The Oregon Blog
Under grey skies, self-medicating with black coffee


Friday, April 30, 2004  

[Retraction?]

It's possible I jumped the gun on my endorsement of Vern Cook. Jack asked, "have you looked into this fellow's past?" Well, sure, I Googled him, found little, and called it good. I'm a damn blogger, for Pete's sake, not a real journalist--what do you expect, that I'll go to the library? On the other hand, I suppose I should have made my methodology more clear.

So, in the interest of good improved methodology, let me ask: who knows something about Vern Cook's history? What kind of legislator was he?

posted by Jeff | 11:05 AM |


Thursday, April 29, 2004  

In that press conference, reporters also asked about the "Mission Accomplished" debacle. Saturday will be the one-year anniversary.

Q Scott, we're coming up on the year anniversary of when the President landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared that major combat operations were over under the "mission accomplished" banner.... [H]e also declared major combat operations over, and gave the sense that the war was winding down.

MR. McCLELLAN: Let's go back and look at his remarks. He also declared that there is more to do, that difficulties remain in Iraq.

Indeed, let's go back and look at his remarks.

In the images of falling statues, we have witnessed the arrival of a new era. For a hundred of years of war, culminating in the nuclear age, military technology was designed and deployed to inflict casualties on an ever-growing scale. In defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Allied forces destroyed entire cities, while enemy leaders who started the conflict were safe until the final days. Military power was used to end a regime by breaking a nation.

Today, we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking a dangerous and aggressive regime. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war; yet it is a great moral advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent. (Applause.)

In the images of celebrating Iraqis, we have also seen the ageless appeal of human freedom. Decades of lies and intimidation could not make the Iraqi people love their oppressors or desire their own enslavement. Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear.


The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq.


The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 -- and still goes on. That terrible morning, 19 evil men -- the shock troops of a hateful ideology -- gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions. They imagined, in the words of one terrorist, that September the 11th would be the "beginning of the end of America." By seeking to turn our cities into killing fields, terrorists and their allies believed that they could destroy this nation's resolve, and force our retreat from the world. They have failed.


The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more.


The war on terror is not over; yet it is not endless. We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide. No act of the terrorists will change our purpose, or weaken our resolve, or alter their fate. Their cause is lost. Free nations will press on to victory.

posted by Jeff | 6:25 PM |


Wednesday, April 28, 2004  

[National Politics]

Analysis in the Boston Globe. Hey, if the shoe fits...

Clouds over Northwest. Kerry trails by 2 points in Oregon poll, leads by only 5 in Washington State. Armchair Strategist knows Northwest. Oregon loaded with ornery, tax-hating rugged individualists not to be confused with Vermonters. Washington mellower Microsoft-and-Starbucks country. Kerry manager Mary Beth Cahill won Washington for Mike Dukakis in 1998.

posted by Jeff | 1:21 PM |
 

[Passing]

Thanks to B!x, I learned that over the weekend Ernie Bonner passed away. This is a terrible loss for Portland and Oregon. I had the very good fortune to meet Ernie recently and work with him briefly. I suspect many Portlanders can say the same thing--certainly a measure of his life.

Randy Gragg's article (linked above) is a nice piece. You can see Ernie's work and legacy at his site. Portland is the poorer for his loss.

posted by Jeff | 10:08 AM |


Tuesday, April 27, 2004  

[Primary Endorsements]

State Senator - Republicans

As with the Dems, there's only one contested Republican primary race for the Senate, in district 28 (South Central Oregon). I suspect I have little credibility when endorsing Republicans ... but then I have little credibilty anyway.

My criteria for endorsing Republicans really has to do with how fastidiously they adhere to the radical conservative agenda. He (or she) who adheres the least gets my nod.

David Penicook, a retired fire chief and Jeff Ritter, a business owner, both from K Falls, are adherents. You might even call Ritter a zealot.

By comparison, Doug Whitsett, a retired large animal veterinarian, looks positively Rooseveltian.

One is moving toward a wise, sustainable use of the state's renewable resources. He also wants to rebuild the "cornerstones of the economy" by increasing the number and diversity of jobs. Whitsett said there is more unemployment and poverty, particularly in rural portions of the state. The Republican also wants to focus on tort reform, saying Oregon does not have a good legal environment in which to attract new business. He also wants wise land use planning. (Central Oregonian)

I'd actually go further than this tepid endorsement: Whitsett appears to have the potential to become a legislator who will work for the good of the state, not to advance the masquerade of democracy that is radical conservatism (see below). If he wins, I'll still endorse the Republicans' challenger, Ross Carroll (whom I interviewed). But it will be a far tougher decision.

Oregon Blog endorsement: Doug Whitsett

---------------------
As an addendum, let me just highlight how scary Ritter is. The Central Oregonian wrote of him:

Ritter, a Republican, plans "to build a stronger coalition of elected conservatives to implement changes in national organizations that lobby Congress on behalf of the states...."

Ritter also hopes to liquidate state surplus property and land to pay for schools. He also plans to cut back economic development staff in Salem and grant the surplus directly to counties for projects to expand local economies....

He also is insisting on accountability. Ritter wants to ensure "proper motivation of state workers by tying their budgets directly to the health of the economy."

"If the economy declines, their budget automatically gets cut," Ritter said. "No costly special sessions or initiatives should be required to balance the state budget in the future."

Oh, and he's probably going to win, too. He's the most organized and probably the most well-funded.

posted by Jeff | 4:22 PM |
 

[Primary Endorsements]

State Senator - Democrats

Only one race has multiple candidates--District 25, where there are three. It's a critical seat, and control of the Senate may rest in the balance. The seat is currently vacant following Governor Kulongoski's appointment of John Minnis to the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. One of the three Democrats will be facing Ron Sunseri, the sole Republican.

All three candidates have a political background, so its easier to guage how they'll perform.

Laurie Monnes Anderson is currently serving in the House in District 50. Monnes Anderson is a public health nurse who lost a squeaker to Sunseri in '98 and has since served two terms in the House. She's backed by the Oregon Education Association, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Gresham firefighters.

She's a moderate Dem and counts this as an advantage, saying she'll work with Republicans to break up the legislative logjam. A fiscal conservative, she:

"supports a proposal to help the state budget by limiting state spending growth to 4 percent or 5 percent each year, along with the creation of a rainy-day fund. "We can't keep growing like we have," she said. "The revenue's not there, and the voters have spoken" by rejecting a recent income tax surcharge. "I'm confident this will help Oregon, rather than going through any other kind of tax reform." (Oregonian)



Vern Cook has been around politics a long, long time. He first served in the House from 1957-'61, and then in the Senate through '81. Since then, he has practiced law in Gresham and served on the Mt. Hood Community College Board.

Cook is a firebrand who calls the election of Bush "a major disaster for America and Oregonians." For a 78-year-old, I suppose it's not surprising that his language and positions are old school:

"The most critical issue in this state has to do with obtaining the revenue necessary to support our educational establishment: K-12, community colleges and higher-ed colleges, and having enough money to take care of the mentally ill and the poor and law enforcement. . . . Under everything the Legislature does, it's a question of money."

He opposes the tax limits placed on the state through the initiative process, saying they've been promoted by "anarchists" and that they tie the Legislature's hands. Resolving the state funding crisis could involve increasing income taxes, Cook said -- but it requires legislators who are willing to "go public and speak in support of it," he added. (Oregonian)



Finally, Rod Park is currently a Metro Councilor and, I would guess, the front-runner. He has the backing of local mayors in East county and business leaders as well as Kulongoski. He has a background in horticulture and owns Park's Nursery. His record on Metro looks pretty good--he "helped broker a compromise on a county hotel-motel tax increase needed to expand the Oregon Convention Center and renovate Civic Stadium." (Oregonian) He was involved in a controversy involving an intermodal rail yard which I don't even pretend to understand (what's anintermodal rail yard?). Politically, he wants to create a rainy day fund with kicker dollars and make it hard(ish) to tap into that fund.

The real choice is likely to come down to Park and Monnes Anderson--both are established candidates, while Cook is a 78-year-old who has been out of office since Reagan's first year. I don't think Monnes Anderson (who scored a D in Willamette Week's annual legislator ranking) is a good choice. I love the notion of getting past partisanship, but she seems to have just caved on key issues. Park will probably do a good job, and may be the best bet to bet Sunseri--surely a reason to back him.

