates in a public vote in May of 2014.

I do not believe the date of the vote should be manipulated by Council to benefit one particular side in this issue. If Council does decide to move the vote to 2013, I apologize in advance for what I believe is a decision that disrespects the voters of Portland.

Dan Saltzman

Way to stand up to the schoolyard bully -- albeit 10 years late.

The name should be a hint

"Wal-Mart de Mexico" -- you can just imagine.

Monday, December 17, 2012

New era begins

We've lived here at Blog Central for 14 years and change. It's an old place, and we succeeded to a lot of old stuff. Some of it works, some of it doesn't. But we take comfort in the history of the house -- touches that were added 100, 80, 50, 30 years ago.

One thing we have always tried to do is to maintain the garden that we acquired when we showed up. We've made lots of improvements, but by and large we have tried to keep up what was already here before we were.

One such item is a climbing rose bush, over the gate to our side yard, that burst into countless pink blossoms early each May. We've trained it, trimmed it, fought it, cussed it out, but always been richly rewarded:

Lately the thing has gotten mighty thick and gangly, and it's been on our to-do list for a while to get up on the big ladder and hack it back. We've been slow getting around to it, though, and today with the rain and the wind, Mother Nature made some executive decisions for us:

It will take a while to get it all cut up and taken out, and there's the gate to attend to. The displays won't be nearly as lavish as they were at their peak until we're about ready to retire. But we look on the bright side -- we won't be up there trimming a big bush for a long time. And we think of the joy that will come with the first bloom on new growth.

Just when you think life couldn't get any worse

OMG! It could snow in Portland tonight. Up to an inch! Snow, which is frozen water. Which could be slippery on the roads. Better head out and buy up all the bottled water and canned goods you can. Because it might snow, people -- snow! In Portland!

And above all, stay tuned to bojack.org StormCenter 9000.2 for all the latest details on Snowmageddon 2012. Our crew is already on the Sylvan overpass, ready for team coverage. The Sylvan overpass -- not far from Clackamas Town Center, the scene of last week's deadly shooting. Stay tuned.

The scoop on government flack overload

It rings so true.

Lovable on so many levels

Not only is the new Pearl hotel being built by Homer Williams, but it's also being financed by Chinese people who as part of the deal get to move their families into the country and throw their weight around.

Old Char-Lie Hales apparently gave a speech at the fake groundbreaking today. You could hardly see Homer's lips moving, no doubt.

Memo to LaVonne: You missed a few

An alert reader points out that Portland auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade's recent say-anything-you-want-with-statistics report on Portland "urban renewal" tells only part of the story:

Audit only covered half the URAs. Left out Gateway, Interstate, Lents, North Macadam, South Park Blocks and Willamette Industrial.

I'd love to see how the other half lived, so to speak.

Sounds like a fair request.

Lincoln High School apartment tower moves right along

And the window dressing promises to be truly elaborate. It all starts, of course, with a charrette.

Too many apartments in Eugene

Student housing down that way has quickly become overbuilt. [Via UO Matters.]

LaVonne sends Sam Rands a going-away gift

Here's a report from the Portland city auditor finding that private sector jobs and wages went up in the city's urban renewal districts between 1996 and 2009. Since private sector jobs decreased citywide, one can logically conclude that the urban renewal areas cannibalized the employment elsewhere within the city limits. Property values went up faster than elsewhere, too -- it's amazing what going into hock to hand out free infrastructure to developer pals will do.

The mayor and the car-hater guy he has running the Portland Development Commission bleat, "The City and PDC are proud of the accomplishments in the report, which include many public/private partnerships and iconic developments." Linchpin City!

Weasels to the very end

Having been utterly humiliated by the overwhelming outpouring of support for a public vote on fluoridating Portland's water, the lame duck Sam Rand Twins now propose to move it up by a year, to give the opponents less time to show people how they're going to be forced to drink industrial waste. Fourteen days left of these birds -- it seems like 14 years. Not that the two new dudes are going to be any better.

Buck-a-Hit Day is Wednesday

Hey readers, this Wednesday the 19th -- that's the day after tomorrow -- will be the 10th annual Buck-a-Hit Day on this blog. I and my inner circle of gift-giving buddies are going to give $1 to charity for every visit to this blog on that day, midnight to midnight. And this year, we'll do that up to $5,500.

Can we get 5,500 visitors here on Wednesday? It's going to be a bit of a stretch. Lately we've been bringing in around 4,500 unique visits (as counted by SiteMeter) on an average Wednesday, but traffic slows down during December, and this week is cutting it kind of close to Christmas.

So here's what we need you to do: Please start asking folks you know to show up on this site on Wednesday. Just for being here, just for a single click on bojack.org, readers will shake out a dollar of somebody else's money for a worthy cause. That's all they have to do.

Once they get here, of course, we'll be trying to hit them up for donations to one of our six favored charities, but that's up to them.

Speaking of which, we're going to be bold and try to break our previous record of $10,410 in overall donations for the day -- this year, the top of our thermometer will be $11,000. So in addition to getting 5,500 folks to show up here, we're going to try to get them to give charity, through us, a total of $5,500.

It's ambitious. Money's too tight to mention right now. But we're counting on our readers to come through. Do we sell subscriptions to this blog? No. Do we torture readers with pop-up and pop-under ads? Never. Do we blast audio commercials at people? Of course not. Once a year, we ask a few bucks for charity. We're confident that readers will pitch in, as they always do, despite the tough times.

If we got 5,500 visitors and they each gave a dollar, we'd be there. And to make it a little more do-able, we've got $1,200 in matching funds to play with. And so we can get there with 5,500 readers and just 78 cents apiece from them in contributions.

Our six charities will be the same as last year:

- Sisters of the Road Cafe
- Children's Heart Foundation, Oregon Chapter
- Human Solutions
- Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
- Oregon Food Bank
- Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Washington

So anyway, please do be here on Wednesday -- day after tomorrow. Think about throwing something in the hat. But most of all, please help get out the word. If you click on "Permalink" below, you'll see a little "Share" box on the right just below these words. Getting this news up on social media today would be a big help. Thank you, and we hope to see you Wednesday.

Dear Leader Station

Aw, isn't it grand -- they're naming a fire house after Admiral Randy. And the City Council resolution was written up by the multi-talented Amy Ruiz. It's really special.

But surely we shouldn't stop there. What else should be named after Randy?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Game report: Blazers 95, Pelicans 94

After a dark, dark week, we needed to cleanse our mind, and sports can do that. We watched a bunch of football between napping and chores this afternoon, but the real opportunity for clearing out the muck came in the evening. Through the grace of a long-time friend, we found ourselves with tickets for good seats to see the Blazers play the New Orleans Hornets. It would be easy to yawn at that matchup. The Hornets are suffering so badly as a franchise that they are talking about changing the team name to the Pelicans. Because there are so many Pelicans in New Orleans? The desperation is palpable. The Blazers are an o.k. non-playoff team from which not too much can be expected other than the joy of competition.

But hey, they are NBA teams, and so they're going to have at least a few players each. The Hornet guys have Anthony Davis, the no. 1 pick from last year's college draft. They also have Ryan Anderson, a Cal kid who can shoot up a storm if you let him. And there's Austin Rivers, Doc's son, who's clearly got the DNA. And so nothing can be taken for granted against them.

The mostly new Blazers put on a nice show in the first half, racking up 54 points behind a strong performance by big man J.J. Hickson and some expert ball-sharing by French vet Nicolas Batum. The Blazers' own top rookie, Damian Lillard, ran the show with confidence and competence. Veteran Portland guard Wesley Matthews tried to give it a go, but he only made it up and down the court a few times before it was time for him to sit down with a continuing hip injury.

The rest of the Blazers are a bit of a ragtag crew, including forward Luke Babbitt, who got a lot of playing time. There were Ronnie Price and Will Barton and Sasha Pavlovic and Victor Claver, all of whom seemed o.k. but far from spectacular. Rookie center Meyers Leonard played only a few minutes; he picked up two quick fouls and was benched for the rest of the night. Leonard had a fatherly guy in a suit sitting next to him on the pines, talking to him and seemingly no one else, all evening. The two were engaged in plenty of conversation; they certainly had lots of opportunity for it.

The two teams played pretty much even in the third quarter, but in the fourth, the Hornets' offense woke up and the Blazers let them climb back into contention. With seven minutes to go, a Blazer lead that had been 16 points at one point had dwindled down to 7; with six minutes to go, it was 6; with five minutes to go, it was 5; and so on until the last few seconds of the game, when indeed, the score was tied.

Anderson and Greivis Vasquez, New Orleans's young point guard out of Maryland, did most of the damage during the comeback. Davis, who's battled injuries in this young season, was also a factor, but he didn't seem to be quite in sync just yet. He is extremely long and lean, and he has a relatively tiny head. Something about his moves signaled that he has enormous potential, as soon as he's 100% and the team figures out how to use him.

The scene at the Rose Garden was typical of modern-day Blazer contests. The crowd was as quiet as a church congregation except when the infernal hype machine told it to get loud. The Blazer dancers performed in some ghastly outfits, and the Junior Blazer Dancers also did a couple of numbers, which seemed vaguely wrong. The stunt team was gorgeous, and a group of volunteers led a bunch of young special needs athletes in a halftime game of some sort, which we missed in favor of a $6.50 bratwurst.

There were a couple of chippy moments. Robin Lopez, one of the underachieving Stanford twin centers, came down unnecessarily hard across Hickson's shoulder, drawing a flagrant foul call. And later Batum, the Olympics groin-puncher, was a bit too enthusiastic in trying to block a Davis shot. He smacked Davis on the nose in the process, and got called for a flagrant. Davis is just recovered from a concussion, and so the officials were not amused at bopping him in the face. It felt like a Jefferson Smith flashback.

