Friday, December 31, 2010

Too good to be true - airports ditching TSA

As frustration grows, airports consider ditching TSA

This is really a PR move by airports. Nothing important will change except the employer of the person feeling your crotch or breasts.

It isn't clear what the exact motive behind the consideration - apparently one airport has made the decision to switch to private firms. The switch though requires TSA approval. Arguably costs and operational efficiencies - the standard privatization rationale - will result. There is too the prospect that private security will be more customer friendly.    

While I would like to see the security implementation be more practical and realistic - privatizing is at best a PR solution not likely to make air travel any safer. There are some things that have to be in the hands of the government - armed forces and national security. A for profit bottom line should not be the guiding principle for national security.

Allowing airports to go their own way on security personnel decentralizes responsibility and coordination. No good can come from that.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Whoa! Mother and daughter unbeknown to the other abusing same boy

Daughter, wife of AZ official accused in sex case - Yahoo! News

Speech, Cranky and Free

Speech, Cranky and Free - NYTimes.com

Cause for arrest and expulsion from city council meeting. A Nazi salute given as an expression of what an individual thought of the Santa Cruz, CA, city council's exclusion of another from speaking at a public meeting. Santa Cruz that bastion of right wing conservatism.

What rules were violated? Rules of decorum.

Take a look at the video on youtube. In fact - a look makes you wonder if it were a Nazi salute or not. Done almost too quickly for the eye to catch and with the left arm. But it was characterized as such by a council member and the individual was expelled and arrested. Therein lies the story of government suppression of freedom of speech in a liberal city - "a center of liberal and progressive activism." [Wikipedia].

Of course free speech was upheld. Moral of the story: "The council members should have known that the government may never suppress viewpoints it doesn’t like." [Concurring opinion].

Fortunately for all of us this guy sued and stayed with it for eight years. It is a failure point of our legal system that the constitutional right of free speech can be easily disposed of by elected officials. The fault point is that the only remedy is to sue. Eight years is too long to wait for the obvious decision.

See the opinion, but a better read is the concurring opinion of Justice Kozinski, joined by Justice Reinhardt. It starts at page 20 on the Adobe Reader. It is this part where more of the juicy bits are found. E.g., we find that the plaintiff in this case was excluded for whispering 2 years later in a city council meeting.

The message is clear for governments making decorum rules: "speech must “disrupt[,] disturb[ ] or otherwise impede[ ] the orderly conduct of the Council meeting” before the speaker could be removed." 

“Listeners’ reaction to speech is not a content-neutral basis for regulation. . . . Speech cannot be . . . punished or banned[ ] simply because it might offend a hostile” member of the [. . .] City Council."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cars without batteries?

Electrics vehicles - without batteries « Daily Journal of Commerce

At first glance I thought the Daily Journal had a first impression news story - but alas it was a page filler with the pretense of news. Admittedly though, it isn't old news either - but that isn't the impression they wanted to make. Frankly it seemed that a quick Google search would have added content to their story.

Not a new story - but better late than never? There has been a host of stories since the announcement in February this year. See Brits Make EV Batteries Go Bye Bye! Now to be fair the Journal did provide a link to this article, but nowhere in Journal's article did it mention the date of the story.

And, while the Journal puts Detroit on notice that cars of the future may not need batteries, it ignored taking notice that Volvo is involved in the research. For more in-depth (a little bit anyway) look at the new technology see "Volvo Looks Into Car Body As Battery.

And, it is in this Inhabitat article where one learns the primary purpose of the research and that "the tech is still pretty far from commercialization."

"Scientists say they are developing the material to save weight and volume in vehicles. Replacing metal parts with the lightweight substance could reduce cars’ weights by about 15 percent and create a roomier ride for passengers. But the technology could boost electric vehicle development, too. By pairing lithium-ion batteries with car bodies that produce power (or just relying on the bodies themselves), EVs will be able to drive further on a single charge, making them more attractive to drivers."

Way too early to get excited, but there is hope.

Credit Cards’ Cash Rewards - is this the way out of a recession?

Credit Cards’ Cash Rewards Prompt Higher Spending, More Debt - Real Time Economics - WSJ

"That debts grew faster than spending among those offered cash rewards likely means people reduced their monthly payments more than they increased spending."

The right thing for people to do is to move all of their debt and spending from some other card but we actually see them taking on additional debt.”

It is profitable for the credit card companies: "The initiation of a 1% cash rewards program yielded, on average, a $25 reward each month — and an increase in spending by $68 a month and in credit-card debt of $115 a month, . . . "

Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago: “Our analysis suggests that in an extremely competitive credit-card-issuing market, rewards are another tool, along with lower interest rates, to steal customers from competitors.”

It is the profit driven market place at work. Whether that is good or not depends on your perspective - doesn't it?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Education circa 1920s

I was looking at high school transcripts of someone applying to Notre Dame University for the school year beginning in 1924. High school courses taken: English 4 years - Composition, Literature, & Rhetoric; Language - Latin; History 3 years - Ancient, Medieval  & Modern, & American; Science 3 years - Chemistry, Physics, Geology; Mathematics 4 years-  Algebra, Geometry, & Trigonometry; and electives.

This was from a public school in a relatively small city in West Virginia. The place was Charleston which is the capital - but not a big city by any measurement. Today the population is less than 100,000.

A look at the courses taken at Notre Dame at that time is daunting. I have no idea whether Notre Dame is still as challenging, but it was certainly more challenging than UC Berkeley in the 70s.

Illegal immigration

A response/comment to a KGW news story on someone who was deported as a teen but was allowed back for the holidays:

"Amen corpmom! My family immigrated here legally. Learned the language, became citizens, got jobs, paid taxes and never once got any handouts. Never heard 'press 2 for German' or seen any catering to those that did come here legally. Unlike now, look around Gresham, what happened to Rockwood? I'm sorry that this kids parents F up. But illegal is breaking the law."

While it is not something the liberal or maybe the compassionate conservative might agree with - it is a rather common sentiment. Frankly, it doesn't seem irrational. It is often heard that we are a nation of laws and that we are equal in the eyes of the law; but then, maybe not.

And we wonder who finances terrorists

U.S. Has Approved Billions in Business With Blacklisted Nations - NYTimes.com: "Despite sanctions and trade embargoes, over the past decade the United States government has allowed American companies to do billions of dollars in business with Iran and other countries blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism, an examination by The New York Times has found."

"We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo.

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse is a good informational source on intellectual property law and the Internet. "Chilling Effects aims to help you understand the protections that the First Amendment and intellectual property laws give to your online activities." And so it does.

Why aren't doctors held accountable?

I notice that in a recent story re Teena Marie that she had successfully battled an addiction with prescription drugs, apparently Vicodin. While this pops up in celebrity stories - I wonder how many others are addicted to prescription drugs? Why aren't the prescribing doctors held to some level of accountability?

