Sunday, January 30, 2011

Army protecting protesters

Al Jazeera
Army protecting Egypt protesters from police (video) - CSMonitor.com

I wonder where our military would be? With the people? Remember Kent State? Google it.

Despite Vice President Joe Biden's assertions to the contrary - Egypt is by any measure a dictatorship. A president in power for 30 years and rule enforced by ruthless police using torture.

Little difference in fact from Saddam. Our country, and others, have stood by supporting this dictator because of our and one would surmise Israel' national interest. In doing so when it is all over it is likely that another country will be opposed to the US.

Interesting too is that Al Jazeera is the bad guy with the Egyptian government showing them the door. See one article on their coverage: "Egypt's military in a quandary."

Internet 'kill switch' no not Egypt the USA

Internet 'kill switch' bill will return | Privacy Inc. - CNET News: "A controversial bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a "national cyberemergency," and prohibiting any review by the court system, will return this year."

Interesting that it is how you present the issue and abuse the power - a means to protect the country or a means to stifle dissent. Democracy on the way out and authoritarianism on the way in?

‘My Father at 100’ by Ron Reagan - Review - NYTimes.com

My Father at 100’ by Ron Reagan - Review - NYTimes.com

I watched him on the Daily Show and have read book reviews - it looks like his book is a good read. Ron Reagan (not a Jr.) is much more a liberal than his father was a conservative. Ironically, in today's world Ronald Reagan the president would be back in the democrats' camp where he started.

Looking back president Reagan was not the righty that he has been characterized. I wonder if looking back at George Bush - will he be seen in a different light? See Washington Post - "George Bush was right."

Gun Controls Make Buying Hard in New York City but in Sweden?

Gun Controls Make Buying Hard in New York City - NYTimes.com:

"They laughed. In Sweden, they said, you can buy one on the street." This in response to the New York Times writer informing visitors from Sweden that "that New York is one of the hardest places in the world to buy a gun." and that "the whole process can take up to six months."

Biased blogging by Oregonian's Bernstein

Woman feared calling Portland police when her teenage son grabbed a knife and put it to his throat | OregonLive.com

While admittedly I find myself in the minority when it comes to positive attitudes towards the police - Maxine Bernstein is clearly in the lead of negative attitudes. It matters not how positive the story - the Oregonian (Bernstein is not alone) will provide the negative twist.

Her article rather than a depiction of how a particular mother was pleased (it didn't turn out as Bernstein would have had it) with the police response to her son's threats to himself - it was a story of a mother's fear and a continual listing of what Ms. Bernstein sees as police failures.

The format, tone and content of her blog post screams anti-police bias. She purposefully stokes the fear and animosity towards the police. It sells in Portland.

Journalism - blog style

The Oregonian has assumed a blog style publication in place of a newspaper. "Reporters" post stories that are often incomplete and empty of any relevant content. One might surmise that there are no editors at the Oregonian. The local Old Town story about the person who died after n incident with a MAX train exhibits the loss of journalism at the Oregonian.

At best the content of the story was taken from  a TriMet press release. "The woman slid beneath the northbound train about 9:20 p.m. Friday after her cane made contact with the train as it pulled into the station, throwing her off balance, TriMet said."

It isn't clear and it is difficult to imagine how this happened or that it happened on a MAX platform. How does contact with a cane cause someone to fall beneath a train? While KGO wasn't any better in its reporting there was this from them: ":The woman's cane made contact with the approaching train and she fell between two cars, TriMet's Mary Fetsch said Saturday."

Being very familiar with that station it seems neigh impossible that someone could either fall beneath or in between two train cars. Fell beneath or in between? Both of these scenarios favor TriMet in that it can lead one to conclude that the person was at fault.

Where was the person standing? On the platform or on Davis Street which is on the station's southern border? Or was the person crossing the street? Are we to assume the person was blind? Was this person going to board the MAX or just walking by? The questions left unanswered by the Oregonian may be nearly endless.

Is there a TriMet fault here as many of the Oregonian readers wanted? Trains are proceeding slowly as they enter the station and are vigilant for people who stand too close to the platform edge. Is there a platform safety concern? Was it just a strange set of circumstances? Was the person just inattentive?

Of course the obvious questions will never have the answers because the coverage was faulty. When someone dies after a MAX incident - relying on TriMet for the truth is rather ignorant and very lazy.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bachmann - constitutional scholarship based on truthiness.

"Truthiness is a "truth" that a person claims to know intuitively "from the gut" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts." [Wikipedia].

Bachmann. "How unique in all of the world, that one nation that was the resting point from people groups all across the world. It didn't matter the color of their skin, it didn't matter their language, it didn't matter their economic status.... Once you got here, we were all the same. Isn't that remarkable? It's absolutely remarkable."

A quick look at the constitution puts a lie to this gushing statement. See too "Fact-checking Michele Bachmann: What good is it? Los Angeles Times Opinion.

One can read more about Michele Bachmann on Wikipedia. For many her background will not be surprising.

See too the New York Times article: "Don’t Know Much About History."

Evening with George Takei

It is $100 but for those that can find a way to spend it - it ought to be well worth it. First, the expenditure benefits the Oregon Nikkei Endowment. Second, it should give an interesting insight on the Japanese American gay experience via Mr. Takei probable unique perspective. Lastly - it is George Takei. [See too Wikipedia].

The Oregon Nikkei Endowment is responsible for the Japanese American History Museum located in Old Town. Check the website for specifics. It is well worth the visit - it will not disappoint.

I found the flyer - courtesy of Old Town Chinatown Neighborhood Association and Oregon Nikkei Endowment - a little confusing. Thus the following from Oregon Nikkei Endowment.

