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

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March 2013 Archives

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Gangsters killing prosecutors in Texas

This news is extremely alarming. And it reminds us more than a little of the Nancy Bergeson case here in Portland. It used to be that the lawyers would be left alone so long as they didn't try to play both sides. Nowadays, the killers are much more vicious.

Loud party at the neighbors'

And we do mean a loud party.

OMG! Is that Nutsy?

A reader who likes to tease us sent us a couple of photos yesterday with a two-word caption: "He's back!" They're taken too far away from the subject to make a positive identification, but it sure looks like failed Portland mayoral candidate Jeffy Smith making a speech at a hotel somewhere. And is that his dad, ersatz Joe Kennedy, standing in the back? Maybe Pops had the good sense to handle driving over to the place:


Apparently Smith was preaching to the opponents of the light rail boondoggle over in the 'Couv. That is so pitiful. They are so screwed.

That guy is pure comedy gold, until he snaps and whacks somebody. And lucky us, he won't get off the stage. Wait 'til he runs for something else, and even more dirt appears. You know there's more out there, just waiting. Not to mention what else he'll screw up between now and then. Can you imagine if the IRS ever showed up to take a look at the "Bus Project"? We're talking reality TV show.

Revolution nos. 4 and 9

So, did you have both Syracuse and Wichita State in your bracket yesterday?

Don't lie.

But the leader of our second-chance bracket game, Sparky, did. The guy's uncanny.

Be that as it may, there are still players in the hunt who can easily beat him by the time March Madness is over. Sparky's maximum possible score is 17, and we've still got five players who can get in the 20's:

We'll know a lot more later today. If Louisville and Florida prevail, our own wild guesses might even end up looking halfway respectable. Good luck to our readers who still have legitimate tickets in the hunt.

Happy Easter

From Stenchy, Reeko, and the rest of us here at Blog Central.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Little Lord Paulson is "radioactive"

Read all about it. Or not, whatever.

Game report: Blazers 95, Jazz 105

Our best benefactor blessed us with excellent Blazer tickets again last night, and so we headed out to see the Portland squad do battle with the Utah Jazz. It was fun to watch for about two hours, but then the Blazers beat themselves, badly.

Portland was playing without its sole all-star, LaMarcus Aldridge, whose ankle is messed up. If there was something significant on the line, he probably would have suited up, but the Blazers' playoff hopes were already pretty much over. And so Portland had to get some big minutes out of rookie center Meyers Leonard, and an unusual amount of support from the marginal British big man Joel Freeland.

The Blazers took command early on and looked comfortable throughout the first half; at halftime, they were up 10. But Utah kept hanging around, and they made things marginally interesting in the third quarter. Then, in the last four minutes of the game, the Blazers completely fell apart. They turned the ball over on something like five possessions out of seven, missing two shots and not getting the rebounds in between. With 3:49 left in the game, the Blazers led 92-86. Utah scored the next 15 points. Paul Millsap and Mo Williams took Portland to school.

Apart from having no Aldridge, it was a pretty standard 2012-2013 Blazers performance statistically. J.J. Hickson had his double-double, Damian Lillard scored 24 and had seven assists, Nicolas Batum 17 and four. Wessy Wes Mathews contributed only 12 points, but three came on an exciting buzzer-beater to end the first period. Reserve Victor Claver provided a little show time, but he missed all three of his three-point shots.

We're starting to get the feeling that Meyers Leonard may not amount to much in the NBA. He played 30-plus minutes last night and looked lost most of the time. To make matters worse, he pouted nearly every time things didn't go his way -- especially when he himself screwed up, which happened several times. His body language screams a lack of confidence. Experienced pro players like Millsap and Jazz big man Al Jefferson get stronger and stronger as a guy like Leonard's expression becomes more and more frightened.

Worst of all, the rest of the Blazers may have lost the desire to participate in the long Leonard learning curve. After several blunders by the first-year big man, Lillard, Matthews, and Batum all looked mildly displeased to have to deal with him. If this were October or November, we'd chalk it up to rookie jitters. But we're down to the last month of the season, and the big kid's still not ready for prime time. We're not sure whether he needs D-League seasoning, a trade, or both, or what.

The officiating was pretty miserable, and the Blazers didn't cope with it. Lillard seemed particularly distracted by the ridiculous calls and noncalls. He had a point, but there was a close game on the line. When he didn't get the foul call on his blocked shot on the last Portland offensive play of the game, Lillard stopped playing the last 12 seconds and gave a final gesture of disgust, which seemed a little unprofessional.

The silver lining in this loss was the fact that Utah's win propelled them ahead of the Lakers for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. Anything that knocks the Lakers down is a plus in our book. The Blazers play Utah once more on Monday, in Salt Lake City. Given that Portland's season is essentially over, we may find ourself reluctantly pulling for the Jazz in that one.

Despite the unfavorable outcome on the court, we had a marvelous time -- four quality hours with our younger daughter. We even got on TV, goofing around in the background on the post-game show. There is nothing better than time spent with the Mrs. and the girls. And nothing comes close.

Thanks to everyone who has graciously given us seats at Blazer games and enabled these game reports over the years. We've enjoyed every opportunity.

And now, the customary blurry cell phone photos. Here's Claver putting up a failed three right before the wheels came off. The Blazers were up by nine points at the time:

Here's Hickson coming off the floor to teammate congratulations, with Aldridge in his street clothes in the foreground:

Continue reading "Game report: Blazers 95, Jazz 105" »

A rough year for the No. 1's

The Elite Eight in the men's college basketball tournament include only one top-seeded team, Louisville. It is joined by two 2's (Ohio State and Duke), two 3's (Florida and Marquette), two 4's (Syracuse and Michigan), and a 9 (Wichita State).

Meanwhile, here are the standings in our second-chance bracket game:

Things get going again this afternoon.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Have a great weekend

Friday funny

This story out of Clackistan gets a chuckle:

Milwaukie city planners will hold an open house on April 1 titled "What do you want out of your Downtown Milwaukie?" at North Main Village, 10558 Southeast Main Street.

What do they want out of downtown Milwaukie? The voters down there have shown pretty clearly that they want light rail "out."

Who's dumb enough to put a name like that on an event?

A group of urban planning graduate students from Portland State University and city staff reviewed the shared and competing elements of these plans to share with community.

This place badly needs a mercy flush.

He who smelt it

A good friend of ours spotted a bunch of dead fish in and along the Columbia out by the airport this morning:

Could they be related to the historic smelt run we've been reading about?

More "green" hypocrisy from Portland City Hall

Now the parks department is hanging price tags on trees. We didn't see them out there on Lincoln Street when Tri-Met was devastating the urban forest for the Mystery Train to Milwaukie. The city gladly went along with that move. Maybe it was because Legend Dan Saltzman's nearby real estate empire gets a big boost from the pointless rail project. Anyway, it's more expensive p.r. from the many bureaucratic minions of Nick "Spineless Jelly" Fish. We need that guy back in a law firm filling out timesheets.

Why Williams and Edlen are rooting for Florida Gulf Coast

It's their kind of school.

All aboard for condos

We see they're cranking up the Lake O. historic trolley again. The resumption of operations at this time really makes no sense, as the Sellwood Bridge project cuts off the route to Portland:

When the trolley starts running again, it won’t go the entire route to Portland’s south waterfront, since construction of the new Sellwood Bridge has cut the line in half. Cox said it will go just 1.5 miles from Lake Oswego to the Riverwood Crossing. He expects that within four years the trolley will run to Portland again.

The real story appears to have eluded the bright young O reporter. Apparently the developer weasels who want to run a streetcar down Highway 43 and build condos on the east side of the highway need to keep the right of way in use by something on rails. Otherwise, the adjoining property owners in Dunthorpe can sue to take their easement back.

That's the most likely explanation for the sudden restart of the trolley. There's usually a greasy motive for everything in this town, but Portland Polite forbids discussion of any of it.

Is Port of Portland looking for handout for West Hayden Island?

The folks who are trying to stop the Goldschmidt People at the Port of Portland from raping wildlife habitat on West Hayden Island for a pointless shipping facility sounded a couple of alarming notes the other day. Their Facebook page contains these entries, with emphasis added by us:

The Port of Portland is presenting a new set of "guiding principles." This is the third time in three hearings that the Port has attempted to introduce new guiding principles that eliminate the commitment to fully mitigate for their environmental impacts. At the same time they are also putting forward a new principle that suggests that the public should share the costs of the facility....

PSC [city planning and sustainability commission] West Hayden Island Work Session is over. The City seems to be contorting itself into a pretzel in order to lower the Port's costs, even as at least a few commissioners push back. Also a big theme that emerged today is that WHI development needs to be a shared expense -- in other words the taxpayers are going to be put on the hook. We are coming up on the end of this process -- we really need to start building the opposition. Over and out.

Are they expecting a subsidy from the city's taxpayers? What grifters run this town. This whole cockamamie proposal needs to be put up for a public vote. We bet it would go down in flames.

Twist those rules

We thought the Lake Oswego City Council races were nonpartisan. But the side that lost the last round of elections seems to think differently -- they say it was the Republicans beating the Democrats. Actually, it was people who like Lake Oswego the way it is beating people who want to turn it into the Pearl District and bankrupt the local government, like Portland. If that makes the winners Republicans, it makes us Jeb Bush.

If anything, recent events in Lake Oswego demonstrate quite clearly that greed, arrogance, and stupidity are bipartisan traits.

Gassing Stenchy

We've spent our cheapskate spring break enjoying some great weather. We pumped up the tires and rode the bike a little. We did a little graffiti cleanup around the block. And the Mrs. and we have been out in the yard taking care of the garden, and getting a nice sense of satisfaction out of it. The kids have been out there, too, helping, playing, observing, and as always making our days brighter than they've ever been. The clematis and the daphne are both blooming sweetly at the same time, and the trillium is out as well. It's the way it's supposed to be.

But the mild winter just past has set the scene for what looks like a bad summer for pests. We've already swatted a few mosquitoes, and it's only March. And then the other day we noticed a telltale rat hole next to the driveway. Little wonder -- it's close to the neighbor's trash bins, where thanks to the lunacy of the Sam Rand Twins, stinking garbage now sits out for two weeks at a time.

Not that it would do any good, but we thought it would be fun to dig these out of the basement and re-enact a scene from Caddyshack:

We lit the fuse on one, tossed it in the hole, and started covering it up with dirt as fast as we could as the toxic smoke bomb befouled the air. It really wasn't all that bad -- as we've mentioned here before, it's mildly reminiscent of the aroma in the Hoboken PATH station circa 1968. It probably isn't going to kill a hearty Portland rat. But don't say we didn't give it the old college try.

Before we use the last of our supply of bombs, we'd better check -- they might be collector's items nowadays. Particularly in Portland, we wouldn't be surprised if they were banned altogether. Except if the Goldschmidt People want to use them, of course.

As we were doing our exterminator thing, the churchgoers were showing up for Holy Thursday evening services down the street. It reminded us that we need to go back out on Sunday morning and check the hole.

Lonely at the top

Here are the first-day standings in our second-chance March Madness bracket game. That's us down there tied for 17th and doomed already:

Good luck to all of our players going into the last of the Sweet 16.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Here's to the ace bracketeers

After tonight's games, our predictions of the outcomes of the various March Madness contests are properly relegated to the waste basket. The people who still have a chance to win their respective pools are nothing short of awesome, either in skill or in luck.

Hey, City Council! While you're tweaking...

An alert reader suggests that the absurd new Portland arts tax may be unconstitutional in more ways than one. Noting that the city's tax regulations treat "social security income (taxable or non-taxable)" as "income" for purposes of the city tax's low-income exemption, the reader writes:

I have not seen anyone suggest a basis for the arts tax to be imposed on Social Security income, given the following provision of Article IX of the Constitution of Oregon:

"Section 9. Taxation of certain benefits prohibited. Benefits payable under the federal old age and survivors insurance program or benefits under section 3(a), 4(a) or 4(f) of the federal Railroad Retirement Act of 1974, as amended, or their successors, shall not be considered income for the purposes of any tax levied by the state or by a local government in this state. Such benefits shall not be used in computing the tax liability of any person under any such tax. Nothing in this section is intended to affect any benefits to which the beneficiary would otherwise be entitled. This section applies to tax periods beginning on or after January 1, 1986." [Emphasis added.]

Has this issue been discussed anywhere?

Until now, not that we've seen. Someone who is being taxed solely by virtue of their receiving such benefits ought to protest. But that ain't us.

A guest post from Dave Lister

[Dave Lister is an area businessman, former Portland City Council candidate, and erstwhile opinion columnist for The Oregonian. -- J.B.]

Metro bogeys at Glendoveer
by Dave Lister

Eighteen months ago Metro announced that they would begin a competitive bidding process for the management of Glendoveer golf course. The contract that had been in place with Glisan Street Recreation for 25 years was due to expire at the end of 2012. Metro President Tom Hughes said that Glisan Street Recreation, who wanted to renew their contract, would be considered, but added that it was only appropriate that other firms be given a chance to bid. Glendoveer's golfers and employees expressed grave concerns, but in a series of public meetings they were assured by Metro that Glendoveer would continue to be managed as a high quality golf course and little would change. We were even given that assurance in person by Chairman Hughes when we had him out for a round of golf. But Hughes and Metro, as usual, lied.

I had occasion to see first hand what has happened to Glendoveer, my home course for over a decade, just two and half months since the "management" change. What has really happened is that Metro has engineered a shameless money-grab to the detriment of the course, its golfers, and its employees.

The deal between Glisan Street Recreation and Metro was that Glisan Street got 56 cents on the dollar of all the greens fees and golf range revenues and Metro got 44 cents. In exchange, Glisan Street maintained the course and its amenities and paid all the course employees. When Hughes and company started talking about putting it out to bid, they made a big issue about some perceived problems with the irrigation and drainage on the course, intimating that Glisan Street hadn't been getting the job done. That was a smokescreen.

Metro did not contract with a new management firm. Instead, they paid a one-time consulting fee to a company called CourseCo out of California to make recommendations on how to improve the course. Going forward, Metro will get 100% of the course revenues and will not be paying any third party to manage the course. All the course employees are now on Metro's payroll, but they’ve been cut from full time to part time. You can decide if it's coincidental that their new hours do not require them to be insured under the Affordable Care Act. The head greens keeper, who had taken care of the grounds for 18 years, is gone.

And what were the fruits of CourseCo's recommendations? Well, the clubhouse has new carpet, but the area that used to be filled with golf clubs, hand carts, and golf apparel for sale is now empty. They have a few gloves and a few balls to sell, nothing more. Along with their huge pay cut, the employees got spiffy new name tags and a new point of sales system, which they hate, because it takes multiple keystrokes to do a simple transaction.

And the course itself? I have never seen it in worse shape. All the benches at the tees have been removed, presumably for future replacement, but who knows when? The greens are unkempt, bumpy, and full of moss. The tees are mostly mud pits. The sand traps are packed earth with virtually no sand. The fairways have always been rough in the early spring, but worse this year than ever.

When it was first announced that Metro was studying the future of Glendoveer, they said they wanted it to more closely conform to Metro's values. Well, they have succeeded in that. Grab all the money, screw the employees, and cut out the private sector.

That really is a reflection of Metro’s values.

Lake O's Carollo

We've documented the Portland water bureau's backroom deals with a large private engineering firm called Carollo. Carollo is the second largest consumer of water from the city, pumping it out of the Columbia River well fields the year 'round. And they get it at a bargain rate, in part because the water isn't treated. They use the water in their testing laboratory, which was quietly built on city property, then flush it into the Columbia Slough. Carollo has lots of other cozy contracts with the water bureau.

Anyway, a reader down Lake Oswego way has uncovered an eerily similar situation down there. The reader writes:

I have been doing some research into a company that The Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership has a proposed contract with for a water filtration system -- about $10m. As it is a sole-source procurement, I needed a second look. The findings as to why LOT needed to go with this one company look to be bogus, but the research led me to the parent company called Veolia Environmental, based in France and owned by shareholders who are mainly large investment groups.

If you have never heard of Veolia, it is because they deal in industrial systems that almost no one hears about, and they buy up companies which then become their subsidiaries. They buy/own thousands of patents on processes and equipment. They are a global firm that has projects in every part of the world -- 4 in the metro region so far, 5 if LOT signs this deal.

I don't know if this is a good deal or not, but buying a patented process for a municipality from a sole source does not seem like a good idea under all but the most unusual circumstances, and this is not the case here. At least we would be in the same boat as Wilsonville. But I digress.

After reading about this giant, multinational company, I then looked up the privatization of water, and they fit the bill. Veolia's full spectrum of services can help a municipality clean the water, deliver the water, maintain the plant and water system, charge and collect fees for the water, and even provide funding if necessary. They also have their hand in solid waste, wastewater treatment, passenger rail and other transportation technologies, and I read that at least one company is getting into food. I think they have all of modern man's basic needs covered.