Teena Marie, talented soul music artist, died at the age of 54. No cause of death was detailed, but 54 is way too young for death by natural causes. While the various articles did not link her death to any drug use - prescription or otherwise - one still has to wonder about the misuse of prescription drugs and death.

The implication is always that "prescription" means they were prescribed, but I guess it could be a categorization to differentiate between drugs that can be prescribed and those that cannot. But if use of a drug like Vicodin is used without a prescription - where is the source? Don't otherwise legitimate drug makers and suppliers who permit illegal supplies of their drugs have any legal responsibility?

And we worry about pot.

Coburn: apocalyptic pain

Coburn: Control Government Spending or Face 'Apocalyptic Pain' - FoxNews.com

"'If we didn't take some pain now, we're going to experience apocalyptic pain, and it's going to be out of our control. The idea should be that we control it,' he [Coburn] said."

Maybe the Republicans will force state and local governments to face reality. He sees the handwriting on the wall: warning "that the U.S. only has about three or four years to get its fiscal house in order or it could find itself facing austerity measures seen in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and earlier in Japan."

The Senator is known for his "wastebook" criticizing the stimulus money spent by state governments. [See my post.] Similarly, he is not recommending drastic measures but efficiency and accountability in federal spending. He notes: "The Pentagon can't even audit its own books. It doesn't even know where its money is going."

The naive

1-800 phone calls: Feeling grateful for customer support | OregonLive.com:

"One thing I neglected to do this year was to express gratitude for the technical-support personnel who answer 1-800 telephone calls to talk me through personal computer problems."

This Oregonian opinion by guest Spencer Heinz is amazing in its naivete. He is feeling grateful for a service he paid for as part of the product price. I purchased your product thank you so much for providing me free tech support to make it work. Oh please!

My read of the opinion suggested someone's writing exercise as part of an English 101 class. It is something expected maybe from a high school junior. I even wondered why the Oregonian alloted so much space for a relatively unsophisticated piece.

Apparently (thanks to a quick Google search), Mr. Heinz once worked for the Oregonian, and he seems to have those that support his writing style. E. g., see The Red Electric: Spencer Heinz: A treasure at The Oregonian.

Sorry I look for more quality from a piece published on the Oregonian's opinion site. It would have been better submitted as a letter to the editor.



Sunday, December 26, 2010

Who Killed the Disneyland Dream? - NYTimes.com

Who Killed the Disneyland Dream? - NYTimes.com

Interesting story in the Times where the author laments the loss of the real "American dream" where "promise of social and economic mobility was attainable to anyone who sought it . . . ." [Bold added]. I am not sure about the use of the Disneyland metaphor - but at one point the "dream" was a reality. [As an aside - I was surprised to learn that the first Disneyland was opened in 1955.]

But Disneyland is, and has always been, fantasy entertainment, but the American dream wasn't always a fantasy as it is today. I was fortunate to have actually partake of the promise. It in the 60s with a pass through high school education and US Navy electronics training I was working and earning a decent salary that permitted me to live a pretty good lifestyle.

It wasn't so much the income as the cost of living. Made in America was more than a label that isn't often seen anymore. Credit cards and big banking hadn't taken over the lives of Americans. If you had a job - banks would lend money. Of course these were the days of ""banker hours." They were opened something like ten to three - never on the weekends. 

In my early twenties I was working in New York for an aircraft manufacturer that not only paid decent wages but a bonus at Xmas time. Also there was a free turkeys at Thanksgiving and Xmas. I also worked  for IBM in upstate (sort of) NY. I could go to the local bank and get a personal short term loan on my signature alone. Still just a high school graduate with electronics experience.

Anyone anywhere near my age realizes that the standard of living has decreased dramatically. In the early 60s, I had new Plymouth convertible, costing a little more than $3,000, an older Cadillac convertible, and could have easily purchased a home. I was married and had two very young children and a dog. The promise fulfilled.

While I don't remember my pay - it was based upon nothing other than my Navy experience and high school diploma. No wealthy parents or other funds to draw on. Even though in the 70s I went on to graduate from University of California, Berkeley, and obtained a California license to practice law - my income never matched the 60s' buying power.

It was an era of promise that continued through the 60s and into the early 70s when jobs seemed plentiful and social and economic mobility was still possible. Even the assassination of  President Kennedy did not stop the promise. But something happened - maybe the Vietnam War had something to do with it - the promise became the fantasy.

The promise starts to disappear. When I graduated from UC Berkeley in the 70s there were no jobs. Recruiters did not even come to the campus. But I was fortunate to be able to attend law school. But contrary to popular belief the majority of attorneys were earning middle class salaries and often not as practicing attorneys.

My point - not to tell my life's story - is that I don't believe that any young person has that promise in sight. It is unobtainable for most, and it is becoming more unobtainable each day. A good work ethic is too often not enough. School systems can't even graduate prepared high school students.

Of course there are those that will be able to grab that brass ring, but for the growing majority that ring has turned to rust. 

Northwest Examiner publisher Allan Classen has told NW Portland stories for 25 years | OregonLive.com

Northwest Examiner publisher Allan Classen has told NW Portland stories for 25 years | OregonLive.com

Anna Griffin's story on Allan Classen was well done although I am not sure what motivated her. Not that Mr. Classen doesn't deserve the coverage.Was it the 25 years of publishing the NW Examiner?  Did he have to wait 25 years to be recognized?

The NW Examiner does a very credible job of publishing stories about NW Portland. In a sense it is niche publishing at its best. One doesn't have to agree or even like what Mr. Classen writes - but he does adhere to principles of journalism.

Interesting is that the NW Examiner is still basically a print publication even though it has an online presence. Given the trend to online publishing, I wonder how many more years this print newspaper will be around. Being a print publication - it is fortunately not subject to trolling comments.

Ironically the Anna Griffin story had more than its share of comments by the family of trolls who see the online comment sections as their domain. Of course these are anonymous postings by those that fear being known.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Appropriate designation - bike signs wasteful spending

Portland bike signs make Senator's 'wastebook' list | KGW

This Senator has targeted the wasteful spending of federal dollars, i.e., your tax dollars. He is right on point with his criticism of Portland. It is not about bikes or bike signs - it is about spending federal stimulus dollars that were to create jobs for signs that duplicated to some extent extant signs.

PPS is a mess

Franklin High banishes its robotics club; may keep its cashRobotics team survives its exit from Franklin High

These are two stories that are more about the Portland Public Schools administration than the Robotics team (student club) that was evicted from their occupation of a disused auto shop. The fact that there was a disused auto shop speaks volumes. The team had apparently been in existence for several years at Franklin High yet they were evicted much like a corporation firing an embezzling executive.

"[T]he club’s members had been locked out of Franklin’s disused auto repair shop where they had been meeting – their equipment and supplies impounded, pending an “inventory” – and their funds were being held by the school, which had been serving as their nonprofit fiscal agent."