Evening with George Takei - Saturday, February 19, 2011 at 5 - 7 p.m. Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront. $100.00. RSVP by February 9 at 5 p.m.

"Join the Oregon Nikkei Endowment for a light supper and a talk with George Takei on February 19 in Portland. This event will feature musical entertainment and a chance to meet the actor best known for his role as Mr. Sulu in the Star Trek series and films and as a Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/ Transgender (LGBT) community activist."

Day of Remembrance with special guest George Takei - Sunday, February 20 at 1 - 3 p.m. Portland State University. Free and open to the public.

"Following Mr. Takei's address there will be a panel discussion with community members."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Firefighters Union President's DUII

Portland Press Release January 26, 2010:

On Tuesday January 25, 2011, at approximately 7:36 p.m., Portland Police officers responded to the report of a traffic crash at Southeast 158th Avenue and Foster Road. Officers arrested James Richard Forquer for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (Alcohol) and Reckless Driving.

7:36 in the evening? Take a Google look at the site.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Union Station repairs - Urban Renewal Funds

"The total estimated cost of the emergency repairs is expected to be up to $775,000, including contingency. A contingency is recommended based on on-site experiences and the tremendous amount of unforeseen subsurface issues encountered to date. The sewer and storm system was constructed in 1895, upgraded in the mid 1920’s, and features old deteriorated clay tile systems. To date, significant cost increases have occurred due to challenging site conditions, including unstable soft sands and soil contamination, and the lack of historical information, such as as-built drawings, to accurately inform design details related to the location of subsurface utilities and other subsurface obstructions." [PDC: Report 11-05]

The Report has this for urban renewal goals:

"This action will support the following PDC goals:" "Sustainability and Social Equity;" "A Vibrant Central City;" "Effective Stewardship over our Resources and Operations, and Employee Investment."

Where is the sustainability? Where is the social equity? Vibrant central city - what happened to elimination of blight? How is this effective stewardship? What employee investment?

How does any of this follow? PDC doesn't even make an effort to explain its rationale - if you look at the Report - they use check boxes. These are made up goals.

And, tell me again why is Union Station or its repairs and maintenance an urban renewal project? What does the feds contribute? There is no future profit - no property tax revenue - it is an expense without any future revenue.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Commissioner Randy Leonard: Water House key to Portland's water future | OregonLive.com

Commissioner Randy Leonard: Water House key to Portland's water future | OregonLive.com

Commissioner Leonard makes an attempt to justify the expenditure by his bureau on the water-house. There seems to be some differences in what it actually costs - Leonard says less than $408k where the Oregonian had it at $625k. But it can't be sold even for the $408k price.

Interesting, no matter the cost of the construction - how can it be justified? It one thing to create a "model home" and sell it later at a profit, but it is not good economic policy to build at a loss.

His main justification is fallacious. According to him since none on the list of conservation measures he provides didn't work - a model house costing even his estimate of $408k will result in water savings by Portlanders? How does that follow? How do you measure it?

Another justification - stewardship of Bull Run. But the causal relationship between the stewardship of Bull Run and the construction of the water house is so tenuous as not to exist at all.

It is amazing that Mr. Leonard is so casual with water payers dollars. Instead of spending water payers dollars on projects not related to water and sewers services to Portlanders - he might spend more time working for the city's residents to keep their costs down.

A good place to start is to read the auditor's report discussed in the Portland Tribune: Auditor identifies potential sewer rate reductions :

The city that works - for whom?

So much for tax incentives

Solar Panel Maker Moves Work to China - NYTimes.com:

"Aided by at least $43 million in assistance from the government of Massachusetts and an innovative solar energy technology, Evergreen Solar emerged in the last three years as the third-largest maker of solar panels in the United States."

"But now the company is closing its main American factory, laying off the 800 workers by the end of March and shifting production to a joint venture with a Chinese company in central China. Evergreen cited the much higher government support available in China."

There is a lesson here - isn't there?

Waiting for the tremor

Blocked out in Chinatown

The Portland Tribune has this article about the moans and groans of one retail proprietor. His concerns - while legitimate but also overblown - was that his business is suffering because the sidewalk is blocked by fencing. Why? Because one of Old Town's historic structures is (and has been) crumbling.

The owner of the building (the Sinnot Building) shedding its skin is being fined by the city for the failure to stop the crumbling. It is an obvious safety hazard therefore the blocking of the sidewalk. The owner a recent purchaser asserts that the purchase was with the intention of preservation, but it is hard to see why.

The building is a historic landmark. Its property value is only $400,000 (the purchase price, but see the value for property tax purposes prior to purchase - $794,320). [Portland Maps]. I wonder what happened here? The new value for the property is nearly one-half the assessor's value. And even without the former tax exemption the property taxes are lower by a little over $1k.

The Tribune quotes the owner as saying it would take more than $100,000 to make the building habitable. But $100,000 to fix the Sinnot House? That would not be the price even if one ignored the cost for seismic upgrades. Maybe there was an unintended decimal shift. $100k won't get one pass the permit stage.

And, it isn't easy to get by the permit stage because it is a historic landmark. This is another one of the many buildings in Old Town that needs fixing and hasn't been because of the cost; and part of that cost is related to its historic status.

It is still in an urban renewal area, but one wonders if that will help now.

Waiting for the tremor is Old Town's best urban renewal plan.

Proof is in the pudding

"There is no reliable evidence that redevelopment projects attract businesses to the state or increase overall economic development in California." California Legislative Analyst Office. I would submit that the same could be said for Portland.