Cook isn't really running a campaign, having only raised 300 bucks by the filing deadline. Normally, that would cause me to think he wasn't taking the job seriously. However, he was recovering from prostate cancer, and this apparently set him back. I'm going to throw caution to the wind and endorse the candidate who has positions I truly agree with: Cook. He served as a legislator during the period when we pushed through some landmark legislation (the beach act, urban planning) and has seen what a functional senate looks like. The damn thing is broken. What the hell, let's see what he can do.

Oregon Blog endorsement: Vern Cook

posted by Jeff | 3:52 PM |
 

[Blogospherics]

The folks at the Oregon Bus Project are trying to move up their Zephyr Magazine on the Google charts. I'm encouraging bloggers to do a little googlebombing. So, link it up (post or blogroll): Zephyr Magazine + http://www.zephyrmagazine.com/ = exposure.

They have good content over there and deserve to be a little more accessible.

posted by Jeff | 10:44 AM |
 

[Religion]


Whose God?

A local controversy has erupted that sheds light on the issue "God" and the US government. Bear with me for a moment while I give some background. In Washington County (Oregon), where Portland's western suburbs are located, the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship arranged a Mayors' Prayer Breakfast for May 5. On a vote of 7-1, organizers decided to revoke an invitation to Shahriar Ahmed, president of the Bilal Mosque Association, to join other clergy in offering a prayer.

Peter Reding, the fellowship's communications director, said Muslims pray to Allah rather than God and contended they are not part of "Judeo-Christian tradition." Both suppositions figured into the steering committee's 7-1 vote to bar Ahmed from praying. The group said he could still attend and sit in the audience. Ahmed has said he will skip the event.

For fifteen years, America has been debating God--where it's appropriate to pray, which groups are allowed to receive federal funds, and what identifying "God" in govermental functions (the Pledge of Allegiance at schools, say) means theologically. Christians have been at the forefront of a movement to loosen the separation of Church and state, arguing that the "establishment" clause of the Constitution doesn't bar commingling. A key component of their argument is this: "God" is generic, not specific, and support of Christianity doesn't mean exclusion of other faiths.

I'm going to go ahead and give the Christian activists credit on this point: I think they sincerely believed these two points, even while they were unable to imagine how non-Christians interpreted the same rulings. It was a failure to see their own assumptions. Perhaps incidents like this will reveal the inherent conflict between religion and government, and the wisdom of the first amendment.

The truth, demonstrated here, is that "God" is not a stand-in for people's own beliefs, a generic signifier of private belief. "God" means a Christian God--not a Jewish God or Allah or Vishnu. Of course it must. Listen to the Fellowship's Vision Statement:

Our vision for the fellowship is based upon a series of prophetic messages given over a period of time and confirmed by a literal vision from God.

In the vision, untold masses of men from every continent and nation, of all races and diverse culture and costume, once spiritually dead, are now alive. Delivered and set free, they are filled with power of God?s Holy Spirit, faces radiant with glory, hands raised and voice lifting their praises to heaven.

We see a vast global movement of laymen being used mightily by God to bring in this last great harvest through the outpouring of God?s Holy Spirit before the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The mission is clear: "To reach men in all nations for Jesus Christ."

The concept of the Prayer Breakfast is something that has been going on for decades--Bush has spoken at them. Their function is actually to dissolve the separation between church and state and turn the US into a Christian nation.

The GOAL is to reach every city across the USA with a well planned Prayer Breakfast.

Our PURPOSE is to reach leaders for Jesus Christ.

Our OBJECTIVE is to Pray for all in authority, that we might live Godly lives.

Our STRATEGY is to use Prayer Breakfast events. They have shown to be highly effective at reaching into our community and impact our leaders. They create a desire to become involved and also remind us of our country's heritage.

(Jeffrey Sharlet wrote a wonderful article on this topic for Harper's).

We live in a democracy, so all voices must be heard. If a group wants to turn the US into a theocracy, they're definitely allowed to argue the point. What we need to be wary of is groups whose agendas aren't clear (even to themselves). The Washington County Prayer Breakfast was a great opportunity for us all to step back and have a good look at our assumptions. "God" is specific. If you don't think so, ask Shahriar Ahmed.

Originally posted this at Notes on the Atrocities.

posted by Jeff | 9:27 AM |


Monday, April 26, 2004  

[Blog Note]

I've been out of town since Friday afternoon. Blogging to resume tomorrow.

posted by Jeff | 2:11 PM |


Friday, April 23, 2004  

[Trojan Horse]

The lede in the Portland Tribune's article "Activist tackles tax repeal -- twice" is misleading:

Anti-tax activist Don McIntire hates Multnomah County’s income tax so much he wants to repeal it twice.

It's misleading because what McIntire--who wants not only to repeal that tax but to make it retroactive--really wants is to destroy the Oregon government.

In other words, if the second petition got on the ballot and voters approved it, the 2003 taxes that county residents in most cases have already paid -- and money that schools and other county services have spent or will be spending through June of this year -- would need to be returned to taxpayers.

It's time we started calling McIntire and his crowd what they really are--anti-government, not anti-tax. This is grossly irresponsible and can only have one real purpose--to blow a hole through the budget so large that it precipitates a catastrophe. If Donny the Destroyer were really concerned about taxpayers, he'd be pushing for laws that approach the issues systemically.

Often in politics it's the case that a group has to ride in the belly of a trojan horse to try to get their agenda through. Everyone understands that protecting the spotted owl wasn't the direct aim of environmentalists--it was the (tiny) trojan horse they rode to protect old growth. That's part of the reason the issue became so overheated; their opponents rightly charged them with disengenuous politics.

Sometimes you have to ride a trojan horse. In that case, for example, environmentalists had no other recourse. Trees don't fall under the Endangered Species act. And in Donny's case, he must ride a trojan horse because the notion of destroying government is a radical, unpopular idea. So he pretends to be a friend of the taxpayer by way of pushing his agenda. That's fine--it's politics.

But if we let him get away with calling himself an anti-tax advocate, we're to blame. It's time to flush him out and expose his idiocy for all to see. People should decide whether cops, teachers, roads, healthcare, and courts are worth funding. Donny Mac, who opposes government, says no. What do Oregonians say?

posted by Jeff | 9:23 AM |


Thursday, April 22, 2004  

[Primary Endorsements]

Portland Mayor

This one was already a foregone conclusion, as I bribed Phil Busse with an endorsement to interview him. But my gross corruption aside, I'd like to mention a few things that would have made me choose Phil even if he'd punked me (of course, I would have been more grudging).

Portland is at a crossroads right now. We've spent the past 12 years on Vera's wild ride, and we have a lot of big-picture triumphs to show for it: MAX expansions north and west, Portland Streetcar, the Pearl, the Chinese Garden, and plans to build a tram up Pill Hill among others. But what we also have is a legacy of closed-door dealings, elitism, and exclusion at City Hall. Vera's given us cavalier leadership; she ignores public input and at times seems to thwart the public will. Case in point, hiring a fundamentalist Christian, LAPD veteran as the police chief. She couldn't have found a worse fit.

So what we need now is more transparency and strong, populist leadership. There are two strong, well-known candidates and a third candidate worth considering. In the former category are Phil and Tom Potter, two underfunded candidates with an eye toward the public will. I'd add Brad Taylor to that list, though he's not as well known (see my links for an interview with him). All three would be a better choice for Portland than the guy who's likely to win, Jim Francesconi. All three will work with the public and fashion a more democratic City Hall. Vera's legacy will ensure that big ticket items are still on the back burner, should they wish to pursue any of them. Their focus will be on small businesses, the vulnerable, and the hard-working--all constituencies Vera ignored.

So why Phil? More than any other candidate, Busse has put forward a coherent, cohesive platform (and that includes--by a wide margin--Francesconi). He's an idea guy and a people guy--a rare combination in politics. Go to his website and poke around. You'll find a lot of material--a complete platform (oh boy, is it complete), a list of 100 ideas about improving the city, and a digital "book of complaints" (to which you may add your own).

Poke around enough, and you might notice something else: it's written in the first person. That's pretty rare for a candidate (compare: Francesconi, Potter, Posey; Brad Taylor gets it right). It's not the greatest index for a candidate, but it's not a bad one, either. If you don't have that kind of personal access to candidates through their webpage, you're unlikely to get it once they're in office.