"About the club’s resources, Hubel [a parent of two team members] commented, “There it all sits, under lock and key. It’s bad enough that they’ve ‘stolen’ a month of meetings, so far, from the kids. And, you don’t go around stealing children’s money! They’ve all but threatened to take the club’s money; it’s a filthy tactic. Instead of adults coming up with a reasonable solution, we feel threatened by the school, and the district.”"

But after reading the articles I still have the same question - why? It isn't clear why after several years of permitting, in fact encouraging, the team's existence the school determined to evict it. It is difficult to imagine a rational and reasonable decision to evict the student's robotics team, but assuming that there was one - the means of implementing their decision was as Mr. Hubel stated - a "filthy tactic."

One thing is clear - PPS is mess. The administration ought to be held accountable for their actions - but who is to hold them accountable? This couldn't been handled any worse. The students learned a lesson that adults are often clueless as** that haven't a scintilla of interest in the children they are charged with educating.

Incompetence reigns supreme.

Friday, December 24, 2010

HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS - PLEASE!

Oregon State Tests To Allow Spell Check In 2011

Oregon State Tests To Allow Spell Check In 2011

When I read this I just shook my head - rather than teach students - make the tests easier. I can imagine the difficulty of reading and grading essays that are basically texting.

But I have to admit that I have grown too reliant on spell checkers. Even though as I write (type) the mis-spelled word, I recognize the error - but still rely on the spell checker to catch it, and depending on the program, to also correct it.

Spell checking is good news for words like "believed" - but not good for words like "quiet." I often write "quite" when I mean "quiet." It is one of those situations where the spell checker doesn't bail me out. It can render a thought incomprehensible.

I guess my point would be that ignoring spelling as an element of an essay composition and comprehension is misdirected. Making it easier doesn't translate to a quality essay. Even using a computer - the writer still has to know that the word used is the word intended.

Shouldn't at one point in a person's life he or she be held accountable to convey a comprehensible communication; and therefore, not rely on the reader to discern what the writer must (or should) have intended?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

FBI's 161,948 suspicious activity files

5 revelations from the Post’s ‘Monitoring America’ investigation - Yahoo! News

See my post on the original Washington Post story. This subsequent Yahoo! News article summarizes 5 what ought to be eye opening revelations. This one really caught my attention:

"The FBI's Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, or SAR, currently contains 161,948 suspicious activity files, into which authorities can put information they've gathered about the people at the center of the files: employment history, financial documents, phone numbers, photos. In many cases, the people in the files have not been accused of any crime but have attracted the suspicions of a local cop, FBI agent or even fellow citizen."

I restate the end of my earlier post"I wonder where the tipping point will occur when Americans determine that they really do value privacy and other rights once thought to be embedded in the stone of the U.S. Constitution?"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nearly 1 in 4 fails military exam

APNewsBreak: Nearly 1 in 4 fails military exam - Yahoo! News

The following quotes tell the story - no need for any words I might add.

"Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, . . . ."

"Too many of our high school students are not graduating ready to begin college or a career — and many are not eligible to serve in our armed forces," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the AP."

"The report by The Education Trust found that 23 percent of recent high school graduates don't get the minimum score needed on the enlistment test to join any branch of the military. Questions are often basic, such as: "If 2 plus x equals 4, what is the value of x?""

"A lot of people make the charge that in this era of accountability and standardized testing, that we've put too much emphasis on basic skills," Loveless said. "This study really refutes that. We have a lot of kids that graduate from high school who have not mastered basic skills."

Meanwhile in Portland, the school district & teacher union bargain over firing of incompetent teachers. [See post.]

Nero fiddles while Rome burns

Schools, teachers consider new evaluations

"It’s considered a political hot-potato, however, because no one wants to label teachers as “bad,” and also because it’s subject to the technical machinations of bargaining." Therein lies much, if not all, of the problems with Portland's school district, and maybe most any school district, teacher unions.

It is one thing to have a union to battle (and it usually is a battle) the administration for pay and benefits, but it is another to have the unions standing in the way of disciplining and firing incompetent teachers. It seems that the unions want to control every aspect of the school system.

This goes beyond the typical management - workers' collective bargaining situation. History has demonstrated that unions fill a need of leveling the playing field when it comes to workers' pay and benefits. But when workers are not doing doing their job they ought to be fired. 

And, this is more than the ordinary employer - employee situation where bargaining does not affect the product's quality or purpose. A school system is charged with using public investment to produce students prepared to enter the work force or to obtain additional education. Maintaining incompetent teachers detrimentally affects the value of the educational process and results.

While much of the information available does not place the Portland Public Schools at the bottom of anyone's ranking of schools - it is nowhere near the top. Decent performing schools are the exception. [See the Oregonian's Your Schools or check out Great Schools.] 

There are too many schools that effectively ought to be shut down and the teachers let go. Their performance is dismal at best, and despite that they try to persuade otherwise, it is not the students, teacher pay, class size, buildings, etc. to blame - it is the teaching. 

The school system - not the teachers and their union - ought to be able to establish teacher performance standards and if they are not met - those teachers are fired. Teacher unions are stalling any meaningful educational reform with their self interest. The students who only get one chance at quality education are losing that opportunity.

Graduation from high school ought to have value other than that of that piece of paper called a diploma. Students should have been prepared to go to work, to college, to professional school - but not to find themselves either without employment or with a long term, dead end job that offers no opportunity to be a productive individual.

The connection between the educational system and employment is not casual - it is a causal. The Portland School System has failed and continues to fail to produce students graduating with a quality education needed to be gainfully employed.  [See also my post Nearly 1 in 4 fail military exam.]

Thus, while there is the continual bargaining over incompetent teachers, the educational system in Portland continues to burn to the ground.

Mapping America - American Community Survey

Mapping America — Census Bureau 2005-9 American Community Survey - NYTimes.com

As the headline suggests this is about maps based upon data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. This is not about the recent census but data collected between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2009. If you like interactive maps these maps are great fun.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Outgoing NY Governor Paterson Worries About Readjusting to Life

Paterson Worries About Readjusting to Life After Albany - NYTimes.com

Interesting story about the outgoing governor of New York. He is sight impaired to the extent that for all practical purposes he is 100% blind. Ordinarily a person who has been a Lt. Governor and Governor would not be concerned in the slightest about civilian employment. But he has that worry and more.

But how does someone with this disability become successful however one might define success? It is in the story. Quite amazing and he has a great sense of humor as the article and his appearances on Saturday Night Live demonstrates.

Adams quoted in New York Times

Portland Mayor Sam Adams quoted in New York Times column by Maureen Dowd | OregonLive.com

It is ironic that the mayor's recognition is because of his sexual orientation and not leadership of Oregon's largest and progressive (?) city. The mayor is character deficient.

Monitoring America - another reason not to join JTTF

Monitoring America | washingtonpost.com

The Washington Post has this great story about how we are being increasing monitored by government at all levels as well as by private companies in the anti-terrorists crusade. Accompanying the article is a map and video. The video is interesting in that in an overlay fashion it shows the increase in monitoring from pre 9-11 to date.