Governor Jerry Brown: "I think we have to, all of us, rise above our own particular perspective, get out of the comfort zones and try to think of California first." [SFGate]. Same for Portland.

See the San Francisco Chronicle for more on the California governor's plan to end redevelopment (urban renewal) agency..

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WTF: Daycare provider charged with child sexual abuse

Police Press Release January 19, 2011 @ 17:07:

"[Inez] Lambert was lodged in the downtown Multnomah County Facility and charged with seven counts of Sodomy in the First Degree, seven counts of Using a Child in a Display of Sexually Explicit Conduct, and seven counts of Sex Abuse in the First Degree. Lambert was indicted on those charges by a Grand Jury"

"Prior to this investigation Lambert worked as a daycare provider for LA Fitness . . . ." Although unclear from the Press Release, apparently there is no connection between that employment and child sex abuse charges.

Query: How did this person operate as a daycare provider?

Open meetings law suddenly has teeth

Pushing envelope on open meetings law suddenly gets spendy (Jack Bog's Blog)

Bojack had this post that about a judge in Lane County judgment that puts teeth in the open meetings law [see too Oregon Department of Justice] and penalizes two commissioners for their conduct in "avoiding" the law. What is interesting as Bojack notes is that this avoidance is all too common in Portland.

"[Commissioner] Handy lined up votes to approve personal assistants for commissioners and worked with [Commissioner] Sorenson in advance to script a vote, making the resulting public process a “sham,” Coos County Circuit Judge Michael Gillespie wrote in a 44-page opinion. “It was orchestrated down to the timing and manner of the vote so as to avoid any public discussion.” [Register-Guard]

Bojack also mentions "I remember the Portland Development Commission meeting where the board members took a bunch of public testimony and then immediately announced their decision on the matter, reading from extensive prepared scripts."

That was my experience in attending PDC meetings for several years. There were exceptions - but for the most part it seemed that a project's public discussion while not literally scripted had all the attributes. The more significant point is that the deliberation was already completed - public comments were merely a public relations gimmick much like their public participation program.

This was one of the reasons I championed testimony by the Old Town neighborhood at the public testimony portion at the beginning of any meeting. It was an opportunity to let the commissioner know that opposition existed in the neighborhood. Otherwise no impact from testimony could be expected. 

The Register-Guard story is well worth the read. It is comprehensive and informative. Similarities to Portland are striking. And there is much more to the judge's decision to be read. It will be appealed and the Judge has anticipated that appeal with a 44 page decision. 

The Register-Guard has the link to the judge's decision as well as a link to another interesting story on the decision's impact. 

Thanks for your service

Bank Overcharged Troops for Mortgages

Finally - some good news

Officials: Conn. Sen. Lieberman will retire in '12 - Yahoo! News

An earlier retirement would be even better.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Budget gaps - handwriting on the wall

Budget Gaps Push Governors to Similar Answers - NYTimes.com

Why does it take a crisis? In some sense the state budgets are the focus of much of the rhetoric - vitriolic or not. It doesn't take too much thought to recognize that the spending of government - local to the top - out stretches the ability of citizens to pay.

The sad state of affairs is that this is not something that just happened. The recession merely called attention to it - but it has been in the making for years. While not a liberal vs conservative issue - it is the liberal governments that seems to expend dollars for social issues beyond valid issues of homelessness.

The federal, state, county and local governments continually seek more dollars for their agendas or causes. In the past when the economic future glowed rosily it was easy to persuade citizens to approve various tax measures or programs.

After all - the middle class who pays for these measures and programs have a beneficent attitude of sharing. It is left to them to pay the freight. The lower income can't and the higher income will not.

The conservatives are not in anyway better. The major difference is the agenda or cause they seek to fund. But they do stand in a better place to announce the obvious - there is not enough money without further increases in taxation. And they easily win favor by announcing no more taxes. It leaves the liberals with calling for more taxes. Out maneuvered.

No one who can read can ignore that nearly every level in the country is in an economic downturn. And its effects will continue far into the future. E. g., many, if not most, of those unemployed today will be unemployed tomorrow.

But we will see governments - at all levels - proclaim that unemployment rates have normalized. This proclamation ignores that the number of those unemployed continues upwards. Announced unemployment rates are fictitious.

Economic downturn or not - government must recognize that continual spending decreases citizens' effective income. Oversimplified - income increases are more than offset by an increase government spending.

Voting is no longer, if it ever was, a leash on government spending. E.g., don't expect any difference because of the election of some Tea Party people. Frankly, many of those in the Tea Party have the correct goals - but too often the incorrect methods.

And you know what is ignored at the federal level - the trillions spent on not military defense but military offense in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Is the day of reckoning nearing?

Portland water billing revenue - why customers pay so much

Why do Portland water customers pay so much? Because of big, needed projects -- and small ones that some question | OregonLive.com

This is about the revenue from your water billing used to build a $625,000 house that in ordinary circumstances would result in a short sale - the house is valued more than the market price resulting a loss if sold. Of course the city can leave it sit there until . . . .

A small city with grandiose thinking commissioners demonstrating little concern of your economic plight. Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish taking their place at the council table - you know for them it is that little table where at the holidays the kids sat. Nearby enough to feel a part of the family, but really isolated to keep them from bothering the adults.

Voters keep commissioners like Leonard in place. So suck it up.

Calif. students wounded when gun in backpack discharges

2 Calif. students wounded when gun in backpack discharges

The incident apparently was reported first as a shooting at the school, but gee it turned out only to be a gun carrying (in his back pack) school kid slamming his bag down. Two were wounded. Oh - the school doesn't have pass through metal detectors but uses hand held ones. What a wonderful school this must be.

