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« March 2013 | Main

April 2013 Archives

Friday, April 5, 2013

Have a great weekend

Pay a compliment, then apologize

This country is cutting out its own soul in the name of correctness.

Drive in from the Couv, *and* deal with MAX?

We're intrigued by the reference, in this article about the CRoCk, to "Portland’s whizzy light-rail system, which many Vancouverites drive across the river to use." How many do you think is "many"?

A newcomer for your blogroll

As we put this blog into mothballs over the next few days, we'll try to leave behind a selection of good links for readers who are interested in some of the issues that we've been covering. In that regard, here's a new blog that's springing up in response to our departure; and here's another one that's been bucking Portland Polite down in Lake O. for a while now. They're just two of a couple of handfuls on our list, which we'll have on our main page soon. We wish them and all our local bloggers well -- even the ones with whom we wholeheartedly disagree.

We'll always have Twitter

As we depart from the blogosphere for a long-ish spell, we're anticipating some serious withdrawal symptoms. In our moments of weakness, we may turn to Twitter for the occasional outburst. We're hoping to keep that to a minimum, but that's our safety valve. If you want to follow what little we've got to say, head over there. Also, Stenchy has his own Twitter page, and apparently he's going to keep going over there from time to time as well.

OHSU scoundrels turning their backs on farmers?

It figures. That place is all about the corporate deal any more. Your health is a lot more important to them if it puts a Mercedes in their driveway than if it doesn't.

Die-hard dinosaurs

The newspaper industry is still pushing in the Oregon legislature to force notices of sheriff's sales to be published in dead-tree newspapers, rather than merely on publicly owned websites like this one. Here's the bill (mysteriously sponsored by no one) that's resisting the inevitable. It's apparently still alive and well in Salem.

We hate to see the papers absorb another blow, but the whole idea of requiring that legal notices be printed in hard-copy newspapers is one whose time has come and gone. Long gone.

A snapshot of the City of Portland debt clock

Since we established our City of Portland debt clock in 2007, we've tried to keep its data as accurate as possible. Whenever the city has released new numbers on its bonds and retirement debts, and whenever the census bureau or the Portland State population experts have issued new population estimates, we've changed our base data and growth assumptions. It's not an exact science, but our projections have been pretty good over the last five years and change.

And as of today, our clock shows that the debt per capita is well over $11,000:

As we put this blog into archive-only mode starting this afternoon, we will stop updating the clock -- at least until our hiatus is over, a year or more from now. This post is to serve as a reminder of where we left off, and a starting point for the day, if it comes, when the clock is reprogrammed and started anew.

If you'd like to follow, in real time, the massive borrowing in which Oregon government is engaged, go here (a site called i-dealprospectus) and search for Oregon bonds. Another good resource on the subject is here (an outfit called emma). When the politicians put it on plastic, the evidence can usually be found at one or both of those two sites. And the sales documents that are posted there (called "official statements") are a treasure trove of information about our rapidly deteriorating public finances.

Many thanks to our long-time friend and technical wizard, Jake Ortman of in Bend, who's the best friend a website operator ever had. He made the debt clock, and indeed this entire blog, possible.

Middaugh's hot rants

Last week we posted a guest column by businessman Dave Lister about Metro government's mismanagement of the Glendoveer golf course. Lister's complaints were several:

- the course was in lousy shape,

- the clubhouse had taken on a forlorn look,

- Metro president Tom Hughes (we call him Waylon) had falsely promised to maintain or improve conditions at the course,

- Metro had unwisely removed private enterprise from running the facility, and

- the recent changes had made the course workers all part-time Metro employees, without benefits.

It wasn't long before Metro's chief flack, Jim Middaugh, jumped into the comments here to accuse Lister of lying about the facts. Middaugh, who makes around $135,000 in a job that deserves about half that, wasn't polite about the matter, either. He got way up on his high horse and started right in with personal nasties:

As usual, Mr. Lister is wrong. Worse, as usual he didn't bother to check his facts with a simple phone call or email.... The lack of honesty and integrity in posts like this is shameful....