These two excerpts ought to raise the hair on the back of your neck:

"Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators."

"The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously."

This monitoring is not being pushed by a Republican or Bushie - it is the Democrats.

"Napolitano [Homeland Securty Secretary] has taken her "See Something, Say Something" campaign far beyond the traffic signs that ask drivers coming into the nation's capital for "Terror Tips" and to "Report Suspicious Activity." 

"She recently enlisted the help of Wal-Mart, Amtrak, major sports leagues, hotel chains and metro riders. In her speeches, she compares the undertaking to the Cold War fight against communists."

Check out the map and see that the FBI's JTTF has a very increased presence in Portland. The JTTF is just one of many ways that increasingly local governments are becoming federalized. Becoming part of the FBI may have monetary value for the local police force, but it comes at the sacrifice of local control of the police force and increased monitoring of Portlanders.

I wonder where the tipping point will occur when Americans determine that they really do value privacy and other rights once thought to be embedded in the stone of the U.S. Constitution?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Streetcar TOD propaganda

Can streetcars save America's cities? - CNN.com

Bojack had a comment on this quote on the Portland Streetcar apparently from CNN:

"Portland's streetcar system attracts about 12,000 daily riders at an average ticket cost of $1.47. Its creators credit it with $3.5 billion in surrounding development, including shops, restaurants and 10,000 new housing units."

Do a Google search on the full quote to see how the "lies" spread.

It is not the first article containing this prevarication - see my post where I commented on a USA Today article giving credit to the Streetcar for Pearl's development.

The Streetcar is nothing more than a nice way to travel though Pearl. There are no buses going downtown from Pearl. And the claim that the Streetcar is the catalyst for development in Pearl is not supported by one shred of evidence. The claim that there are 12,000 daily riders is a bit much especially when the assertion is that Streetcar riders pay the fare.

Look at the January 2010 ridership stats for MAX: Weekday ridership averaged 61,700 on the Blue line, 21,800 on the Red line, 14,600 on the Yellow line, and 18,100 on the Green line." And the Streetcar has 12,000 - not likely.

In the CNN article it quotes the owner of the Metrovino at NW 11th and NW Northup in the Pearl:

"I would not have picked this spot if it weren't for the streetcar, and my business has certainly benefited from our location," Steele said. "Streetcars are also a romantic way to travel, and they are fun to watch from inside Metrovino."

I walk by this restaurant everyday. It certainly has all the appearances of a fine restaurant - but I am more than doubtful that the Streetcar brings this restaurant one customer. Take a look at its website. It is a dinner serving restaurant, and it is unlikely that viewing a streetcar is a perk of dining there. Fixed track transit is not new to Portland.

Riders of the Streetcar are coming to this restaurant from where? It is a Pearl style restaurant attuned to the Pearl lifestyle. It is basically a high income area where one hasn't a need to travel within Pearl other than by walking. Sorry the people who Go By Streetcar aren't likely doing it to patronize the Metrovino.

TriMet cares about your coughs and sneezes

TriMet: Flu Prevention: Cover Your Coughs and Sneezes

Why is a public agency spending public funds for this "outreach?" Do I need or want advice from a transit agency on coughs and sneezes? Oh yes - TriMet cares.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rentrak plays the Vancouver card - again.

City Council moves boundary of enterprise zone to keep Rentrak from leaving Portland | OregonLive.com

[See my earlier post based upon the Portland Business Journal's article. Here I add more commentary based upon the Journal's sister publication the Oregonian.]

"In 2005, the state and the city of Portland handed over more than $900,000 in no-interest loans and grants to Rentrak Corp. in hopes the maker of software for the entertainment industry would remain in Oregon. Rentrak stayed put. The state and city forgave the loans. Five years later, Rentrak has again played the Vancouver card."

Kulongski: "Once you set up tax breaks, there is less revenue coming into the general fund, there's no doubt about that, [. . .]. But no one wants to be a position of having let 230 jobs walk across the river. You want to know the hardest issue? You do this for Rentrak, what do you say to the next company?"

Oregon one of the Best States For Business And Careers

Table: The Best States For Business And Careers - Forbes.com

The focus of this post is the Oregon and Washington tension. This October 2010 table ranking states has Oregon at 6th in 2010, up from its 10th position in 2009. And, based upon other analyses Oregon is in fact relatively business friendly. E. g., the state business tax climate ranking is 9th out of the 50 states. [See 2009 Money's Best places to launch a small business.]

From the same 2009 Money's source - Washington is ranked 12th in the state business tax climate. And, according to Money the small business growth rate for Portland Metro is 9% where the average for all metro areas is 5.3%. Washington's growth rate is 7%.

In a 2010 Tax Foundation study Oregon was rated 14th in Best Business Tax Climates; Washington was #9. See too Council On State Taxation/Earnest & Young's FY2008 50 State Business Tax Study [it is a PDF download] that demonstrates that Oregon businesses are getting a relatively decent return on their business taxes. Interesting is that looking only at corporate taxes - Oregon rates better than Washington.

Add another to the list of why I am not a Republican

Jon Stewart | GOP 9/11 First Responders | Video | Mediaite
Where are the stand-up Republicans and tea-partiers? Health care for these First Responders is not a liberal issue, but it is a moral and doing what is right issue.

For the Republicans and anyone who supports the effort to stall this bill - it is unconscionable. It addresses First Responders' extraordinary health issues related to the 9-11. They are not covered otherwise, and the legislation is funded by the closing of a corporate loophole. Hmmm. Maybe that is it.

Have you seen the editorials and guest opinions in the local media?

The better to see you . . .

The Postman Always Pings Twice - NYTimes.com

This article is a New York Times guest opinion by chairman of Postal Regulatory Commission. I believe he thinks he has come up with the greatest idea since sliced bread, but it shows that he is just another isolated leader without a sense of reality. And you know he is wealthy.

His idea - the use of postal trucks to gather information that essentially can be resold and used to reduce the post office deficit of some $8.5 billion.

For some reason that reminded me of the Big Bad Wolf where the wolf is justifying his less than grandmother look to Little Red Riding Hood.

What big eyes you have - better to see you; what big ears . . . better to hear you; etc. Of course the wolf ate her but the hunter comes and rescues her from the wolf's stomach.

The privacy concerns are obvious. His answer: "But a review panel could be set up to monitor the use of the network and ensure safeguards for handling the data."

Let's not wait for the hunter. We don't need to give the government any more tools to snoop on citizens.

Get the real tree

Question posed and answered by the New York Times Green blog: "When it comes to Christmas trees, for instance, which is better for the planet: the long-lasting artificial kind, or the freshly cut, pine-scent-and-sap variety?" 

For those who for some reason need their conscious assuaged - get the real tree.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Economic improvement?

Is it wishful thinking or just a need by some news media types to find the half full glass.

"Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, the third drop in the past four weeks and a sign that the job market is slowly improving." [Jobless claims drop again | OregonLive.com]. It is really an AP story that the Oregonian is publishing. 