We will not read a follow up - this is one those stories the media quickly moves away from - but what does one want to bet that the gun carry student will not be tossed out?

Goldschmidt abuse victim dies at age 49 | OregonLive.com

Goldschmidt abuse victim dies at age 49 | OregonLive.com

The tragedy of the originating event has played out in the worse possible way. It will probably never be know for sure just how the ex-governor's conduct affected the emotional and physical well being of this person during her lifetime. But it is not difficult to imagine.

While he is still roundly chastised in the media and blogging circles - the ex-governor has been able to lead a life that many - no most - will never achieve. It is an example of how money and politics can protect the guilty - even the extreme guilty.

I won't go as far as calling it rape - but it seems clear that a 35 year old man exuding power and prestige took advantage of that to seduce a 14 year old girl (eighth grade?) to satisfy his personal sexual appetite. It may have even started when she was 13 or even younger.

It is sexual abuse. I hesitate using rape as a description because by definition there is an element of physical force necessary. But statutory rape is accurate though. And age difference takes on a much more significance when one is in his 30s and the other is 14. Is there much difference if one is in his 40s and the other is 17? Sexual abuse is not gender limited either.

That act of sexual abuse also affected the lives of others who were then closely aligned with the ex-governor. Many of them are often called upon to answer for the ex-governor actions.

It is unlikely this ex-governor will ever publicly suffer for his actions. One can expect that it is a personal demon haunting him. There has to be some measure of justice.

Vanilla rap (sheet)

That is the police union's new look of their publication. If the latest issue is any example, the union has eschewed any hint of controversy. Not too long ago one could read the Rap Sheet and get a solid feel how the union saw the issues concerning police conduct and their role in the community.

Now this publication reads more like an apartment house newsletter with topics like "Common Questions Regarding Nutrition and Fat Loss" and "A Very Bureau-tiful Holiday."

Tragic.

PPB mobile crisis unit

Portland police chief to discuss role of the bureau's mobile crisis unit today | OregonLive.com

This has failure written all over it. The list is probably near endless, but consider the effect on a police officer at a crime scene who has the added burden of being responsible for a civilian. And it is not just safety - it will be the second guessing.

Sadly, it is unlikely that the police union will take a public stance. See the new vanilla Rap Sheet. It is more of a police bureau public relations gimmick.

More nanny state

Another Bill Angering Cyclists: A Proposed Ban on Wearing Headphones | Willamette Week

See my comments about another proposed bill on banning the bicycle-trailer combo. That bill and this bill addresses issues that many may find to be the result of too much government intrusion into their lives. Sure in this case, there is certain lack of common sense to ride, drive or even walk while wearing head sets. Especially since decent headsets or ear buds are designed to cancel out pretty much all other noise.

I seem to remember one or two TriMet accidents where the pedestrian was wearing a headset apparently not "listening" to the surrounding "noise" that would have given the person the heads up to the danger. But, people have a right to make even dumb choices.

I guess reasonable people can disagree. See Bojack's take where he seems to approve of this sort of legislation. But, it just seems to be more intrusion by government determining what I should do or not do. I remember when California passed its motorcycle helmet law - while I had my helmet handy I didn't always use it. A part of the enjoyment of riding a motorcycle is impaired by using the helmet.

I had the helmet before the law - but made the personal choice to use it when riding the city streets but not to when more on the open roads. Frankly, I don't like people forcing me to do something. Educate me - but let me make the choice. And don't make that education add to the cost of the product, e.g., calories listed on menus.

Finally, too many of these proposed bills lack data to support its purpose. They are based more on truthiness than anything else.

Save us from those who want to save us.

Oh my!

Berkeley set to offer sex-change employee benefit

Monday, January 17, 2011

Irony? Dissent of MLK and that exhibited in Arizona

The anger and frustration of today gives lie to the "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" idiom.

Arizona seems to be a microcosm of troubles that plague the US. Some issues like illegal immigration affect them more than most other parts of the country. But Arizona contains no more native radicals than anywhere else. While the Arizona shooting has raise concerns about the way issues are discussed - the issues themselves have taken a back seat - rather than the driver's seat.

But, it is interesting that Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday - January 15th - is so close to the day of the shooting. Sadly, Arizona, although not alone, fought tooth and nail not to include his birthday as a holiday. [Wikipedia.]

Arizona, and the country, needs that type of nonviolent leadership he offered. No one would find the rhetoric of today being voiced by him or his supporters. He was nonviolent in words and deeds. [See Wikipedia].

Leadership is what makes the difference in how people respond to adversity. While I give credit to President Obama for setting the tone - he seems alone in his efforts and his words apparently fell on deaf ears. E.g., the anger in Arizona doesn't seem to have abated. [See New York Times.]

This Day in History

This Day in History:

The History Channel is one of my many bookmarks that I infrequently browse. But late last night I took a peek at January 17th. It is interesting the events that have no relation to each other occur on a particular day. Some are worth remembering and others just remind us why we didn't remember.

H-bomb lost in Spain is worth remembering. The Brinks robbery? Maybe. Do I want to remember Gary Gilmore who was executed on this day? And, do I care to remember that Paula Jones accused Clinton of sexual misconduct?

But, I think what is well worth remembering - President Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex. I suspect it is virtually unknown. He made it at the end of his presidency.

Also, the History Channel states that in his farewell address that "[d]espite his sadness that peace was not in sight, the great Allied commander offered a closing prayer to the world from America. "We pray," he said, "that people of all faiths, all races, all nations...will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love."