People can oppose Metro if they want. When they spread false information I personally believe it warrants a response....

You're facts are still wrong. I don't care how many paychecks you've signed a lie is still a lie.

At our request, Middaugh sent us what he says is the written agreement between Metro and its contractor, a California outfit named CourseCo, for the management of the course. You can read it in all its glory here. Looking it over, we see that Lister may have had one fact wrong, but the gist of what he wrote was entirely accurate. You can argue about a couple of the specifics, but to accuse him of dishonesty and lying is total horsepuckey -- the kind in which Metro specializes.

Under the contract, it appears that the employees at Glendoveer are now employees of CourseCo, not Metro. But Metro pays every single penny of the employees' paychecks, because the contract passes all operating costs on from CourseCo to Metro. Payroll expenses don't even affect CourseCo's annual bonus.

Now bear with us here on the legalese. CourseCo is called the "Operator" in the contract, and here's what the document says:

3.07 Personnel. Operator, as a Direct Cost, shall employ all of the employees of the Golf and Tennis Center and set all terms and conditions of the employment....

So there -- you see? Lister screwed up. The workers are CourseCo employees, not Metro. But read on:


ln consideration of Operator's performance of the work described in this Agreement and the Operator's performance of all duties, tasks and obligations of this Agreement throughout the term of this Agreement Metro agrees to pay Operator the Management Fee and Incentive Fee in accordance with the provisions set forth in Section 6 and to perform any other obligation specifically enumerated in this Section or in this Agreement....

7.01 Combined Management Fee. For the provision of all work and services performed under this Agreement, Metro shall pay to Operator a Management Fee consisting of the annual Fixed Management Fee set forth in Sub-section 7.02 and paid in equal monthly installments and the Incentive Management Fee set forth in Sub-section 7.03 and paid in a single lump-sum payment as provided in Sub-Section 7.04.

7.02 Annual Fixed Management Fee

For Calendar Year 2013, the Annual Fixed Management Fee paid to Operator shall be $105,000.00.

For Calendar Year 2014, the Annual Fixed Management Fee paid to Operator shall be $125,000.00.

For Calendar Year 2015 and for each Calendar Year thereafter, the Annual Fixed Management Fee paid to Operator shall be $145,000.00 [with a cost-of-living adjustment -- JB]....

7.03 Incentive Management Fee. ln addition to the Fixed Management Fee, Operator shall earn, and Metro shall pay, an lncentive Management Fee in the amount that is equal to 5 percent of the first $300,000 of any increases in Gross Revenues above the Gross Revenue Base; and in the amount that is equal to 15 percent of any increase in Gross Revenues above the Gross Revenue Base in excess of $300,000....

That's interesting. CourseCo gets a bonus, but it depends on whether it raises gross revenues, not the bottom line profit or loss. Thus, employee salaries are not CourseCo's concern; what it charges the patrons is. And so as a matter of economic reality, are those really employees of CourseCo?

Don't answer yet. Get a load of how the payroll gets paid:

1.15 Direct Costs. "Direct Costs" are defined as any cost which is directly related to normal and ordinary staffing, operations or routine maintenance of Golf and Tennis Centers approved by Metro....

8.01 Bank Account. Metro will establish and maintain a bank account at a bank designated by Metro (the "Bank Account") for the purposes of accepting deposits of the Gross Revenues and paying Direct Costs. The funds in the Bank Account and all interest thereon, are the property of Metro....

8.03 Payment of Direct Costs. Metro shall pay all budgeted Direct Costs from the Bank Account. Payment of all legitimate claims shall be made in a timely manner. Operator shall submit to Metro an invoice and monthly report detailing Direct Costs pursuant to Section 8.06 no later than the 15th of the succeeding month. Reimbursement shall be net 30.

And so when CourseCo cuts corners on staffing, the benefit of the diminished payroll is enjoyed entirely by Metro. All the expenses are paid out of a bank account established by Metro. In other words, the workers may not be Metro employees, but economically their pay and workload are Metro's concern, and not the contractor's. Their paychecks may say "CourseCo," but those paychecks are in fact paid in full by Metro.