It doesn't follow that the drop is a sign of economic improvement. The AP story was apparently taking its data from the Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report when the better overall data is found in the Bureau of Labor Statistics The Employment Situation news release, November 2010. 

In fact the unemployment rate is 9.8% in the US up from 9.6% in the prior three months. The number of "individuals not in the labor force but wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months" increased from 2.3 million to 2.5 million. They are "not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey."
Wall Street Journal

See too the Wall Street Journal story about those who also are not counted and will not be receiving any more unemployment benefits. 

The image at the left gives a better feeling of the employment situation since 1980. Notice that there were cycles, but in the last cycle the down slope was not sharp and was of a shorter duration with an enormous upswing about 2008 to 2010.

The point is that there is little connection between unemployment rate measured by the number of unemployment insurance claims and the unemployment rate measured by the percentage of employed in the workforce.

We should be more concerned about an economy that can't produce the jobs for those who are available for work and want to work.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Politicians called out on "renewable"hype

Oregon, city of Portland don't meet ambitious goals to power with renewable sources | OregonLive.com:

The Oregonian had a decent article December 16 that might be summarized: "'Politicians like to wave a magic wand and expect public policy to happen.'" However, I think that would be too kind.

The article is based on a Cascade Policy Report "Renewable Energy Failure" that puts the lie to "Good policy, good for economic development, good for the environment” political hype.

"Eager to battle global warming, Portland's City Council and Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski laid out ambitious goals years ago to obtain 100 percent of their agencies' electric power from renewable sources by 2010." [Oregonian].

"The 2010 status report: Portland's city government gets about 9 percent of its power from green sources, mainly from a biogas generator at the city's waste treatment plant. For state of Oregon agencies outside the university system, it's 1 to 2 percent." [Oregonian].

The Report: "While renewables very well could be the future, legislation that forces the use of renewable energies despite the resistance of the economy distorts the free market, reduces our freedom and raises the cost of doing business, thus endangering economic growth."

Arizona-Mexico border problems

Border Patrol agent killed in southern Arizona - Yahoo! News

"The shooting occurred in the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, the busiest gateway for illegal immigrants into the United States. Half of the marijuana seizures along the 1,969-mile southern border are made in the sector, which covers 262 miles of the boundary."

Arizona has some unique problems that states like Oregon will fortunately never have to solve. Arizona's immigration issues need Arizona solutions and not those from Oregonians especially Portlanders of the liberal persuasion.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

EV - an irrational purchase?

On the irrationality of buying a plug-in vehicle — Autoblog Green

The article doesn't answer the question - why do people buy an electric vehicle? But there is a suggestion that some buy something like a Prius to communicate to others that they are a good person. It is an attempt to find psychological rather than economic reasons for an individual's product choice.

I suspect that it  is true that some do drive EVs to make a "green" statement, but it seems more likely that marketplace factors are more in play. The cost of owning an automobile is nearly outrageous. Someone who finds it necessary to drive a significant distance each day may well find that an annualized cost is substantially less when the vehicle is an EV.

And it is not that it is an EV - it is the total cost of commute driving. As the hybrids become more available and the combustion engine cars achieve motorcycle mileage - an EV will lose some of its luster. Buying cars for commuting is not a new concept. In the early 60s the VW became popular with the drive to work crowd because of its gas mileage. It made economical sense.

I don't drive anymore but if I were still working and driving as many miles as I was - I would have two cars. I would drive some maximum mileage per dollar car, like an EV or Volt. But I would still have a maximum performance car for fun. A Dodge Challenger would suit me just fine for the weekends.

Hmmm. Maybe there are some psychological factors.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Airport security - it is merely theater

The embedded video raises some interesting points. This was forwarded to me by someone that I trust so I have not checked out the hosting site. But irrespective of the purpose of the site - after watching the video it raised many interesting questions. E.g., what is it that the FBI relies on for security at its buildings - dogs.

Now I realize that entry points at government buildings and airports are not necessarily similar - but I suspect that the people entering the building and airports are similar.  One might even argue that on a day-to-day basis government buildings like those of the FBI and IRS are higher target items for home grown terrorists.

As a long time German Shepard lover, I was surprised at the abilities of other dogs.

In the video the TSA head states that full body scanners are not security theater - but it is.

Monday, December 13, 2010

This is when you know the gun laws are wrong

As Mexico drug violence runs rampant, U.S. guns tied to crime south of border:

"Federal authorities say more than 60,000 U.S. guns of all types have been recovered in Mexico in the past four years, helping fuel the violence that has contributed to 30,000 deaths."

"No other state has produced more guns seized by police in the brutal Mexican drug wars than Texas. In the Lone Star State, no other city has more guns linked to Mexican crime scenes than Houston."

I am not anti-gun. I don't own one but I would not be happy to be prevented from gun ownership. But I would not be distressed if I were required to apply for a permit even to transport it outside my home. I would expect severe penalties for any connection between the possession of a gun and alcohol or drug, even prescription, use.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It all matters

Canzano: Character matters. Integrity matters. Ethics matter. Except in the Heisman Trophy voting | OregonLive.com

I don't read the sports page but I came across this recent column position on the Oregonian's online local news page. I had read Mr. Canzano's post Katrina's columns and was impressed that he wasn't a one-dimensioned sports writer. In this present writing he raises the issue that character, integrity and ethics are important in the Heisman Trophy voting, but implicitly he sees those factors as important - period.

 According to Mr. Canzano: "The role of good journalism is to cast sunshine in dark areas. To tell the truth. To serve citizens. And monitor those in position of power while also providing a dependable and independent forum for public criticism and conscience."

It often seems that Mr. Canzano is alone at the Oregonian in his zest for journalism.

He further posits: "We live in a society that is all too eager to draw the blinds, and look away, when they see something wrong. We pass responsibility like it’s a bowl of stuffing at the table. And we sit quietly too often when we should be asking questions, and raising expectations."

And after reading the comments to his column - .it seems that too many readers belong to that part of a self-interested society that looks the other way.

He is correct: "Character matters. Integrity matters. Ethics matter. It all matters."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Homeownership Stabilization bottom up socialism?

Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative

Socialism - no, that is too much hyperbole. But it raises the issue of using public funds to "assist" those without a true need and to provide relief unrelated to conditions of hardship. This program eschews financial responsibility.

This is virtually a government giveaway program designated as a Mortgage Payment Assistance program. But, it has no connection in fact between mortgage foreclosure or delinquency and the recession. It is a lottery where one enters your name and if you are one of the lucky ones you can get essentially free one year of mortgage relief not to exceed $20,000. That is $1,667 per month.

Republican: For big business against workers

An Insult to Their Memory - NYTimes.com

"Republicans predictably shielded mine owners, citing warnings from the National Association of Manufacturers that the reform might drive up coal prices by expanding government authority and exposing mining companies to greater criminal penalties and damage litigation."