Too bad Ike's words fell on deaf ears.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Portland parent - self absorbed

I see it all too often the parent who brings his or her child to the coffee shop and sits there using the latest technology to connect while ignoring the child. Case in point the Pearl parent with his child talking on his phone while using his iPad - daughter 5 or so sits ignored.

Why?

Victim becomes perpetrator

Man Shot in Tucson Rampage Is Arrested at TV Taping - NYTimes.com

It is an odd story - very odd unless you read another New York Times story not connected: "After Loughner’s massacre, Humphries was still faulting her — this time for holding “an event in full view of the public with no security whatsoever.”

Humphries a founder of the Tuscon Tea Party was the person threaten by Mr. Fuller, supporter of the congresswoman, who was one the many shot at the Safeway. My point is that political conflict in Arizona (Tuscon in particular) might well be as the sheriff had noted: ". . . that the "vitriol" in today's political discourse contributed to the incident and that Arizona has become "a mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

I have never have lived in Arizona - been there on business - but I know people who live there and ordinarily I would consider them intelligent and rational. These people not native to Arizona are so polarized that they send emails about President Obama, health care, stimulus, etc. that at best are without factual foundation and are inflammatory.

Arizona's illegal immigration issues are serious and divisive. Cities like Portland have taken liberal/leftist pot shots at them for their state legislation on illegal immigration. Just before the shooting the Arizona state banned a Tuscon's school district's Mexican American program.

This from the New York Times article gives a flavor of Arizona and Tuscon: A state law bans "[p]rograms that promote the overthrow of the United States government are explicitly banned, and that includes the suggestion that portions of the Southwest that were once part of Mexico should be returned to that country."

What does it say when it is perceived that a state law is needed to ban teaching in public schools the overthrow of the US government? And this is a state that has a drug war on its border - Mexico. In April 2010 it was noted that there had been 22,000 deaths in Mexico's drug wars.

Having said all of that - nothing connects to Jared Loughner. The news media from the Oregonian to the New York Times have struggled to be above the fight. Trying to stakeout a neutral position criticizing both sides of the center.

Another New York Times piece pointed out what might the obvious: "There is very little shared experience in the nation now; there are only competing versions of the experience, consumed in such a way as to confirm whatever preconceptions you already have, rather than to make you reflect on them."

I submit that this is nothing new - what seems to make the difference is the absence of political leadership.Other than President Obama - what political leaders have exerted a pull together leadership? Hasn't there been an unseemly quiet?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

More misspending of taxpayers' dollars? Not really.

PolitiFact Oregon | Larson accuses TriMet of investing too much with the prospective returns being too little

It is a mis-leading claim by Lars Larson although it is literally accurate. It is misleading because it isn't TriMet's money (collected revenue) - it is federal grants - 100% federal nada by TriMet. See the federal website.

It is difficult to argue, as apparently Larson does, that TriMet is somehow misspending money. It is federal research grant with TriMet as an obvious recipient. Another perspective - TriMet got $2 mil for free to do research and additionally they (and maybe other transit systems) will save $168K per year as a result.

Talk about a win win.

11 years is a long development window -you'd think?

A decade in, Portland's One Waterfront Place high-end office tower remains grounded | OregonLive.com:

"'Eleven years is a long development window,' PDC Commissioner Charles Wilhoite said Friday. 'We have to sit back and make decisions about reasonableness and viable opportunities. And when you start to get into double-digit years before we see a groundbreaking, you have to ask yourself whether it's going to happen and whether we should remain financially committed to this project.'"

This from commissioner "Charles Wilhoite [who] is a managing director of Willamette Management Associates, a firm specializing in financial consulting, economic analysis and business valuation services." [PDC Bio].

The role of a commissioner is to bring his or her experience in the private sector to the public sector. It too often seems that these political appointees from the private sector wear their political hat eschewing the private sector hat.

Of course the Oregonian fails to ask any pertinent questions apparently in an effort not to offend the commissioner. It seems a fair question - why does it take 11 years before the light bulb goes on at PDC? It seems appropriate to ask - how many tax payer dollars have been expended on this project during the 11 years?

This project has been doubtful for many of the 11 years. Take a peek at this 2006 letter from Mr. Winkler. Take a peek at the PDC Report 06-53 for a good history for the project as of 2006. Arguably it started out well, but it didn't stay that way long. Why wasn't the plug pulled?

See Report 07-132amendment # 7 to original agreement. It also contains much of the financial details as of 2007. For example: "Of the PDC’s $8.5 million dollar investment, $4,500,000 will be used for the construction of the Marshall Street pedestrian bridge.  PDC will provide gap financing of $4,000,000 and seller financing of the garage land, receiving an equal share with the Developer of the cash flow from the garage."

See the developers' website for marketing malarkey. It is no doubt that the developers have invested substantial funds in the project but without PDC the market place would have stopped this project long ago. And stopped the expenditures of tax increment dollars for a non-urban renewal project that has failed for nearly 11 years.

Queries ought to be developed as to the omnipresent developers Winkler and Naito financial and political  involvement in this project. Would it had taken PDC so long to recognize the potential failure of this project had it not involved these developers?

Bicycle with child's trailer

Representative Mitch Greenlick is proposing to ban this combination. Oregonian's Anna Griffin opposes it - mostly because she uses a bicycle trailer combination.

It is difficult how any sane person would put their child in that trailer and proceed to ride the streets of Portland. It is somewhat akin to riding at night dressed in dark clothing.

And it reminds me of the mothers I see pushing their babies in the stroller and at the corner instead of stopping with the stroller still on the sidewalk they stop with themselves at the corner. Child is in the street and apparently mom is unaware of it.