Just when the Blazer slide was at its worst, LaMarcus Aldridge went down with some sort of injury to his lower left leg. It seemed as though he might have turned an ankle, but whatever it was, it was bad, because with the game totally on the line, he was immediately helped off the court.

The Blazers got the ball with 11.5 seconds to go, and the score tied at 92. Portland was setting up its last shot when Vasquez took the foul that New Orleans had to give with just 4.2 seconds to go. The Blazers took the ball out and Babbitt got it to Lillard, who hit a wonderful three-point basket just as the clock expired. The place went nuts.

The referees checked the video and told the timekeeper to put 0.3 seconds back on the clock, but it was over at that point. With that little time, there's not even a chance, as a practical matter, to catch and shoot, and so if the Blazers did not foul, they were sure to win. The Hornets did score on an uncontested alley-oop, but it was meaningless.

Hickson wound up with 24 points and 16 rebounds. Batum had quite an all-around game, with 11 points, 10 assists, five steals, and five blocked shots. No one's done that in an NBA game in the last 11 years. Aldridge had 20 points, but only three rebounds. New Orleans out-rebounded Portland 43-36.

We got a lot of the cleansing that we needed. It was great to see all the young kids in the stands at the ballgame, which started at 6:00. They, and we, got an interesting contest and an exciting, happy ending. Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis are both going to make their marks in the league, and we got to see them face to face. At one point Davis threw in a poster-esque dunk on a followup shot right in front of us, and that will be etched in our brain for quite a while. And as for Lillard's game winner, we'll be seeing that one over and over all season. If you haven't caught it yet, it's here.

Thanks to our benefactor for the tickets, and to our buddy Bill McDonald who joined us at the Rose Garden. For us there's no better commentator than Bill on sports, on youth and age, or on anything else in the world for that matter.

And now, in keeping with our tradition, the blurry cell phone photos:

Continue reading "Game report: Blazers 95, Pelicans 94" »

The real disaster has already happened

The flow of dopiness from Portland City Hall has reached flood stage at the conclusion of the Sam Rand Twins' regime. This week we received in the snail mail a large postcard:

It's from Mayor Sam Adams. It's telling us that if there's an earthquake so devastating that there's no electricity and no phone service, the city is going to have a guy in a tent with a walkie-talkie at the grammar school about a mile from here. So we might want to stagger through the rubble and go see him if we need anything.

Or maybe not:

But here's the best part:

Oh, sure. Let's see: Slop bucket and yard debris bin set out prominently where our holiday guests can see them. Sam Adams disaster map on the refrigerator. "Sew or knit a scarf or mittens using recycled or scrap materials."

Here's a message for the earnest, know-it-all twenty-somethings running city government these days: Get out of our house. We throw your b.s. mailers into the landfill garbage. Unlike the handful of dupes who do what you tell them, we have a life.

Luck-y 'dog is mighty popular

The players in our charity pro football underdog game have weighed in for the weekend, and there's a serious "favorite" among the pooches. It's the big one:

9.5 INDIANAPOLIS at Houston - NoPoGuy, pdxmick, Jeremy, Bob, George, Bayou Baby, Carol, Gary, Coastal Storm, Drewbob, Bad Brad, Dr. D, Annie, Usual Kevin, John Ch., Ted
7 JACKSONVILLE at Miami - Tinknocker, Gordon
6 SAN FRANCISCO at New England - PDXileinOmaha, John Cr., Will, DB Cooper, Tung, Rudie
5.5 ARIZONA vs. Detroit - genop
5.5 BUFFALO vs. Seattle - Lucas, Biggest Cubs Loser, Juicen, Cinderella Story, Eric W.
3.5 TAMPA BAY at New Orleans - Pete Rose, Broadway Joe
3.5 PHILADELPHIA vs. Cincinnati (Thursday, no go) - Paul
3 CHICAGO vs. Green Bay - genop's gal
3 CAROLINA at San Diego - Dave A., Sola, JMH
3 BALTIMORE vs. Denver - Michael K., Grizfan

Good luck to all our players. Wouldn't it be something if every 'dog won in the same week? Dream on, and enjoy the games, everybody.

UPDATE, 1:35 p.m.: No winners in the first games, including Indy.

UPDATE, 4:36 p.m.: Nice wins for those who chose Arizona and Carolina.

UPDATE, 9:50 p.m.: The Niners pull off a nice upset, and of course, our game leader, DB Cooper, is there. He now has a 13.5-point lead with five weeks to go (including just two regular season weeks). Nobody's on the Monday 'dog, and so here are the standings at week's end:

Continue reading "Luck-y 'dog is mighty popular" »

A Fuku watchdog winds up in jail

Japan has arrested a university professor who was speaking out against incineration of radioactive waste following the triple meltdown at Fukushima last year. The crime charged? Apparently, it was walking through a train station, two months before his arrest.

Plutonium is named after the god of hell. It's appropriate.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

We the people

Here's an amendment to the Constitution that's long overdue.

Close enough to touch

It was dark day in Portland today. Dark metaphorically, but also dark literally. The clouds were thick, the rain was constant, and heavy at times. Friends on the west side of town, and on the east, saw some snowflakes in the dim mid-morning light.

We're impervious to the gloom, after more than 30 winter solstices here. "It's good for you," we told a recent arrival as we chatted in the grocery store.

We spent a little time this morning helping a friend try to bring some light to those in need, and on the way home, we even bought something local, hoping to warm up. But it was a bit of a slog, all the way through sunset. Not too heavy, but we could feel the gray.

Then tonight, suddenly there was a breakthrough. We were driving west on Sandy Boulevard, just past the wild and woolly part of town, when straight ahead -- at 12 o'clock -- there appeared a giant crescent moon. Just for a few minutes, but it was irresistible to the eye. In this season so taken with heavenly light in the darkness, there it was. There is still a moon. It still reflects the light of the sun -- just a sliver, but a bright yellow.

And it is good.

"I'll have it well done"

Good idea.

Another way to keep Nike's Oregon taxes down

We don't buy many things with the Nike swoosh on them, but we haven't gone out of our way to avoid them, either. Given how obnoxious that company has become, maybe it's time to go out of our way. They want to reduce their Oregon taxes -- let's really help them by decreasing their sales here. Come on, Oregonians, do your part.

A message to Oregon taxpayers

No, he doesn't respect you this morning.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Turn off TV "news" until Christmas

Tell the broadcast media that you don't want to watch them exploit the suffering. "Murderer's cousin once watched him throw rock at squirrel." "Parents are devastated." "Interviewing" little kids. Just turn it off. If something happens that you really need to know, it will be on the internet.

Have a great weekend

Nike tax break scorecard will probably be bogus

If it's anything like the highly misleading representations that the bureaucrats made on the Vestas deal in Portland, the public will get far less than promised.

Out of the spotlight

The words "Clackamas Town Center" will now disppear from the national news. God help our screwed-up country.

A Portland Christmas

Are bigger garbage cans the new medical marijuana?

Apparently Portlanders can get the garbage hauler to pick up the bigger can but charge only for the smaller if they're low income or and have a medical condition that generates a lot of extra waste. Here's the form -- you have to send it in every year, but apparently it doesn't require a doctor's signature.

UPDATE, 9:41 a.m.: As an alert reader points out, to qualify for this break, you must both be low-income and have a medical condition. In the words, only the poor can lie about needing Depends.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nike's sweetheart tax deal pisses off Intel

The correlation of arrogance and stupidity is on full display in Salem.

And get this -- Governor Retread wouldn't let you see the details without signing a six-page nondisclosure agreement. Are they kidding? They must be kidding.

Nothing says "crooked" like government in Oregon. It's breathtaking.

Who really gives a rat's butt?

Please, fake journalists of Portlandia, give it a rest. It's like the Ward Weaver feeding frenzy of a deacde ago. In this case, the monster's dead. Let him rot in anonymity.

The whippoorwill of freedom zapped me

We have one 'dog picker taking the Philly 'dog tonight:

3.5 PHILADELPHIA vs. Cincinnati - Paul

And at halftime, he's ahead!

No special session for Jeld-Wen

As sensible people predicted but Ron Saxton repeatedly denied, the window makers are packing up their headquarters and leaving Oregon. Seems North Carolina is more to their new Canadian owners' liking.

Cue some new Goldschmidt Network gigs on the taxpayer's dime for Saxton and Steve Wynne in 3... 2... 1...

Movin' on up

Not that it matters, but this blog moved ahead of the mega-popular TaxProf Blog in page views over the past year. We're now No. 6 in that department, among law prof bloggers who use SiteMeter to show traffic.

The perfect gig for Len Bergstein

He's representing the stink out in North Plains. As it turns out, the city council there has apparently read the handwriting on the wall, and noticed that their political careers will soon be over if they don't outright oppose continuing the hideous Portland food compost operation that has trashed the neighbors' livability out that way.

If Washington County wises up and yanks the permit for the stink hole, where will Mayor-elect Char-Lie send the ungodly Portland food slop mess? Our guess would be the Lents neighborhood.

The Eagles fly on Thursday

Players in our charity pro football underdog game, if you're picking Philadelphia this week, your selection is due no later than kickoff time, 5:20 p.m. Pacific Time, today.

Please, media, no more about the shooter

We've seen and heard all we want to or need to about the animal who killed people and himself at the Clackamas mall this week. Let's hope the local media have gotten their ratings from talking and writing about him, and will now stop. Further coverage isn't going to do anybody any good, and all it does is show others how much fame you can get as a murderer.

Joe Weston knows

There are too may cr-apartments being built in Portland. So much so that he's not throwing any of his money at more of them, even in the Pearl.