Ad so was Lister "lying"? Clearly not. It seems to us he made an honest mistake, and a minor one at that. Middaugh protests too loudly, revealing the basic truth of Lister's observations.

Middaugh is to public relations as Metro is to government -- arrogant, with too much money to play with, and largely unnecessary. He's the same guy he was when he ran Erik Sten's dopey city hall office -- free municipal wi-fi, "clean money" elections, a regional water authority, a city takeover of PGE, the list of his misguided, expensive, failed projects is as long as your arm. And in the end, Middaugh took an inside tip from Sten to get a jump on the opposition to use public money to run for the city council. Portland voters did not buy Middaugh's act then, and nobody with a lick of sense in the region will be buying it now, except maybe his Metro bosses, the BlueOregon birds, and the born-again smart growth fans at the Pamplin newspaper-sand and gravel conglomerate.

Middaugh, his "professional reporter" flunkies, his bogus Opt-In surveys, and his disgraceful elephant puppy mill constitute an enormous boil that cries out for a satisfying lancing. Portland may need regional land use planning, but everything else Metro does can and should be farmed out elsewhere. Metro and its staff should be about 20 people total. It should not be running zoos, parks, cemeteries, convention centers, expo centers, or anything else. And it certainly shouldn't be forking over six figures a year to a hot-tempered flack with a posse of subordinates to spend his meaningless work days dreaming up new ways to mislead the public. Of all people to question to someone's integrity!

Portland arts tax taxes the dead

It just gets stupider and stupider, as Sir Isaac points out another outrageous flaw: Even people who were dead when the Portland arts tax passed, have to pay it. If the city collects $3500 total on this insane idea and gets to keep it, it'll be lucky. See you in the Oregon Supreme Court, ballet lovers.

Guess what's going to save Cully from gentrification

It's going to be a "living eco-district"! Sure, that will work. More reality detachment brought to you by the Portland State Patronage Center, faithfully regurgitated by some guy at the O. You can't make this stuff up.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Portland's about to get "sexy" condo bunker

And here you thought paying for sex is illegal. No way -- the taxpayers will no doubt be paying for this in one way or another. Tri-Met Tiffany's in on it, and you can bet old Char-Lie Hales will bend over backward for Daddy Homer, who owns him.

Not only do the real estate boys get to wreck Portland, but they always get the taxpayers to chip in a few mil. And they tell you it's going to be just like the condo towers in Vancouver, B.C., and so that will make it all wonderful. We seem to recall that the bunkers in the SoWhat District were going to be like that, too -- "needle-thin" and "preserving the view corridors" toward the mountains. Instead, that place is one giant, impenetrable wall of Graggalicious crap.

When they know they're right, they won't shut up

Here are the Portland police officers going on and on and on about the guy who shot at them. "I thought I was going to die -- I was terrified -- he pointed the gun right in my face -- I thought of my family." Oh, the drama. And then they killed him.

But when the PoPo shoot or beat some innocent, unarmed guy to death, they refuse to say a thing, except years later, when forced to, in a courtroom. It makes it so easy for the world to see when they're in the wrong in a killing. The more they clam up, the guiltier they are.

UPDATE, 8:20 p.m.: A knowledgable reader adds: "You know what's interesting? Grand jury proceedings are not recorded in Oregon. Every attempt to ever require recordings has been opposed by the district attorneys association. The only suspects ever given recorded grand jury proceedings are police officers, and this is done by discretion of the D.A."

Dear Portland neighbors

You are screwed. Don't you know, the cr-apartment weasels always win? And as for that blatant deception that was pulled on you, we'll all be pointing fingers at each other here at City Hall, so that no one will be accountable. Go by streetcar!

Yours in sustainability,
Char-Lie Hales

Happy Muddy Waters Day

The stone started rollin' 98 years ago today.