But it does strike one as more unwarranted government intrusion. While I disagree with Anna Griffin's choice in this case. I would choose not to use the trailer - she chooses otherwise. Parenting or any of its parameters is not Representative Greenlick's business. Mr. Greenlick apparently has too much time on his hands.

Save us from those who want to save us.

FBI at it again

It is stories like this one in the Oregonian online that further reduces the credibility of the FBI and the government. [Thanks to Bojack for picking up on this.]

"Four months ago, federal prosecutors won the conviction of an Oregon man for funneling money from an Islamic charity to Saudi Arabia. Now the government concedes it failed to turn over pretrial papers -- including evidence that the FBI made payments to the husband of a witness."

It says something too about the Oregonian's coverage. The article was published in the Pacific Northwest News section on Oregonlive - Oregonian's online presence. Arguably, it is front page news - at least for Oregonlive, the conviction was. 

Take a peek too at the Oregonian coverage based on "Islamic Charity" search terms. The government's case seems suspect from the start. It has some Al Capone aspects to it. It was a tax evasion charge that brought him down. 

Not that Capone was the good guy but the government could never make a case against him except for tax evasion. That type of prosecution is suspect.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Portland where young people go to retire

Hulu - Portlandia: Farm - Watch the full episode now.

Thanks to the Week for the notice of the preview. Portlandia is funny maybe even hilarious. But if you don't live, or haven't lived, in Portland much of the humor might be lost. It is so on point. It will be interesting to read the reviews.

The next step in Oregon's workforce competitiveness | OregonLive.com

The next step in Oregon's workforce competitiveness | OregonLive.com

"As The Oregonian's editorial board has noted, our education system is the key to Oregon's economic competitiveness. While it's still early in the year, let's resolve to take concrete steps toward ensuring that every Oregon student has access to high-quality career and technical education options that teach emerging or in-demand job skills. That's the way to improve our graduation rates and directly increase the competitiveness of our workforce. " [Brad Avakian, commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.]

Stating the obvious. But I guess it is important enough to keep stating and restating until it sinks in. But what I find interesting in this quote is that he includes technical education. Too much emphasis is placed on standard k-12 education preparing one for the life time of paying off college loans.

Many of the jobs available in today's job market as well as the future market can be filled by those with a technical education. Frankly, other than possibly medical doctors, graduation with a degree doesn't come with a job. Even an attorney doesn't graduate and pass the bar exam with the ability to practice law in any particular field. He or she is really practicing.

Technical jobs count and they pay well. Maybe (and that is a big maybe) the "technicians" don't achieve the lifetime income that a college graduate might but they are tax payers doing credible jobs.

Education should not be just for the college crew.

Rewards for failing your task - provide quality education

"District adds $2.1 million to 2011-12 PERS expensedeals with Forest Grove School District but it is merely a snapshot of what every school district in Oregon faces.

"Short of legislative action, there’s nothing districts can do to stem that tide." Therein lies the problem. Are we likely to see PERS reformed by the legislature? Not a chance with public employees unions financing the legislators.

And not enough emphasis is placed by reporters on where the money cones from to pay into PERS. It is not like the school districts are for profit businesses.

Ultimately it is taxpayers dollars. And given the apparent lack of any return on their investment - the school system would be no worse off if there were a complete top to bottom drastic reform.

The teachers and their unions cannot demonstrate their worth in providing quality education. They can demonstrate their worth in protecting their income. If there was some causal relationship - a different story.

But taxpayers who continually vote for "education" tax measures deserve credit too. Permitting school districts to raise taxes to pay for their inefficiencies and mis-management - is the same as giving permission.

And isn't there a sort of a nudge nudge, wink wink relationship between teachers, unions, school administrators and the legislators?

The legislators will talk of reform, the administrators will make their pleas, and the teachers and unions will express willingness to be team players - but in the end they know that nothing has to change. In fact all of them will be better off financially.

Administrators will have their jobs and pensions, teachers will have their exorbitant salaries and retirement benefits, and legislators will continue to receive financing from the unions. It is a win win situation - except for the taxpayers.

But what about the students? Oh please! Since when have they been part of the puzzle?

PPSing in the wind

PPS bonds: Save the schools but lose the house? is an Oregonian guest column expressing just one opposition to school bonds. I wonder if it isn't like what one of the commentators said: "They are so sure that this ballot will pass that they are already spending the money on the planning including architectural plans."

The guest columnist makes several good points, but isn't he like others, including myself, just pissing in the wind?

PPS seeks to raise taxes for projects they deemed "for the children." They expect the tax payers to pony up the money because it is "for the children." And oddly enough taxpayers seem to buy into it. This despite the dismal education the Portland children receive.

There is no one anywhere saying positive things about the quality of the Portland Schools. But as long as the citizens keep voting for these tax measures - the school district will keep spending the money as they deem fit. And it is more than evident that part of what they deem fit is not providing quality education.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Coals for the fire of fear for the future

2011 to top 2010 record of 1 million foreclosures. It is expected that 1.2 million foreclosures will occur in 2011. In addition: "About 5 million borrowers are at least two months behind on their mortgages and industry experts say more people will miss payments because of job losses and also loans that exceed the value of the homes they are living in."

Now if this were to occur in the US

In the UK a former Labour Minister of Parliament received 18 months in jail for falsifying expense accounts. {Economist].

WTF: On call aquatics graphic designer?

See this link from Bojack.

TriMet's Performance Dashboard

TriMet: Performance Dashboard is an interesting means of tracking TriMet. It is offered by TriMet so one has to be skeptical of the data it represents.