Get out your calendar

Is your holiday schedule filling up? It's time to mark down a couple of upcoming seasonal goings-on on this blog, if you don't mind. Buck-a-Hit Day -- our 10th annual charitable giving fest -- will be held all day and night next Wednesday, the 19th. Over the years, faithful readers and our family have given more than $50,677 to worthy local charities through this event on this day. Our record for any single year is $10,410, which we reached in 2011. We're going to try to beat that this year; more on our plans over the next several days. Please call your rich uncle.

And then on Thursday the 20th, we'll have our annual cyber-office Christmas party. We're not sure how many of these we've thrown now, and even if we did remember, we wouldn't say. Because what happens at the cyber-office Christmas party, stays at the cyber-office Christmas party. We'll crank it up in mid-afternoon that day. Please plan to come as you are.

Nike SoWhat rumor is floated

The latest rumblings, relayed in Willy Week, are that maybe Nike's mysterious expansion plans -- the ones that are leading Salem to damage forever the integrity of the state's tax system -- might include a new installation in Portland's failed South Waterfront district. It's an interesting "murmur," as that publication calls such reports, but it begs a larger question: Why in heck can't Nike put its cards on the table and tell us where the expansion's going to be, before we sell them our souls?

Meanwhile, an informed reader has put to rest our concern that the Nike tax maneuver might be an attempted end run around the pending lawsuit involving the Oregon corporate tax apportionment system -- the very system that Nike wants to preserve. The reader writes:

In discussing the special session legislation you appear to misunderstand the Oregon Health Net (and the Cal. Gillette) case. It involves an element of the Multistate Tax Compact, ORS 305.655 Art. 3.1, that provides if a state has a different apportionment formula from the Compact's three-factor formula, a taxpayer may elect as between the two. Oregon began to deviate from the equally weighted three-factor formula in 1989, and the current formula applicable to all taxpayers is single sales factor. The litigation seeks to restore the election option overwritten by 1993's ORS 314.606, that's all. So, if the taxpayer prevails, rational-actor taxpayers will chose the option that results in lower taxes. Nike will still chose single sales, as will most in-state companies. So, while there may be many reasons to question the current bill, locking Nike in to the current apportionment scheme against an adverse decision in Health Net is probably not one of them.

Good to know. Thanks, reader, for the clarification -- although we'd read a little about the Health Net case, we weren't up on the details.

Mmmmm... brominated vegetable oil...

Its like turning your innards into a hot tub.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Something to go downtown for

Your year isn't complete unless you attend this superb event.

At Regence, a $15 million typo

But they're calculating your deductible right. Sure they are.

Sam Rand exit finger continues: NW Portland parking meters

Nurse Amanda goes right along with the program. She wouldn't shake down private donors for campaign money, but she has no problem shaking down average Portlanders every time they try to leave their houses.

D.C. clown show may not stop for Christmas

What fools they are, and what fools we are for electing them.

Avakian suddenly falls silent

We just updated our State of Oregon press release meter for the month of November, and guess what. Old Brad Avakian, the state labor commissioner, generated just one official press release the whole month. This after he sent out 10 in October, nine in September, and eight in August.

Why the sudden drop-off in press releases? Gee, do you think it might have anything to do with the fact that the guy was re-elected Nov. 6? Call us crazy, but to us it almost looks as though Avakian uses his official p.r. officer as a campaign aide. That kind of thing would never happen in Oregon, however, and so we can all put our minds to rest on that score.

Kate Brown, who was also re-elected, cranked out five releases in November to lead the pack for the month and for the year to date. But it's all pretty anemic compared to what old John Kroger used to produce. That guy was the Wilt Chamberlain of press releases.

Someone told me they're all vomiting at the zoo

Metro can't even get the catering right.

Like a rolling stone

Disgraced former Oregon Gov. Neil "Pants" Goldschmidt and his wife are claiming in court that they've been swindled. Allegedly they're victims of securities fraud. And hey, who would know better about fraud?

Even more pathetic is what they say they were investing in. Willy Week cuts to the heart of the matter:

Goldschmidt and his wife invested in products that convert the pensions and disability payments of veterans into commodities. Just as hard-up senior citizens have traded their life insurance policies for lump-sum cash payouts, military veterans have sold their future pension and disability payments for cash. Investment companies such as Voyager buy those future payments at a discount, repackage them and create attractive returns for investors, as the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Well, we all shine on...

Uncle Phil's tax deal

A reader has sent to us a draft of the bill that Gov. Retread and Nike are planning to hustle through a special session of the lame duck Oregon Legislature in a few days. It's here. As many have guessed, Nike wants to lock in the current single-factor test for apportioning its worldwide income for Oregon tax purposes. That test splits up income among states and countries based on sales, ignoring the amount of property and payroll that a company has in a given place. For Nike, that saves tons in Oregon taxes, because percentage-wise, it has way more property and payroll in Oregon than it has sales. The bill gives the governor the power to bind the state to a contract not to change that rule, as it applies to Nike, for up to 40 years.

Under a contract of that nature, if the legislature later changes the rules for everyone else -- or if a court declares that the rules are different for everyone else -- Nike will get special treatment. The bill provides that there would be nothing future legislatures could do to change the test for Nike.

One interesting note in all this is that there is currently a court case pending that could force the state off the single-factor formula. In that case, which we blogged about here a month ago, a company that doesn't like the single-factor test is claiming that it's illegal. According to that lawsuit, Oregon is required to take multiple factors into account, because it's a member of a multistate compact that requires that all factors be considered. If that legal action succeeds, everyone, including Nike, would apparently be yanked off single-factor apportionment in Oregon. The governor's bill and a contract signed under it would attempt to exempt Nike from the potential adverse outcome of that court case.

Is the bill constitutional? Does the state constitution allow the legislature to delegate its taxing authority to the governor in this way? And does the constitution allow the current legislature to bind future legislatures like this?

And even if it is legal, is this plan good policy? For years we've been hearing from the governor and his party that corporations in Oregon aren't paying their fair share of taxes any more. Individuals, they say, are carrying too much of the weight of the state's taxes. Wasn't that the message of the recent vote to repeal the corporate tax "kicker"? Yet here we are allowing ourselves to be pushed into an unprecedented commitment not to let the political process determine future corporate taxes, for up to 40 years. It's one step forward, two steps back.

Meanwhile, the rushed nature of the deal and the holiday timing are borderline insulting to the public. And now with yesterday's Clackamas mall tragedy, the chances of the average Oregonian hearing a word about this before it's too late are slim and none. It's a strange moment in the state's history, that's for sure. "Will whore for jobs." Doesn't Kitzhaber read the New York Times?

Perhaps the oddest part of the bill is that it purports to ratify any contract entered into after Dec.1 of this year. Why is that highly irregular feature in there? Has Kitz already inked a deal with Nike that he's not showing?


It turns out that one of the two innocent people shot and killed in yesterday's rampage at the Clackamas mall was a friend of a friend of ours. Our friend writes on Facebook:

His wife and children were in Macy's. He went to the food court to get a bite and was talking with his father on cell. It's just sickening. A world class dad and husband -- loved by everyone.

Words fail. Suddenly Portland has a most troubled holiday season.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In a deep and 'dog December

The 'dogs of Week 15 have been unleashed, and here they are. Players in our charity pro football underdog game, choose your upset pooch from this pack:

9.5 INDIANAPOLIS at Houston
6 SAN FRANCISCO at New England
5.5 ARIZONA vs. Detroit
5.5 BUFFALO vs. Seattle
3.5 TAMPA BAY at New Orleans
3.5 PHILADELPHIA vs. Cincinnati (Thursday, 5:20 p.m. PST)
3 CHICAGO vs. Green Bay
3 CAROLINA at San Diego
3 BALTIMORE vs. Denver
2.5 KANSAS CITY at Oakland
1 NEW YORK GIANTS vs. Atlanta
1 NEW YORK JETS at Tennessee (Monday, pick still due Sunday morning)
1 MINNESOTA at St. Louis
1 DALLAS vs. Pittsburgh

There are two weeks of the regular season after this one, and our game goes through three weeks of the playoffs. In the playoffs, however, there are fewer games, and often only some fairly small points to be won. Our standings to date are here (ignore the asterisks).

Eagles picks are due at kickoff Thursday afternoon, and all other picks are due Sunday at 10 a.m. (all times Pacific). Good luck, everybody!

Sam Bowie lied to the Blazers to get drafted

He said his knees didn't hurt, when in fact they did. And so the Blazers passed on Michael Jordan to take him, in a humongous bust rivaled only by choosing Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. Think of all the Blazer fans Bowie screwed. Somebody ought to sue his lame butt.

Wes Cooley's going to jail

The former Central Oregon congressman's got to show up at the Graybar Hotel on March 11, supposedly for a year and a day. At least it's a federal rap -- tax crime. But the underlying evil was that "Cooley and two others [allegedly] lured victims into purchasing unregistered stock in Bidbay.com Inc. by falsely telling them the company was being acquired by eBay."

Too bad for Cooley that he didn't stay in Congress longer. After a while those birds mysteriously become very, very rich -- and typically, untouchable by prosecutors.

Tuesday afternoon

Mental illness, hate, hopelessness, semi-automatic guns -- it all came together today in inner Clackistan. And in a truly American touch, the bloodshed went down in a shopping mall at Christmastime. Since we'll never agree on who or what's to blame or what to do about it, there's hardly any sense talking much about it. This sort of tragedy has become rather like the weather -- we forget it as soon as we can and move on. Anyway, condolences to everyone who was there, and their loved ones.

Speaking of zoo parking

A reader sends along this story from the U.K.:

A Well-Planned Retirement

Outside England 's Bristol Zoo there is a parking lot for 150 cars and 8 buses. For 25 years, its parking fees were managed by a very pleasant attendant. The fees were for cars, about $1.40, for buses about $7.

Then, one day, after 25 solid years of never missing a day of work, he just didn't show up; so the Zoo Management called the City Council and asked it to send them another parking agent.