I would encourage everyone to consider voting for a minor candidate (a list is here). If we all did that, the primary election might mean something--and give us a real choice in the run-off. I've chosen Phil (who, because he's run a good campaign, has become a mid-major candidate), but Brad Taylor may be more to your liking, particularly if you're concerned about vulnerable populations. Brad would definitely bring a vastly different voice to City Hall.

I'd encourage you all not to vote Francesconi in the primary. It's hard to imagine a scenario in which he doesn't get a sizeable portion of the vote, so he doesn't need yours. If he is the best candidate, he should have to run against some credible new voices--which we can only secure by voting for a minor candidate. Don't squander your vote in the primary.

Oregon Blog endorsement: Phil Busse.

posted by Jeff | 3:28 PM |


Wednesday, April 21, 2004  

[Primary Endorsements]

Multnomah County Commissioners

Three of five seats on the county commission are up for grabs this year, and all three looked to be easy wins for incumbents until the great gay marriage decision. At the last minute, a bunch of enraged challengers rushed to be put on the ballot to save citizens from the extra-constitutional cabal. Things are now more interesting.

As I go through this endorsement process, I'll seriously consider every candidate, no matter how fringe or unlikely to win, for endorsement. That said, the last-minute candidates leave much to be desired. It is clearly their notion that voters will choose a dead dog in the road before the incumbents. But by any other standard, it's hard to see an argument for not returning the incumbents.

The Oregonian has chosen to punish Maria Rojo de Steffey and Lisa Naito for their gay marriage maneuverings by endorsing the greatest of their lesser rivals. It is in my view a deeply irresponsible position: this isn't just a popularity contest--these people actually govern.

District 1
Candidates: Maria Rojo de Steffey (I), John Cox, Louis DeMartino, Kerry Dugan, Scott Rosenlund, Joseph Tam.

When you have an incumbent running, the first question is about that person's record. In the case of Rojo de Steffey, the answer is pretty good. From the Oregonian article: "With help from Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., she helped secure roughly $34 million to replace the Sauvie Island bridge. She works closely with county programs that administer treatment to low-income people who receive treatment for alcohol and drug abuse. Her office also meets regularly with a senior citizens roundtable."

By contrast, only one of her rivals has any relevant experience--Joseph Tam, who served as a Portland school board member. The Oregonian, vowing to endorse anyone not named Naito or Rojo de Steffey selected Dugan, about whom Willamette Week wrote, "Most dark-horse candidates, like County Commission hopeful Kerry Dugan, arrive with little grasp of the basic duties of the job they're seeking and no specifics for what they'd do if elected."

Absent any compelling reason to vote for these candidates save their opposition to the gay marriage decision, I see no reason to endorse them.

Oregon Blog endorsement: Maria Rojo de Steffey

District 3
Candidates: Lisa Naito(I), Roy Burkett, Ron McCarty.

When the Oregonian asked Burkett about schools, he didn't know how they were funded. To the same question, McCarty told the O: "It's not a county issue, period. If the senators and representatives can't do it, then we should get rid of them all." McCarty has served as a state rep, which gives him some experience, but he was sufficiently impressive that the O decided to endorse Burkett instead--a bookstore employee and former Baptist minister with no experience.

Meanwhile, Naito "has been a staunch advocate for mental health, public safety and children's services, pushing for a plan to improve services for homeless youths and reorganize early childhood services. During the state budget crisis last year, Naito launched a proposal for a local income tax surcharge to support schools and critical services. Voters approved the surcharge last May."

Oregon Blog endorsement: Lisa Naito

District 3
Candidates: Lonnie Roberts(I), Lonnie Stout.

The battle of the Lonnies is the only race in which The Decision doesn't loom large. Of all the commissioners, Roberts has the fewest successes to cite. Lucky for him, he also has the least competition. I actually think Stout, a retired trucker, might do a decent job. He's got an interesting mix of experience. But as the election nears, Stout has effectively withdrawn from the campaign due to the death of his father. As a result, we're left with Roberts.

Oregon Blog endorsement: Lonnie Roberts

posted by Jeff | 1:35 PM |
 

[Oregon Politics]

Maybe they should have given him a rubber ducky

In the old email inbox yesterday was this announcement:

(Washington, D.C.) Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) has honored Kevin Mannix, Chairman of the Oregon Republican party with the Dragon Slayer Award, for his “leadership in the defeat of Measure 30.” This is the most prestigious award given out by the national taxpayer group and comes with a four foot-long medieval sword.

Americans for Tax Reform--does that name ring a bell? It should; it's Grover Norquist's vehicle for shrinking government enough so that we can "drown it in a bathtub."

Congratulations, Kev!

posted by Jeff | 1:33 PM |


Tuesday, April 20, 2004  

[Portland Mayoral Race]

B!x calls politics and beer a heady mix. Unfortunately, I did not make the rumble at the Alladin. Sounds like a good time was had by all (including B!x, whose prose shows he was still under said heady influence).

posted by Jeff | 12:29 PM |
 

[Gay Marriage]

Halted!

A judge on Tuesday ordered a halt to same-sex marriage in an Oregon county that for weeks has been the only place in the nation where gays can get married.

Judge Frank Bearden said he believes the Oregon constitution would allow either civil unions or gay marriage, but he said a state Supreme Court ruling is needed first. He also said "public debate and legislative action may be required to carry out the court's mandate."

From OPB:

Colin Fogarty:"This is not an easy decision to explain in just a few words; it's fairly nuanced. But essentially, Judge Frank Bearden ordered the county to cease issuing marriages to same-sex couples while the legislature and the court works out the issue.

"He created a timeline of 90 days after the next regular or special legislative session for the legislature to deal with this issue. And after that time, essentially, civil unions would be enacted in Oregon. Because he basically said that the tangible benefits of marriage are being denied to same sex couples.

posted by Jeff | 12:22 PM |


Monday, April 19, 2004  

[Blog note]

My blogging may be intermittent this week. We're having our bathroom completely torn out and rebuilt from the studs up, which means I'm going to be itinerant. And therefore less able to blog.

Who knows what it means. I've never had a bathroom torn out before.

posted by Jeff | 9:08 AM |


Thursday, April 15, 2004  

[Oregon politics]

And speaking of endorsements, I'll try to get mine out beginning next week. No doubt your ballot depends on my recommendations.

posted by Jeff | 4:04 PM |
 

[Portland Mayoral Race]

Oregon Blog-endorsed mayoral candidate Phil Busse got a front-page article in the Oregonian today, but it seemed a little left-hand complimentish to me. First of all, the picture was strange. Surely they took several--that's the one they ran? Naturally, they also had to trash Busse's newspaper (probably a given if they were going to run an article about the editor of a competitor), calling it "a weekly tabloid devoted to the music, movie and sex interests of the 20s and 30s crowd.... Flippant and trendy, the Mercury doesn't follow traditional objectivity standards." Bizarre.

Fred Leeson's prose is as close to clinically dead as language can get, and he seems to be recounting facts from a resume he dug up on the internet:

Busse and his supporters assembled a list of 100 proposals, which are on his campaign Web site, meformayor.com.

Some are not original. His suggestion to end homelessness is borrowed from the Sisters of the Road cafe. No. 85 on the list, Wi-Fi hubs at city buildings, is a wireless technology that Busse said he doesn't understand. Someone else added it to the list.

In the yurt, listeners dug into Busse's pies. The peach, a recipe from his grandmother, was a hit. "Mostly peaches and sugar," Busse said.

That said, it was a generally favorable, if wholly superficial article. I'm sure Phil will take the free press.

posted by Jeff | 3:53 PM |
 

[Environment]

The Times has an article about the Biscuit fire today. It's a fairly good article, explaining to the general reader what the stakes are:

Environmentalists: About 12,000 acres of the logging would take place in what are known as Inventoried Roadless Areas, until recently exempt from development. Judge Clarence Brimmer of Federal District Court in Wyoming struck down the Clinton-era roadless rule last year, opening 58 million acres of federal forest to development.

Loggers: Meanwhile, as time passes, marketable logs burned in the Biscuit continue to decay, losing value.