It needs more definitions but the definitions presented are important to review. E. g., "ridership" is really "boarding." It can be counted twice. Thus as the site states if one takes two buses to get to work - that is two boardings. It follows that if one takes a bus and a train that it is counted as two boardings.

It is important to click on the "more" for additional information. One can obtain more information by following the  monthly analysis link. But TriMet makes bold faced statements without one shred of data for verification.

Questions abound though. E. g,  how is the boarding counted? Arguably the bus, and possibly WES, counts ought to be relatively easy and accurate since fares are required - unlike MAX. But the use of transfers would seem to undercut that ridership counting.

And TriMet's counting is never utilized - at least not for public consumption - to track effects of its decisions. The change from Fareless Square to Fee Rail Zone touted as a means of increasing revenue should have been easy to demonstrate whether there was an increase in revenue - by the increase in bus fares.

However, one might notice that the increase in MAX boardings are nearly equal to the decrease in bus boardings between two recent fiscal years. Is this because of the bus line cuts?

It is more interesting though to read the monthly reports. In the November report TriMet explains the loss in bus ridership as due to the economy, but if so, why was there an increase in MAX ridership?

And giving the number of bus (45,492.000) users versus MAX (38,037,600) it would seem that policies would favor bus transit - but that is not the case. In TriMet's view - buses have little value to its overall transit scheme - it is light rail whether it can be cost justified or not. Revenue is easy to come by when it is primarily from taxing.

One wonders about a government agency whose existence is dependent on taxing revenue to operate giving glowing reports about ridership.


Strange juxtaposition

The story: "Even Gabrielle Giffords' doctors are starting to call her recovery a miracle.""

It seems strange to seemingly balance out the killing of 6 and wounding of 14 with a "miracle" recovery by one of those wounded. It would have been more of a "miracle" if the gun didn't work.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

To think that it is necessary to pass a law

Arizona legislature passed a "bill would make it a misdemeanor to picket or conduct other protest activities within 300 feet of a funeral or burial service — about the length of a football field. The prohibition would be in effect from one hour before the event to one hour after."

This law was spurred by the announced intention of the Westboro Baptist Church to picket the funeral of the nine year old child killed in the Arizona shooting as well as the other funerals for those killed in the same incident.

While we argue about the vitriolic political rhetoric - this "church" spews hate. [See Wikipedia.]

The unsettling reality behind Arizona shooting - the Oregonian version

After engaging in partisan food fight and armchair squabble - the Oregonian narrows it down for us. They all too well know the answers. For the editorial board it comes down to two questions:

"Whether young people with emerging mental illnesses are treated effectively." "And whether the problem of toxic incivility can really be pinned on a few talking heads rather than a million angry voices."

"To those questions, we [editorial board] know the answers all too well."

Asking these two questions in another context might have been appropriate, but asking them in the context of the Arizona shooting is editorial opportunism. But they are not alone. Too many in the media have jumped on the mental health and toxic political rhetoric as causes of violence without making any relevant connection between either and the violence of this individual.

We don't know in fact that the shooter suffers from a mental illness, and if he does, that it was the cause of the violence. We don't know that even had he had been so diagnosed and treated that the events would have been different. We just don't know and may never know - but the Oregonian does.

As much as most deplore the political rhetoric especially found in this last presidential election - it is a leap to conclude that it influenced this shooter in any way. I will grant that skilled orators can persuade, but it takes more than that persuasion. Irresponsible political rhetoric only strikes a chord [not violence] when there is fear of the future. And today there certainly seems to be an unparalleled climate of fear.

One can look back to the several school shootings to see how the media and the public struggled to find a single, and therefore fixable, cause for the violence. School bullying, heavy metal music, video games, drugs, loose gun laws all were suspected causes. Were the Columbine shooters suffering from a mental illness or influenced by political rhetoric?

Are we as a society addressing mental illness issues responsibly? The answer is no. But if we were, there is no reasonable belief that the Arizona incident would not have happened. Is there too much toxic political rhetoric? Of course, but even if there were none the shooting could have happened anyway.

Rational discussion on these issues don't require an Arizona incident because when the incident fades, and it has started already, the discussion fades too.


Republican states - more affordable housing?

Edward L. Glaeser: What Democrats Might Learn From the Census - NYTimes.com: "There is a strange irony in this: more conservative places do a much better job in providing affordable housing for ordinary Americans than progressive states that are believed to care about affordable housing."

The real gist of the story is the cause of  the population shift. While exploring alternatives - the conclusion is that it is the housing supply. Thus people don't move for better wages or quality of life.

And the reason for the abundant housing supply? "Republican states have grown more quickly because building is easier in those states, primarily because of housing regulations.

I don't know. Using census data to make that point seems iffy. It would seem that migration has in the past been more dependent on where the jobs are located. And, it would seem that Detroit has an abundance of housing but little migration. In my hometown in West Virgina there is an abundance of housing but negative migration. 

All too easy to conclude that the housing supply is the primary factor of the migration found in the analysis of the census data. 

Are the Russians on to something?

Russian drivers back on the right path — RT

"The State Duma has passed [August 2010] a total ban on driving under the influence of alcohol." [Russia Today]. The new laws are being credited with a significant drop. But the comparison is not that significant. In in the first 10 days of this year there were 2,977 accidents; in the same period in 2009 there were 3,069. That is a difference of 92 - about 3%.

It seems we need more time before a valid assessment can be made.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Justice System

While the Suspect in Arizona shooting is held without bail, he has been appointed a lawyer with considerable experience. His attorney - who the article fails to identify - has "defended Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski."