The Council did some research and replied that the parking lot was the Zoo's own responsibility. The Zoo advised the Council that the attendant was a City employee. The City Council responded that the lot attendant had never been on the City payroll.

Meanwhile, sitting in his villa somewhere on the coast of Spain (or some such scenario), is a man who'd apparently had a ticket machine installed completely on his own; and then had simply begun to show up every day, commencing to collect and keep the parking fees, estimated at about $560 per day -- for 25 years. Assuming 7 days a week, this amounts to just over $7 million dollars!

And no one even knows his name.

Another 11th hour hosing by Fireman Randy

There are 20 days left until Portland is rid of the Sam Rand Twins, but they're busier than ever screwing the city's taxpayers on their way out the door. This just in from the folks watching the city's rogue water bureau:

We learned yesterday that Randy Leonard is ramrodding through a series of reservoir contracts at Wednesday's Council agenda, his second to last session. This is truly outrageous in light of the information we uncovered, on Rochester achieving a 10-year deferral of their open reservoir projects until 2024 -- well after the time when the EPA onerous rule [requiring that the reservoirs be covered] is expected to be revised.

There are four related items on the Council agenda. Two of the items are contracts associated with the Bureau's "current vision" to demolish and replace the Washington Park (WP) reservoirs on site, items 1456 and 1457. These are 8.5-year contracts, an unheard-of initial length for such a consultant contract. The four items on Wednesday's agenda are 1453 and 1456-1458.

Randy is clearly pushing through these items to make it harder for the next Council to secure the relief that could have been achieved by now if not for Randy's interference.

And it's a no-bid deal, of course.

The Fireman will go down in history, although not the way he thinks.

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Here we are in Hannukah, and Christmas is right around the corner, and so it's time to start planning our annual holiday events. Next Wednesday, the 19th, will be Buck-a-Hit Day on this blog -- the day on which we give money to charity just because readers show up. We also ask readers to chip in for worthy causes, of which we offer several for folks to choose from. It goes all day, midnight to midnight. More details will be forthcoming later this week, but please mark your calendar for next Wednesday. We want to see you back here then.

The next day, Thursday the 20th, we'll hold our annual Cyber-Office Christmas Party, where readers join us in making merry for the holidays. It's quite festive, but we can't divulge too many details, because what happens at the Cyber-Office Christmas Party stays at the Cyber-Office Christmas Party. Things should kick off in mid- to late afternoon that day, and go on until the cops show up or everybody passes out. (Remind me to tell you the story of Uncle Billy's holiday punch sometime.)

(Yawn) Another police brutality judgment against Portland

This one a mere $306,000. The guy didn't even die! Nothing to see here, folks -- move along, go to your homes.

Why do they need a special session?

The crazy Oregon state income tax deal that Nike is proposing, and that Governor Retread is bending over backward to endorse, sure smells funny. Maybe not as awful as a Portlander's compost bin in mid-August, but still pretty bad. The wild plan raises so many serious questions. Yet with the rush-rush timeline that the Guv is suddenly putting everyone on, there's no time to even ask the questions, much less get satisfactory answers.

We'll throw out the biggest one: Why is a special session necessary? Nike say it just wants assurances that the current tax laws affecting the company will stay on the books. Why can't they just accept the governor's promise that he'll veto any adverse change? Why can't they just accept the governor's promise that he'll fire any Revenue Department director who tries to make an adverse change? The need for a special session seems fishy indeed. Something tells us there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye.

And everybody gets three days to think it over. Two weeks before Christmas. To be voted on by a lame duck legislature, with two weeks left before the new one arrives. Uh huh.

But hey, everybody in The Network's on board. Little wonder -- You-Know-Who is a Nike alum.

Ripless City

This is not a time to be goofing on the Portland Trail Blazers. They're going through one of those rebuilding phases, where there isn't a lot to cheer about. The best thing for the fans to do is lower their expectations, have a $9 beer, and be happy when things go well. Cheer on the team, and don't think too hard about the owner.

And so it is with some reluctance that we point out that the Blazers made history last night, and it wasn't good history. Against the hapless Toronto Raptors, Portland attempted 20 three-point field goals and made... wait for it... zero of them. That is a new league record.

But they won the game! Toronto is the best NBA team in Canada with a record of 1-14 on the road, 3-4 at home. Those guys need some home cooking.

The Blazers' record currently stands at 9-12 -- hey, the same as the Lakers!

Vestas breaks the Grinch Rule

Some of the Danish windmill company's Colorado workers just learned they are having their hours cut back. They'll collect partial unemployment, but some say they'd be better if they were outright laid off, as many Vestas employees already have been. "If they'd rather die, then they had better do it and decrease the surplus population."

Vestas maintains a sales and service office in Portland, in a posh Pearl District owned by a Mark Edlen firm and heavily subsidized by state and city taxpayers. Your tax dollars creating a thriving, new, green economy. Downright vibrant.

Monday, December 10, 2012

No dice with this 'dog

Wow, the Houston Texans looked really bad tonight, and the players who chose them in our charity underdog pool got nada for their trouble. Leaving the 'dogs aside, Houston's got to play Andrew Luck and the Colts twice in the last three weeks of the regular season. Should make for some interesting spectating over Yuletide. Meanwhile, our standings stay where they were last night, but without the asterisks.

Hell hath no fury...

Salem, Oregon, 1:19 a.m.

Homeless camp in Sam and Randy's face to the end

Now the disgruntled Old Town property owner and his tenants at the makeshift camp at Fourth and Burnside are taking Portland City Hall to court to protest fines that are being imposed on them for illegal camping. Meanwhile, it appears that the camp may be holding back the city's inane plan to turn the old Grove Hotel into a youth hostel as a supposed "linchpin" of economic development:

The suit asks the judge to declare that the campsite is not a recreational park and waive all fines. It also argues the site should be designated as transitional housing accommodation under Oregon law, which allows for two such sites within a city – the first is Dignity Village.

Recently the campsite has come under increased scrutiny since developer David Gold, along with the Old Town Chinatown Neighborhood Association, sent a letter last week urging the city to come up with a longterm solution to the campground.

Gold plans to turn the Grove Hotel, opposite the campsite, into a youth hostel. The Portland Development Commission has approved a proposal to loan Gold and his partners almost $2.65 million for the project.

Gold says that the success of his project depends on leasing ground floor space to a restaurant. But a restaurant there would overlook the campsite. So as long as the campsite is there, he says, he will not get a tenant. Speaking several days before the rally, he said that city officials had told him that more complaints would spur the city to action.

It's hard to tell which operation is the bigger joke.

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Kitz's big priority: a tax handout for Uncle Phil

This is so pressing that it couldn't wait a month or two? Wow. Just wow.

This year's gag word

"Vibrant." It's definitely heading into "linchpin" territory.


The Graggmeister is inhaling and typing again:

But in the history of American cities, Portland is verging on something more original: an urban research, development, and education district that, with all its soaring bridges and moving parts, is as inspiring for a tyke trading ideas with Mom on the MAX to OMSI as it is for a potential Nobel Prize-winning scientist soaring with a colleague on the aerial tram.

Oh so precious, as always.

Perp walk needed in Eugene

The arrogance of the suits running UC Nike is truly breathtaking. We'd like to see some of them paraded out of the administration building in handcuffs. Something is definitely not right down there.

Portland's "buy local" streetcar fiasco worsens

This would be funny if it weren't so sad:

Rick Gustafson, executive director of Portland Streetcar, said this week that United Streetcar is expected to deliver Portland's first vehicle on Dec. 16 -- another delay in the oft-delayed schedule.

In October, when Portland's streetcars already were months behind expectations, a city transportation spokesman said the new timeline called for delivery of vehicles beginning Nov. 29. That date came and passed last week.

If United Streetcar delivers its first vehicle this month, Gustafson said, a second could follow about three weeks later.

Yeah, a lot of things could happen. Maybe Santa will bring some streetcars.

Not that they'll work:

Meanwhile, Gustafson acknowledged continued glitches with United Streetcar's only manufactured streetcar -- a prototype model running on Portland streets.

The prototype went into service when Portland's new eastside line opened in September, years later than expected for the vehicle. But it has experienced air conditioning, brake resistor and lighting supply issues, Gustafson said. Those have kept it out of service periodically, increasing wait times for passengers because the city -- lacking its order from United Streetcar -- doesn't have any spare streetcars.

There is a thin line between vision and delusion. Mother Vera, Earl the Pearl, and the Sam Rand Twins crossed it long ago. All that's left now are the crippling credit card bills. Go by streetcar, peeps.

Read it and weep

The final tally on the Multnomah County bonds for the Sellwood Bridge replacement is now out. Our calculations from last week of how much the county is actually borrowing turned out to be correct right down to the penny. The county will show $128 million of new debt on its books, but it really is borrowing $149.1 million.

One sobering table is how much the county's debt service payments are going to jump on account of the jumbo bridge borrowing. For the fiscal year that starts in July, the county's annual credit card payment goes up more than 86%, from less than $11 million to more than $20 million. The next year, it nearly doubles -- from about $9.6 million to $19.2 million:

Between this burden, increasing pension liabilities, and useless pork like a new office building or two, the county will never be able to build a new courthouse, much less improve woefully inadequate services like mental health. It sure isn't a pretty picture.

Gov. Retread rushes special session of legislature

Not sure what he's up to. Trying to sneak something through over the holidays when no one's looking? Does Cylvia need a new contract? Maybe he's planning an intervention for Jefferson Smith.

Oopsie at Reed College nuclear reactor

It's hard for a layperson to tell how serious it was, but a mishap on November 1 required the Reed nucle-head to file this report with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. There were "violations of the technical specifications" when the reactor was run with one of its power measuring channels malfunctioning. There had to be a "requalification meeting" a couple of weeks later.