I have no grand thought for you to present to your readers, but the chill that went up my spine was real when I envisioned a future ruled by groups of investors that control our basic needs. Forget the planners we have today, unless they are also on the same wavelength as the globalists. (Maybe that's why they like chickens and it isn't global warming after all.) And certainly forget the common man. Therein lies my fear for the present and future. How to make the individual relevant and have his or her rights protected and/or restored.

Buying water will eventually become like buying cable TV. A big corporation that couldn't care less about the consumer will be calling the shots. Nurse Amanda and Ginny Burdick will be watching out for the little guy's interests. It's gonna be Com-crap-tastic.

Maybe they should just go on his lawn

A reader writes:

Was wondering if you would blog about a current situation in my Eastmoreland neighborhood. Apparently the association president, Robert McCullough, is suing Sellwood Junior Baseball in an attempt to eliminate a porta-potty for the baseball and soccer fields at Duniway Elementary School. Both my children had their first sporting events at this field. Also, there are many sports camps held throughout the various breaks and summers at the field. which generate much needed income for PPS. Without the porta-potty, none of this would be possible as it is a requirement of PPS, and obviously a necessity when dealing with little kids. A little help from you would go a long way.

Sounds like an interesting case. Isn't that down around where Gatsby Wyden's new "home" is? Maybe his kids will play little league baseball in Sellwood. Only kidding.

UPDATE, 1:10 p.m.: A reader notes that Google Maps has an image of the facilities in question:

Perhaps the angry neighbors have a point. Location, location, location.

Here's the official bullpuckey

The City of Portland's agenda of making apartment developers rich is always wrapped in a cocoon of misleading platitudes. Here's the latest version from the current crop of "planning" devils and dupes.

It starts with the false assertion that the population will grown by "132,000 households" over the next 22 years. At a 1% annual growth rate, which tracks what's actually happened over the last decade or more, the population growth over that period will be only about 144,000 people, and so unless all the new households are single hipsters, the bureaucrats are lying already. And the falsehoods build from there.

Portland "planning" may have been a great thing 40 years ago, but now it's wrecking the place. Joe Zehnder wants your livability on a silver platter to give to Homer Williams, Mark Edlen, and their ilk.

We moved here by choice. Our kids will doubtlessly move out the same way.

Attention, please, this is your pirate speaking

About writing jokes for The Tonight Show, way back when.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Sweet 16

It's really sweet for some people.

I know a lot of potential donors

[T]he medical profession is gradually coming to accept the somewhat startling idea that sometimes the best therapy is a fecal transplant — from a healthy person to the one who is sick, to replenish the population of "good germs."...

Exactly how the altered intestinal bacteria might cause weight loss is not yet known, the researchers said. But somehow the microbes seem to rev up metabolism so that the animals burn off more energy.

A next step, Dr. Kaplan said, may be to take stool from people who have had gastric bypass and implant it into mice to see if causes them to lose weight. Then the same thing could be tried from person to person.

If they pay for supplies, this could solve the nation's economic downturn.

Poster child for reneging on government pensions

As governments nationwide try to figure out how to cut back what their aging workers get in retirement, cases like this make the average taxpayer's blood boil.

Portland arts tax screw-around extends into April

Portland City Hall is still "tinkering" with the ill-fated arts tax passed by the voters last year. The city council reportedly will be making changes next week retroactive to January 1, 2012. And now we're told that none of the tax revenues collected will be distributed until after the current lawsuit is resolved. That will likely be months, even years from now.

The deadline for paying the tax is reportedly being moved back to May 15. Wonder if they'll have the rules settled by then.

We still think the city council should repeal this tax, refund the money already collected, and look into enacting a legitimate income tax, to take effect January 1, 2014. But if it insists on continuing to waste everyone's time and money denying the obvious, that's the council's prerogative. Nothing the commissioners have done so far in this episode has made any sense; perhaps it's unrealistic to think that rationality will suddenly dawn on them now.

UPDATE, 4:14 p.m.: We noticed today that the city quietly changed the administrative rules last week so that gifts are no longer considered "income" for purposes of the low-income exemption. It's interesting that the revenue bureau minions can change something so basic with no notice to the public, whereas the City Council has to hold two meetings to do something less momentous. All part of the lawlessness known as Portland City Hall.

Our messed-up tax system: TurboTax loves it

The complexity that beguiles American taxpayers is music to the ears of the people who write tax return preparation software and sell tax preparation services. And they'll throw big lobbying money around against anybody who tries to simplify the process. Pretty greedy, if you ask us.

And why doesn't Oregon have a "ready return" program, like California's? (Other than the people in the legislature, of course.)

Ducks basketball: Worst academic rating in Pac-12

It ain't purty, as the fearless UO Matters blog reports.

Tolls going up in Washington State

Oh, the fun we're going to have when the new light rail bridge opens between Portland and the Couv. But hey, you won't even have to slow down; they'll just track your car by its license plate. Every month Big Brother will send you a bill for the places you went. Heaven help our poor kids.

Theater of the absurd

We see the Portland City Council is still tinkering with its foolhardy opera and ballet tax. Now the geniuses are talking about changing the rules that apply to 2012. That year ended 86 days ago. If there's a prize for incompetent lawmaking, this baby is going to win it hands down.

Oh, and the estimated costs of attempting to collect the tax just went up by 20%, to $600,000. How embarrassing it is to live here.

And now, Sustainable Susan plans your wedding for you

If the Portland City Council wants anybody to take their whining about budget shortfalls seriously, they're going to have to cut out this horse doo. What an embarrassment -- not to mention using city resources to promote private businesses. If that's not illegal, it should be.

It ain't over

There are 15 men's college basketball games left in March Madness (which spills over into April any more). Regardless of how poorly you might have done in picking the first two rounds of the tournament, there's glory for you to be had in our second chance bracket contest, here. It's free, and the prize is that warm glow you'll feel from having outdone our other hoops prognosticators.

We've now got 10 contestants in the contest, and there is still time for you to join us. Just click on the link; the group password is linchpin. The deadline for filling out your bracket is 4:15 p.m. West Coast time tomorrow.

Only 15 games left -- you can do this. But do you go with La Salle or Wichita State? And you don't honestly think the Ducks are going any further -- do you?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tell it like it is

What Greece and the Portland Beavers have in common

They were both wrecked by the Paulson family.

Car hater echo chamber working well

What's that -- you missed the meetings on the terrifying "high crash corridors" known as Burnside Street and Sandy Boulevard in Portland? Well, don't worry. Surely there were people there who expressed your point of view, and the city "planners" took your message to heart:

Attendees at the February 27 open house expressed interest in pedestrian safety improvements on the Burnside corridor to reduce vehicle speeds (both enforcing the existing speed limit and reducing the posted speed limit) and enhance pedestrian crossings....

The March 6th open house included attendees from throughout the Sandy Blvd. corridor. Participants expressed interest in a broad range of issues, including traffic flow, enhanced pedestrian crossings, and improved conditions for people riding bikes.

Yep -- lower speed limits and more bike craziness. Just what you want. And there'll be plenty more meetings for you to attend, too. Aren't you lucky?

By the way, the Burnside "high crash corridor" extends all the way from East 67th Street to West Barnes Road. But you knew that.

Why the City of Portland is broke

That's redundant

Another epic fail for the Portland Development Commission. "The plan to turn the Grove from a crumbling halfway house into a trendy, Asian-themed youth hostel." Gee, how can something that brilliant not pencil out?

PC set to cops: Don't think

It's quite a comment on our day and age: When the police propose sending more patrols into high-crime areas, they're denounced as racist. They haven't even said where those areas are yet, and already they're being called out for targeting minority groups. The more we think about it, the crazier it seems.

Bike clowns oppose helmet rule for more teenagers

"It creates the impression that biking is dangerous," Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, said of the proposed legislation.

No fooling, Sherlock. Urban cycling is inherently dangerous. Everybody should wear helmets, period -- including adults. And people who aren't old enough to smoke aren't old enough to decide to risk a serious head injury.

Legislature goes all Seinfeld on PERS

It's a show about nothing: Cutbacks to cost-of-living increases, which stand a good chance of being struck down by the courts; and simply not funding the pensions for a while, which will only make the funding crisis worse. Then there are supposed to be some mystery tax increases, brought to you by the Chuck Shakeitoff types -- just what the Oregon economy needs. But not for Nike, of course.

Cha-ching! $12,500 for a Sunday Parkways video.

That's not counting Portland City Hall staff time:

The successful Proposer shall perform the tasks listed below for this project, and shall be expected to work closely with designated City personnel to accomplish these goals:

a. Develop video storyboard,
b. Identify necessary people, locations and props for video shots,
c. Shoot, edit, score and provide text credits and other necessary visuals for a three to four minute video production, and
d. Provide final versions in web- and broadcast-ready video.
e. Where applicable, sustainable procurement best practices will be utilized in producing the video such as the use of bicycles for transportation....

The City has assigned a project manager to oversee the successful Proposer's work and provide support as needed. Specific duties the City will perform include

- Acting as Executive Producer to corral talent, assist in identifying shoot location suggestions, and overall project management
- Providing production assistant(s) on shooting days, as needed
- Providing a bike trailer for use during shoot days

How's that for dopey? But hey, it's only money -- and it's vibrant!

Wonder what color the T-shirts are going to be...

Ted Wheeler's magic beans ready for planting

The wonderful, exciting, indeed miraculous new "financing techniques" for infrastructure projects continue to roll merrily along in Salem and some other state capitals in the West. They're still not telling us what these "public-private" deals are really going to entail, other than they're going to be spectacular. It smells like sales and leasebacks of public assets, or at least interests in public assets, to private companies. The Masters of the Universe deny that, but apparently they won't be letting on what they're up to until it's "too late to turn back now."

You can bet this guy knows exactly what it's about. These fellows, too. But you commoners go ahead and ask the State Trezh for details, and you'll likely continue to get nothing but smoke blown up your pipe.

LaVonne's latest: City, county division of labor makes no sense

Not to mention Metro, Tri-Met, the Port, etc. According to the city auditor, each governmental unit badly needs to make up its mind which "core services" it's going to provide, and refine and clarify the operating lines among the units.

Good luck with that. But we're willing to get the ball rolling. As best we can tell, here's an inventory of the core services of the City of Portland:

1. Developer enrichment.
2. Mainstream business expulsion.
3. Tax and fee proliferation.
4. Public employee pensions.
5. Lifestyle promotion and control.
6. Official blogs and tweets.
7. Attraction of homeless people.
8. Police brutality.
9. Construction pork production.
10. Destruction of wildlife habitat.
11. Destruction of middle class.
12. Debt generation.
13. Bribe acceptance.
14. Preaching.
15. Deception.

What are we leaving out?

You can still do it, baby

Now that we've actually gotten to see all the teams in March Madness, it's a little easier to make educated guesses about who's going to make it to the championship game. If your bracket's busted and you'd like a second chance -- just for funsies, mind you -- we've cranked up a 16-team bracket pool on Yahoo, here. The group is Bojack's Last Gasp Pool, and the password is linchpin.

Alternatively, there's this other bracket...

Monday, March 25, 2013

This guy was why I'm here

Former New York Times reporter and columnist Anthony Lewis has died. He was 85.

Lewis was in his heyday back when I was a cub reporter in New Jersey in the early '70s. His coverage of the Supreme Court, his op-ed columns during the Watergate era, and his famous book on the Court, Gideon's Trumpet, were big parts of my decision to drop out of the newspaper business and go to law school. Absent that choice, I'd probably have stayed in journalism in the New York area. I'd probably be living in a New Jersey suburb, and commuting into the Big Apple to turn in a daily story or two. Or maybe I'd be in a small Manhattan apartment, catching a subway train or cab to polish up a column here or there.

My plan upon entering law school was to become the next Lewis -- cover the High Court, and national politics. But as so often happens, law school opened up a bunch of new vistas -- not only for career concentration, but also for geographic location. Within five years I was a tax lawyer in Portland, Oregon. Go figure.

One of my fondest memories of law school was in the first year, when Lewis himself was on campus to give a series of talks. One of them was a highly informal brown bag lunch in the brand new law student lounge. There, in our everyday hangout, this great figure in American journalism sat down over a sandwich and chatted with us all about what he was doing, and what we might be doing in the near future. I knew right then that I had come to the right place.

One of Lewis's great insights is that our civil liberties rest ultimately on the judiciary. The courts are the only ones who can save us from the excesses of majority rule. And they will do so only if the judges are brave and independent. In the immediate aftermath of Watergate, that was obvious. Today, it is far less so. You know what they say about not learning from history. Read Lewis, and may he rest in peace.

Bicycle Rex: Do as I say, not as I do

The former Metro bobblehead's decided that no-parking cr-apartments all over Portland are just fine and dandy. Of course, it doesn't bother him -- he lives in a single-family detached home with a garage, in a neighborhood full of Joe Weston apartments that all have a parking courtyard out front.

"Urban renewal" without the "urb," cont'd

Down in Oregon City, the "urban renewal" rigmarole has all been for naught. They ought to shut it down before it causes serious financial harm. Lay off those bureaucrats and hire some cops or schoolteachers.

Wanted: an inspector for the aerial tram [rim shot]

The City of Portland wants to hire an "independent ropeway engineer" to inspect the laughable OHSU aerial tram [rim shot] a few times a year. Makes you wonder who's inspecting it now. All this while they also search for a new manager for the infernal thing. We've got a hunch there's some expensive bad news coming about the Kohler Coaster in the next few years. Wonder who'll pay to fix it. OHSU? Ha! Ha!

Please don't send money

A couple of readers have sent us $35 checks to help finance our current court action against the City of Portland over the unconstitutionality of the head tax for the arts. We appreciate the support but are sending the checks back. We are representing ourself and only ourself in the case, and we will handle our own costs.

My shirt's too sexy for me

Little Lord Paulson's women's soccer team stepped in the bucket with a new T-shirt that it was selling. The message was too suggestive, or sexist, or something, for some tastes. But compared to the organized chants by the foul-mouthed drunks at the men's team's games, it was tame indeed.

Like tea? Better vote no on fluoride.

We're voting no on adding fluoride to Portland's water. It will do more harm than good. People who aren't getting enough fluoride should brush their teeth. Without good oral hygiene, you're going to have bad teeth, no matter how much of that crap the city pumps into the water supply. If we want to improve dental health, let's hand out free toothpaste, toothbrushes, and floss.

The health arguments against fluoride are presented capably elsewhere, and we won't repeat them here. But there are some important political arguments as well. For example: Forced medication through the water supply? No thanks. Most importantly, we're voting no because this whole proposal is one of the last in the long series of Randy Leonard-Sam Adams middle fingers to the residents of Portland, who already voted fluoride down once and shouldn't have to keep fighting this battle. And after trying unsuccessfully to ram the deal home without a public vote, Mutt and Jeff even managed to rig the date of the election to try to force their will on the voters.

To sell their plan, they're wheeling in the oily huckster Mark Wiener, who will soon be mailing us photos of poor, little black children -- the same kids they used to sell the unconstitutional city arts tax for the ballet and the opera. The same kids they used to sell us Erik Sten. Never was there a better reason to vote no on any proposition. These people could care less about your teeth -- one of the water bureau's shadowy pals will make some nice bucks off this, that's all.

And if that weren't enough, along comes this story. If you drink tea, you're already getting a bunch of fluoride -- and if you overdo it, it could make you sick, even without getting that chemical forced down your throat with every other contact with what comes out of the tap:

Most published studies about black tea traditionally have used a method of measuring fluoride that doesn't account for the amount that combines with aluminum to form insoluble aluminum fluoride, which is not detected by the fluoride electrode. Whitford compared that method with a diffusion method, which breaks the aluminum-fluoride bond so that all fluoride in the tea samples can be extracted and measured.

He tested seven brands of store-bought black tea, steeping each for five minutes in deionized water, which contains no fluoride. The amount of fluoride in each sample was 1.4 to 3.3 times higher using the diffusion method than the traditional method.

Portlanders, please vote with your brains on this one. The scientists telling you that fluoride is harmless sound an awful lot like the ones who prescribe pills before really knowing what their side effects are. Don't be their guinea pigs.

Whoring for Blue Cross

How in heaven's name could supposedly Democratic legislators water down a bill that simply gives consumers advance notice of proposals to increase their health insurance premiums? It's amazing what our elected officials get away with. They're owned by the insurance companies, the utilities, the banksters -- from the sellout in the White House, through tools like Gatsby Wyden (R-N.Y.), and all the way down to somebody from Gresham named Laurie Monnes Anderson.

Want to have a good laugh? Go over to the Oregon secretary of state campaign finance website, and run "Regence" as a contributor. Government in our state is bought and paid for. Anderson gets a check from Regence for a grand or $2500 every year or so.

We're glad that we're not a high school civics teacher. We wouldn't be able to look the young people in the eye any more.

Swarm of little quakes down Klamath way

They were north of Mount McLoughlin (the only Cascade we've ever summited) and south of Crater Lake: five of them, between 1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon yesterday. The biggest: a 3.1.

On deck

It's still snowing in New York, but major league baseball starts its regular season this Sunday night. For most teams, the schedule of real games (that count) commences the following afternoon.

Lo and behold, the Houston Astros, who will host the first night's game, are now in the American League. They'd be dreadful in any setting, but their move has significance for all fans. With 15 teams in each league, there will be at least some inter-league play more days than not.