A safe workplace ought to be a bipartisan issue.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

PPB: Weed killer

Press ReleasesPPB Drug Investigation Leads to Large-Scale Marijuana Network

Evidence seized in this case includes:
Over $74,000 in cash.
Over 2,400 marijuana plants with an estimated street value of nearly $2.5 million dollars.
Nearly 200 pounds of finished marijuana bud with an estimated value of nearly $600,000.
Marijuana growing equipment valuing more than $200,000.

Check the Press Release for those arrested and link for their photos.

And they are worried about patting you down

AP Enterprise: FAA loses track of 119,000 aircraft - Yahoo! News

"The Federal Aviation Administration is missing key information on who owns one-third of the 357,000 private and commercial aircraft in the U.S. — a gap the agency fears could be exploited by terrorists and drug traffickers."

Frashour and Besner - politics makes the difference

I posted commentary considering the anti-cop position of the media like the Oregonian and KGW on the promotion of Officer Besner, but while it seemed like obvious parallel situations between Officer Besner and Officer Frashour - there were different results at the command and police bureau levels. Different mayors (in charge of police bureau) and different police chiefs. See one of my posts on Officer Frashour's situation. See the PPA's, 12-09-10, view of the Frashour situation.

 In either fact situation,  one could substitute the name of one officer for the other without any appreciable difference. Why such substantial differing results?

Basing my comments on media reports for the "facts" of the Besner shooting, his situation is in some respects a worst case than that of the Frashour case. Yet Besner is still around and is being promoted (I don't challenge that) and Frashour is without a job (I challenge that). 

It is far from clear the differences in the two cases that leaves one promoted and the other fired.

The police chief had this to say to the critics of Besner appointment: He dismissed them as ""ubiquitous critics" who will never be satisfied with what police do." Is the police chief just now getting a clue to anti-police, we don't need no stinking facts, attitude of this very unique minority? 

More of the knee-jerk anti-cop reaction

Officer in controversial shooting gets promotion | kgw.com | KGW Local News | Portland, Oregon

Portland Chief Mike Reese dismisses critics, and promotes Officer Besner to sergeant this morning | OregonLive.com: 

Police officer who has cost Portland more than $800,000 in court is in line to be promoted | OregonLive.com

Two of the stories are from Maxine Bernstein of the Oregonian who frankly has anti-cop theme that she will express anytime and anywhere. KGW story goes along with the minority flow exhibited by the self-appointed watcher of cops.

It is nothing short of irrational to contest a police department promotion based upon the fact that city money was spent in legal fees and settlement. These defenders of our constitutional rights equate a settlement with guilt. It is more than irrational it is plain stupid.

Settlements is too often based upon theory that settlement saves money. It doesn't always have as its reasoning - the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Cities will throw its employees to the wolves to settle and save money. I haven't the statistics - but I suspect it is a rare case that Portland will not settle.

Report: Oregon scores fat 0 in subsidies disclosures

Report Slams Oregon For Failure to Disclose Subsidies | Willamette Week | Thursday, December 9th, 2010

The Willamette Week's story is based upon a report "Show Us the Subsidies: An evaluation of state government online disclosures of economic development subsidies" by  the Good Jobs First organization. The report is a good read - but if nothing else - take a peek at the three pages of charts in the Oregon  Appendix.

The Week quoting a statement accompanying the analysis: "Oregon received a grade of F because the state lacked reporting on subsidy recipients. Without this important transparency, taxpayers will be left in the dark about where their tax dollars are going."

9/11 Health Bill blocked - why I am not a Republican nor Democrat

9/11 Health Bill Blocked in Senate - NYTimes.com

I wrote in an earlier post about Obama's failed presidency that I am without a party affiliation that I would be proud to be identified as a member. This story in the New York Times is a perfect example of why I feel that way.

There are just things that spending is justified merely on the basis of a moral obligation - Republicans blocked the bill based on monetary reasons. Of course it is the Senate Democrats led by Harry Reid that when they had the votes tried a cute procedural method that backfired.

Political power has value only when it is exercised. Republicans grasp that - today's Democrats don't. Liberal politics is ineffective in serving the electorate. It will be the discussion topic for many in the coming ramp up to the next election - Hillary Clinton.

TriMet "jobs" bonds & journalism

TriMet board approval clears way for Milwaukie light-rail construction

TriMet has approved the sales of more bonds - that reads tax payer indebtedness - based, in part, on the claim of that the project will create 14,000 jobs and ease congestion. While I don't for a moment believe the latter claim, it is the jobs assertion that is bothersome.

It is particularly disturbing that the news media, in this case the Portland Tribune, accepts the claim of 14,000 jobs as valid. Isn't this what newspapers, online or not, should do - challenge the claim of 14,000 jobs rather than just accept TriMet facts.

This story was probably written by looking at a TriMet news release and merely repeating its content. All too often many stories in the local media are repeats of a news release by some agency. I guess it makes filling the page easier. But what about taking the initiative to ask questions? Aren't answers a phone call or email away?

Threat of hollow workforce looms - really?

As boomers retire, threat of hollow workforce looms « Daily Journal of Commerce

The Daily Journal of Commerce is a decent business rag that doesn't spin its wheels publishing inane and irrelevant articles. But, it may have taken on more than it can chew when it determined to publish a series of "in-depth stories" on the effect of the "mass retirements" of baby-boomers on several Oregon industries.

The first story focuses on the construction industry. The theme is chicken little spreading the fears that the sky is (will be) falling. Without the boomers - the construction industry is sure to fail - it is an empty thesis containing a collection of anecdotal comments bordering more on truthiness than having any evidentiary value. E.g., there isn't a single link to statistical data.  

An interesting statistic would have been the age composition of the construction industry possibly by occupation. Isn't data on baby-boomers and the workforce available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics? But, without statistical data it is impossible to discern potential differences between the construction industry and other industries; thus, generalities follow.

It is important too to understand the composition of  "construction industry." My first thought is the workers I see on the various construction sites - but take a peek at categories included in the industry. Even lawyers are included.

The article assumes that the period of the baby-boom is common knowledge - it fails to define this period that occurred between 1946 and 1964. Depending on how one defines retirement age - the years of potential retirement from workforce participation begins in 2008 if retirement age is 62; 2011 if the age is 65, and 2013 if the age is 67. Even 55 is a retirement age for some.

There is a certain disassociation between those available to work and the employed and unemployed. It misses this point - that without the return of a robust economy the retirement of the baby-boomers will be irrelevant. In fact, a more salient point is that there seems to be a consensus that even if the economy improves employment will not.

You will not learn from the Journal's article where the baby-boomers fit in the structure of the construction industry, nor will you learn the age composition of the already highly unemployed in the industry. Are they so strategically placed that, if assuming a fully recovered economy, replacements will not be available?

While seemingly recognizing the present state of the economy, the Journal then inexplicably ignores it. The Journal apparently assumes that the economy will return to pre-recession days and that baby-boomers will be retiring at some mythical age.