Backroom deals in Portland more blatant than ever

Now the City Council members huddle up with Nike executives and sign nondisclosure agreements so that they don't have to tell the public what the meeting was about. There really ought to be a law against that. Of course, it would take an initiative petition drive to get such a law enacted.

Next thing you know, they'll be signing agreements and refusing to disclose them because they're supposedly copyrighted. And graft, legal or otherwise, can be a protected trade secret. It's government at its worst.

Another Sam Rand bungle: cop and firefighter technology

The O's ace reporter, Maximum Maxine, tells this one like it is:

Portland's public safety technology project -- which includes replacing the police and fire emergency dispatch system, upgrading aging police and fire radios and modernizing computer records -- is overbudget and late, a new city audit says.

The entire project has exceeded its budget by $9 million and the completion date is now three years later than scheduled.

Nothing says greatness like the Portland city government and computers. And gee, who was running police, fire, and the money all this time? The Sam Rand Twins, of course.

Jack Graham, chief administrative officer overseeing the project, said he agreed with the audit's recommendations, some of which have been adopted. Mayor Charlie Hales said he's discussed the audit's findings and recommendations with Graham and the current project manager, Jeff Baer. The audit's recommendations "will go a long way toward improving the effectiveness and success" of the project, Hales said.

Jack Graham was Randy's money guy in the fire bureau. Now he's the money guy for the whole city. And the new mayor thinks he's "improving the success" of the project? That's why they call him Char-Lie.

Ludlow wants to stop revolving door

The new chair of the Clackistan County board of commissioners, John Ludlow, is shining a light on something quite wrong that's gone on for too long:

At the end of November, [Ludlow] sat before the board as chairman-elect and questioned the wisdom of granting $2 million in incentives to the Clackamas-based company, of which half came from a state fund for retaining jobs. [Ann] Lininger and the rest of the board unanimously approved the deal over his objection....

Lininger chose not to run for election. A month after leaving office, Oregon Iron Works announced she took a job as general counsel and vice president for compliance and strategic initiatives. No other commissioners in recent memory have made a similar jump to a private-sector job that does business with the county.

This is classic Portlandia, but while he's at it, Ludlow should take a look at the politicians' spouses as well. It would be really interesting for a reporter to take a survey of where our local politicians' spouses draw paychecks. Many of them are connected to people and companies that feast at the area's countless public troughs. It was like when Hillary was in the Senate -- you didn't bribe her, you just paid Willy $300,000 to give a speech.

This is a small, incestuous place.

Portland water bureau not under control yet

One of the truly rogue Portland city bureaus during the Sam Rand reign of terror was the city's water bureau. Admiral Randy and his henchmen in that office ran up huge debts, jacked up water rates astronomically, and misspent water revenues wastefully and illegally -- so much so that they were sued, and are still being sued, over it.

With a new mayor, one might have expected new bureau leadership, but so far that hasn't been forthcoming. The Sam Rand children in the transportation bicycle bureau got their walking papers immediately, but nothing's been said publicly about the figureheads in the water empire.

Meanwhile, the city has stopped borrowing money for the time being. In the heyday of Mayor Creepy, the city would "issue bonds" (fancy talk for using a credit card) at a breathtaking pace -- seemingly tens of millions of dollars a week. Over the last six months, the bureaucrats have probably tapped some of their secret lines of credit for some big bucks, but no public bond sales have been held.

You just know it's a temporary quiet period. After a while, they'll go back to the banksters for another fix. And the water bureau will no doubt be first in line to head further into hock.

Kent Craford, one of the many effective critics of the water bureau's shenanigans, has written a letter to editor of the Wall Street Journal about some of them. We hope we're not spoiling its chances of publication by borrowing this excerpt from the letter:

Here in Portland, Oregon our City Water Bureau is about to market $186M in new bonds mostly to finance large unnecessary capital projects, including a $44 million headquarters facility for themselves with a staggering price tag of $289/sq. foot. In 2000, the Portland Water Bureau (PWB) held $134.8 million in outstanding debt, with annual debt service of $12.8 million. As of July 1, 2012, the PWB was carrying $440.1 million in outstanding debt, with annual debt service of $36.1 million, representing about 26% of annual revenues....