Scott Conroy, forest supervisor for the Rogue River and Siskiyou National Forests, has requested an "emergency situation" designation to speed timber sales in the Biscuit.

"The dead trees are deteriorating at an increasing rate, and those trees are losing value," Mr. Conroy said.

But both timber industry representatives and environmentalists agree that there is a chance that no marketable timber will ever be sold from the Biscuit.

The stakes, actually, are the problem. In both cases they're enormous. Loggers feel their industry is on the line; environmentalists feel the forests are. Sadly, neither is right.

I wish we could sit down loggers and environmentalists in a room and give them each a chit of paper. On that paper, we could ask the environmentalists to write how much they'd be willing to see harvested annually (Which ones? I don't know--put 'em all in the room and get an average from the chits). The loggers would write how much they needed to survive. Then compare the figures. What do you bet they're not that far off?

posted by Jeff | 3:40 PM |
 

[Taxes]

What Your Tax Dollars Buy

On this great national day of loathing, the Ides of April, it bears considering what Americans get for their taxes. It's a time-honored tradition to gripe about taxes, but something has fundamentally changed since the Reagan revolution (and especially since the Sizemore and McIntire revolt). What was before a slightly unpleasant but necessary task, akin to eating Brussels sprouts, has now taken on the mantle of some unbearable suppression. Performing one's civic duty to fund the government is now something like paying the English tax on your tea. Thanks to folks like Norquist, 17% of Americans now believe it's ethical to cheat on your taxes--up from 11% in 1999.

How did we get here? Thanks to starve-the-beast conservatives like Grover Norquist ("My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub") and local heroes Bill Sizemore and Don McIntire. In a two-step process, these radicals first demonized "big government," using only stories of waste and corruption, leavened with plenty of lies and misleading facts. (Specific programs have constituencies, so you stay away from those--unless it's the Cadillac welfare queens--and demonize a vague concept like "government," which has no constituency.) Having associated corruption and government in the minds of voters, it was a short trip to convincing them that they could better spend their own dollars. Viola!--the tax revolt was on.

So let's review what our tax dollars buy--those corrupt "entitlements"--and see if they're really something we're keen to starve.

Schools and teachers to educate our children. Police, paramedics, and firefighters to protect us in our cities and homes. Armed services, intelligence agencies, and civilian responders to protect our nation. Roads and highways, bridges, tunnels, dikes, dams, and canals. Programs to help the vulnerable: social workers to protect abused children, housing, job training, mental health services, unemployment benefits, health care; and to our non-income-earning elderly, social security and Medicare. Regulation to keep our skies and water clean, to ensure business dealings aren't corrupt, to test our medicine to ensure it is safe. The list could go on and on.

But the benefit of the taxes we pay actually go to something far rarer and more valuable, something not so easily derided as an "entitlement": the health of our nation. The United States, even after 3 years of oligarchal rule, remains a relative land of opportunity. Our taxes go to a government that provides fantastic stability and economic health. Why is a quarter of our wealth held in foreign hands? Because the US is still the biggest, safest bet in the world.

When people decide to open a business in the US, they don't worry that they'll fail because a government official's palm wasn't properly greased, or because they were bombed, or because the currency collapsed, or because there was a military coup. They know that the infrastructure in the US will support their material needs (roads for their trucks, say) and their financial needs (banks that don't vanish in the night).

How much of each of our own independent wealth comes from this stability alone? Go to Mexico and find your professional counterpart. Does s/he live as well as you? Have the same opportunities as you? Why do you think s/he doesn't? How much would you pay to keep the advantages living in America provide? Throw on the benefit of the government programs, and it's pretty hard to argue that we're getting fleeced.

Our taxes support something far more important than any single program--they support the lifestyles and values we hold dear. In Oregon, we've been myopically trapped in a debate over programs, missing this bigger picture. While America still remains pretty strong, Oregon is now on the short end of that infrastructure stick. Companies and individuals are choosing not to do business here. Our economy can never be world-class as long as we don't properly fund it. Anti-taxers in Oregon hope to starve the state. They want to drown it in a bathtub. No doubt they regard starving the government as truly American and patriotic. We've seen what starving brings. You be the judge.

(A slightly different version was posted at Notes.)

posted by Jeff | 9:55 AM |


Wednesday, April 14, 2004  

[National Politics]

Two things to bring to your attention. The first is a roundtable I and a few other bloggers have going on at our respective sites. It's pretty damn good stuff, and although it's utopian and national, you'd do yourself a favor by having a look.

Susan Madrak, Suburban Guerrilla, essay here.
Lawrence Krubner, Less is More, essay here.
Elayne Riggs, Pen-Elayne, essay here.
Max Sawicky, MaxSpeak, essay here.
Mine, from Notes, here.

Second, the Oregonian, of all newspapers, had the most biting criticism of the President's press conference I've seen. (Fuel to the fire of those who mistakenly call it "liberal." More like "conflicted.") Anyway, an excerpt:

Last night, President Bush didn't just dodge reporters' questions of whether he, as president, bears any responsibility for the nation's collective failure to prevent Sept. 11.

He fumbled the questions and nearly fell over them. In a rare prime-time news conference Tuesday, he spoke forcefully about the need to stay committed to Iraq. However, some of his more stilted explanations of terrorism and his vague statements about the war are likely to fuel more public unease about the nation's direction....

He could have used this forum as an opportunity to take responsibility for his role as president in helping to prevent terror at tacks; to reach out to the international community on Iraq; to speak more candidly about the uncertainties facing troops and civilians in Iraq; to sound less defensive and more presidential.

He did not. Though he described himself the "ultimate decision maker for this country," he sounded less than decisive. And once again, the buck seemed to stop anywhere but with him.

posted by Jeff | 3:50 PM |


Tuesday, April 13, 2004  

[City Council Race]

More calculations. These for City Council races in position 1 and 4. Figures show the amount each had raised as a percentage of the whole.

Table 2: District 1 Fundraising as Percentage of All Funds Raised for Race
Total funds raised by all candidates: $466,803

Percent/Candidate/Total Raised
54.40% - Adams, Sam - $253,923
42.97% - Fish, Nick - $200,579
0.92% - Newell, Jason - $4,301
0.43% - Broadnax, Woody - $2,000*
0.43% - Montás, Aquiles - $2,000
0.43% - Smith, Brian H. - $2000
0.43% - Watson, Jerry - $2,000


Table 3: District 4 Fundraising as Percentage of All Funds Raised for Race
Total funds raised by all candidates: $183,641

Percent/Candidate/Total Raised
81.16% - Leonard, Randy - $149,047
6.53% - Dixon, Frank - $12,000
2.97% - Whittenburg, Jim - $5,457
2.75% - Leistner, Paul - $5,050
2.08% - Lakeman, Mark Lloyd - $3,828
1.09% - Gard, Leonard - $2,000*
1.09% - Hall, Aaron - $2,000
1.09% - Schwab, Mary Ann - $2,000
0.59% - McKnight, Bonny - $1,084
0.48% - Stephens, Scott - $875
0.16% - Salaz, Alicia - $300**


__________________________
* "Certificate of Limited Contributions & Expenditures Filed - Candidate does not expect to spend or receive more than $2,000 for entire election"
** "Candidate has discontinued Principal Campaign Committee and plans to spend less than $300 for entire election. No reports due."

posted by Jeff | 4:13 PM |
 

[Portland Mayoral Race]

Along with everyone else in the blogosphere, I today perused the City Auditor's account of mayoral candidate fundraising total. You can find them here. For fun, I ran a calculation of the amount each had raised as a percentage of the whole. Below you can see the figures.