We hear that a right-handed pitcher can no longer fake a pickoff throw to third and then wheel to throw to first. And there will be interpreters on the pitcher's mound for when managers and pitchers do not speak the same language. We are not making that up. (For pitchers from Portland, Klingon will be available.)

As best we can tell, the playoff format will be the same as last year's -- two teams in each league battling it out in a single game for a wild card berth against the top-seeded of their league's three division winners.

Vin Scully will reportedly be back calling the play-by-play for the Dodgers. Let's hope our iPhone can find him.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Only in Portlandia

Bike racks at Costco! Empty, of course.

Perfect for those big orders. Often there's a new car on display, with a dealer sticker in the window, out in front of the trash can.

The fix is *really* in on Washington side of the CRoCk

The people trying to stop the ridiculous light rail bridge between Portlandia and the 'Couv really had their panties in a knot on Friday, as the governor of the State of Washington came down to his southern border to rally the troops for the pork. The meeting wasn't open to the public; only bleating sheep were admitted.

Between that and the hiring of the CH2M Hill guy to help grease the skids, there's little doubt that the Powers That Be are determined to blow whatever billions it takes to build the thing.

It's too bad it couldn't be a simple replacement freeway bridge, at a height that works for river traffic. But no. This is Portlandia, Land of Goldschmidt and Earl the Pearl. Land where the Bechtels and the CH2Ms and the Stacey & Witbecks take future generations out and strip them of their financial future. All for trains and cr-apartments. Tragic, really.

It's funny how the Washington guv says that light rail on the bridge is "non-negotiable." With whom is he "negotiating" -- common sense? The majority of his constituents?

Priorities on parade

Don't you just love bureaucrats? Congress orders across-the-board spending cuts, and what's the first thing to go? Air traffic control towers!

Great idea. After all, who needs air traffic control? We need to save our billions for jet fighters, missile systems, and Hanford "cleanup."

Phil Knight's money advances in hoops tourney

The Ducks have made it to the Sweet 16 round of March Madness, and of course, that will just make their devoted fans even more intolerable (if such a thing is possible). The team is peaking at just the right time, and its opponents so far, although capable, have been handed their heads. But next up for Oregon is Louisville, and many folks have those guys picked to go all the way. The game will be played in Indiana, which favors Louisville (less than two hours away on I-65). As always, we'll be pulling for the Ducks' opponent.

Meanwhile, another team we don't like, the vastly overrated Gonzaga squad, played its second bad game in a row and didn't get away with it. They fell to ninth-seeded Wichita State. Wichita will play either a 12-seed or a 13-seed in the Sweet 16, which will be sweet indeed for them. That will probably put a 9-seed or weaker up against The Ohio State for a berth in the Final Four.

UCLA and Cal have both exited, and so the only Pac 12 team left besides the Ducks is Arizona. The Wildcats have had two wimpy opponents and will face either Iowa State or Ohio State in the Sweet 16. It's nice for the conference that two Pac 12 teams are still playing, while Georgetown, Gonzaga, New Mexico, and Saint Louis are all watching on TV.

Also from the left coast, San Diego State is playing Florida Gulf Coast in the battle of the beach bum schools. Hard to believe, but one of those teams will be in the Sweet 16, there most likely to be crushed by the Florida Gators.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

All the jerky he can eat

Here's Craig Berkman's mugshot from Florida. It's good to see that he has a $50 credit in the jail commissary:

Tri-Met's in play in Salem

Some members of Oregon's brilliant state legislature are popping bills into the hopper to change drastically the setup of Portland's transit district, which is currently insolvent and digging itself a deeper hole with every dopey capital project its bloated staff conceives. Yesterday we read of a bill that would force the area's oddball Metro government to take over Tri-Met. Metro doesn't want it, of course, and one of its leading lights, Bob Stacey, says that critics of Tri-Met have got it all wrong:

"It's not a governance problem. It's a resources problem. I'm not looking for a big management shift over there, and I don't know that people who are calling for that are have a good understanding of the resource limitations that TriMet faces."

Translation: Tri-Met just needs more taxes. What a tool.

A more interesting proposal is this one, which would take away the governor's right to appoint the Tri-Met board. One look at the members of the board over the last two decades is all it takes to see that this is a good idea. They've all been political hacks, and they've proved it with their performance.

Unfortunately, the bill would merely shift the appointment power to the counties, Metro, and the City of Portland, which would merely guarantee more hacks, maybe worse hacks, on the transit board. Can you say "Streetcar Smith"? And it would expand the committee to 11 members, which is hardly needed.

The Tri-Met board needs to be elected directly by the people. And if direct election were implemented, the board members would need to receive a small salary, so that somebody with half a brain might actually run for the position.

In any event, it's good that the legislature is looking at changes for Tri-Met, because it is careening toward bankruptcy. When it emerges from that bankruptcy, something other than the Goldschmidt template will be needed to manage it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring break, Portland, 2013

Our good friend Drewbob hosted the occasional poker game tonight, at which good food, good wine, and good company were enjoyed by all. We managed to lose a mere $9.25, which was more than offset by being able to partake of an authentic Cuban cigar, which more than lived up to the hype. We reveled in the phenomenon known as Florida Gulf Coast U., and were astounded when three players at the table all turned up A-2-3-4-5 at once.

When we got out to our cars, there was frost on the roofs. Some of our buddies are jetting out to tropical climes, but even for those of us who are staying behind, it's a most beautiful time.

Have a great weekend

Two weeks' notice

This blog will be going on indefinite hiatus at the end of the day on Friday, April 5. The site will remain on the internet, but the addition of new content will cease at that point.

Why? We've been offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work on a major writing project connected to our day job as a tax law expert, and that work will take up all of the time previously devoted to this blog. The project will take at least a year to complete, at which time we'll assess whether an internet comeback is in order.

This isn't a decision that we've reached without a lot of consideration over the last several months. What's happening to our city, state, country, and world is important to us, but so are our career and our family's finances. Taking an extended break from blogging to work on the tax project is the right thing to do.

Over the next couple of weeks, we'll try to get our pending blog topics into mothballs, where we can pick them up later -- or better yet, where other bloggers can pick them up and run with them while we're gone. And we'll be saying fare-thee-well, at least for now, to the blogosphere.

Mayor Char-Lie to the rescue

Portland's new mayor has stepped in and halted the backroom deal made by the city's "development services" bureau with a Beaverton developer weasel who's decided to wreck an inner Portland neighborhood. In the past, this kind of deal would have slid through with no questions asked. Because in charge of said bureau was Admiral Randy, the all-time bully on the City Council, in close collaboration with the resident real estate tycoon, Legend Dan Saltzman, who never met a soulless development project he didn't like.

We feel a little sorry for Paul Scarlett, the Randy minion who's in charge of the permit bureau. He apparently didn't realize that now that his Great Protector is gone, he has to play by the actual rules. We wonder whether he even knows what the rules are -- other than, do what Randy tells him. And no doubt Randy gave a few marching orders, before he left City Hall to contemplate his navel. We wish Scarlett well in his next position, to which we hope he gets shown soon.

Meanwhile, Portlanders who are inclined toward wishful thinking are probably seeing this as a sign that Mayor Char-Lie will stand up for the neighborhoods against the developers. That would be a mistake. Char-Lie's in the developers' pocket -- just not this particular developer. Wait 'til you see what he tries to deliver to his owner, Homer Williams.

Dead giveaway

The people pushing the car-hater, condo-tower-lover agenda in Lake Oswego are forming a new "grassroots" organization to advance the Goldschmidt and "planner" party lines in Portland's toney suburb to the south. And it's going to be named "The Coalition." But the best part is the subtitle: "Citizens Supporting a Vibrant Lake Oswego"!

Ah, "vibrant." Yes indeed, the ultimate buzzword of the 2010's. Code for "character destruction."

And they use it twice on the same page:

We invite you to join us, our organizing committee and your friends and neighbors for the unveiling of a vibrant new organization.

Funny thing, they just had an election about this down there four or five months ago. "Vibrant" lost.

Does Aleve stop the flu?

They think it might.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Oh what a tangled web he weaves

Remember when Char-Lie Hales, now Portland's mayor, was living in Stevenson, Washington but still voting in Portland? Too funny. That sure had bad consequences for him, like... no, wait...

Anyway, here's another chuckle: Hizzoner has unclaimed property being reported to the world by none other than the State of Washington Department of Revenue. Just go to this Washington DOR site, fill in "Charles Hales," and see for yourself:

If we were younger, we'd have been tempted to go make a citizen's arrest on Hales for vote fraud when his shenanigans were revealed. It's a Class C felony, after all.

Tri-Met posts dead e-mail address for fed funding comments

A couple of readers have pointed out that the e-mail address that Tri-Met gives for comments and requests for a public hearing on its federal funding plans is dead:

Deliberate malfeasance? Typical incompetence? Hard to judge.

Enjoy that bread smell while you can

It's nothing more than a rumor, but it comes from a source that we respect:

It is secondhand to me, but I heard that Franz Baking and Portland Bottling told the board of the Central Eastside Industrial Council that they are both looking for locations outside of the city. They’ve had issues getting trucks in and out, especially since "the cutlet," but I understand that the paid sick mandate was the last straw.

You know, the Franz site would be great for a Joe Weston apartment tower, wouldn't it? Portland Bottling, too. Then when Super Carole gets done trashing Benson High, we could build some more hipster dorms over there. Vibrancy galore.

Tri-Met's agenda -- mostly about more rail to nowhere

Here's an interesting document from Portland's insolvent transit agency. It lays out some spending plans for its federal handouts over the next fiscal year, about $185 million in all. The list appears to be required by some federal law, because the Tri-Metters seem to want it to go away quickly and quietly:

TriMet is offering an opportunity to submit comments or request a Public Hearing on the proposed Program of Projects described in this notice. If anyone requests a Public Hearing it will be at TriMet on Wednesday, April 17, 2013. If no one requests a Public Hearing, it will not be held. Please submit your comments or request a Public Hearing by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 via email to federalfunding@trimet.org.

They save the 1,000-pound gorilla for the end:

Bus & Rail Preventive Maintenance and State of Good Repair: $33,600,000 Section 5307 funds, $16,600,000 Section 5337 funds, $1,500,000 STP funds
Eastside MAX Project: $1,060,400 Section 5307 funds
Bus Replacement: $2,600,000 Section 5339 funds
Regional Rail Debt Service: $4,000,000 STP funds, $11,000,000 CMAQ funds
Bus Stop Development: $1,458,790 STP funds
Regional Transportation Options Program: $367,931 CMAQ funds
New Bus Shelters: $141,773 CMAQ funds
Elderly and Disabled Transportation: $1,496,000 Section 5310 funds
Milwaukie Light Rail Project: $100,000,000 Section 5309 New Starts funds

That's $15 million toward one's year's mortgage on past train follies, and $100 million up front on the new one.

Tri-Met needs "new starts," all right. After a cleansing bankruptcy, it needs to start with some fiscal responsibility and an orientation toward taking riders where they actually want to go. Both would be quite novel.

Portland "planners" push fake population growth numbers again

The Portland "planning" acolytes can't seem to stop themselves from lying about how many people are going to be flocking to the city in the years ahead:

According to materials distributed at the presentation, more than 584,000 people live in Portland. That number is expected to increase by more than 280,000 people by 2035, when nearly 150,000 additional jobs also are projected.

During the presentation, [city planning chief Joseph] Zehnder said state land-use planning laws require Portland to prove it can accommodate the new housing and jobs during the next 25 years. Zehnder says planners have not yet identified enough acreage for all the industrial and institutional jobs that are expected to be created.

Over the 23-year period between now and 2035, the "planning" children are projecting a compound annual population growth rate for Portland of 1.8%. Even if they mean a 25-year period, the rate is 1.58%. That's total crap, and they know it. Over the decade 2000 to 2010, the population grew at a compound rate of 0.99% per year. Any "plan" that's based on 1.5% growth or more is bogus on its face. It's high time that residents start calling out the Joe Zehnder types for their out-and-out lies.

The unmistakable aroma

This story about the City of Portland's epically failed real estate deal downtown at Third and Oak deserves a little additional perspective. When the Portland Development Commission overpaid for the property in 2002, it was under the leadership of close Goldschmidt crony Don Mazziotti (currently leading Beaverton into a rat hole). When it gave the property away for free to Trammell Crow, another Goldschmidt buddy (and fellow pedophile), Matt Hennessee, had just stepped down as PDC chairman. Trammell Crow had been in on the airport light rail scam, and in on the SoWhat scam, both Goldschmidt specials. Gee, do you think maybe the Neilster had a hand in the Third and Oak mess? Just a theory.

The City That Hates You, cont'd

Remember the Portland parking meter fiasco last Veterans Day? The legal holiday was on Monday, but the city didn't honor it -- they said it was Sunday and gave out a ton of spiteful $45 tickets on Monday to people who hadn't fed the meters. The right thing to do would have been for the City Council to forgive them all, but no. They're actually pushing the issue.

A friend of ours got one of those tickets. Her court date is next week. Bully for her for not just rolling over and paying the thieves at City Hall, who really ought to be ashamed of themselves. They've certainly got the population of the city profoundly ashamed of them.

"Creative class" strategy is a total bust

Several readers pointed out to us yesterday that the sociology dandy who made his mint preaching about the "creative class" now admits that it was all a bunch of hooey.

On close inspection, talent clustering provides little in the way of trickle-down benefits.

Here in Portland, his gospel was used to justify all sorts of tomfoolery that has basically wrecked the city for decades to come. Thanks a lot, genius. Not only is it bad for the economy, it really stinks on "equity." The hipsters, it seems, are all white:

On paper, the “creative class” theory worships at the altar of diversity. “The great thing about cities,” [Richard] Florida told NPR last year, “is they're diverse. There's diverse people in them.” Yet even leaving aside their lack of economic diversity, the exemplars of “hip cool” world, notes urban analyst Renn, tend to be vanilla cities with relatively small minority populations. San Francisco, Portland and Seattle are becoming whiter and less ethnically diverse as the rest of the country, and particularly the suburbs, rapidly diversify.

Creatives may espouse politically correct views, but the effect of Florida’s policy approach, notes Tulane sociologist Richard Campanella, often undermine ethnic communities. As they enter the city, creatives push up rents, displacing local stores and residents. In his own neighborhood of Bywater, in New Orleans, the black population declined by 64 percent between 2000 and 2010, while the white population increased by 22 percent.

In the process, Campanella notes, much of what made the neighborhood unique has been lost as the creatives replace the local culture with the increasingly predictable, and portable, “hip cool” trendy restaurants, offering beet-filled ravioli instead of fried okra, and organic markets. The “unique” amenities you find now, even in New Orleans, he reports, are much what you’d expect in any other hipster paradise, be it Portland, Seattle, Burlington, Vermont or Williamsburg.

Florida will have some new line of snake oil to sell, and as long as it fits into the apartment bunker guys' story line, the Portland "planning" people will rebroadcast it loudly. Let's hope the population has had enough of it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nonstop comedy at Portland City Hall

This is a howler. Admiral Randy's people in the Portland permit office are still ramming through the red-tagged no-parking cr-apartment complex on Division Street, and they're not even letting on to the City Council, much less the outraged neighbors, what they're up to. This kind of backroom dealmaking was standard procedure during the Sam Rand Reign of Terror, but the new guy on the council isn't amused:

"I am distressed and baffled," says City Commissioner Steve Novick. "Apparently, they got different legal advice from the City Attorney's Office. BDS did not feel they had an obligation to inform either the neighbors or City Council."

And now here comes your comedy moment of the day: Spineless Jelly Fish, who went along like a floozy with every bully move the Admiral made over the last couple of years, jumps up and does his Claude Rains act:

"I'm outraged that the Council was not consulted about this by the Bureau of Development Services," says Commissioner Nick Fish. "This particular development is almost a poster child for concerns that citizens have brought to Council throughout the city."

Fish said BDS' move made the city look sneaky. "Ultimately," he said, "people have to be accountable."

It's too late, Nick. People know who you are.

Maybe it's time for the Admiral's holdover flunkies in the "development services" bureau, like his cronies left over in the rogue water bureau, to take the PERS and move on. That city attorney's office sure seems to need some new blood as well.

Check Frank Gable's cell

Here's an all-too-familiar tale. At least the cops over there are admitting the obvious.

PUD might be AOK

The folks who have been suing the City of Portland over the blatantly illegal misspending of water and sewer revenue by the Sam Rand Twins are now proposing that a public utility district be set up to take over those two utility systems. We think it's long overdue, but getting the voters to pass it is going to be a tough sell.

You can bet that the people making a fat living off the current setup -- bureaucrats, cozy consultants, unions of various stripes, bond lawyers, construction pork contractors, and the mega-corporations that are waiting to pounce and take the systems over -- will be throwing big bucks around to fight a PUD. Old Mark Wiener, currently forcing fluoride down water users' throats (literally), will doubtlessly be employed to defend the status quo and make the PUD proponents out to look like kooks.