The operator had been told that the log channel was not reliable during his training.... The operator may have been distracted by the trainee who was operating under direction.

Ah, undergrads running a nuclear reactor -- what's not to like?

A mayor who could care less about streetcars

Amazing that common sense about wasteful transit projects can be found only in a place like Baltimore.

It's also interesting that the scam is played out pretty much the same way from coast to coast:

But, said Sandy Sparks, of Charles Village, a member of the Baltimore Streetcar Campaign steering committee, "You have to try. It's a great idea — and we want to get behind a great idea (for) a world-class city."

"I really hope we don't get discouraged," said developer Bill Struever, one of the speakers at the symposium.

Also represented at the symposium were Johns Hopkins' Homewood campus, the Abell Foundation and the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, among other institutions.

Present also were businesses and community groups ranging from Zipcar to the Old Goucher Community Association in south Charles Village, the Southeast Community Development Corp. and the Central Baltimore Partnership.

"Partnership," "world class," med school bean counters, Zipcar -- too familiarly funny. Oh, and throw in some experimental technology:

Supporters last winter said they hoped to use a hybrid technology that could make it the first fixed-rail trolley system in the nation to run without using overhead wires.

What could go wrong? Don't do it, Baltimore!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

On, Wuss-consin

You know our country is in deep trouble when football teams are trying to be the "fashion leader." That's like trying to have the hairiest legs in charm school.

Flash Player plug-in for Firefox blows

It hasn't worked properly for months. The new releases just make the problems worse. Dear Mozilla, this is how you lose market share fast. Better call Adobe and work it out soon. We never thought we'd switch from Firefox, but the time is nigh.

A holiday visit

Stenchy's cousin Reeko from Newark is in town. So far, he likes Portland:

If it had been Portland...

Actual news story:

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - An upstate New York zoo got a surprise visit from the stork.

A woman gave birth on a wildlife path at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse on Friday, delivering her baby girl with the help of zookeepers not far from the bear exhibit.

Writer's embellishment:

Under a longstanding contract between the zoo and Ringling Brothers Circus, the newborn is the property of Ringling Brothers and must be made available for use in circus performances. The policy is printed on the back of all tickets for admission to the zoo.

But the zoo says the mother will retain possession of the new baby, even though it won't belong to her. "It was never in question for this kid," zoo director Kim Jones said. "(She) was always going to live with her mom." Jones added that the circus expressed no interest in taking the child during negotiations with the zoo that started before the baby was born.

"Ringling has no intention and has never had any intention of coming to take this baby," circus spokesman Dan Turlington said Sunday in an email to The Associated Press. He added that her company "has great appreciation for the way the Syracuse zoo cares for infants of all species."

I'm dreaming of a winning underdog

Just like the ones I used to know...

Here are this week's picks in our charity pro football underdog game:

10.5 ARIZONA at Seattle - Pete Rozelle, John Cr., Michael K., Rudie
10.5 OAKLAND vs. Denver (Thursday) - Lucas, Carol, Coastal Storm, Eric W.
10 MIAMI at San Francisco - Bob, Gary, Biggest Cubs Loser, Annie, Tung
7 DETROIT at Green Bay - Usual Kevin, Tinknocker, Ted
7 PHILADELPHIA at Tampa Bay - George, Dr. D, Drewbob
6 NEW ORLEANS at New York Giants - Jeremy, NoPoGuy, Bayou Baby, Juicen, Pdxmick, Cinderella Story
5.5 TENNESSEE at Indianapolis - Gordon, Broadway Joe, DB Cooper
4 HOUSTON at New England (Monday) - Paul, PDXileinOmaha, Dave A., Will, John Ch.
3 ST. LOUIS at Buffalo - Sola, Pete Rose, JMH
3 DALLAS at Cincinnati - Grizfan
2.5 JACKSONVILLE vs. New York Jets - Bad Brad

We're actually up and paying attention to the game at this hour, and so that should be all for the week. Good luck, players, and enjoy the football, everybody.

UPDATE, 1:04 p.m.: The Rams win for three of our players, 3 points each. Carolina wins a grudge match, but none of our players were there to pick up 3.5 points.

UPDATE, 1:07 p.m.: Tennessee fails to upset Luck, and with that, DB Cooper's winning streak ends.

UPDATE, 1:20 p.m.: Dallas picks up a trey for Grizfan.

UPDATE, 1:24 p.m.: The Eagles fly with a dramatic win, and earn a big 7 points for three of our 'doggers.

UPDATE, 1:27 p.m.: San Diego wins, but nobody in our group has them for 3 points.

UPDATE, 3:22 p.m.: The afternoon 'dogs are all supplying major suckage, with the Saints in particular ruining our day.

UPDATE, 3:32 p.m.: Hold on -- Miami pulls to within a touchdown, with eight minutes to go and all their timeouts left. The Niners have burned all of their timeouts.

UPDATE, 3:45 p.m.: And we take it back -- the Saints have pulled to within eight, still in the third quarter. Why is Fox forcing us to watch the disgusting Seahawks game when there is real football being played elsewhere?

UPDATE, 3:52 pm.: Never mind. The Fish and the 'Ain'ts give up big plays and are back on the road to Chumpsville.

UPDATE, 8:38 p.m.: The Lions get snowed out in Wisconsin, and so the standings at the end of tonight are as follows (with asterisks on players who still have a shot at 4 points with Houston tomorrow night). Things are definitely tightening up just below the leader of the pack:

Continue reading "I'm dreaming of a winning underdog" »

Saturday, December 8, 2012

And now, the Jail Beavers

Some student athletes in Corn Valley find a way to mar a fine season.

Another roster change, with extreme prejudice

Tragedy continues to haunt the American pro football league.

Why paving over West Hayden Island is a waste

The Port of Portland's proposed new shipping terminal on West Hayden Island, which would destroy scarce wildlife habitat, is truly a waste of money. The competition among West Coast ports for shipping is intense, and getting more intense all the time. Portland can't compete, and never will be able to. An alert reader who gets up Canada way a fair amount writes:

Of course the PDX Biz Journal only just got this news out this week, and the SnOregonian will never publish this news, but we have been watching it for some time as we go to Tsawwassen all the time...

You should see the new freeway that is being built to accommodate the increased truck traffic. It looks like the interchange in San Diego where I-5 connects with about 3 other freeways with 10 lanes in each direction!

And while on the subject of west coast ports, Long Beach, CA has taken over ALL of the former navy base there. And it is like a 1/2 hour trip to the open ocean from LB.

So it is still a mystery to me why Port of Portland is paving over Haden Island. The so called "Port of Portland" is a total joke! It is like the "mini me" of west coast ports, AND it is 100 miles inland, AND the ships have to cross over the infamous Columbia River Bar, which is listed in every(!) chart publication as one of the 10 most dangerous places in the world for boats.

I want to know who is getting paid off to promote this insanity!

It's a Goldschmidt Network deal, reader. Nothing more needs be said.

In Virginia, the odor of streetcar scam

It's so strong that even one of the politicians is saying something about it.

A five-year tax holiday for New Seasons Markets

For what they charge for broccoli, the toney Portland supermarket chain doesn't need this.

Washington Park parking tab: $6.40 a day

But it will be wonderful. Really.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Have a great weekend

I started a joke

We clown around a lot. Playing the jester is part of our makeup. Most times, people respond positively, but there's always someone who's offended, by almost any kind of humor or sarcasm. Every now and then we get in trouble over it, and it's taken us a long while to be able to see problems coming, and head some of them off.

Comedy always brings risk. Even with 20-20 foresight, some jokes have unintended impacts. But never in our wildest dreams would we expect something like this. What a horror, for everyone involved.

Portlandia meets The Simpsons

It still can never top the absurdity of the real thing.

Last call for old Tri-Met tickets

We don't know why they can't just honor its old tickets, but Portland's insolvent transit agency is calling them in, with a December 31 deadline. We traded our last two in yesterday. The new ones have to have the foil security strip embedded.

Thirty bucks for nothing

We don't pay the absurd City of Portland leaf pickup tax. We "opt out" and rake up on our own on the days immediately before the street sweepers show up. And it's a good thing. The city workers have come and gone twice now, and they're not coming back, but our neighbor's gum trees have only just begun to drop leaves and other debris:

At $15 a sweep, and coming at the wrong time for our property, the city charge is more than a pain. It's a waste of money. Just another screwed up, nickel-and-dime aspect of a city government that gets more screwed up by the day.

A 37% top federal income tax rate?

Seems reasonable -- much too reasonable for our fearless leaders in D.C., of course.

7.3 quake off Fukushima

It was about 150 miles offshore, but at this hour, they're still talking about tsunami potential.

UPDATE, 1:38 a.m.: Four aftershocks so far, including a 6.2.

UPDATE, 3:36 a.m.: Quake video from a security cam at the Fukushima triple meltdown site:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Urgent request

Bankin' on the early 'dog

Four of the players in our charity pro football underdog game place their weekly bet on the Bay Area pirates in their home game tonight:

10.5 OAKLAND vs. Denver - Lucas, Carol, Coastal Storm, Eric W.

Good luck to them. They may need it.

UPDATE, 8:46 p.m.: It did not come to pass.

Van Gogh, here's your fixie and an umbrella

This is pretty funny:

Given that, as the city gets more expensive, what can be done to keep artists here?

In my mind we're going to compensate for that by offering more free transportation options, which is biking and walking, and you’ve got to do that safely and have systems that go everywhere. Then the next most affordable thing is transit—supplement it by transit. That's why city council is approving bike share in next couple of weeks. It's all around keeping an eye on all aspects outside arts and culture that definitely impact arts and culture. It's why we were busy working on 26-146, and why we also did milephost 5. It's why we’re supportive of Disjecta. It's looking at the full picture

And this on the head tax for the arts:

I worked on it for seven years. I think it's a game changer for the city. I'm very proud of it and the way we went about it. It was a team effort. There was great support among art educators and among organizations. We had 62 percent approval. It made me very proud to be a Portlander and certainly proud to be Portland’s mayor.