The City of Portland's water debt binge continues despite a revenue faucet that is more constricted every year. Portland has seen a steady decline in both total and per-capita water consumption over the last 25 years. In order to compensate for falling demand and service a burgeoning debt, rates have risen 133% since 2000 and are projected to rise another 66% over the next five years. As recently reported by local media, rate rebellion has begun. Large industrial water customers like us are considering our options -- cut back usage even further, pursue alternative governance of the utility in the form of a PUD, or simply relocate. Water rate revenues are nearing a diminishing marginal return wall.

Watch the water bureau. If Randy's BFFs, David Shaff and Ty Kovatch, are still working there under the next commissioner, you'll know it's still as dangerous as ever. It probably will still be trouble even if those two walk, but if they're around, you know the Admiral's games are continuing. And don't be surprised if they've already got some backroom deals in place that will set off fireworks when they see the light of day. We can hear it now: "It's too late to turn back."

Char-Lie shows his hand

The new mayor of Portland has proven himself in his first quarter of governance to be a better mayor than his predecessor. But let's be honest, that isn't saying much. There are few politicians we can think of who would have been worse, although Hales's deranged opponent in the general election certainly fits that bill.

The promise of reasonably adult leadership at City Hall is just that, however -- a hope for the future. The mayor hasn't revealed much of an agenda during the three months he's had to mop up for the irresponsible Sam Rand Twins. And so he hasn't really shown us any reliable indication that he's going to stop the city's downhill plunge into fiscal ruin and a permanently damaged quality of life.

Indeed, yesterday Mayor Char-Lie made some remarks that indicate that after a suitable pause to try to gain the public's confidence, he'll be right back to stoking the real estate development machine that has put the city in such a deep hole over the last 25 years. The kids at the Merc picked up on Hales's comments in this piece, which is actually worth putting on some rubber gloves and going over there to read. It has to do with yesterday's "awkward moment," in which the City Council threw another $800,000 down the rat hole known as the eastside streetcar:

"This is a success story," [Hales] said, touting the "American-made" streetcar-manufacturing industry that local company Oregon Iron Works is building from scratch. "It's a requirement [for federal grants] and it's a risk. And that's the reason we have to be vigilant and do careful oversight even while we're innovating."

He also quoted Machiavelli, saying any new system earns the "enmity and opposition of those who don't benefit" while receiving the "lukewarm support" from those that do.

We've pointed out for a long time that Hales is never to be trusted, and that he is owned by Homer Williams and other developers. The streetcar is the ultimate illustration of what the mayor is about. We predict that within a year, those true colors will emerge in greater relief, and it will be clear that the city's disheartening slide, which commenced with Vera Katz, is still very much in progress.

Remember what old Char-Lie was doing less than two years ago:

And never forget this.

We pray that Hales and Novick will turn the city around, but we direct our prayers to Saint Jude, patron saint of hopeless cases.

Readers will get the last word

Our final post on this blog, for an indefinite period, will be our weekly music video tomorrow afternoon. We're planning to let readers leave comments on recent posts until late next Tuesday night, but at that point commenting will cease, and this site will go into archive mode for a year or more.

We'll miss the blog and its many denizens until we get back to it. But our life is cycling back to being a complete tax nerd for a while, and that feels righter by the minute. It's familiar territory, but we'll be much better at our job as an author and researcher having spent so much time here.

Thanks to everyone for the kind words they have left here over the past week and a half. We know we went fishing for compliments, but still, they mean a lot.

Did Fukushima fallout affect Oregon kids' thyroids?

This study certainly suggests that it did. But hey, the Oregon health authorities told us that there was nothing to worry about, and so that study must just be wrong.