We hope that the supporters of the public district won't make the mistake made by previous proponents of electricity PUDs on Portland's inner east side. Those PUD ballot measures always seemed to be accompanied by a proposed board of directors for the new district that looked like a pack of refugees from a '60s hippie commune. They alienated many voters with wild Marxist rants, and as a result, never had a chance. If the water PUD ballot measure is going to pass, the people associated with it are going to have to appear bathed, competent, and all grown up.

On a side note, one of the recent news stories on the PUD idea reported that the water and sewer users' lawsuit against the city has been settled. We are reliably informed that that is not true. The city did repay money to the water fund to make up for the illegal water bureau foray into playing landlord for the Rose Festival, but the litigation over other illegal spending continues.

Know when to fold 'em

Far be it from us to criticize too easily those who avail themselves of the court system to prove a point. But with all due respect, this seems like a clear case of not knowing when to quit.

Follow the bouncing flack

Here's a familiar name that we haven't read in a while: Roy Kaufmann. He's the one who stepped in and took over as Sam Adams's flack when the teenage sex scandal broke and Adams's original spokesman, Wade Nkrumah, had too many scruples to stay in the job. Kaufmann lasted about two years in City Hall before he headed into the uncertain world of private p.r. firms. Now he's resurfaced as the mouthpiece for the marijuana legalization movement in Oregon. Having worked on the unsuccessful 2012 state ballot measure, he's continuing to push to legalize the wacky weed here in the Beaver State. What a résumé the guy's building.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Well doggies

Is it just us, or is Oregon secretary of state Kate Brown turning into Miss Hathaway on The Beverly Hillbillies?

UPDATE, 3/20, 2:19 a.m.: We couldn't resist. Here's the whole cast:

And now, back to basics with the Portland transportation bureau

Vibrant isn't working, either

Gee, with a shiny new streetcar, a "road diet" on Multnomah Street, gleaming apartment towers on the way, and all the goodness of the MAX trains, you'd think that businesses would thank their lucky stars that they've got their offices in the Lloyd District of northeast Portland. But it ain't necessarily so.

Lincoln High School condo tower charade continues

The latest installment of the fake public involvement process can be viewed here. My goodness, how many millions do we need to blow on shiny window dressing before we let the Mark Edlen types burn through another neighborhood with tax dollars? "Concept development charrettes" from hell.

Too many English majors?

Here's a fascinating story about who's moving to Portland, and what they do for a living when they get here. Executive summary: Weird isn't working.

Perp walk for Craig Berkman

The former chairman of the Oregon Republican Party is in hot water again, and this time he could end up in the slammer. What a way to spend life in your 70s.

California wine guys moving into Amity

They want the pinot noir.

Phone book waste -- now it's "for the children"

The dumping of unwanted phone books at people's front doors is an outrageous practice that ought to be outlawed, particularly in a supposedly "green" place like Portlandia. But it isn't, and the reason for that isn't clear. There's some vague talk about freedom of speech thrown around in conversations about it, but one's constitutional speech rights probably don't extend to trespass and offensive littering.

Anyway, we got a spam e-mail message yesterday from a pusher of said trash, and it reveals an interesting strategy: The publishers are enlisting nonprofit youth groups to do their dirty work for them, in exchange for funding of the children's groups' activities:

Hello, I am Mark Weyerich, the Yellowbook distribution manager for your area. As you may know, Yellowbook produces and distributes phone directories and other advertising products throughout the United States. Yellowbook currently works with hundreds of groups and organizations to help them with their fundraising in return for delivering phone books and door hangers to their communities. Group members enjoy delivering because it does not involve selling anything, it’s a great team building activity and the schedule is very flexible.

***As a company we have worked with more than 572 various groups, clubs, teams, churches and other organizations nationwide to help them fund-raise by directly paying them over $1,950,000 for projects, trips, uniforms and other goals in the past four years alone!***

The whole process is simple. I will pay premium rates to groups and offer bonus incentives for a job well done.

The come-on is followed by three testimonials -- one from a little league, one from a middle school, and one from a high school -- about how much fun and profit the kiddies had. Maybe it's a spoof, but it looks real.

The pitch wasn't for our area -- it was for parts of the Midwest. In that sense, it was even more worthless spam than if it had been directed at our region. But it shows where the p.r. battle over phone books is heading these days. Those guys are nasty.

Rape of West Hayden Island: Dead links, dead birds

The shameful promotion of a worthless Port of Portland shipping terminal that will pave over wildlife habitat on West Hayden Island continues next week with yet another City of Portland "planning" confab:

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) forwarded a packet of material to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) for their March 26th work session. This session will be held from 2-5 p.m. (note new time) at the 1900 SW 4th Ave building, 2500A. Materials in the packet include: 1) responses to PSC questions on the topics of economics, finance, and recreation, 2) technical reviewer comments and 3) supplemental letters and memos. The packet is available for public review here. BPS will provide a second memo that ties together project and mitigation costs at this same link in the next few days.

The links got us nada. Which pretty much sums up the public involvement aspect of this stinker from the very beginning.

Oregon legislature gets a "C" in transparency

Our neighbor to the north manages to score an "A." The scorecard for all 50 states is here.

Power lost for cooling water in Fuku nuke waste pools

There hadn't been any movement of water in the pools for more than 15 hours, and the geniuses at Tokyo Electric couldn't seem to figure out what was wrong. At last report, power to the pools had been partially restored, but one shudders to think what will happen at Fukushima if another giant earthquake hits.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bank deposit insurance doesn't cover big new taxes

The bank crisis in Cyprus is a cautionary tale of major proportions. The government is apparently going to bail out the banksters with new "taxes" suddenly imposed on depositors' accounts. A run on the banks over there now seems likely. And honestly, with bank accounts paying virtually no interest, the mattress looks pretty good by comparison.

In any event, read the script, America -- this could be a "pilot project" for some "public-private partnerships" headed our way soon.

From Matt Wuerker

Copyright 2013 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Wheels coming off Portland arts tax

Suddenly, the mayor's talking about amending the $35-a-head Portland arts tax -- retroactively, on an emergency basis. But the amendments he's proposing do not appear to address the tax's unconstitutionality. At least one lawsuit over that issue has already been filed.

It's March 18. The tax is due April 15, and they still don't know what the rules are. Classic Sam Rand Twins.

The best move for the City Council would be to repeal this idiotic head tax immediately, and start over with something that actually works, effective in 2014. In any event, the collective nervous breakdown known as the Adams "administration" continues. Go by streetcar!

Creighton or Cincinnati?

It's March Madness time again, and all across the country, gamblers are studying their bracket forms, hoping to win the office pool. From what we can gather, the experts think that it's going to be a particularly difficult year to pick winners.

We'll fill out a couple of sheets, hoping for the best, but we've never had much luck in the brackets. Advice from knowledgeable readers is welcome -- it's come in handy for us during football season. What's the best way to go about making all these picks? Are there any sure things this year? Will the Ducks be this year's winning 12-seed? Or will Cal take that honor?

All of a sudden, Hanford in the spotlight

The mainstream media of the Pacific Northwest are all over the Hanford nuke waste debacle these days. Nothing wrong with that -- a new generation of Portlanders should learn the fact that they're living downstream from one of the most contaminated nuclear sites in the world. And it's not just the radioactivity -- the slop that's oozing through the ground up there, right next to the Columbia River, is toxic as all get-out for other reasons as well. Even if it weren't atomically "hot," it would be one of the world's nastiest dumpsites.

But what sticks in our craw is the fact that all of the attention is being carefully orchestrated by Bechtel and its subcontractors (including the sweethearts at CH2M Hill), who burn through about $2 billion a year of federal funds in their largely futile "cleanup" efforts. They're afraid that the federal sequester and related austerity measures may cut into their gravy flow. And so they get useful idiots like Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) to make noise, and the youngsters in the journalism corps eat it up.

Hanford will never be "cleaned up." Not for 10,000 years. It's a national sacrifice zone. The most important task for us who live in the region is to ensure that it doesn't become even more of a dump, taking on nuclear waste from other parts of the country, and the world. That's an ongoing battle, although not much is written about it. The same Bechtel guys who are scaring you now would love to have even more garbage to push around at Hanford. Curbing their enthusiasm through budget cuts may not be such a bad thing.

Kotek: "PERS is fine, and anyway, it's all Wall Street's fault"

Government employee pensions in Oregon would have been no problem had it not been for Wall Street greed -- so says the speaker of the state House, Tina Kotek. And it's just a passing issue, she suggests; things will correct themselves in time. Uh huh.

Kotek's not the first, nor the only, openly crazy person in the legislature on the pension front. That Devlin guy from Tualatin is proposing that the government simply reduce funding for PERS by mid-nine figures for a couple of years, until the tooth fairy gets here with more money. Sure, that ought to help.

The departure of Nutsy Smith reduced the comedy potential in our state capital, but it's still quite clearly a clown show most days.

More Portland street parking stolen on a whim

Not content to invite businesses to take over parking spaces for their picnic table platforms, the car haters at Portland City Hall are also going to let private parties decide to take away the spaces for "parklets":

Public Parklet Option

Mirrored on similar programs in San Francisco, the new Street Seat program will include a public parket option for an entity (business, church, neighborhood association, non-profit, etc) interested in providing a platform as a public space but not interested in providing table service or serving alcohol. These public parklets must be signed as such, and have a sponsor willing to add the facility to their liability insurance and to clean and maintain it.

Anything to make driving anywhere in the city more miserable. And you can just picture who will be camping in the "parklet." Watch where you step.

Meanwhile, back on the picnic table front, apparently the bureaucrats are having second thoughts about the safety of the things:


Design guidelines from the pilot program will be carried forward with the following additions: To increase safety and visibility of installations, planters or weighted bollard on either end of the installation will be required. Wheel stops with embedded reflective candlesticks will also be required on either end of the installation. The platforms must provide a continuous barrier along the street-facing perimeter while maintaining clear visual sightlines to the street. Finally, the use of durable materials capable of withstanding year-round use will be required.

You can try to make it safe to sit out at night drinking in the midst of auto traffic, but it's not going to end well, no matter how many "reflective candlesticks" are involved. Coolness and keeping up with San Francisco are not worth the cost, as some unlucky Portlander will soon find out.

It's who we are (stupid people, that is)

The massive money hemorrhage known as the Portland streetcar is getting a lot of attention from the mainstream media these days. Those folks are always ready with a hard-hitting exposé after it's too late. When the program was being put together and rammed down the public's throats, the local newshounds slept right through it.

Anyway, what's really funny is the hipster reaction when anybody suggests that the toy trolleys ought to be shut down or scaled back:

There is no clear-cut answer as to why ridership is down, or as to why collected fares are half of what was projected. But those few who do ride the streetcar swear by it.

"It's part of Portland," said one rider. "It's who we are."

The story's conclusion? "The streetcar's current $1 fare would need to jump to $16.66 per ticket in order to break even -- if paying-rider numbers stay the same." Like that's going to happen.

"It's who we are." No kidding. Like this: The community college about to borrow $177 million for bricks-and-mortar facilities, including all kinds of office space, in an era when the internet has revolutionized information sharing. What a waste, and all on the backs of property taxpayers (and that means you, too, renters -- it's built into your rent). But hey, the majority voted for it. "It's who we are."

You can be a walking rim shot

Unless it's some kind of joke, they're hiring a new general manager for Portland's goofball aerial tram. Sounds like a nice deal. A reader asks, "Wonder whom I have to make out with in the men's room to land this gig."

On a related note, it's probably about time for that monstrosity to need a multi-million-dollar overhaul, isn't it? Linchpin City!

Another Papal closet, another set of skeletons

Nobody's perfect, but the Catholic Church has gone for its leadership from the former Nazi youth to an apparent enabler of the Dirty War.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Apostle of Ireland, pray for us

Pick and roll

It's the oldest play in the book.

Turning it off and turning it back on

The haze of the Portland crud has us flat on our back with no ambition to do much of anything, and so it's off to reading and passive screen-watching we go. A couple of weeks ago a friend our age, who's quite a bit more with it than we, rattled off a list of films and television programs we should be seeing. Of course, we hadn't heard of any of them, and most of the names went in one ear and out the other. But we did remember a show called The IT Crowd, and through the miracle of the Mrs.'s Netflix account, we discovered we can watch dozens of episodes of that program at a moment's notice.

Maybe it's just the delirium of the cold we're fighting, but we haven't laughed this hard in a long time. It's a half-hour BBC sitcom about the IT workers at a large company. Their office is in the basement. We're about five installments into the first season, which apparently was in 2006, and looking forward to more. We need to have lunch with our hip friend again, and get the rest of that list. And although we don't want to lie around sick again any time soon, perhaps we should lie around unsick more often.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

When it rains, it pours

The last month has been momentous here at Blog Central. The following occurred:

1. The vacuum cleaner died.
2. The Mrs.'s cell phone was stolen.
3. The television died.
4. The refrigerator died.
5. The garbage disposal died.

The budgetary impact of these events is notable. For spring break, we'll all be sitting home watching the new TV. We may even sit and watch the refrigerator.

On the brighter side, we've replaced the first four items with nicer ones than the ones we had. We're blessed. But we may leave the garbage disposal busted for a while.

The Portland crud, 2013 edition

We've managed to contract one of the several bugs that are going around. It brings us much sniffling and not much energy. 'Tis a day for chicken soup and sympathy.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Have a great weekend

Must be nice

$2.7 million for this? It's lovely and all, but whoa.

My sergeant does the hanky panky

More fun and games with the boys in blue in Portland.

Phil Stanford on the tube

Looking good, but sadly, appearing in a news report as a witness to a fire next door.

More Tribune-Metro incest

The Pamplin newspapers are losing all semblance of actual journalism. For example, they continue to flaunt proudly their unholy alliance with Portland's "unique" Metro government. Here's a curious come-on that an alert reader of ours got in his e-mail yesterday:

As an Opt In member you are invited to participate in a new way of sharing your opinion about driving and tailpipe emissions.

Community Newspapers' professional reporters are interested in talking to select Opt In members as part of their coverage of the Legislature's mandate to our region. If you are selected by Community Newspapers, your voice will be published in your local paper.

In addition, Metro will select Opt In members to participate in videotaped interviews that will be shared with elected officials and other decision makers and posted on Metro's website.

If you would like to be considered for an interview by a professional reporter or a video interview with Metro simply click on the link below.

"Community Newspapers' professional reporters" -- are those Pamplin staffers, or the Nick Christensen types who are on the Metro payroll masquerading as journalists? Either way, when newspapers "partner" with local government, they stop becoming relevant. Too bad.

Here's an excerpt from the Society of Professional Journalists' code of ethics:

Journalists should:

— Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
— Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

Do the Pamplin entanglements with Metro meet these standards? It's to laugh.

Portland bike share folly will be at least a year late

With the Sam Rands gone, the children are left to scratch around for private money to produce $6,267 per rental bike. Good luck with that.

Here -- waste your time

Take an absurd Portland "planner" survey so that the city can claim to have sought community input before doing what the developers want. One side benefit: You'll get to sample first hand some of the most manipulative questions you've ever encountered. "Apartment bunkers: Excellent, great, or very good?"

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fix is apparently in on Washington side of CRoCk

Here's the year's biggest breaking news so far for Portlandia, and it's out of Olympia: The new state transportation chief of Washington State is ordering a "review" of the I-5 Interstate Bridge replacement project. But you won't believe this: They're putting a guy from the dreaded CH2M Hill in charge:

Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson said Thursday the review would be led by a program manager for the CH2M Hill engineering company, Ron Paananen. He's the former Transportation Department project director for the Seattle tunnel project.

By the end of September, he's expected to recommend ways to clarify lines of decision-making, resolve disputes and hold down costs.

CH2M is not-so-secret code for "full steam ahead -- worthless pork." The light rail goons on the Oregon side must be dancing up a storm. They win. What a disgrace.

Go solo

We passed the eastside Portland streetcar going north on Grand Avenue at Multnomah Street at around 9:35 this evening. Number of passengers on said streetcar: That'd be 1, Bob.

But hey, Earl the Pearl and Chris Smith are happy. And some day the developer weasels can wreck that area with more bunkers. That's what's important.

Nike in SoWhat? Doesn't look like it.

That talk was all probably bait for the tax giveaway. They're staying in the Beav. Maybe a token office in Portland -- probably not even that.

Another Portland wrecker heads down under

Joining Crocodile Fred Hansen in Australia is one of the deal-doers at the real estate development factory formerly known as Portland State University.

"I will miss living and working in Portland," Gregory said in a news release. "The city has such a great working relationship with the university, and partnerships, collaboration and innovation just come naturally here."

Yes. Sort of like on The Sopranos.

Quotation of the Year (so far)

"Oversized buildings are destroying the fabric of our city," she says.

"Our"? Sorry, no. Unless you're Homer Williams or Mark Edlen.

Stenchy bringing people together

The prospect of a new food compost stink factory, along the lines of the one that has wrecked North Plains, reportedly has the folks in the Stafford area near Tualatin and West Linn banding together against a common enemy. Could it be that a lot of petty differences are evaporating in the face of a deadly external threat?