Table: Candidate Fundraising as Percentage of All Funds Raised
Total funds raised by all candidates: $710,293

Percent/Candidate/Total Raised
77.14% Francesconi, Jim - $547,930
10.40% Taylor, Jeff - $73,900.00
6.33% - Potter, Tom - $44,989.58
.92% - Busse, Phil - $6,534.00
.89% - Posey, James. L. - $6,334.38
.71% - Adams, R. Jerry, Ph.D. - $5,010.00
.29% - Rempfer, Jeffrey - $2,095
.28% - Balkema, Lori - $2,000*
.28% - Campbell, Scot - $2,000
.28% - Hanson, Bart - $2,000
.28% - Hinds, Robert Ted - $2,000
.28% - Ketchum, Scott - $2,000
.28% - Mitchell, Rosalinda S. - $2,000
.28% - Nilsson, Peter - $2,000
.28% - Pfau, Donald - $2,000
.28% - Rezabek-Wright, Rozz - $2,000
.28% - Spagnola, Jim - $2,000
.28% - Taylor, Brad - $2,000
.04% - Ackerman, David - $300**
.04% - Benkoski, Michael - $300
.04% - Gier, Craig - $300
.04% - Hollen, Bruce W. - $300
.04% - Humble, Lew - $300

Any questions about who has the advantage?
__________________________
* "Certificate of Limited Contributions & Expenditures Filed - Candidate does not expect to spend or receive more than $2,000 for entire election"
** "Candidate has discontinued Principal Campaign Committee and plans to spend less than $300 for entire election. No reports due."

posted by Jeff | 3:24 PM |
 

[Blazers]

Good news: we won't get beaten in the first round of the playoffs. Bad news: there won't be a 22nd season of playoffs for the mighty Portland Trailblazers. All good things must come to an end. Oddly enough, I'm far more positive about the home team than I have been in years, and the future looks much brighter. We might even win the lottery!

I predicted the Blazers would finish 41-41 and miss the playoffs. Looks like a pretty good prediction. (I also predicted the Jazz would move on, not Denver, but let's not dwell on trivialities.)

posted by Jeff | 8:49 AM |


Monday, April 12, 2004  

[Misc.]

Most liveable Northwest city? Portland, Seattle, Eugene? No, Tacoma.

You can plan your relocation accordingly.

posted by Jeff | 3:54 PM |
 

[Nutball theories]

The newest report about James Jaher Perez causes me to have impure thoughts.

Three experts in the science of drug abuse say they are surprised by a medical examiner's findings that a man shot by Portland police had a high level of cocaine in his blood but no sign that his body was metabolizing it.

So has anyone irresponsibily suggested that the coke might have been "planted" on Perez? (No I don't know how you'd get a dead man to ingest coke--intravenously? Hey, I'm being irresponsible here.) My corrupt, distrustful brain immediately went there after I read this passage.

Because cocaine metabolizes very quickly, it almost always produces chemical byproducts that are found in the body, even after death. Yet, none was found in Perez's blood, Lewman said.

See, it all fits...

posted by Jeff | 8:19 AM |


Friday, April 09, 2004  

[Campaign Finance Reform]

The Portland City Council has introduced a plan for publicly financing elections. It's not the only campaign finance proposal on the books, and it's not a very good one. Let's be clear: politics are currently corrupted by money and where the process isn't corrupted, it's perverted by money from special interests. But what to do about the problem--that's not so easy.

The Portland plan is to publicly fund elections.

Beginning in 2006, candidates for auditor, commissioner and mayor would qualify for $75,000 to $150,000 by raising a yet-to-be determined amount of $5 or $10 contributions and promising to rely solely on public money.... [Auditor Gary] Blackmer estimates the total cost at $1.5 million a year.

There are a number of problems with this proposal, most of which were ably described by Jack Bogdanski in his analysis. In brief: there's something fishy about using tax dollars to fund elections; voters can't opt out; and it may violate Oregon's Constitutional right to free speech (the most liberal in the country). A Porltand Tribune article also pointed out an unintended consequence. If the money is available for anyone who chooses to run, it will encourage gang-attacks like we're seeing mounted against Randy Leonard for City Council. It might perversely encourage organized special interests to work together to field multiple candidates on the (reasonable) hypothesis that the chance of getting a candidate elected when you have 10 running is pretty good.

Petition 53
There is a better system. It's a statewide proposal forwarded by the Money is Not Democracy coalition in the form of a ballot petition. Like McCain-Feingold, it sets contribution limits--and is far more workable. From the short description of the measure (the full text is here):

Petition 53 bans all corporations, labor unions, and other entities from making contributions to candidate campaigns. It allows any individual person to contribute in candidate races (primary and general elections are separate races):

$500 in any statewide partisan race (governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, and labor commissioner);
$200 in any statewide nonpartisan or judicial race; and
$100 in any non-statewide race (state legislature, city council, etc).


In addition, any person can contribute per year $50 to any small donor committee, $500 to any political committee, and $1000 to any political party, with an aggregate limit on all of these contributions of $5000 per person per year.

Before the Supreme Court ruling on McCain-Feingold, critics of Petition 53 argued it wouldn't pass constitutional muster. But now backers find their argument substantially bolstered. According to the Supremes, limiting contributions doesn't restrict speech.

The unintended consequences of the City's proposal won't happen with Petition 53. It limits individual donations, but not totals raised. This encourages candidates with broad support and offsets candidates with connections to monied interests. Special interests should still have a voice in politics (why should the disinterested and uninformed have undue influence?), and under Petition 53, they do. It allows for the creation of PACs (here called SDCs--small donor committees). But unlike current PACs, which can accept unlimited donations, the SDCs would be limited to receiving donations of only $50 per person per year. Again, it tilts the advantage to the broadly-supported and well-organized, not just the rich.

Campaign finance reform is critical. The Portland City Council is wise to recognize this. But rather than creating a flawed system of public-finance, they should endorse the already-vetted and well-researched Petition 53. It's a far better solution.

posted by Jeff | 9:26 AM |


Thursday, April 08, 2004  

[Beer]

It is my intent to get to the topic Jack touched on today--campaign finance. But instead, I offer the diversion of beer. This weekend is the Spring Beer Fest--sort of the little brother to the summer blow-out at Waterfront Park (or is the Winter Beer Fest the little brother...?). Anyway, some decent offerings, should you be in the neighborhood of the Convention Center. (Don't wait til Sunday--it's Friday and Saturday only.)

Many of your faves will be there, but I'm not going to bother to mention them. Instead, I'm looking forward to:

Caldera Brewing Co. - Dry Hopped Orange. Caldera, from Ashland, makes some kick-ass beer, but it's only draft. I have yet to encounter a bad beer by this brewery, and this seems like an intriguing name.

New Belgium Brewing Co. - Fat Tire Amber Ale. Ha! Just kidding. I hate Flat Tire; what an insipid beer. If you want an amber go MacTarnahan's or Full Sail.

Pelican Pub & Brewery - Imperial Pelican Ale. Another great brewery that we don't get to see nearly often enough. I tasted my first Pelican at this very brewfest--Doryman's Dark--and I've generally enjoyed their beers. And anything with "Imperial" in the title's got to be good.

Walking Man Brewing - Black Cherry Stout. Walking Man's another brewery I first tasted at the SBF, and I was mightily impressed. Again, another draft-only brewery. I've always wanted to taste a subtle cherry stout, so maybe this is the one.

Widmer Bros. Brewing Co. - Scotty's Toddy. The Widmers often brew up something special for fests, and it's often damn tasty. Or, possibly this is a Collaborator. In either case, it's probably worth passing by your taste buds.

posted by Jeff | 4:20 PM |
 

[Blogospherics]

Looking for a (few?) good blogger(s?)

There's a groovy project starting up that requires at least one reliable blogger--more is perhaps better. It's a bit in the hush-hush stage, so I won't give you the full lowdown here. It's going to be an ambitious blogging project that will focus mostly on Oregon politics (from the progressive side, natch). No cash will change hands, but it's an opportunity to get involved with a large group of politically-active folks and have your name (or psuedonym) seen fairly broadly. I'd do it except that I'm seriously overcommitted.

If you have any interest, give me a holler at: emmasblog @ yahoo dot com.

I wouldn't lead you astray: it's going to be cool.

posted by Jeff | 11:24 AM |


Wednesday, April 07, 2004  

[blogospherics]

I recently got a number of referrals from this site, which as you'll see (or not, depending on your computer), is in Japanese. Intrigued, I ran down a translation:

"The nightmare of Somalia occurred again. Are the U.S. Forces withdrawn like Somalia? The weaker one of mind should not look at the following link."

I don't know about you, but I found it pretty darn cool.

posted by Jeff | 4:49 PM |
 

[Oregon Politics]

Special Session--yay or nay?

The Oregon State Legislature is considering whether the protocol they established for calling a special session is legal. Rather than having the Governor call for a special session, they created a system to do it themselves. Now there are some questions about whether it's legal. A better question is whether meeting for a special session is a good idea at all.