The other thing that no one in state government seems to want to be bothered with is radioactivity in the fish we eat. That attitude will change at some point -- let's hope it's sooner rather than later. Here we have Japanese docks washing up in Oregon. You don't think the Columbia River salmon, which swim most of the way to Fukushima, aren't coming back contaminated by the oceanside triple meltdown?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The end of mutual assured destruction

Our country is actually deploying anti-ballistic missiles to defend against the deranged leader of North Korea. There used to be treaties against defensive systems of the kind we're reportedly setting up. As it was explained to us in our youth, the reasons for this were twofold: (1) the systems probably wouldn't work, and (2) they showed the enemy that our only response against a nuclear blast would be a payback with another nuclear blast.

The execution of Saddam Hussein and the supposed execution of Osama bin Laden have left Americans without a bogeyman to hate. The kid in charge of North Korea seems to be preening for the position.

Debbie Does Disability

This video of last week's meeting of the Portland police and fire retirement board is pretty interesting. For one thing, the mayor himself is in attendance, as opposed to some underling sent in the mayor's place. Second, the mayor actually pushes back a little when the usual suspects try to run some things through on the quick and dirty.

But best of all is the theme music at the front end of the video. It's straight out of an '80s porno movie. Which, come to think of it, is entirely appropriate.

Arts tax lawsuit will continue

The Portland City Council continues to tinker with the goofy and unconstitutional head tax for the arts. They made changes today retroactive to January 1, 2012. It's insane.

Today's change has no effect on the current lawsuit challenging the legality of the tax under the Oregon constitution. As we've written here before, we will not be paying the tax (or doing so only under protest) unless and until the Oregon Supreme Court tells us we have to.

It will never happen in Portlandia, cont'd

In New York City, mayoral candidates are allegedly bribing party leaders to be able to run for office as Republicans.

How the O has failed us

Here's a perfect example of what's wrong with Portland mainstream media, particularly the moribund monopoly daily newspaper. The city and Tri-Met are caught in obvious hanky-panky with money, and the young reporter asks a few reasonably tough questions. But then he receives totally disingenuous and largely incomprehensible answers, and rather than push harder, he just prints them.

There are two and a half decent reporters left at the O: Ted Sickinger, Maxine Bernstein, and half the time Joseph Rose. The rest are deadwood and tender young shoots who do more harm than good. We all should pray that the two and a half get enough encouragement and compensation that they don't go over to the dark side, government flackdom.

UPDATE, 11:57 a.m.: Right on cue, here's another example -- a warmed-over press release from City Hall. It's so blatant. Sadly, the O is mostly brain dead.

Countdown to hiatus is on

We've officially started work on our new professional writing project, and so we are down to about the last 60 hours or so of maintaining this blog. Several readers have written in to ask us what can be done to keep the conversation instigated by this site going. Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to maintain an active web page once the hiatus begins, no matter who is producing the content. The thought of an interactive site is even further out of the question. We need to move quickly to the stage at which we don't have to look at the site at all, for weeks or months at a time.

Our plan is to leave the site up as an archive only, and we're hoping to maintain a front page that will serve as our own personal links collection. That will include most of the places we go for news when our readers aren't tipping us off to new stories. If you like, you can come back any time and take advantage of that collection of links. If new sites appear that are interesting enough that we want to check them out on a regular basis, we'll add links to them on our main page, but other than that, readers, you are on their own.

Our greatest hope is that some or all of the regular commenters here will start blogs themselves. It's really simple. Go to Blogger, start your own blog, e-mail a link to us here, and if it looks like you're serious, we'll link to you. Readers who come to this site will thus be invited to go to yours.

One thing this blog has taught a lot of people is that they are not alone in their disgust at what's become of politics -- particularly Portland politics and Oregon politics. Some of it is partisan and some of it is generational, but the disapproval factor cuts across those lines. Broadcasting dissenting views is part of everybody's duty, and now might be someone else's time to answer the call.