What actually gets sent to the IRS when you e-file your tax return?

Surprisingly, there's no way for you to know. No wonder there are so many mistakes and miscommunications.

Making inroads against the "urban renewal" scam

There's a "work session" scheduled in Salem today on a bill that would shield some local option tax levies from being raided by "urban renewal" (i.e., developer welfare) plans. This would doubtlessly help some school districts, but what we'd really like to see is abolition of "urban renewal" in Oregon altogether. It's a bunch of worthless boondoggles, doing much more harm than good.

Vestas now selling off whole factories

Add this one in with the ongoing SoloPower equipment selloff. Portland's supposed economic saviors are collapsing right and left. The Sam Rands sure knew how to pick 'em. But hey, Edlen made out, which is what really mattered.

No prizes for vocabulary

The students at Oregon Episcopal School are competing in a national "most unique mascot" contest. "Most unique"? No. The balloting ends (mercifully) at noon today.

Vital stats

We're all trying to learn more about Pope Francis. Here's a good place to get started.


Here was a fantastic moment from the beautiful game in South Africa over the weekend:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Breaking news: Nobody pays the Portland streetcar fare

And the city lied in its projections of fare revenue. Shocking!

A sneak preview for Portlanders

The city of Scranton, Pa. is so deeply in debt over sewer projects and employee pensions that it's hired an appraiser to come out and value its sewer system, with an eye toward selling it to a private corporation. Sounds ominously familiar.

Cardinals go with youth movement

The new Pope is only 76 years old. To show how old school he is, the new pontiff concluded his first public speech with the traditional "Et nunc eo ad orbem disneicum."

Memo to Neil and Tiffany: Resign

Here's a pair to draw to:

Addressing an investigation by The Oregonian, which showed the TriMet boss quietly tapped into a rainy day fund to give $910,000 in pay raises for executives and non-union managers, McFarlane conceded, "We didn’t do a very good job" with transparency.

"My apologies for that," he said during the meeting at TriMet's new downtown Portland headquarters. "We have to do better, and we will."

In response, TriMet’s board of directors admitted knowing about McFarlane’s plans for the phantom pay raises, ending a 3½-year pay freeze for non-union workers, even as the agency prepared to cut service and raise fares in a tough economy.

Board member Tiffany Sweitzer said the raises were brought up in "internal budget discussions" last spring. She conceded that TriMet leaders and the board should have done a better job of letting the public know about the pay adjustments.

"It’s a lesson we need to follow through," Sweitzer said.

The only "follow through" that's needed here is new leadership for the hopelessly insolvent Tri-Met. McFarlane, Sweitzer (Homer Williams's stepdaughter), the Pamplin guy, Warner, and the rest of the face cards, top to bottom, need to move on.

Today's touching confessions took place "in Tri-Met's new downtown Portland headquarters" -- rented from Legend Dan Saltzman, of course. And just up the street from some serious devastation caused by the Mystery Train to Milwaukie. "Sorry" is the right word for the whole scene.

Business? Anywhere but Portland.

The Portland City Council is so virtuous, so correct, so visionary. And here's yet another statement by that council to the world: If you locate your business here, you'll be subject to expensive regulations that aren't imposed elsewhere.

Whatever the merits of mandatory paid sick leave may be, it is a matter that needs to be addressed on the state level. Meanwhile, Portland needs to take a look in the mirror, where the answers to its deep economic problems can be found.

Pope hype is so 1950's

It's hard to believe how much attention is being paid by the American mainstream media to the election of the new Pope. It's always been that way, of course, but with the church in steep decline, we expected a more subdued reaction. In recent years the church hierarchy has been exposed as more or less an international pedophile ring, and there are fewer dollars in the collection plate than at any time anyone can remember. Why does CBS News still have its news anchor sitting in Vatican Square telling us which color smoke is coming out of the chimney? Do that many people still care?

Leno had a great line last night: "White smoke means they've elected a new Pope. Black smoke means they still haven't decided. And gray smoke means they're getting rid of evidence."

And now the Worm has shown up. Perfect. Order us a T-shirt.

Save the envelope legend

When the anti-tax movement took Oregon by storm several decades ago, a bunch of things happened. Property taxes were subjected to constitutional limits that have kept a lot of people from being taxed out of their homes. Without Measure 5, can you imagine how badly the City of Portland would be beating up homeowners these days?

Another thing that happened was that the practice of slipping tax increases onto the ballot during obscure special elections, when few voters pay attention, was curbed. Nowadays when the ballots are mailed out in elections that contain tax increase measures, that fact has to be noted right on the envelope. It's great.

But not if you're the government employee unions, of course. To them, transparency is terrible. It hinders their ability to extract more and more from taxpayers for private pensions, fat cat health care benefits, and other goodies. And so they've got a movement afoot in Salem to get rid of the warning on the ballot envelopes. Let's hope they fail miserably, and that the politicians who are carrying their water on this issue get tossed next time around.

A lot of the anti-tax movement is mean-spirited, but it's done much more good than harm. Meanwhile, the way the government employee unions behave is almost enough to turn us into a Republican. Almost.

Ginny Burdick, victim

The gun nuts are giving Oregon legislators Ginny Burdick and Mitch Greenlick the business. When Burdick cancelled a town hall on guns because she was supposedly too busy, the gun lovers video'ed her at home taking our her garbage that night. And Greenlick got so much hate e-mail that he deleted a bunch of it (which probably violates some public records law or other).

Okay, so they stand up for gun control, and they take the heat like professional politicians -- right? Well, not exactly. The New York Times ran an op-ed Monday where the two of them act as if their lives have been threatened. Next thing you know, Burdick's on cable TV with Al Sharpton looking like she's being stalked by Jack Nicholson in "The Shining." And of course, the bleating blue sheep chime right in.

The gun debate in America is one ugly scene. And as we've said here a few times, it's particularly unpleasant given that nothing meaningful is going to be done in our lifetimes. "Universal background checks"? Whatever. We hope Burdick's bills pass, but they don't really matter much. And she and Greenlick are way overplaying the martyr bit. Al Sharpton? Wow. Just wow.

Weekly rags don't get it

Sometimes Portland's "alternative" weekly newspapers are like the "alternative" to the truth. They send out youngsters with no background to cover things like government finance. And when the kids come back to the office, they've pretty much bought what the politicians and bureaucrats have told them, because they don't know any better.

One of these moments occurred yesterday. A member of the tattooed and pierced scribe corps at the Merc summed up the City of Portland's finances this way:

While the city is handling its debt well—we’re not putting our grocery bills on our credit card, if you will, and we've stayed in the good graces of the bond market—things like debt from urban renewal projects are still pulling the city’s numbers to the red....

But hey, in the short term at least—current budget woes aside—the city's finances are looking solid enough.

No mention of the 2011 city auditor's report expressing alarm at the city's bleak long-term debt picture, which amounts to more than $11,000 of long-term debt per city resident. We're buying flat screen TVs when we can't afford our rent. "Solid enough"? Hardly.

Meanwhile, over at Willy Weed, Pulitzer Nigel, who ought to know better, passed off as nothing much a city ombudsman's report that recounted several significant incidents of malfeasance in the city's bureaus:

The absence of serious waste, fraud and abuse from the 2012 report released today (PDF) should make citizens glad but will likely not convince close observers of the City That Works.

Really? We printed some of the findings verbatim yesterday, but for those too lazy to read the actual report, here's a summary of some of the "not serious" items included therein:

1. Someone complained that the city's contracting bureau's "sheltered market program... paid a former city contractor thousands of dollars for consulting services it never rendered." The ombudsman found that the allegations were correct and "referred the matter to law enforcement for possible prosecution."

2. A water bureau employee ratted out a colleague on the water payroll for "outside business subcontracting" with the city on a water bureau project. When the ombudsman started asking questions, the employee resigned.

3. A vendor reported that he or she had been cheated out of a city transportation bureau contract because of questionable "scoring" of bid proposals. The ombudsman "found the PBOT employee's scoring of the proposals to be unsupportable" and forced the city to re-do the evaluation of the proposals with a different committee.

4. Residents complained that fire bureau personnel were illegally conducting political activity during an election, and the ombudsman concluded that the city's rules on the subject "lack... clarity and consistency."

Of course, there was also the federal bribery indictment of the city's parking meter manager. But hey -- nothing serious is wrong at Portland City Hall. Everything's fine. And now, here are the 10 best places to go when you're stoned.

UPDATE, 10:37 a.m.: This morning the O provides further details on incident no. 3 just listed, here. The hanky-panky happened in the awarding of a contract relating to -- surprise! -- the city's parking meters. Apparently it had to do with the stupid little slips of paper you have to deal with to park a car in Portlandia.

Trading the parking space in front of your house for a Subway shop

The greedy illegitimi who are slapping up large cr-apartment bunkers without parking in what used to be nice Portland neighborhoods act like they're doing everybody a favor when they agree to put storefronts along the street on the first floor. They use that as a bargaining chip in dealing with the outraged neighbors about the lack of parking for their hoped-for hipster tenants.

The sad thing is that the busybodies in the neighborhood associations are going for the bait. And so it goes up along groovy Mississippi Avenue:

Members of the Boise Neighborhood Association are sending a letter of support to the city for a planned 42-unit apartment complex at 4018 N Mississippi Ave. The project is being built by Dennis Sackhoff, the Beaverton-based developer behind the halted Division Street project.

But the neighborhood association only signed off on the building after Sackhoff adjusted his plans to include retail space along the full length of the building facing Mississippi Avenue. The initial plans included no storefronts.

Forty-two units will bring about 35 more cars to a neighborhood where parking has already become a big issue. In a few years, the city will be installing parking meters and selling residents permits to park in front of their own houses. By then the permits will probably run $100 a year. This is that trademark Portland "livability."

CRoCk mystery billboard came from "Portland Creep" people

This morning's Willy Weed ferrets out who put up that wonderful I-5 billboard denouncing the Interstate Bridge light rail project as "corruption":

The billboard was purchased by Lindsay Berschauer, a Republican consultant and ex-director of the Oregon Transformation Project, which last year backed Clackamas County candidates opposed to light rail with big contributions from Stimson Lumber (“The King of Clackistan,” WW, Oct. 31, 2012). Berschauer tells WW her firm, Leona Consulting, has been hired to fight the CRC but won’t say by whom. Meanwhile, Stimson Lumber CEO Andrew Miller tells WW neither he nor Stimson was involved in financing the billboard.

Note to readers: The billboard’s photos of McCaig and Wheeler originally appeared in WW, which holds rights to the photos, and were used without WW’s permission or knowledge. Editor Mark Zusman has asked Berschauer to remove the photos. Berschauer has declined to do so.

A little touch of Clackistan brightens up the day.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Someone told me it's all pathogens at the zoo

Here's a welcome reform that never should have been needed in the first place.

Farquaad and Le Petit Prince hang out together

For some reason, that's business news.

How Portland will achieve "equity"

Apparently, it's through meetings, lots of meetings.

Your message here

Scarlet, the Freeway Blogger, is giving away cash prizes to folks who come up with the three best slogans for said blogger to hang over West Coast freeways next to photos of the planet in the weeks ahead. The best we could come up with is "There's no place like home." Readers with better imaginations than ours can post their suggestions in the comments here, or better yet, e-mail them to freewayblogger -AT- yahoo.com. The contest ends this Friday.

Digging in the dirt

The City of Portland ombudsman's annual report is here, and it's got some interesting episodes in it. No names, unfortunately, but it appears that some of the city's bureaucrats have been found to be up to no good, particularly in Admiral Randy's bureaus:

After Procurement Services denied his bid protest, a small business owner filed a complaint. The business owner’s protest had raised concerns about the City’s evaluation of vendors’ proposals and specifically questioned a Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) employee’s scoring of the proposals.

The Ombudsman conducted an investigation and found the PBOT employee’s scoring of the proposals to be unsupportable. After several communications, Procurement opted to re-do the evaluation of the proposals with a different evaluation committee. In 2013, the Ombudsman will continue to press for more thorough records of decision making, which, in turn, provide the basis for meaningful review in response to bid protests....

In response to a campaign advertisement during the 2012 primary season, the Ombudsman initiated an investigation into whether certain Fire & Rescue Bureau employees violated any restrictions pertaining to public employee political activity. Two residents reported similar concerns to the Auditor’s Office during the general election season.

In the course of conducting the investigation, the Ombudsman observed a lack of clarity and consistency among the various political activity restrictions that may apply to City employees. In 2013, the Ombudsman will propose amending Human Resources Administrative Rule 4.06 to track the more stringent Federal Hatch Act political activity restrictions. Corresponding changes to the Fire & Rescue Bureau’s internal rules are expected to follow.

The Ombudsman also worked with the Auditor’s Elections Officer to distribute a City-wide memorandum in advance of the 2012 general election, which reminded employees of political activity restrictions and reporting obligations for suspected violations....

A resident made an anonymous report alleging that the Procurement Services’ Sheltered Market Program paid a former City contractor thousands of dollars for consulting services it never rendered.

The Ombudsman investigated. Finding support for the allegations, the Ombudsman referred the matter to law enforcement for possible prosecution. The former City contractor later admitted to the theft and entered into an agreement with the City to repay approximately $17,000. In 2013, the Ombudsman expects to make recommendations about establishing internal controls that will prevent and detect similar incidents....

A City employee anonymously reported concerns about a Portland Water Bureau (PWB) employee’s outside business subcontracting with the City on a PWB project.

The Ombudsman initiated an investigation; however the employee under investigation resigned before the investigation was completed. Going forward, the Ombudsman will work with Procurement Services and the City Attorney’s Office to amend City Code 5.33.070 to expressly prohibit the City from subcontracting with a City employee, or any business with which a City employee is associated.

It's a tame document, but hey, it's better than nothing.

AG slaps down "Business Oregon" on hiding public documents

Here's some good news out of Salem for a change: The shadowy Oregon Business Development Department, which likes to call itself "Business Oregon" and act like it's not subject to public records laws, has just been ordered to turn over some documents that it was trying to conceal under the pretext of their containing "trade secrets":

The order came after the agency, Business Oregon, denied a request by the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG) to disclose information about the Strategic Investment Program, in which corporations receive a property tax break in exchange for a promise to create jobs and make specific investments in local communities. OSPIRG requested that Business Oregon disclose the recipients of these public dollars and what those recipients delivered in exchange for the money. OSPIRG filed a petition to the Attorney General last month to appeal Business Oregon’s decision. Business Oregon has seven days to either release the information or file suit to appeal the Attorney General’s decision.

This means you, SoloPower.

Government shouldn't have "trade secrets," and private companies that turn over their information to the state in exchange for special handouts of tax dollars have no legitimate expectation of privacy. Bully for the state justice department for getting this right, and may it stay the course through many more public records appeals to come involving "Business Oregon" and its greasy ilk.

Throw another government flack on the pile

The prez at UC Nike is advertising for a new mouthpiece. Can you say "free bowl game junkets"? There'll be a test for the gig: In 50 words or less, explain to the public why the university needs special pension plan rules for presidents and coaches. [Via our colleague at UO Matters.]

Seattle posts impressive bus ridership numbers

According to this story, Seattle's mostly-bus transit system showed a 12% ridership increase in 2012. In contrast, train-crazy Portland's numbers barely budged. What a difference integrity and competence make. [Via Erik H.]

School property giveaway to apartment dudes continues

This time not only is it "for the children," it's "for the Native American children." Way down at the bottom:

The project is based on a similar project in the Portsmouth neighborhood. That project, Bridge Meadows, operates on the Ball Elementary School site and was developed by Guardian Management, the same company that is developing the Lents project.

Johnny can't read, but Super Carole sure knows how to dance, doesn't she?

Nothing succeeds like failure at Tri-Met

They gave out raises to all the suits while the transit agency hurtles toward bankruptcy. All the while, the head honcho, who handed himself a 3% raise, was telling the public and the union that there was a management pay freeze in place. That guy needs a new gig somewhere else. And his board of know-nothing directors should be incarcerated.

Se Cristo vedesse

In 1870, when Giuseppe Garibaldi and the troops of the Italian Risorgimento invaded Rome, they put an end to the Papal States. The church at the time thought it was a calamity. Pius IX excommunicated some of the leaders of the new Italian state. But today, we see the end of the Papal States as a blessing. We are glad the church does not rule Italy. In fact, the recent elections prove no one can rule the Italians.

The Vatican is the last echo of the Papal States. It was created as a country in 1929 by the Lateran Concordat signed with the government of Benito Mussolini. The Vatican is a little "Potemkin village" of a state, just a façade. It allows us to claim to be an independent nation. Jesus said that we should "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's" (Mark 12:17). He did not say we should become Caesar.

The whole thing, written by a brave Catholic priest, is here.

Monday, March 11, 2013


Hillsboro signs up for giant cr-apartment bomb

It's Instant Soviet Union for the suburb out west of Portlandia proper.

Nanny state takes a hit

The New York soda police have been put out of business, at least for the time being.

Breaking news: Municipal bond fraud

The State of Illinois is accused of lying about its pension liabilities in sales documents for its IOUs. When you buy munis, you buy into the genius of people like Sam Adams, and the board of directors of Tri-Met. Good luck with that.