At the end of the last session, the legislature created a committee to examine tax reform in anticipation of a special session this year that would allow them time to put a measure on the November ballot. Eight months later, the calculus has changed, and now they're wondering whether they shouldn't just call the whole thing off.

On the pro-session side is one very serious argument: the state's finances stink because our patchwork funding sources have been inadequate in the face of 7% unemployment. Even though they stink less than expected, they still stink. They're unfair, arbitrary, and still--despite arguments to the contrary--grossly inadequate.

On the no-session side, however, are a bunch of less serious reasons that together form a pretty strong argument.

1. The legislature has never been more divided or ineffective than it was in 2003--and a special session would gather together roughly the same personalities for round two. Intractable hardly seems an adequate adjective.

2. The failure of Measure 30 muddies the water. Setting aside what it says about the public mandate (which isn't at all clear), it means that anti-tax advocates will see their hands strengthened. They weren't going to be keen to change Oregon's tax structure anyway, but this means they don't even have to consider it. If anything, Measure 30's failure will make things more intractable--especially coming as it does right before an election.

3. Gay marriage has now eclipsed taxes as the issue du jour. Those same legislators who don't want to talk taxes are chomping at the bit for a fight about gay marriage (see election, November). It's an easy red-meat issue that cuts only two directions. Your sound-bite-to-work ratio is very high, whereas in a discussion about revenue streams, sound bites are hard to come by while work is hard and confusing. Budgetary issues aren't exactly an ideologue's strong suit.

All things considered, it may be best to call this year a wash and let the voters decide who will have the discussion in 2005.

posted by Jeff | 9:17 AM |


Tuesday, April 06, 2004  

[Grassroots politics]

Although I want to bury Ralph, I'd also like to praise him. If you forget the last 3 1/2 years, the man did more for progressive causes than the next 99% of people combined. We owe him a debt of gratitude for 35 years of great work. But if we really want to celebrate the power of energizing the grassroots, we should look to a different leader, Dennis Kucinich. He's not running for President now, he's running for liberalism. The more attention he gets, the more forceful his voice will be at setting the agenda. If you care about the issues DK cares about (and almost everyone I've spoken to conceded he was the candidate with the best ideas), show up to one of the following three events. It's an easy way to advance the issues you care about.

12 Noon
Rally at Pioneer Courthouse Square
SW 6th and Morrison, for more info call 503-232-8201

3:30 - 4:30 pm
Conversation on Sustainability and GMO's
People's Co-Op, 3029 SE 21st Avenue, 503-232-9051

6 - 8 pm
"Peace is Possible" Dinner and Fundraiser
Tibet Kitchen, 103 NW 21st Ave, 971-244-0805
Sliding Scale tickets - limited seating.
To purchase call 503-232-8201

Dennis is a wonderful, inspirational speaker. Go just to be inspired.

posted by Jeff | 9:02 AM |
 

[Presidential Election]

Nader's Nadir

When Ralph Nader can only muster 750 people to a rally in Portland, Oregon, things are grim indeed. What happened to the 10k Ralph? What happened to Green Ralph, to "Voice of the Progressives" Ralph? What happened to reforming-politics Ralph? One finds it exceedingly difficult to buy the candidate's ownanswer--they're there, they're still supportive; they were just watching basketball.

No, what happened to Ralph can be expressed in a name: George W. Bush.

Sadly, Ralph has slid into some dark, self-aggrandizing recess of his own brain, where pulling fewer than a tenth of the audience you had four years earlier isn't a sign of lost support. Where you're somehow helping to defeat Bush by siphoning votes from Kerry. Fortunately for the overwhelming majority of liberals who want to see change this year, Ralph's delusions aren't going to affect the outcome.

When Nader can rally only 750 people in his most supportive city, it's time to recognize the truth: the Nader campaign is officially dead. He'll be lucky to get on more than a handful of state ballots, and he'll get fewer than a percentage point of votes where he does.

Thank god.

posted by Jeff | 8:35 AM |


Monday, April 05, 2004  

[Portland City Council Election]

EXCLUSIVE - The Oregon Blog interview with Portland City Council candidate Randy Leonard.

As part of my continuing series of interviews with political candidates, today I offer you an extended four-part interview with City Council member Randy Leonard. Mr. Leonard has a reputation as a straight shooter, and he lives up to it in this interview. Enjoy.

_______________


Oregon Blog: Normally I begin with questions about a candidate's background, but you're one of the city's better-known politicians. So instead of background, let's warm up with this. Steve Duin wrote this about you: "Leonard still brings raw fury and a roughhouse style to the mission." True?

Randy Leonard: If you don’t mind--I would like to give my background. It helps explain how I approach issues.

I was raised on NE 8th and Siskiyou one house from Irving Park. I went to Irvington Grade School, Grant High School and graduated from PSU in 1975 (the 5 year plan). I joined the Portland Fire Bureau in 1978 as a firefighter and worked continuously there until my election to the City Council in 2002 retiring then as a Fire Lieutenant.

I served in the Oregon House of Representatives and the State Senate a total of 10 years.

I was the President of the Portland Firefighters Association for 12 years.

I have fought for working class Portlanders nearly my entire adult life, in one role or another.

I am always taken aback when I read a description of me such as the on attributed here to Steve Duin. I do not view myself that way.

I do have high expectations of public servants. I do make my expectations clear. I do follow through with accolades when appropriate. What gets more notice, although occurs very infrequently, is that I do hold employees accountable for their actions.

I think it is unfortunate that my doing that "stands out." I treat all with the dignity and respect I want accorded to me. However, if employees exploit their positions of trust for personal gain or if they lie to me, they lose my confidence and they must then be accountable for their actions.

As the City Auditor once said to the entire City Council, "Randy is not micro managing--he is managing."

Continue reading:

Part One: Economy
Part Two: Portland's Future
Part Three: The Campaign
Part Four: Education, Crime, Chianti

posted by Jeff | 8:57 AM |
 

EXCLUSIVE - The Oregon Blog interview with Portland City Council candidate Randy Leonard.

Part One: Economy

Oregon Blog: Despite slight improvements in some sectors of the economy, unemployment remains a pernicious problem in Portland, which had a 7.8% rate in February. What can the city do to bring good jobs to Portland?

Randy Leonard: The first step in fixing a problem is to at first admit you have a problem. We have had leadership in this city that refuses to recognize that in the past Portland has been exceedingly unfriendly to anyone who wants to build a house or remodel their kitchen--much less build a new building in which to conduct a business (a.k.a. Columbia Sportswear).

I acknowledge that Portland has been at a minimum unfriendly and often hostile to people who want to do business in Portland. I have worked to change that.

As a result, I have successfully attracted new businesses to Portland that provide good, family wage jobs. The following quote is from one of those businesses, King Cycle:

"Randy Leonard was the first city official that I met during our Portland evaluation.

During our first meeting he promised us a rapid and smooth path through the maze of construction and building permits. Randy delivered. He made our move to Portland possible." [Emphasis added by Randy Leonard]

Matt O'Rourke, Vice President
King Cycle Group

OB: When the bubble burst, we learned that Portland lacked some of the supports other cities had to protect them in downturns--"anchor" companies and diverse industries. How can we fix these problems?

RL: Last year, I was asked by the Portland Development Commission and the Portland Business Alliance to go to the International Retailers Convention in Las Vegas (the largest convention in the world). I sat in a stuffy booth for two days talking with major anchor chains about the "new Portland" way of doing business... i.e., we haven’t changed our standards, but we have changed our attitude. As a result of those contacts the PDC and I are currently negotiating with some of those large businesses to locate in Portland.

Our trip was such a success, the PDC has asked me to go with them again this year and I have agreed.

Attracting new businesses (read jobs) is not sexy work--and it should not be. It is about being willing to get into the trenches, rolling up your sleeves and talking with businesses. I had many comments from large chains during my trip to Las Vegas such as "we have never had an elected official come to this convention and make it so clear that you want our business."

Treat people the way you want to be treated, and great things happen.

OB: There are claims and counter-claims that Portland isn't business-friendly. Who's right?

RL: As I said, that has been true and I am working to change that. However, it is clear to me that I cannot do it alone. We need a Mayor who wants to be a partner in changing the way we do business.

posted by Jeff | 8:50 AM |
 

EXCLUSIVE - The Oregon Blog interview with Portland City Council candidate Randy Leonard.