Will we suffer withdrawal? Oh, heavens, yes. And when our new tax project is published a year or two from now, we'll think about coming back to blogging along the lines that we've been doing here for more than 10½ years. But until then, we've got big things to do. Imagine you were a guitar player, and Bruce Springsteen was on the phone. "I need you in my band," he's saying. Do you keep your Tuesday night gig singing your originals at Besaw's, or do you drop everything and pull your passport out of the sock drawer? That's kind of where we are professionally at this moment.

Portland needs its people to challenge the power structure in a mostly adult way. We're sad to be signing off from that function, despite the time investment that's been required. As a wise young man once said of blue jeans, "Though you want them to last forever you know they never will, and the patches make the goodbye harder still." But then again, another sage has more recently recommended, "If you love somebody, set them free."

New danger from urban cycling

On top of all the other hazards, apparently it makes you paranoid.

It will never happen in Portlandia

Down in L.A., they've embarked on a major traffic signal synchronization project that's actually cutting traffic congestion:

After 30 years in the works, the plan went live in February, and the results of the change are trickling in. Average driving time has fallen — it used to take 20 minutes to drive 5 miles, but now it just takes 17.2. And, the average speed has gone up: from 15 miles per hour to 17.3 mph, the Times reports.

The goal is to raise the travel speed by 16 percent, and reduce travel time by 12 percent, L.A. authorities said when they first introduced the scheme.

Around here, of course, they'll do just the opposite. More air pollution for us all to breathe, more wasted time, more frustration. But the sights and smells of gridlock really arouse the Earl the Pearl and Streetcar Smith types -- the people whom everyone wants to emulate. And who somehow get to tell us all how to live.

Sisters are doin' it

Portlander Shoni Schimmel and her sister Jude are in the Final Four of women's college basketball. That's the biggest news to hit this town in a long, long time. If it isn't the lead story in the local media in the morning, something is seriously wrong. Those girls got game.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Equity! O, equity!

It appears the Portland public schools are heading toward racial quotas for expulsions. That's the best we can make of this latest talk from the school board. The "courageous conversations" continue, at great taxpayer expense, but they're going nowhere if no one asks the right questions.

"Vibrant" alert in Eugene

The apartment bunker boys are moving into Oregon's main college town. It will be interesting to see how badly they can fleece the taxpayers down there. And it's for sure that some nice places and neighborhoods are about to be wrecked. But it's going toward stopping global warming, so that part's good.

Hoops pickers eye finish line

We meant to post the standings in our second-chance March Madness game yesterday, but a technical glitch thwarted our efforts. Here is how things stand as we head into Final Four weekend:

Players should note that the Yahoo site for our group includes a scenario generator that will show our final standings based on any of the eight possible combinations of outcomes this weekend. Good luck to our leaders.

Enjoy a lovely mindscrew from the Port of Portland

The Goldschmidt People running the port are big protectors of the environment. Sure. Sure they are.

Here's somebody who gets it exactly right

From this morning's O, we start out with one of that organization's drones reporting with a straight face something that's actually quite laughable:

Six Master of Urban & Regional Planning students from Portland State University are hosting a forum Thursday to discuss gentrification and how to keep residents of Northeast Portland's Cully community from moving out as development and growth looms.

But then, in a moment of truth and beauty, a reader steps up to the plate and knocks it out of the park:

Cully should be insulted that they get the advice of six inexperienced idealogues from the psuedo-science department of PSU (aka Urban Studies). I cannot stress enough how Urban Planning at PSU is all about wacky car-free utopias.

What's next, opening up a medical clinic for kids staffed by veterinary technicians? A legal clinic staffed by non-lawyers who are fans of Judge Judy?

I would advise the Cully neighbors to not listen to the students. Instead, demand better graffitti abatement, ambulance response times, sidewalks etc directly from the city. Whatever the Cully neighbors say will be translated as "we want bikes and bioswales" by the students.

The whole exchange is here.