Zombie PERS

Here's an interesting bill currently bouncing around in Salem. It will retroactively vest in the pension system an unnamed police officer who died before being vested under the normal rules. The way the bill is worded, you can't tell who the cop was. But you can bet the sponsors, Reps. Bob Jenson (R-Pendleton) and Greg Smith (R-Heppner), can.

It's obvious that these two are playing up to their dead constituents, who as we all know are quite active in the Oregon vote-by-mail "system." That cremated demographic is important.

How the Hoosiers handle it

Here's an interesting story out of Indianapolis. They've got a rule against oral panhandling, and the mayor wants to expand it to include panhandling by sign:

In the heart of Downtown, not only would oral requests for money be banned at all hours, but so would the passive solicitations allowed in much of the city under current ordinance. Passive solicitations still would be allowed outside Downtown under the proposal, which would nevertheless tighten restrictions on when and where active panhandling is allowed.

The ordinance currently bans active panhandling after dark and at all times in places such as near bus stops, at sidewalk cafes, within 20 feet of an ATM or bank entrance, and when the person being targeted is in a vehicle on a public street or alley.

Now, we know what Oregonians have been programmed to say in response: "That will never work in Oregon, because our state constitution gives absolute free speech rights to beggars and street people." Maybe that's the way the Oregon courts have interpreted it, but it's curious that there should be any difference between the two states -- and the Indianapolis ban on spoken panhandling has apparently been upheld for more than a decade.

Here's what the Indiana constitution says:

Section 9. Freedom of thought and speech

No law shall be passed, restraining the free interchange of thought and opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print, freely, on any subject whatever: but for the abuse of that right, every person shall be responsible.

Here's what the Oregon constitution says:

Section 8. Freedom of speech and press

No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.

If there's a difference between what Indianapolis can do and what Portland can do, it certainly doesn't come from the text of the respective constitutional documents. Maybe the latest Indy proposal will step over the line, but many Portlanders would be happy with what that midwestern city already has.

Adoption of any such rules in Portlandia will never happen, of course. And between that and the $5 entrance fee that's been set up around downtown, central Portland won't be making a comeback for a long time.

Don't touch me there

Here's one they buried on Friday afternoon. Heck, they waited until 5:30 on Friday afternoon, hoping no one would see it. It's some more of the gory details of the antics of Portland police captain Todd Wyatt, the road-raging, gun-flashing police supervisor who also can't seem to keep his hands off the help. O reporter Maxine Bernstein reveals:

Wyatt sat beside her and placed the back of his hand on her upper left thigh, she told investigators in documents obtained by The Oregonian. His hand lingered there as he greeted her saying, "Well, how are you doing?"

The woman loudly protested and admonished Wyatt never to touch her again.

"I asked him, did he just touch me below my waist?" she told investigators. Then she turned to another woman seated nearby and asked, "Did you see this joker just touched me below my waist?"

The woman said Wyatt stared at her, jumped up and moved, but never apologized....

One of the encounters occurred during a supervisor staff meeting shortly after Wyatt came to the records division as captain in December 2009. In the meeting, Wyatt spoke of his expectations for managers. During role-playing, he touched a woman employee's leg, witnesses said. The woman recalled that he said something like, "I can touch employees ... unless they object."

For some reason, Bernstein leaves the worst for last:

The same woman said Wyatt had rubbed his hand on her leg during another meeting. She had been waiting for him to answer a question of hers and he sat beside her.

"He came down to talk to me and then he put his hand on the top of my leg and you know, rubbed it back and forth and said, 'OK, I hope that's fine with you,'" and then got up and left, she told investigators.

The woman said she had recently been promoted, was on probation and was afraid of losing her job. She described Wyatt's touch as "intimate ... something a date might do or a best friend might do, but not an acquaintance or co-worker." She moved to the afternoon shift so her dealings with Wyatt would be limited.

The police review board recommended that this guy be fired. But chief Mike Reese said no, and reassigned him to the sex crimes unit. That might be funny if it weren't real.

Wyatt, who had attended the city's sexual harassment training four times, told investigators: "I would never touch anybody in a manner that they didn't want to be touched, especially women. ... I'm that mortified that I'm even here, and embarrassed I'm even here talking about this."

Wyatt has filed a notice of intent to sue the city, challenging his demotion.

Ah yes, they are so good at suing, these immature little boys. And they hold people's lives in their hands. Heaven help our city.

Another bust from the keen minds of the Sam Rands

Here's a shocker from yet another "news" story about the Grocery Outlet that has opened at 122nd and Division:

Two years ago Mayor Sam Adams tasked the Portland Development Commission, the city's economic arm, with launching a "grocery store initiative" to help bring more markets to poor parts of the city. He noted that 40 percent of Portlanders live more than a mile from a market, which makes walking or biking to the store difficult.

But the city initiative wasn’t involved in landing the new Grocery Outlet, and Adams’ grocery store project is essentially dead, said PDC executive director Patrick Quinton.

Egad, there must be some mistake! Winners never quit.

Korean War II is brewing

Only this time with nukes. And we've already got 3,000 American troops in training exercises with the South army. Hot damn.

TurboTax steps in bucket in Minnesota

We got into it with the people who make the TurboTax tax preparation software a few years back, over the way that program handled the Oregon state income tax "kicker." The company, Intuit, defended its work tooth and nail, but it was clear that it spends a lot more time and effort on the federal tax return features of TurboTax than on the state. As well it should, from a financial standpoint -- each state represents just a small fraction of the number of federal returns filed by TurboTax customers. Still, we thought Intuit ought to increase the attention it paid to making the state programs work seamlessly for the paying customer.

Now comes word that TurboTax has made so many mistakes in Minnesota that that state is actually warning its taxpayers not to use TurboTax for state returns. And some people's refunds are being delayed. Now, that really stinks. Come on, Intuit, get off the cheap on those state programs!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

They give filth a bad name

Sometimes we wonder how the governments of our city, state, and country have gotten so screwed up. But then we read stories like this, and it starts to make sense. Let's see.... the Goldschmidt People at Northwest Natural take part of your gas bill payment and send it to Tina Kotek... nothing but good things will come out of that. Associated General Contractors forks over five figures, and the House majority leader from Eugene gets a big piece... gee, what could they want? And the hospital corporations pour it out to everybody down there... remind us, why is medical care so darned expensive?

Not the way we do things in Portland

A couple of readers have sent us photos of this billboard, down around where I-5 crosses Oregon 217:

It must have gone up on Thursday. Willy Week mentioned it on Friday, before we had a chance to comment on it.

We think it's funny as all get-out. Somebody actually acknowledging, amidst all the denial, that corruption is at the core of government in Oregon? It's wonderful. And they've got the right project. The folks forcing light rail on the 'Couv are every bit as corrupt as the ones forcing it on Clackamas County. It's the Goldschmidt People. They belong in jail. Instead, they run the region.

On the left there is Pat McCaig, who's leading the charge for the Network. She's getting a lot of unwanted personal attention now, but she's doubtlessly hard enough to handle it. Her wallet's getting fat, which is the key Network gauge of success.

Over on the right, however, is state treasurer and gubernatorial front-runner Ted Wheeler, whose connection to the CRoCk is not as clear to us. As we recall, Ted's actually made some statements that detract from the light rail people's arguments. Why the anti-bridge brigade has him on their corruption poster is puzzling.

It's a curious billboard, to be sure. Most of the people who see it will have no idea what it's about. It seems designed to embarrass the two people pictured, rather than sway public opinion.

But it may actually have the desired effect. We know from personal experience that criticism of Wheeler gets his wife Katrina really hot under the collar. Her head must be absolutely spinning around over this billboard.

Anyway, it's a priceless moment in Oregon history. A wonderful breach of Portland Polite. Kudos to whoever's responsible, and may there be many more.

The road goes on forever

We spent some quality time with an old friend last evening. Texas songster Joe Ely was in Portland, with an accompanist in tow for a sit-down acoustic set at Mississippi Studios. Ely wove his way through his extensive catalog of country, folk, and honky tonk songs, pausing in between to tell some funny stories and reflect on more than 40 years on the road singing for his supper.

The crowd was mostly silver-haired -- Ely is now at Social Security age -- and appreciative as Ely expertly played and sang such numbers as "Treat Me Like Saturday Night," "Silver City," "Hard Livin'," "You Can Bet I'm Gone," "Tonight I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown," and finally "Dallas." He told a few yarns about his days with Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock in what was then the world's least renowned supergroup, the Flatlanders -- a group that's now got a Carnegie Hall date coming up. Ely was in complete command of the proceedings, and you could see in his eyes that he was enjoying the intimate setting as he went through his paces, as he's done so many thousands of times before.

He had with him a superb picker named Jeff Plankenhorn, whose steel guitar, mandolin, and guitar really brought the headliner's unique stew of country rock to life. Opening the show was a solo act named Joe Pug -- Ely referred to the bill as the "Los Dos Joes with Three-Letter Last Names Tour" -- who presented some of his original songs. Pug reminded us a little of tapes we've seen of early Bruce Springsteen, or of the John Hiatt solo acoustic shows we've attended. He's endearing.

Tonight it's on to Seattle for the three of them. As one of Ely's most famous songs proclaims, "the party never ends."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Portland "planning" at its finest

Mark your calendar for this event -- a nine-hour "charrette" on the bright future of Portland's Old Town and Chinatown:

This charrette will develop land use and urban design alternatives for Old Town/Chinatown to inform the larger West Quadrant planning process. The charrette will be a focused effort by BPS and other City staff and consultants to generate alternatives, drawings and diagrams that elaborate on the themes explored during the Community Planning Forum (on 3/8/13).

See that? The City Hall "planning" minions will be there. The consultants will be there. The architects and the construction boys will be there. Everybody there will be getting paid to attend, except you. And if you leave for even a minute during the nine-hour ordeal, on a weekday, decisions might be made without you.

Isn't public involvement wonderful?

Why does Oregon even have an "energy department"?

It's just one scam after another in that agency. At a minimum, heads should be rolling down there. But really, why does the state "energy department" even exist? Can anybody give us two good reasons why it ought to be there in the first place?

Of all things

We couldn't believe our ears when we heard this story last night: A seven-year-old boy in Baltimore was suspended from school for two days for biting his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Have a great weekend

Surprise! Coliseum rehab all screwed up.

Another Sam Rand special -- time to throw the whole file away and start over. Or not start over.

Another multi-modal thief in Portland

A fun story in today's O:

[T]he passenger pulled out a three-inch to four-inch folding knife and held it to the driver and demanded money, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

The driver, Mohamed Mohed, ran from his cab, and called 911....

A bystander noticed and attempted to chase the suspect. He was able to grab the suspect's backpack before the suspect escaped on a streetcar.

About $300 had been from the cab. Police found the suspect's Oregon ID card inside the backpack.

The judge will probably let him off easy. Hey, he didn't bring a car downtown.

It's almost like having a life

Here's a sure-fire way to suck the life out of your Saturday: A four-hour meeting sponsored by the City of Portland about "how to lead an effective meeting."

This training is open to all interested individuals who would like to learn how to effectively create welcoming environments for community members to participate and work together to improve the livability of Portland’s neighborhoods, use conflict management skills for controversial issues and be an effective voice for your community in front of city council.

Among the speakers is a guy from the Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates. Then a "community facilitator" will sound off. Finally, Nurse Amanda herself will get up to pontificate on "Do's and Don'ts for Testifying in Front of City Council."

We already know the biggest "don't": Expect them to listen if you're not telling them what they want to hear.


This blog recorded its 8 millionth unique visit this morning, as tracked by SiteMeter. The latest million visits came in over 263 days, as opposed to 269 days for the previous million. So readership's up a bit over the latest period -- maybe around 2.3%.

As we've been saying as we've passed these milestones in the recent past:

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

Super Carole gets called out on dismantling Benson High

We keep hearing from critics of Portland's inept school board that the school district is determined to keep its failing Jefferson High School open, even at the expense of closing or wrecking Benson High School. The issue seems to be coming to a head this week, as we were copied on this e-mail message last night:

Dear Civic Leaders,

As Chair of the Benson Polytechnic Alumni Association, I urge you to please contact the PPS School Board and ask them to stop restricting transfers to Benson’s successful career technical training programs. Major manufacturers including Precision Castparts, Vigor Industrial, and Greenbrier have signed the attached letter asking the Governor and the Oregon's Educational Leadership to intervene as a jobs issue, and we are gathering more signatures from other industry partners who understand the importance of a skilled workforce. On March 11 at 6pm, I am scheduled for public comment to read this letter at the PPS School Board meeting.

For 93 years, Benson’s proven program has trained students for middle class jobs in high demand fields such as engineering, electric and industrial automation, manufacturing technology, communications technology, and health sciences. Within a few weeks, PPS will turn away nearly 200 students, and deny many economically disadvantaged and minority students a career pathway out of poverty. Last week ended the application period, 440 students applied to Benson as Freshmen, and 15 as Sophomore transfers, but PPS has capped enrollment at 248 Freshmen, and 10 Sophomore transfers. A LOTTERY will be used to determine who will have this wonderful opportunity.. nearly 50% of the applying students will be turned away... the students have voted... why not allow them to attend the most productive school on the Eastside of Portland that teaches the very traits we have all acknowledged in the press and publicly are needed today and in the future. Benson is the school that works.

In the City of Portland, Benson’s 81% graduation rate is second only to Lincoln, though many students are economically disadvantaged (75% Title I), and it is the only high school to graduate more black and Hispanic than white students. PPS has halved Benson Polytechnic’s successful programs to 850 students, cut computer engineering, software technology, mechanical drawing and architectural drawing, and pharmaceutical technology, and turned away hundreds of economically disadvantaged and minority students to keep numbers up at lesser performing Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Madison High Schools, which are the very neighborhoods where the majority of the applicants come from. http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/21117-high-school-redesign-traps-benson.

Businesses such as Precision Castparts Structurals, Gunderson, Tice Industries, Blount International, Vigor, Esco, and Boeing, want to work with Benson students and offer paid apprenticeships for jobs that start at $12-14 per hour leading to jobs that average $45,000 in early career annual earnings. http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/116263-benson-students-cash-in-on-job-skills. Thanks to the Portland Workforce Alliance and its work with the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries, even more apprenticeship opportunities are being created this school year. These major employers are facing a "retiring workforce" over the next 5-10 years and there is a labor crisis in the making if Manufacturing and its story of providing Middle Class Jobs is not made well known to educators in the schools as soon as possible.. Look at materials from organizations named Pathways to Manufacturing and Manufacturing 21 Coalition to see that industry is trying hard to knock on educators' doors to address this issue, and read Chandra Brown's comment in today's Portland Business Journal in her appointment to a U.S. Commerce post, that "Manufacturing is what the middle class is based on".

The 2013 Oregon Business Plan calls for investments in workforce training to meet industry needs for technically trained engineers, health technicians, computer scientists, and well-paying manufacturing jobs, yet PPS is gutting the very programs that drive our economic engine.

Skilled technicians and tradespeople can earn up to $100k, without incurring college debt. Advanced manufacturing jobs pay more than non-manufacturing jobs and offer economic equity to non-native speakers and non-traditional students. http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2012/09/portlands_manufacturing_jobs_p.ht Benson represents real world application of the Oregon Business Plan, 40-40-20, OEIB STEM initiatives, Cradle-to-Career, and the Portland Plan by providing relevant career training and apprenticeships in target job creation clusters.

PPS will not agree to stop restricting transfers to Benson, because it is concerned with keeping numbers up at poorly performing Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Madison. Only 32 lottery applicants applied to Jefferson in 2012, compared to 440 applicants to Benson. With ongoing budget shortfalls, Benson needs to rebuild back to its full capacity of 1600-2000 students to offer full educational programs. If PPS further restricts transfers, Benson won’t have the students, teachers, or programs to offer full programs.

Where Benson students used to study mechanical drawing for engineering, PPS is now subleasing the space to drug rehab programs. Benson should be an economic development tool in partnership with our business community.

Thank you for your consideration and your immediate attention to these important issues.

Rob Johns
Class of ‘77, Benson Polytechnic High School
Chair, Benson Polytechnic Alumni Association
President, Benson Tech Foundation

It's a real shame what's happened to the Portland public schools, and continues to happen. It sounds as though someone's PC fixation with "equity" is actually doing more harm than good to the people it is supposed to be helping.

Double Standard of the Week

An alert reader writes to point out an interesting story, and a juxtaposition: When the Portland police pension system screwed up and overpaid some pension recipients and then tried to get the money back, the recipients sued to keep the money. When the federal government overpaid someone and he kept the money, it prosecuted him.

Put a bird on it

And make $121 a day.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Push comes to shove between Tri-Met and Clackistanis

Well, that was quick. We're not even at the ides of March, and already Tri-Met is suing the newly elected Clackamas County commissioners for following the clearly expressed will of the majority of the county's residents. As a smart friend of ours pointed out this afternoon, the insolvent transit agency has never really had to deal with a truly uncooperative local government within its boundaries before. Now we'll likely see it at its worst: manipulative, arrogant, petulant, thuggish, and dishonest. Tri-Met richly deserves all the tsuris it is currently getting, and the bankruptcy that is just around the corner.