 It fails to grasp that retirement doesn't necessary come at a certain age anymore. E.g., life expectancy, health care costs, need for additional income, changes in retirement laws, and changes in social security eligibility are a few of the factors that determine retirement.

"With the 2008 economic crisis, the decimation of millions of retirement plans and the coinciding loss of home value from the imploding housing market, it became clearer than ever that baby boomers would stay in the workforce longer than earlier predicted. We had anticipated that many workers would stay at work longer because they wished to remain active. We now anticipate many more will remain in the workforce longer because they must in order to survive economically." A Conference Report: Healthy Aging for a Sustainable Workforce, 2009."

The construction industry has long been aware of baby-boomer retirement. Prior to the recession, it had recognized a need for more workers not only because of retirement but because of an expected, but never materialized, job growth in the industry. Apprenticeship programs were part of the Bush Administration's "High Growth Job Training Initiative in the Construction Industry." [Department of Labor].

But, arguably no one saw the recent recession leaving the industry without the expected jobs,e.g., the November 2010 unemployment rate is18.8%. [Industries at a Glance: Construction: NAICS 23.]

There is too a problem that the focus on baby-boomers assumes that they constitute or will constitute the primary portion of the construction labor force - they don't; in 2005 it was 16.2%%. There are other factors relating to the overall potential decline in labor force participation, e.g., decrease in participation by the young and stabilization of women's participation.

The interesting factor is that for several reasons the workforce participation rate will apparently increase for the 64 and older group as a percentage of population, that is, retirement doesn't necessary come at a certain age. E.g., life expectancy, health care costs, need for additional income, changes in retirement laws, changes in social security.

Also immigration (expected to increase) may well affect the rates. This might especially impact a portion of the construction industry where there is already a substantial Hispanic segment.

The baby-boom was the first but not the only baby-boom; there was the baby-echo, 1976-2001, with an intervening baby-bust decrease. But, the birth rate was not all that different in 2005 than in 1960s. To focus on baby-boomers as if their "mass retirements," and that alone, will cause a major disruption in the construction labor market is not fact based.

A decent resource page with several relevant articles that influenced this post: 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On the way to a failed presidency?

Katrina vanden Heuvel - Obama: On the way to a failed presidency?

We see more and more of these stories from the liberal media. Even Bojack has taken to make the same point. See this poster.

It is more than a failed democratic presidency - it is a failed party. It may only be, as some say, that because the president and his party have not tooted their own horn - they don't get the respect deserved. But I am tired of waiting for the toots.

I am not a Republican, but I am not Democrat. Although I mostly vote as a democrat because I don't want to be identified with the Republicans and their policies. But, there is not one politician at any government level that I see as a leader who is working for the good of the federal, state or local citizens.

Deal would keep Rentrak in Portland | Portland Business Journal

Deal would keep Rentrak in Portland | Portland Business Journal

The tax burden in Oregon is very heavy, and with our lease expiring, we have an opportunity in Vancouver that’s very attractive,” Chemerow said. “The dollar amounts (Rentrak would save by moving) are so large that it would be impossible to stay here without assistance.

It just doesn't ring true. Although there is a gut feeling that the tax environment is better for businesses in Washington - there is in fact no evidence to support that. This is merely a smart company negotiating with a not as smart PDC. PDC and the city are struggling to produce any jobs and will give up tax revenue hoping that the jobs are retained and produced.

No doubt 230 jobs are important if in fact the employees are living in the city. One suspects that they don't and that a move to Vancouver would satisfy the employees - they would be living and working in the same area.

'In exchange, Rentrak [. . . ] must make capital improvements that create jobs." And if they don't? They only have "plans to hire at least 10 new employees yearly over the next five years." An illusory bargain?

The five years are important because that is the number of years for the tax abatements - but unless the state takes action to renew the E Commerce Zones the business would only get one year of benefits. Does that sound like an incentive? [See PDC website for the Report.]

Biz Journal published this piece but true to their form they produce no references to support the substance of the article. Their "links" are always in-house, i.e., linking only to their stories. But this particular "news" article  may well have been written by PDC. E.g., this statement is not supported: "In the last 14 years, the zones have helped spur more than $1 billion in private investments and created more than 5,000 full-time jobs."

It is unclear how this or any article by the Portland Business Journal could be written without one supporting reference or that it could contains statements that ought to be in quotes rather than presented as "facts."

Clackamas County activists have the start of a right idea

Clackamas County activists take aim at urban renewal funding:

"The measure would amend county code to require voter approval to create an urban renewal agency or to approve “substantial” changes on an existing urban renewal plan. The measure only applies to countywide urban renewal districts, not those established in individual cities."

With the strike through - it makes more sense, especially for Portland and Multnomah County. Urban renewal as originally enacted probably seemed appropriate for the 1950s. But that is the trouble with legislative enactments that have no sunset provisions. Agencies like PDC in Portland exploit loopholes or violate the letter and spirit of the law to have development their way not the way of the tax payers.

High school dropout rate

Just for comparison purposes: In California "21.7 percent of California students dropped out from the class of 2009" while in Oregon the rate was about 33%.

10,000 (or 5,000) new jobs for Portland within 5 years (or by 2013) – really?

[Editor: Originally published on my Old Town Blog, Oregonlive.com, on October 25, 2009. It is December 2010 and the only thing that has changed is that the goal 10,000 new jobs in 5 years has been upped"Adams said the goal of the new job strategy was to create 10,000 new jobs by 2013." Even if that was 2023 it is an unmeetable goal.

But Oregonian editorial  reports that the goal is 5,000 new jobs within 5 years and points out "that would represent only a third of the net jobs lost in the county over 12 years." No matter it is a goal borne out of delusional politics. See too the latest report that determines that Portland's job creation efforts is failing.]

That is a lofty goal for the Portland's economic development strategy (Strategy) that appears to be built on two primary concepts: "Creative class" and industry or business clusters. Implementation will require significant funding and cooperation among a host of diverse partners.

A date which will live in infamy

For Roosevelt it was Pearl Harbor, but it seems that for too many it will be the day John Lennon was killed.

Washington Post: Beatles fans remember that grim, sad night: "Dec. 8, 1980. That's a date every Beatles fan over 40 remembers: the day John Lennon was shot and killed."

New York Times had a weepy editorial on John Lennon. But, the Times in an largely unnoticed On This Day  had this: "On Dec. 8, 1941, the United States entered World War II as Congress declared war against Japan one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor."

Remember John Lennon's remark? "We're more popular than Jesus now."

Isn't it odd that in such a relatively short time the day of infamy seems to be John Lennon's death?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The FBI we have come to know and love

Tension grows between Calif. Muslims, FBI after informant infiltrates mosque

"The undercover FBI informant - a convicted forger named Craig Monteilh - then drove off for 5 a.m. prayers at the Islamic Center of Irvine, where he says he spied on dozens of worshipers in a quest for potential terrorists."

"In the Irvine case, Monteilh's mission as an informant backfired. Muslims were so alarmed by his talk of violent jihad that they obtained a restraining order against him."