Part Two: Portland's Future

Oregon Blog: Next January, for the first time in twelve years, the city will have a new mayor. Vera Katz's tenure will probably be remembered for some high-profile successes (the Streetcar, Chinese Gardens, the Pearl, and so on), yet people feel she lacked an overall vision for where the city should be heading. What's your vision for the city?

Randy Leonard: To be the “City that Works” requires more than painting those words on the doors of all city owned vehicles. Please do not mistake this for me lacking imagination; however, I want to make sure that when a housing inspector shows up at your house, you have confidence that that person has the highest of integrity and professionalism. I want Portlanders to know that we are not making inappropriate settlements with large corporations that owe our city taxes. I want people to be able to go in and get a permit to remodel their home and be received with a smile and friendly attitude not unlike the experience tire purchasers experience at Les Schwab.

My vision for Portland is that our community be safe and secure and that its government be viewed as its advocate--not its adversary.

OB: As Vera leaves, a number of her big-picture proposals will still be on the table. Let me mention a few and tell me what you think of them: South Waterfront district/tram; MLB baseball, MARC, public ownership of Ross Island.

RL: The South Waterfront District and the construction of the tram were decided by the council before I joined it. Since I have been a member, I have made it clear that I will not agree to spend one cent of general fund dollars on the construction of the tram. Those who benefit from it must pay for it.

I have indicated that I would conditionally support the construction of a Major League Baseball stadium. That condition is based on the site the stadium would actually be located on. I do not believe the infrastructure around the Rose Quarter would allow for adequate egress in and out of the stadium. I have identified a site known as the “freeway lands” site bordering I-205 on the east @ Foster Road. It is over 100 acres that is located in an area of Portland that needs economic development drastically. Light rail can be run down the middle of I-205 from gateway and terminate at the stadium site. Entrances and exits can occur directly from the freeway onto the site. All of this would have to occur without one cent coming from the city’s general fund otherwise I am a "no" vote.

I voted against the MARC because I believe it will make it more difficult, if not impossible, to build the promised community center in SE Portland at the Washington High School site. I also believe that the MARC would eventually require general fund support. On the other hand, the Memorial Coliseum site could be converted to some kind of use that would actually generate good, family wage jobs and be placed on the tax rolls of the city rather than being a tax liability.

While I was a member of the Oregon Legislature, I passed a bill in the Oregon House that prohibited the dumping of toxic or contaminated wastes in the Lagoon at Ross Island. I also introduced a bill that would have converted Ross Island into a state park. Now, as a member of the City Council, I am very supportive of doing whatever needs to be done to acquire Ross Island as a public park.

OB: What will be the things you most hope to accomplish during your tenure on the city council?

RL: I truly strive every day to restore the confidence of Portlanders in their city and its government. When I am done with my service on the council, I hope people will say I made the city more responsible and accountable for the services it provides. I view my role on the city council as making the system work--especially for the average, working class Portlander.

posted by Jeff | 8:42 AM |
 

EXCLUSIVE - The Oregon Blog interview with Portland City Council candidate Randy Leonard.

Part Three: The Campaign

Oregon Blog: Let's talk about the campaign. Until recently, it looked like your seat was secure. Then came the "neighborhood rebellion," in which neighborhood leaders threw their names in the ring to try to force a run-off election with you. They charge you with ignoring community input and forcing your own agenda. How would you characterize your responsiveness to neighborhoods?

Randy Leonard: First, let’s clear up one misperception. None of the 10 opponents I have speak for neighborhoods. They speak for a very, very small minority of people. In fact, I spend most of my time fighting for neighborhoods and those within them whose lives are consumed with working and taking care of their families. Thus, I have initiated the neighborhood service centers that will cause city employees who are currently assigned to work in designated areas of the city to work out of that neighborhood so that citizens can access those services within their own neighborhood. A fire inspector, housing inspector, crime prevent specialist and other such employees will no longer, under this concept, work out of a downtown office but rather in the neighborhood they are assigned to so citizens can more easily access the various services these employees provide.

Additionally, I worked against a tremendous lobbying effort by the Oregon Restaurant Association to pass an ordinance that for the first time will allow neighborhoods to cause a misbehaving liquor establishment to close earlier.
There is a difference between not being listened to and not being agreed with. I have listened to the various issues each of my opponents are angry with me about. However, I simply do not agree with their stance on each of their own particular positions. They may argue that their positions are their neighborhoods positions, but I do not agree with that.

OB: One of the proposals you made was a pilot program to create "mini city halls" in neighborhoods. This is one of the reasons for the "rebellion." Having run into some trouble with neighborhood activists, what have you learned? How will you proceed?

RL: I have learned that some who involve themselves in neighborhood associations are very resistant to doing anything different than what they are used to. There are a number of reasons that city government is dysfunctional to most citizens. However, six of my opponents like the way the city operates currently because they are frequent users of it and they can access services that ordinary, 8 to 5, working Portlanders cannot. I am fighting to make our government more accessible for the latter group of Portlanders. However, I will continue to listen and seek out all who have an opinion. Again, just because in the end I may not agree with a position one is taking does not mean I have not listened to them.

OB: People constantly try to pin you down, and yet your record is eclectic. For example, you voted against the resolution to condemn Iraq, but you supported the Multnomah County Commissioners' decision on granting same-sex marriage licenses. For someone who doesn't follow issues like uncollected business fees and town car minimums, how would you characterize your politics?

RL: I try very hard to side with those that are being, or are threatened with being, overpowered by a larger force. Thus, my remarks at the time of the Iraq resolution were not about weapons of mass destruction but, rather, the training of groups within Iraq that attack Israel. I also cited the unprovoked lobbing of scud missiles into Israel by Iraq. I think eventually, it would have been Iraq that would have launched a devastating attack on Israel that could have literally wiped it and its population off the face of the earth.

Similarly, on the issue of gay marriage, I agree with those who support allowing same sex marriage. When has it been popular to stand up for minority rights? Those minority rights in due time come into vogue and then everyone jumps on board. But where was the outrage when Japanese Americans (many of whom were born in this country) were interred in prison camps in Idaho in World War II? There was none--to our eternal shame as a country. Now citizens cannot believe that our government would imprison an entire group of citizens simply because of their race. I view the issue of same sex marriage in that context.

I try very, very hard to stand up for people who have no voice or are victims of what can be described as a cold, inhuman and, unfortunately at times, self serving system. I believe in giving people everything they need to succeed in life. I also insist that people be treated the way we like to be treated. I do those things because I used to be in the position of many of those citizens--and I know what a kind word, a helpful hand and an influential advocate can do to change ones life.

I have a gut level, negative reaction when people in authority arrogantly mistreat those who are less powerful. I have an entirely more focused reaction to those in positions of authority who misuse that authority for their own gain.

posted by Jeff | 8:29 AM |
 

EXCLUSIVE - The Oregon Blog interview with Portland City Council candidate Randy Leonard.

Part Four: Education, Crime, Chianti

Oregon Blog: Will the Blazers hold off Utah and Denver and make the playoffs?

Randy Leonard: Absolutely...Go Blazers!

OB: Cities are increasingly finding themselves at the center of national debates--often in pointed disagreement with federal lawmakers. In the past few years, we've seen the city tackle the war in Iraq, the PATRIOT Act, terror investigations, and gay marriage (all right, that's a county issue, but you get the point). What's a city's role in these national issues?

RL: I said during the Iraq debate that I believe these are important issues for the city to debate and deliberate over. City Hall is the most intimate level of government Portlanders have. We should provide a forum to debate a wide range of local, national and international issues

OB: After a rocky tenure under police chief Mark Kroeker, it appeared the public and the Portland police were starting to reconcile. Then James Perez, an unarmed black man, was shot to death. I know it's far too early to comment on that shooting, but does it indicate an underlying problem with the police force?

OB: My wife and I went to Kaohsiung, Taiwan earlier this year. I have two stark impressions from that trip. They could learn urban planning from us and we could learn how to treat each other from them. My wife and I were standing at a corner in downtown Kaohsiung and stood next to a police officer who was waiting to cross as well. He looked at us and smiled and said "how are you?" I said "well, thank-you." He bowed and told us to "please enjoy yourselves." We were struck with how he and every other stranger we met were so kind and courteous. Clearly, their culture prizes civility.