Blah blah blah vibrancy blah blah blah

Now the O is going to tell you that after six or seven years, the epically failed SoWhat District is almost starting to feel like a neighborhood:

Ethan Seltzer, professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University, points out neighborhoods and our perceptions of them are in constant flux.

"Many would be quick to write off South Waterfront," he says, but think of the Alberta neighborhood. The hordes willing to line up for brunch outside the Tin Shed these days probably don't realize that it sits in a spot that was the epicenter of the crack trade in the 1990s.

How a neighborhood evolves, he says, is only partly a function of its physical layout and arrangement. What makes one neighborhood downright hostile, another innocuous and unremarkable, and another rich with street life and cultural vibrancy, is he says, what the "people who live there commit to do with each other. What are the intentions of the people who inhabit the place?"

Almost. It's coming. Any day now. The hard-to-get-to condo tower jungle is going to be a real destination. The next Alberta. Yeah, that's the ticket.

She's got a point

A reader writes:

Look! Look! The latest in iconic, vibrant, eco-friendly lodging.... could this be the latest "convention center hotel" multi-modal model? And hipster-friendly, too.

It would make a lot more sense than an empty Hyatt.

Update from Division Street front of cr-apartment war

A reader who's involved in the battle over the now-stopped outlaw apartment bunker being built in southeast Portland forwards this missive from the neighbors who have been fighting the thing:

As many may attest, there is work being done at the site on 37th and Division. Well, the attached letters were recently forwarded to the Richmond Neighborhood Association regarding this. The City has decided to allow the contractor to put in a permanent sprinkler system and protect the structure from the elements. We will let you decide on whether they seem to be trying to get as much done as possible or abiding by the letter of the law for a work stoppage.

We are also attaching a fascinating article from a blog Portland Architecture. It makes some great points that RNRG has been advocating from the beginning.

Finally, there is a big meeting coming up at BPS on Tuesday, March 12th from 12:30-3:30pm. The meeting will be held at 1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 2500, Portland, OR 97201. Joe Zehnder from BPS will be discussing the new parking requirements that have been suggested, and there will be input from the community. Please take time from your busy day to come, listen and comment. Sometimes these meetings can seem fraught with tediousness but they play a significant role in shaping how rules, regulations and codes will be implemented in our neighborhoods.

Best wishes to all those sticking up for neighborhood livability against the forces of ignorance, arrogance, and greed. As for the linked article -- it's got a little too much "vibrant" nonsense in it for our taste. "NIMBY neighbors"? That's a badge of honor when it comes out of the mouth of some pretentious jerk with an architecture background.

Another Portland sacrilege

We see that they're making the concrete canyon walkways of the South Auditorium area in Portland into some sort of historic district. Granted, they put some nice fountains in there when the built those awful skyscrapers, but to call the place historic is deeply ironic.

To make way for those butt-ugly apartment bunkers -- Portland's first "urban renewal" specimens -- all sorts of history was ripped out of that place and thrown in the trash. A thriving, working-class, immigrants' place is what it was. Then it became a maze of hideous Robert Moses freeway ramps and a wall of soulless high-rise housing projects to match. It's a whole lot of nothing, much of it owned by Legend Dan Saltzman's clan.

Anyway, calling that place a historic district is about as offensive as calling the Hanford bomb factory complex a national park. It's deeply Orwellian. Such is the age in which we find ourselves.

And of course, presiding over it all is Portland's fop laureate, Randy Gragg. It's perfect. He is to journalism what South Auditorium is to history.

Obama taps Portlandia streetcar princess for Commerce gig

It's quite telling that "commerce" these days means "making a nice living off government contracts that do little public good." It looks as though Portland's East Berlin-style revival is about to go nationwide.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

One more reason to loathe the Portland school board

Now the Bobbie-heads are pushing fluoride in the water. Given how they've screwed up what used to be a halfway decent school system, you'd think they'd try to stick to the knitting. But no.

Solution to Firefox pdf problems

This PDF document might not be displayed correctly.

We were complaining the other day about a sudden change for the worse in the way the Firefox web browser displays pdf files. It's prompted us to look into chucking Firefox altogether, and we're on our way in that direction. However, today we finally came across the solution to the immediate problem that was hanging us up.

It seems that the latest update of Firefox, released a few weeks ago, contains a "native" pdf viewer that, frankly, sucks. Among many other flaws, it has no search function. Are they kidding?

The Firefox update resets the default application for pdf reading to the "native" viewer. And so the user has to direct Firefox not to use the "native" viewer, but instead to run an Adobe program, either within or without Firefox. The fix, which is easy, is here. No thanks to Mozilla. Their products are free, and worth every penny sometimes.

Money down a rat hole, cont'd

If you wonder why the City of Portland has a budget crisis, here's Exhibit A. How many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, are we spending to churn out this dreck? Yes, we need land use rules, but we don't need a bloated army of "planning" bureaucrats who get precious little done, and when they do, it's bad.

For those of you keeping score at home, the "vibrant" count in this 12-page document comes in at 9.

Big Brother figures out what's wrong with you

This is fascinating and frightening at the same time.

Breaking news: The Newhouses are rich

This seems kind of petty.

Whole Foods, home of the $3.09 tangerine

These are pretty good, and so without thinking we threw six of them in our basket at Whole Foods the other day. It wasn't until we glanced at our receipt that we realized what they set us back: 4.64 pounds at $3.99 a pound = $18.51! That works out to $3.09 apiece, for tangerines! They don't call it Whole Paycheck for nothing.

Another school running radio ads

We complained recently that the Portland public schools have been blowing thousands of tax dollars buying advertising on public radio. What's up with that? Well, as it turns out, the school district is not alone. A reader writes:

I was listening to 89.9 All Classical this morning when they thanked Portland Community College for helping to sponsor the station.

Like OPB, 89.9 is also supported by its generous listeners rather than through running commercials. I just don’t think our kids’ tuition dollars should be spent to keep the station on the air.

For PCC to be doing this really sticks in our craw. That outfit is currently gouging property taxpayers to pay off construction bonds for fancy buildings, reportedly including tons of office space, when it should be investing in distance learning. Nobody's as arrogant as the bureaucrats of Portland -- nobody.

Portland arts tax goes beyond weird

We still can't believe that if you sell property at a loss, the City of Portland is going to call you an "income earner" on account of that, and subject you to the new so-called "income tax" for the arts. It's one more bizarre feature of a tax scheme that includes 10 months' retroactivity, treating gifts as income, and imposing the tax on people based on the income of other members of their household.

Example. Mom has a good job. Her arts tax is $35. Dad stays at home and raises the kids. He has no income in the normal sense of the word. The oldest child, Daisy, just turned 18 and goes to school full-time. Daisy has no income in the normal sense of the word.

One of the younger kids brings home a flower and gives it to Dad. Dad now owes the city $35 arts tax. Daisy finds a penny on the ground, picks it up, and puts it in her pocket. Daisy now owes the city $35 arts tax.

Just because it's ridiculous doesn't mean it's illegal, of course. But leaving aside its legality for the moment, this tax is as stupid as Opie Sten's "free municipal wi-fi" fantasy. It's right up there with "voter-owned elections." It's a product of not very bright politicians and vicious bureaucrats, living in a complete and utter fantasy world.

Jelly's got a secret

Local government in Oregon is thick on the sleaze. Many governmental agencies have "foundations" attached, which are convenient places to park money and information when you don't want the public to know what's going on. The state universities run their dirty little athletic departments that way. The Portland zoo is running its budding elephant baby mill through a foundation. And now we see that the Portland parks bureau is also playing the game:

[City parks director Mike] Abbate cited a poll funded by the nonprofit Portland Parks Foundation as a deciding factor, noting that "Portlanders are not ready to invest in a Portland Parks bond effort this year."

The city subsequently created a webpage, called "The Future of Our Parks System," and relied on the same polling to show that Portlanders are very pleased with amenities....

City Hall Watch asked Portland Parks & Recreation for the rest of the poll results.

Spokesman Mark Ross says the city doesn't have the results they've touted and referred questions to the foundation.

"The Foundation commissioned the poll and went over results with us in a meeting," Ross wrote in an email responding to a public records request. "The City doesn't have a document."

How convenient. Fish can be slippery, all right.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Guess who's been working in the Portland sewer department

Uh oh.

Portland State packed with patronage potential

From no less of an authority than President Wiewel himself:


Total: 6,039
Bachelor’s: 4,320
Master’s: 1,654
Doctoral: 65...


Contribution: $1.4 billion annually
Employees: 6,909
Alumni: 85,800 in the Portland metro area (132,000 total)

He's got 14% more employees than graduates? Wow. That seems like too many.

More cr-apartments for Irvington

There was no sense in hoping that this building on Northeast Broadway could be rehabbed and saved. Nope! Fourteen cramped apartments, and no parking, of course:

The applicant proposes a new two-story mixed-use building in the Irvington Historic District. The building will contain 14-units with twelve residential units, two retail/live-work spaces, and an attached service room to include laundry, bicycle storage and trash storage at the rear of the property. The rear service room and four units on each side of the building will be accessed via paved walkways on the west and east sides of the property. Additional bicycle storage will be located in most of the units. The residential units range from micro-studios at 263 square feet, one-bedrooms at 369 square feet, to townhouses at 450 square feet, to two-bedroom units at 568 square feet. The retail/live-work spaces are proposed at 394 and 416 square feet. Small projecting balconies are proposed at the second level on all sides, with the north-facing balconies integrated with the flow through planter over the service room. Exterior materials include HardiePlank fiber cement boards and stucco panel siding, single-hung and fixed fiberglass windows, and wood doors. The proposed building is 23'-2" to the top of the parapet. No parking is proposed.

At least it will apparently be only two stories tall. Infill über alles!

Hold onto your wallet, the "stakeholders" are meeting

Portland's "planning" overlords are busy figuring out how to run everyone's lives for the next 30 years, and they've got hand-picked "stakeholder" groups meeting to provide a veneer of public participation over the pre-determined agenda. The west side group's roster is pretty amusing:

Blake Beanblossom - The Standard
Doreen Binder - Transitions Projects
Catherine Ciarlo - CH2M Hill
Hermann Colas, Jr. - Colas Construction
Ben Duncan - Multnomah County Health Equity Initiative
Brian Emerick - Portland Historic Landmarks Commission
Jessica Engelmann - Oregon Walks
Jason Franklin - Portland State University
Jeanne Galick - Willamette greenway advocate, South Portland resident
Jim Gardner - South Portland Neighborhood Association
Patricia Gardner - Pearl District Neighborhood Association
Greg Goodman - Downtown Development Group
Patrick Gortmaker - Old Town/Chinatown Community Association
Jodi Guetzloe-Parker - Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council
Sean Hubert - Central City Concern
Cori Jacobs - Downtown Retail Advocate
Michael Karnosh - Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde
Nolan Leinhart - ZGF Architects
Keith Liden - Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee
Jeff Martens - CPUsage
Marvin Mitchell - Julia West House; Downtown Neighborhood Association
Anne Naito-Campbell - Civic activist and property owner
John Petersen - Melvin Mark Capital Group
Dan Petrusich - Portland Business Alliance
Steve Pinger - Northwest District Association
Valeria Ramirez - Portland Opera
Veronica Rinard - Travel Portland
John Russell - Property owner and developer
Bob Sallinger - Portland Audubon Society
Katherine Schultz - GBD Architects and Planning and Sustainability Commission
Mary Valeant - Goose Hollow Foothills League
Karen Williams - Carroll Investments
Jane Yang - NW Natural

What a rogues' gallery. Goodman, Russell, Naito, Carroll, CH2M Hill, Mevin Mark, ZGF, the opera, Portland State Patronage Center....

And representing your average taxpayer? Er, that would be no one, Bob.

It's easy to tell when Portland killer cops are in the wrong

When they gun someone down in what they feel is an obviously justified case, the public gets the extensive official lowdown in 12 hours or less. When they kill someone they shouldn't have, it takes a lot longer.

In Portland, gifts are now income for tax purposes

Now, that's just crazy, but sure enough, here it is:

A. "Income" includes, but is not limited to, all income earned or received from any source, regardless of whether it is taxable under state or federal law. Examples of income include, but are not limited to, gifts, interest from individual or joint savings accounts or other interest bearing accounts, child support payments, alimony, unemployment assistance, disability income, sales of stocks and other property (even if sold at a loss), dividends, social security income (taxable or non-taxable), gross receipts from a business and wages as an employee.

Notice, too, that gross receipts from sales are "income," even if the sale is at a loss. What about welfare?

Is that what the voters voted for? And who's writing this stuff -- the chimps in the zoo?

Oh, well. The definition of income probably isn't all that important, because we all know the new Portland arts tax isn't really an income tax. It's a head tax. Which is why it's illegal.

Jessica knows better than you

An outraged reader writes:

Here is a piece of an email I got from my state representative, Jessica Vega Pederson:

"HB 2800 - the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project: Last Monday I voted yes on House Bill 2800, which moves the I-5 Bridge Replacement Project one step closer to reality. While there is valid concern surrounding the project and I appreciated hearing from some of my constituents regarding the issue, I am convinced that HB 2800 is a good idea for Oregon and for our local economy. The triggers that are in place within the bill help safeguard Oregon, and I will continue following the conversation as the project moves forward."

So in essence, she got a bunch of emails from her constituents opposing the project, and telling her to vote no (you know, she represents us) and she says, "Well, I know you don't like it, but I know what's good for you."

I've seen some videos of her recently, and she fits the mold of that typical Oregon politician that seems to know best, and is good at dodging issues with talking points. She is well groomed.

It's just disgusting, Jack. I live in a blue collar part of town; I have felt slighted by local and state governments. I was excited that a new person came into office. And when I email her, I get the same Ginny Burdick type of response. "Thank you for emailing me. I'm not going to take your thoughts into consideration, because I know I am right."

And guess what. You'll probably be labeled a racist for saying anything.

It seems as though the new kids in Salem are all hoping to move up to paying gigs in state government. And so they follow Kotek's direction. Making waves is out of the question.

Mayor Char-Lie: Fix streets for a year, then a city gas tax

In his own words:

I.B.: What’s the next evolution on the transportation front in Portland?

C.H.: The big picture in transportation is first we have to recommit to basic maintenance and show people that we can take care of the streets, because right now we are not.

We have to go to the community for additional money for transportation. I don't know what that's going to be — a gas tax, vehicle registration fee. We cannot even start that conversation with the broader public until they know we are being good stewards of the streets we have, that we are out there filling the potholes and fixing the streets.

Stage one is to show people really good management and good use of the dollars we have and then go out there and be the salesperson for whatever we have to do for new revenue about a year from now.

The whole thing is here.

CRoCk straining to get to "It's too late to turn back now"

It's how the Goldschmidt People roll. And thus, how business is done in Oregon. It truly is part of the shame of living here.

New month, new dead guy

The Portland police shot and killed another man last night near the crime-scarred Lloyd Center. They say he was armed, for a change. So far, no word on what he was armed with.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Farewell to Firefox

We've had a great run with the Firefox internet browser, but we've come to the last straw. Not only is the Adobe Flash player plug-in continuing to screw up on various scripts that used to run flawlessly, but now the Adobe Reader plug-in suddenly won't display fillable pdf files correctly. It's been a great run, but when a browser starts causing this many problems, we've got other choices, and it's time to move on. No, we're not going to start screwing around with somebody's hacks to fix the problem. We installed the various updates as soon as they were pushed on us, and now things are fubarred. Mozilla, you blew it big time.

We're really reluctant to use the Microsoft product, and so Chrome looks like the default. Wish us luck.

The tax form the City of Portland doesn't want you to see

If you want to pay the City of Portland's new head tax for the arts the old-fashioned way, here's the form you can mail in with your check. It's a pdf file, but no, it's not a fillable pdf file, because the city wants you to pay electronically, and they're being difficult about this.

Keep in mind that the constitutionality of this ridiculous tax is in doubt. That is all we're going to say, because the matter is heading for litigation.

Gatsby picks up some more neocon cred

Now Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) is joining his GOP brethren in fomenting open warfare between Israel and Iran. This must play well with his Manhattan constituents; we doubt he heard much about it at his quaint town halls out in Arregone.

Even smarter

A reader writes:

These are in Monterey CA. They are individual smart meters. They take credit cards. One doesn't have to hike blocks in the rain to pay. And no messy little scraps of paper to deal with. I guess if ole Ellis had been paid a bribe by this manufacturer, Portland would have these.

Speaking of ole Ellis, he hasn't been sentenced yet, has he? Let's hope he's singing like a bird.

More public money for "green" jobs

A "public-private partnership"... with lottery funds... for electric cars! What's not to like? Here's another $180,000 out the door. And hey, Dave Frohnmayer's kid gets a piece of the action -- for three-wheelers! The planet is saved.