How sweet it will be if it's declared unconstitutional. There's a good chance it will be.

It's a blur

We've been spending some quality time with our ophthalmologist this afternoon. Great doc -- wonder how she looks when you're not dilated.

Nick Fish goes rogue on parking meters

The lame-duck Sam Rand Twins aren't the only ones trampling on public process in Portlandia these days. Old Jelly Fish, who doesn't have to face the music for a couple of years, is also ramming down the public's throats new nickel-and-dime rules that hurt livability. As one outraged resident points out in the O:

Parks Commissioner Nick Fish maintains that it is within his authority to meter any park without public involvement. He is pushing Washington Park metering under the auspices of a lease renewal with the nonprofit venues of the park, a renewal not due until April 2014. The co-signatories are the Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center, Children's Museum, Hoyt Arboretum and Japanese Garden. The signatory missing is the one representing the public.

At last week's City Council meeting, Portland Parks & Recreation administrators claimed that citizens had been involved, citing meetings between the Oregon Zoo and the two neighborhoods abutting it. But those meetings were to resolve a longstanding land-use issue, and metered parking was not the topic. When Parks & Rec floated that idea of metered parking, the neighborhoods' response was overwhelmingly negative.

Perhaps it was because of this reaction that Parks Bureau administrators drafted this ordinance and presented it without any public notification to Metro on Nov. 8 for initial approval. Mike Abbate, director of Portland Parks & Recreation, told the City Council that this lack of notification was an "oversight." The city of Portland has developed several parking district plans, all forged through extensive processes of public disclosure and input. Surely Portlanders deserve the same before Washington Park becomes another metered "district." Can an "oversight" explain the total lack of public notification?

Fish has been a dud, going along to get along with Mayor Creepy and willfully aiding and abetting the wrecking of the city. We hope a good candidate runs against him next time around and takes him out.

Broadway bunkers becoming bigger

That monstrous cr-apartment complex slated to go in at the already fusterclucked corner of NE 33rd and Broadway goes before the Portland Design Commission again this afternoon. And it looks as though the project isn't getting any prettier as the "planning" rolls on. Our neighborhood spies tell us that the owners of the long-abandoned site are asking for permission to bend some rules to make the bunkers "pencil out," as they say:

1. Projecting Sign Size – To allow signs projecting into the right-of-way to be larger than 30 SF each. Two projecting signs at 100 SF each are proposed.

2. Ground Floor Windows – To reduce the amount of ground floor windows to below the required standards for non-residential development walls facing public and private rights-of-way around the site.

3. Building Height – To increase portions of the building height in the CS zone from 45 feet to as tall as 60'-8" above grade.

4. Loading – To allow trucks to enter the loading area off of NE Weidler with rearward motion rather than forward motion.

Rules are rules, Portlanders -- just ask the bureaucrats. Except when somebody's wrecking a neighborhood by packing in too many people and too many cars. Then we're very "flexible." Giant buildings, giant signs, truck backup beepers day and night -- it's all fine. Go by streetcar!

County bridge borrowing is larger than advertised

We wrote last week about the Multnomah County bonds that were being sold this week to pay the county's share of replacing the Sellwood Bridge. The official documents describing the deal said it was going to be about a $128 million loan.

The bonds sold on Tuesday, and it appears that the loan is a lot larger than that. The bonds bear interest at a rate that's far above the market, and so they sell at a premium. That's just another way of the county borrowing more than the face amount of the bonds.

By our calculations, if you take the premiums into account, the county is actually borrowing more than $149 million, not $128 million. That's about a 16.5% premium overall. Here's our math:

If we've got the numbers right, then you can just remember that when the flacks and reporters talk about a $128 million bond deal, it's really a $149 million bond deal. That's quite an IOU.

Avast ye swabs

Players in our charity football underdog game, if you're going with the Oakland Raiders this week (for a big 10.5 points), don't forget that it's a Thursday game. Therefore, that pick is due by 5:20 p.m. Pacific time this evening.

I thought I heard somebody call my name

We've been mentioned by two good blog buddies over the last 24 hours. Isaac Laquedem translated us into the language of the enemy, while Tung Yin thought of us as he basked in the glow of a domestic miracle. Finer gents can't be found than those two.

But the best part of the whole thing was Isaac's link here. There have been many improvements in shizzolation in recent years, although the end result is less safe for work than ever.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Your tax dollars at work, cont'd

This kind of shinola from Portland City Hall has become completely insufferable. We are now paying city bureaucrats to sit around all day tending to a website that will help you "discover new businesses in your neighborhood, browse deals from local shops, and learn more about the stories behind the businesses you love." It's beyond bad policy. It's insane.

How to make sure nothing happens

Make everything contingent on a proposition that has zero chance of ever coming to pass.

Not to be outdone

We've seen the Sam Rand Twins try to ram through one bogus proposition after another in their final days on the Portland City Council. It appears that the lame ducks on the Lake Oswego City Council are going to try to do the same with the dopey "Foothills urban renewal" plan that was once poised to line the pockets of the Homer Williams developer types. The new council will probably kill it, but the outgoing board members just can't stop pushing the bad ideas that ended their political careers. Some people just don't know when to get off the stage.

Good news and bad news

First the bad news: The City of Portland's agenda for the state legislature says that the city will "oppose legislation that would financially weaken or reduce the City’s ability to use urban renewal statutes as a tool for redevelopment and neighborhood improvement."

Now the good news: Is it possible that somebody is proposing that kind of legislation? It would be one of the best things to happen to the state and its cities in decades. "Urban renewal" is a fraud and a ripoff. It sounds as though the city has heard some rumblings. Those would be good rumblings.

No more elephants

The more you read, the easier it is to realize that elephants don't belong in zoos. Rather than building more space for them, the Oregon Zoo ought to think about starting to send its pachyderms to sanctuaries. Or at least stop bringing more victims into the fold.

Elephant exhibits are so 1950. They're hell for the animals. Let's make this the last baby elephant born in Portland.

Fuku fish still mighty hot

The trout in Japan are laced with cesium from the triple meltdown at Fukushima. Are people smart enough to refrain from eating them? Let's hope so. And how about our Pacific Northwest salmon, which swim nearly all the way over to Japan? Is anybody paying attention?

Speaking of which, we see that Gail Shibley, the Oregon health official in charge of pooh-poohing all local worries from the Fukushima disaster, is getting a nice new gig as head honcho for that living embodiment of fakery known as Char-Lie Hales. We can't wait to hear the new brand of doubletalk from City Hall. Meanwhile, we wonder who'll be appointed to sit in Salem and tell us that nuclear fallout is nothing to be worried about.

New York Times is way late to the party

The newspaper of record is currently touting a Rhode Island case as "a first major test of whether, and how, financially strained states and cities can cut the benefits of their workers and retirees." And they're hooting about the judge's conflict of interest, since her own pension is affected by the case.

Here in Oregon, we've been through all of this many years ago. Out here, no, you can't cut the benefits and no, the conflicts of interest don't stop the judges from ruling on their own case. Interestingly, the O rehashed that very tale just the other day.

Born in the U.S.A.

We're still reeling from the news that the new baby elephant at the Portland zoo in fact belongs to a California elephant rental company that gets low grades from animal rights groups. Willy Week called the revelation a bombshell, and that's exactly right.

Of course, as we predicted, yesterday zoo officials spent the day trying to convince everyone that there was nothing newsworthy in the story. Lending of animals happens all the time, there was never any intent to put the baby in the carnival show, we're negotiating in good faith, blah blah blah. We caught a clip of the zoo director on the news last night, and she looked guilty as sin. It was faintly reminiscent of an episode of "Cops." The zoo has been, quite exquisitely, busted.

The O and the TV stations all fell in behind the establishment, faithfully repeating every spin statement emanating from the zoo operators. Big headlines: Baby is going to stay, yada yada. Since the originally story appeared in the Seattle Times, and the lame Portland news organizations missed it, of course they were happy to relay the message from Metro headquarters that there was really no story for them to miss. It's all perfectly normal, everything's fine -- it was the message Portland mainstream media is always more than happy to send out.

The problem for the zoo and the editors who were embarrassingly scooped is that this is not perfectly normal, and everything's not fine. This is not one nonprofit zoo borrowing an exotic animal from another. This is a government-run zoo selling an animal to a circus. That doesn't happen all the time, and it's not right.

And for all the talk about what everyone's "intent" is, the fact is that under the contract between the zoo and Have Trunk Will Travel, HTWT owns the calf. Maybe it will leave her in Portland with her mother -- maybe for a while, maybe forever -- but it clearly doesn't have to. She's the property of HTWT. That outfit literally owns her.

Yesterday the kids at the Merc dug out an old Oregonian story that reported that HTWT could not legally take possession of the baby until she turns four years old. But the contract that was published in several places yesterday contains no such clause.

What doesn't hang together in all the discussion of the baby's future is that it doesn't reveal what's in this for the carnies. Here they have lent their main stud elephant to Portland -- he's been up here getting it on at least twice now -- and so far, from all appearances, they haven't been compensated for it at all. Under the contract, this baby is one of three that are supposed to make up the compensation. If they don't take her, they provided the stud service for free.

Sorry, but that isn't a credible story. At some point, either some elephant flesh or some money will have to be paid by Portland to HTWT, and apparently it will be up to HTWT, not the zoo, to decide which to take.

You can just imagine in a few years, when the heat is off, the zoo deciding that this particular elephant is a "problem." Or that the elephant quarters are becoming too "crowded." And then off to her owners she will go, there to suffer who knows what indignities.