"Compounding the damage, Monteilh has gone public, revealing secret FBI methods and charging that his "handlers" trained him to entrap Muslims as he infiltrated their mosques, homes and businesses. He is now suing the FBI.

It is a great read.

So much for "taking care of our own

High Court Addresses Vet Benefits Time Limit:

"Henderson's husband was discharged from the armed forces in 1952 after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He asked the Department of Veterans Affairs for home care in 2001 and was denied. He missed a 120-day deadline for appeal by 15 days, blaming it on his illness."

This should never need a court for resolution. Fairness and equity demands a hearing on his appeal.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Headline says it all: TSA Told To Tell Children That Groping Them Is A Game

The story from Techdirt: TSA Told To Tell Children That Groping Them Is A Game. Horrifying Sex Abuse Experts. It is difficult to understand a public official making this statement in today's environment. Just how out of touch is this person?

This makes clear that government at all levels are composed of people who are not qualified for their position. Political appointments regardless of party affiliation are unquestionably borne in politics which means money.

PDC director leaving

PDC director leaving after five years of ‘exciting initiatives’

But, platitudes are offered as a matter of knee jerk reflex. Anyone leaving or retiring from a public position can expect obituary like comments.

In my April 2008 Old Town Blog hosted by Oregonlive I made this observation: "Like or not he has been tagged for the low morale at PDC. Too bad for everyone that he found out too late that ODOT and PDC are not birds of a feather.".

Beaverton's urban renewal - emergency braking is needed

Beaverton hits brakes on urban renewal « Daily Journal of Commerce:

"According to [an] analysis, that amount of indebtedness would require the district to last 39 years. Money would be issued for projects over the first 27 years and then paid back over the following 12 years."

While the Journal includes a definition of urban renewal - it fails to breathe those words essential to urban renewal - tax increment financing (TIF)  - in the main article. Of course - gentrification is omitted. 

Is WikiLeaks the problem?

WikiLeaks reveals sites critical to US security - Yahoo! News

Don't blame the messenger. WikiLeaks would not be able to publish one document had the United States government protected its sensitive and secret information.While there is call that the WikiLeaks founder be charged with treason - it is forgotten that he is not an American citizen nor a US resident. Interesting is that there seems to be little focus on what American citizen might have violated our laws.

We have seen the enemy and he is us. [Pogo].

Chinese missile ranges

Chinese missile ranges: China's missiles | The Economist

A nice interactive map courtesy of the Brits. Click on the missile identification to see what is within its range. Oh yes - the United States is not only highly in debt to the Chinese but is well within their missile range.

Oregonian's take on Portland's food carts

Don't deck Portland's food carts | OregonLive.com

Today's (December 6) editorial offers up a lot of words to get to the point: about food carts  "Seating areas and other unpermitted structures should be removed." [See earlier post.]

But they state: "It seems a stretch to claim there's something inherently unsafe about the ad-hoc structures, most of which are made of pressure-treated lumber . . . ." Isn't this a claim that many of the permit avoidance ilk might make - mine is safe.

The Oregonian correctly raises an issue of fairness and equity. Regulations and their enforcement come, more often than not, because there are those who push the limits. It is important that all similarly situated food service businesses be subjected to the same rules and regulations especially when protection of the consumer is the main concern.

Are the carts food safe? I have been told that the food carts are subject to the same food safety requirements as other restaurants, but after taking a peek at the Multnomah County Food Handler's manual - I am not so sure.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Push-back re Lents school plans

The Portland Tribune has a story about Portland Public Schools plan for Lents' Marshall high school  But this was oriented toward the effect of the loss of  jobs and business derived from those jobs - not the loss of the school's value in educating children. I found this quite astonishing - this value is apparently irrelevant.

Admittedly, I don't know fully the PPS's reasons for school closures, but a check with Great Schools website shows that this school is doing fairly well, at least compared with other schools (PPS included). While not necessarily the best nor the worst - it is important to note that there has been a significant and continuing improvement in test scores over the last three years.

The push-back is for all the wrong reasons. Obtained education is a value for the individual who will therefor be better able to contribute socially and economically to society in general and not necessarily to Lents' economy. Maybe the community as well as the school district have their priorities skewed.

Old Town - a few pushing the public safety rock uphill

From the police department's Press Release and the "news" articles that merely repeated the press release it seems that the rock just keeps on getting bigger. There are really few who are pushing it, but they seem never to get tired. And, as is the Portland way - if someone else is willing to push it why should they help.

Ironically there is a police substation located nearby the recent crime scenes, and not far either is the space once, maybe still is, destined for the Asian market. Look in another direction there is the University of Oregon's building and the proposed area for the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine site. Central location?

It is the just part of the day and night dichotomy of Old Town. It is two different places, but not with all the bad stuff happening at night. For whatever reason the night life in Old Town seems to have taken a turn to violence. It has always been a time for the drunks hollering and peeing - but not violence.

A picture is worth . . . .

Bullseye (Jack Bog's Blog)

See the original article too. "At some point, the mission of the bureaucracy is completely lost, and the citizens' patience with institutional incompetence and self-aggrandizement finally runs out."

Seems applicable to many local public organizations. For starters - how about TriMet?

TriMet's RiderInsider hyperbole

The RiderInsider is a Trimet publication that is public financed, but rather than providing information like statistical facts on the operation of TriMet - it provides a monthly exaggeration of its transit role and it is used as a lobbying device for bond measures.

Superficially,it is an employee oriented magazine possibly designed to instill goodwill between corporate management and workers. Check out the December 2010 edition. There is an employee story that is an example of the 'feel good about TriMet' content. It describes an individual as a superhero - a little bit of an exaggeration, read it for yourself, but he is apparently someone with a good work ethic and probable all around nice guy.

If the publication is an inside publication for employees - that is one thing. Certainly good morale is important to foster. Typically those publications remain inside for the employees. But this publication is merely a marketing tool used in an attempt to convince the tax paying public that their investment is providing a return.

Food cart as an in place restaurant

One food cart, hold the building permit « Daily Journal of Commerce

Daily Journal
At first glance the initial news stories on the food carts and Commissioner Leonard made me wonder if he was off and running again. Political vendetta?

Readers were not made aware of add-on structures that essentially converts a movable cart into an in place restaurant. What we have is a few food cart owners determined to push the limits.

Essentially they are attempting to build a full service restaurant in rented parking spaces, changing from a cart to a building. Food carts are great, but it is activities by a few that can lead to serious consequences for all vendors - like a ban.

There is an element of unfair competition too. Even the $1,200 a month lease (two parking spaces) mentioned in the article is not anywhere near as expensive as that a standard restaurant pays. It is beginning to appear that there is a double standard - one for food carts and one for in place restaurants.

These are alleged to be movable (food) carts, but once they are nailed down and have added structure for occupation by the public - responsibility ensues. One might argue the fees are high, but that is another story.

Commissioner Leonard might just be right - this time.