Double Standard of the Day from Portland City Hall

Our readers have commented a little in recent months about the hideous art installations that have been erected near the east side bridge ramps over the Willamette River in inner Portland. These were part of the utterly wasteful streetcar extension that hardly anybody's riding. Now one reader points out that these grotesqueries are rusting out, no doubt quite by design, and making a mess of the nearby sidewalks. Here's the one at Grand and Hawthorne:

Can you imagine if the City of Portland caught a private property owner allowing rust to leach out from a structure onto the sidewalks and be washed down the precious sewers into the Willamette River? Said property owner would be crucified for a lack of salmon correctness. But when it's the city creating the pollution, hey, it's like West Hayden Island -- it's only wildlife.

Monday, April 1, 2013

City of Portland, broke, keeps handing money to Tri-Met

Earlier today there was this stinker. This evening we move on to another one. "The agreement asks for about $800,000 more from the city of Portland, which pitched in about $200,000 to help save the program last year." What the hey, it's only money.

Kotek's challenge

The old boys in the Republican Party already don't like dealing with the new speaker of the Oregon House. It seems that her concept of dealing involves a lot of the other side doing as she says. Stand by for the train wreck on public pensions, taxes, or quite possibly both.

Using up your free New York Times clicks

If unlike us, you don't get any version of the Times delivered to the house, you have to pay to read more than a set number of Times stories per month on line. (As best we can tell, it's 10.) Well, it's a new month, and here are a couple that are worth burning a freebie for: a paean to the income tax by a former Portlander (and friend of ours), and a photo tour of the place where the chief learned how to take it to the hoop.

Eastside streetcar bombshell

This is nothing short of ridiculous. Watch 'em all run for political cover, too. Will Hales, Fritz, and Saltzman own up to this blunder? Of course not. Nor will Earl the Pearl, whose track record of pouring public money into rat holes is unparallelled. The screwed-up scene Portland has become is basically his "vision" come true.

The east side streetcar was a monumental mistake. As we said it would be all along. The only question now is how bad the money hemorrhage will be, and when (if ever) the public will force the charade to stop.

Shoni Schimmel

That's all -- just Shoni Schimmel. Check her out yesterday, at 00:48:

(Proud to say we saw her when.)

They don't need sick leave

Here's an interesting story from France, where home delivery of newspapers is being done by drone. Of course, we in Portland are way ahead of them, as our daily newspaper has been employing drones in the newsroom for many years.


We last changed jobs 27 years ago, we're proud to say. And we gave our former employer our best shot right up to the last day. But there's a certain release in being a short-timer -- that is, a person whose departure date is set. People cut you some slack at a certain point, because they know you can't take on sizable new projects as the clock ticks down.

We're feeling a bit that way today on this blog. Since we announced 10 days ago that we've got an indefinite hiatus upcoming, traffic's been down a bit, and our appetite for new controversies has waned. There are going to be some big changes in our life come this weekend, and we're in a deck-clearing state of mind as we anticipate them.

In a way, blogging is like the beach. It's fun to go there for a while, but it's different when you live there. This site has become a hobby with a responsibility, which is a bit of a contradiction in terms. There will be some hard internet-related habits to break, that's for sure.

Maybe something will happen that will inspire us to go out in a blaze of glory. Suggestions are welcome.

Teetering at the top

The top three players in our second-chance bracket game remained in place as the Elite Eight dwindled down to the Final Four.

Sparky's still on top, but he's still got plenty of players who can outscore him. David at number 2 stands to finish with 25 points if his remaining teams prevail in the last games, and four other players can get to 19. All five of them have Louisville to win it all. Sparky's done scoring. His top two picks, Michigan State and Florida, are gone.

We'll be off line when the tournament ends, but we'll try to play out some scenarios as the week progresses. For example, as best we can tell, David's going to have at least a share of our crown unless Michigan and Wichita State both advance to the finals, in which case Noam, currently tied with us for fifth, will be tied with Sparky for top honors. Yahoo has some pretty obscure tiebreaker rules, and so we're not sure at the moment how exactly a deadlock would be resolved. Players chose both halftime and final scores in the championship game, and they will doubtlessly have something to do with it.

Batter up

The national pastime is off and running for another year.

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 8
At this date last year: 0
Total run in 2018: 10
In 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269
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