Why is the Oregon Zoo dealing with a traveling elephant carnival, anyway? HTWT "trains" its elephants to perform unnatural acts for human entertainment. According to videos that are readily available on the internet, it does so by means of stun guns, sharp hooks, sticks, and other weapons that terrorize the animals into doing their human masters' will. All for a profit, of course. The Oregon Zoo is supposed to be above that. And it isn't. The precise degree of its complicity in the HTWT operation isn't entirely clear at this point, but even if it's as limited as zoo officials would like us to believe, they still have made a deal with the devil. That kind of thing needs to stop.

We think it would be entirely appropriate for Oregonians to boycott the zoo until the contract with HTWT is terminated. Maybe animal rights groups will suggest something like this in the days ahead.

They're running a poll to choose a name for the baby out of five pre-sanitized selections offered by the zoo staff. Screw that. She's not the zoo's property, and so Joe or Jane on the street has as much right to name her as the zoo does. How about "Loaner"? Or as one reader commented here yesterday, given who her owner is, maybe "Bullhook" would be appropriate.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Your tax dollars at work, cont'd

Apparently, Multnomah County taxpayers are shelling out good money so that county employees can check their horoscopes on their county cell phones:

The report also found "23 employees who incurred monthly charges for dating, trivia and horoscope services that cost over $400 during a three month time period." Those services have a reputation for sending unsolicited texts, the audit report notes, so the employees may not have been aware of the problem.

One employee "incurred $1,437 in voice overage charges and $23 in texting overage charges." Another incurred $66 in roaming charges, while on vacation in the Caribbean.

Guess this is why there's no money for bridge repairs and mental health workers. The whole story is here.

Just like Jelly Roll

Many years ago, some friends of ours in the Midwest were arrested on "suspicion of being under the influence of marijuana." They weren't driving or anything -- just having too good a time in a place where the cops didn't want them.

Now that pot is legal under Washington state law, there's a lot of chatter about how the police are going to bust people for driving while stoned. These tests crack us up -- stuff like asking you to stand on one foot without teetering. We can't do that when we're sober.

With no breath test available, it's going to be quite a drawn out process in most cases. Now, there's an invention we'd invest in if we had the dough -- a quick roadside test to see if someone's buzzed on weed. It would be a big seller.

Meanwhile, just look for the telltale signs: Doritos, reggae music, incense, loquaciousness, laughter...

Portland government is animals' enemy

We've got the Port of Portland pushing relentlessly to pave over scarce wildlife habitat for another useless shipping terminal. Now we've got Portland Metro government in bed with a sleazy elephant carnival show in California. And of course, the boys and girls at OHSU continue to torture monkeys for a megabuck or two. It's amazing that in an über-liberal enclave like Portland, the Goldschmidt Network can get away with ruthlessly trashing the birds and the bees for fun and profit.

No question: We own these 'dogs

The latest pack of mutts is available for inspection by the players in our charity pro football underdog game. Here they are, in caps:

10.5 ARIZONA at Seattle
10.5 OAKLAND vs. Denver (Thursday, 5:20 p.m. Pacific)
10 MIAMI at San Francisco
7 DETROIT at Green Bay
6 NEW ORLEANS at New York Giants
5.5 TENNESSEE at Indianapolis
5.5 KANSAS CITY at Cleveland
4 HOUSTON at New England (Monday night, pick still due Sunday morning)
3.5 CAROLINA vs. Atlanta
3 ST. LOUIS at Buffalo
3 DALLAS at Cincinnati
3 SAN DIEGO at Pittsburgh
2.5 JACKSONVILLE vs. New York Jets
2.5 MINNESOTA vs. Chicago

Baltimore/Washington is a pick 'em and therefore out of play.

We see some intriguing possibilities there. Remember, though, that to win points, our players' chosen 'dogs must win their games outright, without the benefit of the point spread.

The regular season goes for three more weeks after this one, followed by the playoffs. Our game continues through Week 20 -- the conference championships -- but once we reach Week 18, the slate of games gets smaller, and the point spreads tend to be smaller as well. Some of our players have already begun the ritual Launching of the Hail Marys, while others have stayed the course with modest picks. Good luck to all of them as things start to get serious.

UPDATE, 6:12 p.m.: We just added the customary note about the Thursday night game -- this week it's home 'dog Oakland. If you want that one, players, your pick is due by kickoff time, 5:20 p.m. Thursday Pacific. For all other games (including the Monday nighter), the deadline is 10:00 a.m. Sunday, also Pacific.

Sam Adams is "working at home" today

You can just imagine.

The logical next step for urban living

They're thinking ahead in Holland. It's a good thing Admiral Randy is leaving office -- this sort of thing would be right up his alley.

Portland police may help in elephant ownership flap

The Portland police bureau announced this morning that it has offered to assist in the forthcoming negotiations between the Oregon Zoo and a California company that has ownership rights to the new baby elephant born at the zoo. At a hastily called press conference at police headquarters, Chief Mike Reese said he had begun discussions with Metro officials, who are in charge of the zoo facility, to have the police serve as a go-between between the zoo and the company, Have Trunk Will Travel.

"We believe that our officers have important skills that they can bring to the table in this situation," Reese told reporters. "Our expertise may make it possible for the calf to remain in Portland while she receives the basic training that she would otherwise undergo under private ownership. It's another opportunity for a worthwhile public-private partnership."

The chief noted that Portland police are expert in the use of stun guns and billy clubs, which are key elements in training pachyderms for circuses and ride operations. Although the use of bullhooks by police is rare, Reese said that several officers had already contacted him to volunteer for practice with the devices. "The bureau is here to protect and serve," Reese said. "We think we're uniquely positioned to help solve this problem."

He added that city commissioner Amanda Fritz, a retired mental health nurse, has offered to be present to comfort the animals during their interactions with the police. The city may also form a new Elephant Equity Commission (EEC) to supervise the project, Reese said.

Reader poll: Who are you rooting for in food cart-street punk fights?

The Third World atmosphere in downtown Portland has come to exquisite fruition with violent clashes between the worthless street punks who terrorize the public, and the food cart operators whose low-overhead competition precludes opening an actual restaurant in the area. Yesterday six punks were arrested (and we hear a seventh was brought in later) after a bloody late afternoon street brawl in which the food cart people say they were stabbed and hit with brass knuckles. Several of the street punks eluded police.

Last night on the news, as a reporter was interviewing the cart folks after the fight, a dude identified as the ringleader of the punks rode by on a bicycle, no doubt to taunt the cart guys.

We used to enjoy visiting downtown -- taking the kids, even -- but we don't go down there any more unless we have to, which is rare. We're tired of the food cart culture; it's depressing to think that this is the new normal for our once proud city. And we're sick to death of the street punks, who really need to be locked up and then run out of town. A creative city government would figure out a way to get these creeps to move on without violating their precious civil liberties. Some days, it's hard to tell which group we dislike more. What do you think?

Who are you rooting for in bloody downtown Portland fights?
pollcode.com free polls 

Remember, go by streetcar! And bring your nunchucks.

Metro can't even get the elephants right

That newborn baby elephant that everybody's fussing over at the Portland zoo (parking: $5.00) belongs to a private carnival outfit:

Oregon Zoo officials quietly cut a deal to give up the second, fourth and sixth offspring between Rose-Tu, owned by the zoo, and Tusko, a prolific male owned by Have Trunk Will Travel... a controversial traveling elephant show that rents out pachyderms to the entertainment industry, stages circuslike events and offers elephant rides at $500 an hour.... Last week's birth was the second offspring between the pair.

The Times' discovery of the breeding contract highlights the dark side of elephant captivity, in which zoos are desperate to breed more elephants at any cost.

Metro government, which runs the zoo, has gone into major damage control mode, and the bureaucrats say that the calf will likely get to stay in Portland. But you have to wonder how much the area's taxpayers are going to have to pay the carnies to buy her. It will be interesting to watch worthless Metro prez Tom Hughes and overpaid flack Jim Middaugh try to squirm their way out of this one. It's truly disgusting.

Making it perfectly Portland, the story was broken by the Seattle Times. Portland media's hard-hitting coverage consisted of "Oooh, look, a baby elephant!" Now they'll probably spin it to try to make it look like nothing.

In any event, way to go, Metro! Maybe they can compromise and have the baby elephant do tricks for peanuts in the lobby of the Convention Center hotel.

UPDATE, 8:21 a.m.: Here's a video of elephant "training" at Have Trunk Will Travel. A baby elephant gets the treatment starting at about 6:20. Watch at 6:40 as they stick a sharp bullhook in the baby's mouth a few times to show him or her who's boss. We'd like to take one of those to the clowns at Metro who are responsible for this complete and utter fiasco.

And this is when they knew the camera was on. You can imagine what happens when nobody else is around. Shame on Metro!

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's Christmastime in downtown Portland

And nothing says "Happy holidays" like a bloody brawl between the food cart operators and the street punks. Classic! Go by streetcar!

Election over, but campaigning grinds on

The peace of the post-election political lull was shattered twice last week here at Blog Central. On Tuesday morning, we got a robo-call urging us to call or e-mail the Portland City Council to urge them not to pass the Sam Rands' tax increase on telephone land lines. We didn't catch all of the call, because when we picked up the phone, the recording had already mostly played. (We have a robot of our own, which intercepts calls we don't recognize and tells solicitors to go away.) But we did catch the phrase "Oregon watchdog" being identified as the source of the call.

It seemed kind of silly. It assumed that the Portland City Council was going to be influenced by constituents' concerns about outrageous taxes and fees. Ha! Ha! That robo-call was a waste of somebody else's money and our time. And of course, the tax passed with flying colors. It's only your grandmother's money, and Creepy and the Admiral need it for... well, for something important.