I know many, many Portland Police Officers. They are very professional and dedicated. However, as in any organization, there are some officers, as there were firefighters I worked with, who have an "attitude." They can through their actions, demeanor and words increase tensions at an incident that they just as easily could have controlled with a more savvy and calm approach. In my career in the Fire Bureau, most officers I was at emergency incidents with used the latter approach. However, some chose to use the former approach. It almost always caused and incident to escalate.

I feel strongly about one point. Supervisors who do not require officers under there command to treat all citizens respectfully and professionally are not doing their jobs. This should be job one for them. Supervise and train their subordinate officers.

OB: What changes can the police force make right away to ensure something like this doesn't happen again?

RL: As I said in the previous answer, I believe training to de-escalate an incident is important. There are, however, going to be incidents that, notwithstanding the police officers' best efforts, will spiral out of control. If an officer's or citizen's life is at risk, the officer must do whatever necessary to stop the risk. However, I do believe training in how to de-escalate an incident that applies a little psychology along with some good old fashioned manners and professionalism would go a long ways towards helping to calm everyone down at an incident before it escalates.

OB: Last year you helped divert a teacher's strike. Funding for education isn't exactly the city council's purview, but it is one of the biggest issues to Oregonians. Anything you have planned going forward on the schools front?

RL: While school funding, strictly speaking, is not a responsibility of city government, the failure of the school system in Portland would cause a mass exodus of working class people to other states. We must have a first class school system in order to keep and attract new businesses and their workers to Portland. I will be working with the Oregon Legislature in any manner I am needed to establish a reliable and steady funding system for Oregon schools; and not just k-12--this same reasoning applies to our system of higher education as well.

OB: I've seen your comments on some of the blogs around town (not mine, however). What role do you see the alternative media playing in public dialogue?

RL: I am addicted to local blogs. I have told many it reminds of being on the floor of the Oregon House and Senate. I have on occasion participated in some great debates on local blogs. There are strict rules of conduct so the postings are really thought provoking. I love a good discussion. It is something that is not promoted by the Mayor on the city council. She often stifles debate because she grows impatient with the discussion. I hope that changes--but until then--blogging is my only forum to relieve my need to discuss.

OB: All right, an easy one. We discuss beer on this blog pretty regularly--what's your favorite pint?

RL: Actually, since hitting 50, I've noticed that the beer "sticks" more than it used to. So I try and drink red wine. It is also good for the cholesterol. And just like Dr. Hannibal Lechter, I like a "fine Chianti."

But if it's a beer I'm havin, make it a Tsing Tao.

OB: I could go on and on, but you're a busy man. Thanks for the time and good luck with the election.

RL: Thanks. This has been the most fun questionnaire I have ever done. Very thought provoking.

posted by Jeff | 8:00 AM |


Friday, April 02, 2004  

[Gay Marriage]

For some reason, b!X didn't cover the Multco commishes' public hearings on gay marriage (which shows, I suppose, how dependent I've become on his reportage). Fortunately, OPB did a great job. Selected highlights below.

Pro

Bob Lawrence: This movement will not be turned back. Resisted yes. Defeated, no. History's on your side. Any movement that enhances the dignity of the individual is certainly God-inspired.

Sho Dozono: A question in my mind is what part of the Declaration do we not understand? Does it not state that all of us are created equal? What part of equal don't we understand?

Con

Robert Ferris: I see men kissing on TV. Well that paints a picture in my head. What they need is not a marriage license. They need to go down and see a doctor or a psychiatrist or something.

Al Bacon: If this is what it takes for them to be normal, we have to rape our constitution, we have to rape procedure just to get you what you want?

Melba Miller: When God's revealed truth is disdained by the people and it's leaders, that nation dies. And I guess that's what I really am afraid is happening to us.

posted by Jeff | 12:40 PM |
 

[Teaser]

Later today Monday: an interview with a major Portland candidate whose initials may or may not involve the letters R and L.

Good stuff.

[Update: This figure also may or may not be on the cover of today's Portland Tribune. More: I've decided to wait until Monday to post the interview--I'm sufficiently excited about it that I don't want to inadvertently do a "Friday news dump" thing with it.]

posted by Jeff | 7:57 AM |


Thursday, April 01, 2004  

Recent reference to the Oregon blog:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=David+Reinhard+is+an+idiot

I'm the top of the list!

[Update: As Matt points out, you have to key it in this way: "David Reinhard" is an idiot. And even then, I'm edged out by LGF. All of which is rather more, I imagine, than you care about.]

posted by Jeff | 4:09 PM |
 

[International Events]

(I hate to crosspost, but the disconnect between the President's triumphal language and the events yesterday in Iraq made me sick. The following is what I posted on Notes.)

Cognitive Dissonance

"Four Americans working for a security company were ambushed and killed Wednesday, and an enraged mob then jubilantly dragged the burned bodies through the streets of downtown Falluja, hanging at least two corpses from a bridge over the Euphrates River." (NYT, 4/1/04)

"The voters this year are going to have a clear, unmistakable choice. It is a choice between an America that leads the world with confidence and strength, or an America that is uncertain in the face of danger. I look forward to this campaign. I look forward to the debate. I look forward to reminding the American people that in the last three years, we've accomplished great things. And I look forward -- And most importantly, I look forward to laying out a positive vision for the years ahead; a positive vision for winning the war against terror, and extending peace and freedom throughout the world..."
(George W. Bush at a fundraiser yesterday)

"Men with scarves over their faces hurled bricks into the blazing vehicles. A group of boys yanked a smoldering body into the street and ripped it apart. Someone then tied a chunk of flesh to a rock and tossed it over a telephone wire." (NYT)

Bush: "We confronted the dangers of state-sponsored terror, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. So we ended two of the most violent and dangerous regimes on Earth. We freed over 50 million people, and once again America is proud to lead the armies of liberation."

"Violence continued Thursday as two roadside bombs exploded northwest of Baghdad, apparently targeting a convoy of 25 fuel tankers under U.S. military escort, according to eyewitnesses and military sources." (CNN, 4/1/04)

Bush: "Great events will turn on this election. The man who sits in the Oval Office will set the course of the war on terror and the direction of our economy. Security and the prosperity of America are at stake. The other side hadn't offered much in the ways of strategy to win the war, or policies to expand our economy. So far all we hear is old partisan rhetoric and bitterness. Anger and bitterness are not an agenda for the future of America."

"For hours, young men and boys roamed the streets proclaiming their hatred of the U.S.-led occupation. Iraqi security forces, organized and trained by the occupation authority, were scarce. Local police stayed away from the gory aftermath of the assault. No one dared make an arrest." (Washington Post, 4/1/04)

Bush: "September the 11th, 2001, taught a lesson I will never forget, a lesson this nation must never forget: America must confront threats before they fully materialize. In Iraq, my administration looked at the intelligence information and we saw a threat. Members of Congress looked at the intelligence and they saw a threat. The United Nations Security Council looked at the intelligence and it saw a threat. The previous administration and Congress looked at the intelligence and made regime change in Iraq the policy of this country."

"The visceral hatred for Americans that poured forth yesterday suggested that the city remains as much a cauldron as it was on April 9, when the first attack on Americans after the capture of Baghdad took place. Then, two weeks after Saddam's ouster, U.S. troops who had taken over a school as a barracks opened fire on an angry crowd after shots were fired at the school, killing 17 Iraqis. The clash set off attacks that by midsummer had engulfed the entire Sunni Triangle -- a strategic area of hundreds of square miles in central Iraq, north, south and west of Baghdad." (NYT, 4/1/04)

Bush: "My opponent admits that Saddam Hussein was a threat; he just didn't support my decision to remove Saddam from power. Maybe he was hoping Saddam would lose the next Iraqi election. We showed the dictator and a watching world that America means what it says. Because our coalition acted, Saddam's torture chambers are closed. Because we acted, Iraq's weapons programs are ended forever. Because we acted, nations like Libya have gotten the message and renounced their own weapons programs. Because we acted, an example of democracy is rising at the very heart of the Middle East. Because we acted, the world is more free. And because we acted, America is more secure."

posted by Jeff | 8:12 AM |
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