Mayor Char-Lie's first fix

At least, the first one he's been busted for: sweet, sweet zoning goodies for the California sharpies building the Mystery Train to Milwaukie:

Stacy and Witbeck Inc., the construction firm that built most of the region's MAX and streetcar routes, has doubled down on its latest project by buying 3.25 acres along the Portland-to-Milwaukie MAX line for development....

Stacy and Witbeck is benefiting from connections to Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. The company president met with Hales in January, leading the new mayor to order city employees to accelerate land-use planning tied to the MAX line.

That could speed up a zoning change likely to increase the value of the property, which Stacy and Witbeck bought in 2011 for $3.16 million. The land is currently zoned for industrial and commercial uses....

Stacy and Witbeck donated $25,000 to Hales' mayoral campaign, equal to his largest cash contribution. Company executives also gave him more than $8,000, according to campaign filings, with Bollier giving $6,600.

Hales said the contributions in no way prompted him to accelerate planning. In fact, he said, he thinks the new zoning should have been in place before construction on the MAX line began. He added: "In a free economy, people are free to exploit their opportunities."...

Hales said thoughtful planning and potential zoning changes could benefit not only Stacy and Witbeck but Portlanders.

"Sometimes," Hales said, "their self-interest and the public interest align."

Uh huh. What a tool.

Your tax dollars at work, cont'd

If you don't think the state bureaucracies around here have too many people sitting around doing nothing worthwhile, here's food for further thought:

Government minions in two states hard at work this morning.

This is Portland City Hall

One photo, taken in northwest Portland, says it all:

This town is badly screwed up, friends.

Christo Building still a monument to infill folly

We've written a few times over the years about the awful, vacant cr-apartment building at 93rd Avenue and Woodstock Boulevard in southeast Portland. For a while, the whole structure was wrapped in plastic, thus attracting the nickname "the Christo building." A reader provided a depressing update yesterday:

I had high hopes when they took the wraps off the Christo building last summer that they were actually going to do something to make it viable. It appears it is still rotting away. They unwrapped it, but as you can see in one of the photos I took today, they duct-taped the door with wrap, and the back remains a junk/staging yard and wrapped. Maybe this construction season, they can at least do more than unwrap the joke gift.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pick up a pound of Beaver burger?

It may come to that pretty soon.

Crazy hoops

Here's quite the ending in a high school state basketball championship game in New York today:

Nurse Amanda: Don't use deodorant if you visit City Hall

A reader sends along an e-mail exchange with Nurse Amanda about the street punks who chase nice people out of downtown. She flips the reader the bird on that one -- doesn't want to trample on the punks' rights, of course -- but to us the stuff in her signature line is also worth noting (emphasis added):

From: Commissioner Fritz
Date: March 3, 2013 1:04:41 AM PST
To: 'S....' <........@gmail.com>
Subject: RE: "street youth"

Dear S....,

Thank you for your message. Oregon's Constitution prohibits restrictions on freedom of speech and expression "in any way whatsoever". This is a higher standard than other states, which may explain why attempts to restrict the rights of "street youth" have been overturned by Oregon courts. While I recognize their "lifestyle" impacts others, I don't believe government should override individual's rights. I encourage you to call 9-1-1 if you experience threats or other criminal behavior.


Amanda Fritz
Commissioner, City of Portland

The City of Portland is a fragrance free workplace. To help me and others be able to breathe, please avoid using added fragrances when visiting City offices.

To help ensure equal access to City programs, services and activities, the City of Portland will reasonably modify policies/procedures and provide auxiliary aids/services to persons with disabilities. Call 503-823-2036, TTY 503-823-6868 with such requests or visit http://www.portlandonline.com/ADA_Forms

We love the "added" fragrances part. An unwashed human has a fragrance, too, and that's okay. It's her European charm that has endeared the Nurse to so many. Maybe the fragrance thing is part of why she protects the street punks so much. Apparently she's one of the discerning noses that led to this.

We also admire her devotion to the state constitution. It's too bad it didn't stop her from voting for the new head tax.

Meanwhile, on the merits, the reader responds:


"Street youth" who lie on the sidewalks begging for money to use for illicit purposes (mostly drugs) should not be protected under the cloak of freedom of speech. I find that a real stretch. You confirm what I've always thought -- we need to amend the state constitution so that its freedom of speech provisions comport exactly to the federal constitution -- but no more.

Our downtown is struggling. People put a lot of their heart and money into opening businesses there. In addition to having to survive in our economy, they have have to overcome the challenge of operating in an area populated with vagrants and loiterers. Our city government should be doing everything it can to help our downtown thrive, not impede it.

If your solution to this is police action, why not help out by pushing for a real police presence downtown? I walk there often and almost never see officers walking the beat. One way to counter the intimidation caused by these people would be to have police in the area where they congregate at all times.

Amanda, in my 10 years living here, this problem has gotten worse, not better, despite all the money we pour into homeless services. Every visitor I bring downtown notices it.

Surely you don't think the situation downtown is good or normal?

Little Lord Paulson is just a regular guy, cont'd

The writers at the O just can't stop telling us that the spawn of Wall Street bully Hank Paulson didn't get anywhere because of his father's money. Who can forget when John Canzano reported so breathlessly that young Lord Paulson answered the door in his bare feet? Now Geoff Arnold visits the Dunthorpe mansion and comes away with the same ridiculous yarn:

It's the genuineness in Paulson's personality that in 2008 helped persuade former Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard to support Paulson's drive to attract an MLS franchise to Portland and renovate PGE Park (now Jeld-Wen Field) into a soccer-specific stadium....

Paulson said it wasn't his father's money that helped him while growing up on a five-acre farm in Barrington Hills, Ill. What helped was Dad and mom Wendy's desire to raise their two children, Merritt and younger sister Amanda, in a home where work was emphasized....

"The way I paid off the lawyer fees was getting a job at a construction firm in downtown Chicago and working on projects at places like Cabrini-Green," Paulson said, referring to the public housing project. "We did a lot of asbestos removal. I carried a lot of scaffolding. I discovered I never wanted to do that again."

Henry Paulson didn't allow his children to get completely caught up in the affluent lifestyle. No fancy, high-priced cars -- Henry Paulson drove a Ford Bronco while Wendy Paulson sported around in a Volkswagen Rabbit. Many vacations consisted of camping or canoe trips, and even those involved some work.

"It didn't feel like a vacation when I was younger, because you're carrying heavy packs, canoes and paddling. You're setting up camping gear," Paulson said. "It felt more like work -- you feel like you're getting your butt kicked."

They even get No-Permit Randy to break his dark silence to gush about His Lordship:

"I had a preconceived notion about Merritt and his background -- a typical wealthy business guy," Leonard said. "I left the meeting refreshingly wrong. A lot of it was his demeanor. He was a very forthright guy and earnest -- a guy who exhibited enthusiasm over this proposal.

"I remember sitting and meeting with him in person and laughing. I was just immediately at ease. Then I was intrigued about going to the next step."

The whole steaming pile is here. It's to laugh.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Then you go downstairs to some tables and chairs

One of the guys who ran the Bottom Line nightclub in the East Village of Manhattan has died. Stanley Snadowsky. What a great venue that was. Well worth lining up on the sidewalk to get in, for just about any show they hosted.

The obits will all mention the famous Springsteen stand of August 1975. But there was another Springsteen date there, in April 1974. That's when we encountered him for the first time.

We remember two other Bottom Line shows -- comedian Robert Klein and songwriter Don McLean. Both were great. McLean broke a string in the middle of a song -- suspended the song, replaced the string, picked up where he left off. Klein kept us in stitches. God rest Stanley Snadowsky, and thanks.

Fat, salt, and sugar

Our dead-tree subscription to the Sunday New York Times is a nice thing. Picking through the sections, we do come across articles in there that we probably wouldn't catch on line. This one's really interesting: It discusses the lengths to which Big Food will go to pump Americans full of stuff that's bad for them. They've got people on payroll whose full-time job is to figure out ways to make you crave foods that will kill you.

The worst part: We just found out that those Stacy's pita chips we enjoy so much are actually owned by the same people that make Doritos. Depressing stuff.

Breaking news: Hanky panky in Oregon prison system

The O sends its "Who had the pickle?" specialist, Les Zaitz, in to look at all the money sloshing around in the Oregon corrections department -- particularly, the money that's made from inmate labor. Combing through work done by state investigators, Zaitz finds lots of relatively little sins, including patronage jobs, corrections guys taking free furniture for their offices out of the prison furniture shop, thousands of dollars going to political fundraising dinners, that sort of thing. But nobody personally benefited, Zaitz concludes. At least, not that he could find.

Well, of course not. The Oregon prison administration is pure. And Frank Gable murdered Michael Francke over a car prowl.

The real problem here is that the money that's made from inmate labor isn't accounted for the way a normal state agency's revenue would be. It's parked in some sort of shady "quasi-public agency," where it's available to be skimmed for just about anything. Sort of like what OHSU has now, and what the University of Oregon wants. It's the Oregon Way -- the Goldschmidt Way. It's the tip of a much larger iceberg that you'd better not ask too much about, lest you wake up with a horse's head in your bed with you.

Portland City Hall to workers: Don't use deodorant

Our spies within the City of Portland's juvenile bureaucracy pass along this e-mail message, received yesterday:

From: BHR Communications
Sent: Friday, March 01, 2013 2:17 PM
To: Citywide All Employees Distribution List
Cc: City Elected Officials; City Elected Officials Exec's
Subject: HRAR 4.03 - Dress, Appearance, and Fragrance in the Workplace


Good afternoon.

In 2011, City Council adopted a very important policy. Human Resources Administrative Rule 4.03 was revised to include a section on workplace fragrance. Please remember to refrain from the use of scented personal products in the workplace, where the sole purpose is to produce fragrance, and to avoid the use of strongly-scented personal hygiene products such as powder, hairspray, and deodorant. Except in limited circumstances, the use of air freshener products should be avoided as well.

Thank you for your attention to this policy. Employees who are sensitive to perfumes and chemicals may suffer potentially serious health consequences from exposure to scented products.

Please do not "Reply All' if responding to this message.

A ban on shaving can't be too far off. And remember, toenail clippings go in the green bin.

Food, glorious food

They've opened a new grocery store at 122nd and Division -- a Grocery Outlet, where an Albertson's used to be. It's a great thing for the neighbors, but this version of the story turns it into a commercial for Portland City Hall's "food desert" hype. It's not at all clear that the city government had anything to do with the new store, and if it were Wal-Mart trying to open there, you can bet the party line would be much, much different.

The TV reporter also says that it's a mile and a half from the new store to the nearest Safeway, but according to one of our readers, it's only 0.6 miles. This map appears to corroborate that.

Anyway, hurray for the store and the nearby residents, but please, can we leave Nurse Amanda out of it?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Have a great weekend

Dennis Rodman: "I love Kim Jong Un"

What's it they say about birds of a feather?

Game on! Portland publishes regs on arts tax.

We see that the City of Portland has finally gotten around to promulgating administrative rules administering the haphazard new $35-a-head "income tax" for the arts. They were adopted a week ago Wednesday, and they are posted here. We still think the tax may be prohibited by the Oregon constitution. We're not paying it (except possibly under protest) unless the state supreme court tells us we have to. See you in Salem, opera lovers!

Linchpin lost

When Neil Goldschmidt and the OHSU gang were selling Portland taxpayers the aerial tram [rim shot], we were told that it and the hot new biotech center that the med school was going to build in the SoWhat District would bring thousands of new jobs to the area. As we recall, the number 10,000 was being tossed around.

Well, here we are a deacde later, and golly, OHSU isn't hiring:

Officials say OHSU will lose more than $30 million this year from automatic federal budget cuts that begin taking effect Friday, much of it from reduced research funding.

They say a $20 million increase in public employee pension costs also is squeezing OHSU’s $2 billion budget.

Like all "hiring freezes," this one will have exceptions -- it will have to. But it's interesting that the people who promise taxpayers jobs in order to get what they want, sing a much different tune once they get it.

SoloPower stink grows stronger

Yesterday we pointed to an O story about SoloPower hiring a liquidation company to sell off millions of dollars of manufacturing equipment. That, along with the serial resignation of several of the company's top executives, signals quite clearly to us that SoloPower is going under, and the hundreds of jobs promised to Portland aren't coming here despite tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies handed to it.

Less than a day later, the O has run another story about SoloPower, and it's almost as if the reporter on the second article forgot she wrote the first one. She doesn't even mention the liquidation or the multiple resignations.

But what she does uncover is outrageous. Despite the hype of 500 jobs that was sold to the public by the governor and the mayor, the deal on the state handouts was only for 140 jobs:

The performance agreement released by the state's economic development arm details, for the first time, two key employment benchmarks tied to the California-based solar panel maker's manufacturing Business Energy Tax Credit. The company, at a minimum, agreed to "create and maintain" 140 full-time equivalent jobs....

In 2012, as SoloPower built out its first North Portland production line, it needed only three dozen full-time jobs to comply with year one of the deal....

And so basically, we were all lied to.

But it gets worse. The state "agency" that hands out the money in these back room deals isn't acting like a public agency when it comes to giving up documents under the state's public records laws. It's blacking out key elements of the SoloPower deal, claiming that they are some sort of trade secret:

But Business Oregon redacted the deadline for meeting that mark, as well as all future employment mandates. The agency typically does not spell out specifics, citing trade secrets.

Wow. What unmitigated horsecrap. There is no reason that deal shouldn't have been fully aired at the time it was made, and there is no excuse for redacting a single word of it. If people seeking handouts want secrecy, then they need to go see their banks, not the government, for money.

Taxpayers, it's time to figure out who the heck "Business Oregon" is. The O says it's "the state's economic development arm." That "arm" appears to have an extended middle finger on the end of it.

"Vibrant" alert! Speed bumps coming to Barbur.

Great minds think alike, and within a couple of hours of each other, two different readers pointed us to this story:

City planners are proposing to convert six miles of Barbur Boulevard that now connect Portland to Tigard in a noisy, traffic-clogged, anonymous stretch of road into a vibrant urban corridor where pedestrians and cyclists could shop and stroll.

Whenever you read "vibrant," you know the writer is either a smug urban "planning" overlord or a reporter who doesn't know that he or she is being taken in by one. And that certainly shows in this piece:

"High capacity transit is the catalyst for change along Barbur," said Tracy. It is needed to stimulate private investment.

"Catalyst?" Gong! There goes another one. All that's missing is "linchpin."

The area could also see a reconfiguration of the Ross Island Bridge ramps and the development of the land around them for retail or a park.

The Woods Segment is the forested area of the Boulevard with no centers of commercial activity. Speeding is a problem there as is the lack of sidewalks and bike lanes that disappear on the Newbury and Vermont viaducts.

The plan calls for traffic-calming measures and buffered bike lanes in the Woods Segment. Developing off-boulevard pedestrian and bike trails such as proposed paths called the Red Electric and Slavin trails was also a possibility, said Jay Sugnet, senior planner.

Oh yeah, just what Barbur Boulevard needs -- more pedestrians, bike lanes, and speed bumps. Heaven forbid that anybody actually get anywhere in a motor vehicle in this town. Well worth killing the rest of our transportation budget for. The potholes everywhere else will fix themselves, or maybe we'll impose some new taxes for that.

As one of the readers who sent this to us lamented: "It has EVERYTHING CRC has. Well, except toll booths, so far. Oh wait, I didn't see any toll booths for CRC... yet. PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!" Would that we could, reader. But that's up to Mayor Char-Lie, and since there's money for his apartment masters to make in these dreams and schemes, well then, vibrant is what you're going to get.

And of course, toward the end of the story they send in the clown:

Earlier in the meeting, Chris Smith, a member of the Planning and Sustainability Commission and liaison to the community working group, also praised the public engagement process. His only regret: The group had not been able to engage the Somali community as much as it would have liked.

You can't make this stuff up.

Pamplin going chintz on radio, too

From what we can gather, yesterday was Victoria Taft's last day on KPAM radio, owned by sand and gravel magnate Bob Pamplin (new motto: "Light rail is the linchpin to vibrancy"). Now the rumor mill says that Bob Miller's days on that station may also be numbered.

Given the slew of options that consumers have for entertainment and political commentary these days, we're not surprised that the market for big name local broadcast talent is contracting. But wow, no Taft? No Miller? Who's next to go, the Larsmeister?

Maybe it's just a Pamplin thing. He got us all interested in the Trib, then gutted it. Perhaps the same pattern is now emerging for his radio station. It's too bad -- this was Pamplin philanthropy at its best, and now the city's loss. We disagreed with a lot of Taft's positions, but it was healthy for Portland to have her on the air. The same is true for the left wing station, which has disappeared entirely.

Pretty soon all that is going to be left for local news analysis are the multitudes in the government p.r. flack corps, a three-times-a-week O warming over the flacks' press releases, the latest pot news at Willy Weed, and at most a few crazy bloggers. The ideals behind the First Amendment will be rendered irrelevant, without the firing of a single shot. Hard times, peeps.

It's the income tax centennial -- party on!

We can't stop celebrating the 100th birthday of the U.S. individual income tax. Today's the day that income became taxable a century ago. For our festivities on the eve of this milestone, we called Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in to take a bow:

Here's looking up your W-2!

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