Then later in the week, in our snail mailbox came a postcard:

This is being distributed on the heels of the rejection of a ballot measure that would have banned gillnetting in Oregon. Apparently the losing side in the election just concluded is now hoping that Gov. Retread can get restrictions done administratively. Unless he gets Washington State to go along, the effort seems doomed. There really is no sense hamstringing the Oregon commercial fishers if their counterparts on the other side of the river don't get the same treatment. Voters will say so again at the polls if need be.

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

One of two doomed Hawthorne houses is saved

The cr-apartment builder who was planning to knock down two grand old homes on Hawthorne Boulevard in Portland has sold one of them to a local couple for a dollar. They moved it to a nearby lot that they own, and are trying to figure out exactly what to do next. Restoring it to single-family housing is not in the cards, however -- they're planning to redo it as a multiplex.

The other house has, alas, been demolished. By greedy weasels who will now erect soulless garbage. We're hoping that they find an Indian graveyard, archeological artifacts, hazardous waste, sinkholes, or all of the above.

Not as we do

The City of Portland website should be nominated for comedy awards. It's funny, especially when it isn't trying to be. Here's a good one -- a PowerPoint presentation made to city employees as part of a "wellness" program. It must be about personal finances, because it sure isn't about what city government does with taxpayer funds:

They say the best way to teach is by example. That sure ain't happening in this case.

Portland borrowing even more for empty streetcar line

It's beyond bad policy. It's positively obscene. But the Portland City Council's about to go to the banks for yet another $5.4 million to blow on the eastside streetcar, which from all appearances is an unmitigated flop:

Authorizing the issuance of up to $5.4 million in revenue bonds to finish funding the Close the Loop project that will connect the westside and eastside Portland Streetcar lines over the new transit bridge being built across the Willamette River. Improvements to be financed include: automatic train stop vehicle safety upgrades, the Stephens Turnback connecting the southernmost streetcar track on Southeast Martin Luther King Je. Boulevard. to the track on Southeast Grand Avenue at Stephens, and connections to the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail bridge. The bonds are to be back by the full faith and credit of the city and are expected to be refinanced with longterm bonds within three years.

"Revenue" bonds? What "revenue"? Nobody's riding the stupid thing.

It's time for a moratorium on all things streetcar in Portland. But given that the incoming mayor has been pimping streetcars for a living around the world, that isn't going to happen. And so onward toward bankruptcy we march. It's too bad that the voters don't get as worked up about gross financial incompetence as they do about fluoridated water.

Journalism? No, it's The Oregonian.

We have no use for the failed SoWhat District, but we'd be nauseated by this dreck even if the facility in question were somewhere else. The owners of the place must be taking out some hefty ads to justify this sort of puffery. Either that or the editors at the O are looking for a break when they move in. Awful -- simply awful.

The Pope is Tweeting

As if that's gonna help.

Hillary shilling for nukes

Nothing bolsters international goodwill like a meltdown. Maybe this is her next consulting gig in the making.

Stunningly bad news from the blogosphere

It's been a busy month, from the election through Bruce, and we've just now happened upon the awful story: The guy who ran Orbusmax, the Northwest Drudge-wannabe site in Seattle, died a few weeks ago. His name was Jim Walker, and he was an absolutely indefatigable blogger. Whatever one's political persuasions -- and we usually disagreed with Walker's viewpoints -- his passing is a big blow to the free flow of information. He sent a lot of traffic to our site, that's for sure. And to many others, no doubt. May he rest in peace.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Whole lotta love

An interesting lineup, to be sure, at this year's Kennedy Honors:

Speaking in the East Room, Obama lauded the honorees, comedian David Letterman, ballerina Natalia Makarova, actor Dustin Hoffman, blues guitarist Buddy Guy and the surviving members of rock group Led Zeppelin.

Jimmy Fallon, Mandy Patinkin, and Spinal Tap just missed the cut. [Via Memeorandum.]

Portlandia Saturday night

First a guy in a Caddy allegedly shooting his gun and selling pot, then another guy in a Hummer in an alleged DUI crash on the Steel Bridge, disabling MAX. And they kind of sport the same look:


Two peas in a pod. Wonder if they shared a cell.


The players in our charity pro football underdog game have spoken, and here are their selections for this Week 13 of the Big Daddies' season:

10 PHILADELPHIA at Dallas - Bob, Gary, Gordon, Dr. D, Ted, MickeyMacNYC
9.5 MINNESOTA at Green Bay - Cinderella Story, Lucas, Biggest Cubs Loser, Rudie, Pdxmick, Broadway Joe, Coastal Storm, Drewbob, Eric W.
9 MIAMI vs. New England - Pete Rozelle, George, Juicen
8 TAMPA BAY at Denver - Jeremy, PDXileinOmaha, John Cr., Usual Kevin, Annie
7 ST. LOUIS vs. San Francisco - Michael K.
5.5 JACKSONVILLE at Buffalo - Will, Bad Brad, Tung
5.5 TENNESSEE vs. Houston - Carol
4.5 INDIANAPOLIS at Detroit - NoPoGuy, Sola, Paul, Tinknocker, Dave A., Grizfan, DB Cooper, John Ch.
4 SEATTLE at Chicago - genop's gal
3.5 NEW ORLEANS at Atlanta (Thursday, unsuccessful) - genop, Bayou Baby
3 KANSAS CITY vs. Carolina - JMH, Pete Rose

Will and DB Cooper, who are each riding four-game winning streaks, go with the Jags and the Colts, respectively. DB's got company. Several think that the Pirates can beat the Horses. And lots of players are predicting that the Pack will turn in a second consecutive losing performance, this one at home.

As is customary, this post was composed earlier today, when there were still a few stragglers; it is being posted by robot. We'll update later today with any additional picks received before the 10:00 deadline.

Have a great first Sunday of December, and enjoy the games, everybody.

UPDATE, 11:03 a.m.: Sunday morning picks added.

UPDATE, 1:37 p.m.: Andrew Luck plays out of his mind as Indy wins at the final gun, and the Rams avert another tie with a last-minute field goal in overtime. Meanwhile, Seattle pulls out an overtime win, and K.C. fights through distraction for an emotional victory. Drama abounds.

UPDATE, 4:22 p.m.: Peyton and the Broncos are too much for the Buckin' Ears, and so no points are earned in our second games. There are still lots of eyes on the Eagles tonight, though.

UPDATE, 10:03 p.m.: The Eagles made it entertaining for a while, but they succumb, and so the are no winners in the nightcap. The standings at the end of Week 13 are therefore as follows:

Continue reading "Triskaidekadoggia" »

Screwed-up tax code isn't going to straighten out soon

The conversation coming out of our nation's capital about the "fiscal cliff" and the tax system is not encouraging for those of us who believe the current tax laws are far too complicated for the good of the country. Republicans are showing signs of being willing to compromise on various provisions of the income tax code, but not on the top rate of 35%. If we're going to raise more revenue from high-income taxpayers without raising the rates, we'll have to install in the law more provisions that apply only to the high-income set. We already have a host of these, the most notorious being the alternative minimum tax, and they contribute mightily to making the tax code the impenetrable, complicated mess that it is today.

Trying to tax the wealthy while telling them we haven't raised their rates insults the intelligence of the upper crust, and it worsens the hyper-complexity of the tax law. If Congress wants to make the tax system easier on regular Joes and Janes, it could start by coming up with a system that wouldn't require Joe or Jane to buy a $50 computer program or hire a $100 bookkeeper just to fulfill his or her reporting obligations. But if anything, we're moving in the opposite direction, with politicians on both sides taking the misery of complexity as a given. It's a real embarrassment for the United States. (And not the only one, of course.)

Where Fred Meyer failed, China succeeds

The last holdout has been removed -- for just $41,000.

Big talk: Chip Kelly may move to Philadelphia Eagles

Coach Night Visor may have just one more game to play for Uncle Phil.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sweetheart deals for "jobs" don't work

But local governments across America keep on making them. That would be a bad thing, even without the graft.

It makes perfect sense

What's a worthless, budget-busting streetcar line without some worthless, budget-busting artwork to go with it? These are the people for whom the City of Portland is going to try to collect a $35-a-year head tax from us. What a waste.

Stanford wins ugly -- very ugly

Stanford's football team just barely defeated UCLA last night for the football championship of the Pac-12 Conference. It was not an impressive win, with the Stanford offense sputtering through a lot of the contest. Its new quarterback, Kevin Hogan, was the difference, with his ability to run the ball himself providing a touchdown and keeping the Bruins defense on its toes.

The Stanford defense looked uncharacteristically weak, particularly against the run, but it did intercept one errant pass and run it back for a near-touchdown, which was converted to a 1-yard TD run on the next play. That stopped a drive that would have put the Angelenos up two touchdowns. And with that play, it is on to the Rose Bowl for Stanford, and on to probably the Alamo Bowl for UCLA.

The big question we had at the end of this game was: Why bother? The conference championship game drew a relatively sparse crowd at Stanford, where the rain was coming down and students were thinking about final exams the week after next. If the game hadn't been played, the two teams would probably be going to the same bowl games that they're going to anyway. In the end, this showdown -- a repeat of the matchup of just six days before -- came across as a lame money grab by the conference. It will take years before this conference championship game feels like the real thing -- if it ever does.

Probably the worst part of watching the game were the hideous all-black uniforms, supplied by Nike, worn by the Stanford team. Egad, their school mascot is the color cardinal, and yet they had to emulate the fashion show in Eugene with stark black get-ups. It was a sacrilege, and we swear it sapped the players' strength. Hey Stanford, tell Nike to go dress up the track team, and leave the gridiron tradition alone.

As a long-time Stanford rooter, we're quite pleased that the Rose Bowl will include the Cardinal once again. Had it not been for a disastrous trip to Seattle and a heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame, the folks on the Farm might have been shooting for an even bigger prize over the holidays. But they won their conference, and now will be in roses. And you-know-who will be in corn chips.

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