Business Week identifies two lawyers - Judy Clarke and Mark Flemming. It is Judy Clarke who is the high profile lawyer. Mr. Fleming was only identified by name not by a profile.

What is significant is that this shooter - and it seems without a doubt - attempted to murder a congresswoman and did kill a federal judge is assigned attorneys of high caliber to defend him. I think it is a positive attribute of justice system that given these circumstances with political overtones maximum effort is being made to assure a fair trail.

But I also recognize that too often in lower profile cases, defendants have been appointed not so competent attorneys. Nevertheless I am still impressed.

Leaping to conclusions

The headline says it all: "Giffords story: A lesson in leaping to conclusions." I guess it is rational to attempt to explain such a bizarre incident made even more bizarre by the fact that a federal judge and a child born on 9/11/1 were killed. And, if one were to gauge someone from a photo - it makes even less sense that this young person committed this heinous act.

We look for a single cause which will explain it. We only have ourselves, family, friends and acquaintances as a basis for analysis. Therein lies the problem in analysis.

The fact he failed a drug test is irrelevant. Don't be surprised if video games or rap music comes into play. Clearly something is wrong with the individual - but mentally ill?

Of course it is easy to conclude that such an act is the result of a deranged person. But his "mental illness" seems to be only conjecture. Even his behavior in his community college classes wasn't sufficient enough to force a psychological assessment. Mentally ill or an irrational belief system?

But so far it seems highly improbable that he will be deemed mentally unfit for trial.

Did the political rethoric of Sarah Palin with her "crosshairs" ads or the remarks of "Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle [. . .] in which she referred to the Second Amendment right to bear arms and the need to "take ... out" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid" even influence the shooter? [See Jim's blog via Bojack.]

Hardly seems like it. But an opinion in the New York Times suggests otherwise: "a nation as fractious as ours [needs] to think about what happens when words are used as weapons, and weapons are used in place of words."

As the media starts putting various pieces together, it is important to remember that apparently no one, except maybe his parents, had accumulated enough facts to suggest that he was capable of such violence. But the apparent loner seems to have had "friends" one who said "I felt like if anyone was going to shoot her, it would be Jared."

We haven't heard yet from his parents, but a trial, if it gets to that point, will surely disclose what they might, or should, have known. But it is a rare parent that even when faced with the facts will believe the worst of their child - after all it is a refection on them.

In the end it may well not matter his motive for the killings. It may be very simple - he is nothing more than any other killer who sets out to murder someone who he disagrees with or dislikes. The fact that it may be politically motivated doesn't make anyone less of a murderer. A bad seed is a bad seed.

The sad fact is that prevention of this irrational behavior is most likely impossible. The assassination of the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Jr. , John Lennon as well as others make it clear some things in a free society cannot be prevented.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Beaverton police prevent standoff from turning deadly

Beaverton police prevent New Year’s standoff from turning deadly

This story has been offered as an example that police, other than Portland's, can subdue the armed and dangerous without killing them. It doesn't follow.

There seems to be an assumption that irrespective of the circumstances - the Portland police only kill. A look at the facts of this case finds some similarity but also finds significant dissimilarity to the often publicized events in Portland. One of the differences, and there are many, is that bean bags worked.

The fact there was the gun toter had his girlfriend holding onto the gun made a big difference too. It ended when ". . . there was about 2 feet separating the man from the woman, officers yelled “bean bags,” prompting two officers to begin firing Super Sock rounds at the man. Another officer fired 40 mm, less-lethal rounds at him as well, knocking the man backward, away from the woman and down the embankment."

It is the totality of the circumstances that is important. One cannot pick a desired result to compare against an undesired one based only on the result. It is an apples and oranges comparison. There is not one fact in the Beaverton event that would have caused the Portland police to act any differently nor would have the result been different.

It is an unfair assertion and comparison.

Political 'vitriol' resonates with public

Sheriff Dupnik's criticism of political 'vitriol' resonates with public

It is always a shocking event when someone like the congresswoman and the federal judge are gunned down anywhere. It is somewhat interesting, in a peculiar way, that the judge received little attention and same too for the remaining 16 others that were shot. Six died including a nine year old girl. [See New York Times].

The finger pointing has begun. The sheriff has his rationale for the shootings which when one steps back it doesn't  seem that political vitriol is the cause. A motive has yet to be found. The facts are just coming out and will need many more days for the salient ones to be recognized.

The sheriff and others are not perturbed by the concept that the violent conduct of the mentally ill is caused by political climate. Yes, Arizona seems to be a political battleground - but so too many other places in the US. But it is a great leap - over a wide credibility gap - to assume that this shooter was anything other than one of many that seem to be making news.

Portland's recent events with violent and apparently mentally ill persons demonstrates that sometimes events cannot be connected to anything else than that person's illness. In a country with 310,232,863 people - to have a few like this shooter shouldn't come as a surprise.

If this person had any resemblance to a Muslim - the news would have been different. It would have been a terrorist act. And if he had been a Mexican immigrant, illegal or not, one can just imagine the headlines.

This isn't a gun control issue or political vitriol either. It is unlikely that anyone set on purchasing a firearm, legally or illegally, can be prevented. Certainly there is no "breathalyser" test for mental illness or malevolence.

Toning down political rhetoric is not a solution to these events either. Free speech is the guideline. Although I know little about the political rancor in Arizona - it is doubtful that any of it has risen to the level of falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater,

There will be, and it has started, efforts to pinpoint some point in the shooter's history that had someone taken a step - it would have prevented this conduct. [See Washington Post]. Granted in retrospect there seems to be many isolated signs in this shooters life that in totality might have raised the red flag - but any assumption or conclusion based on any one or even a totality of events would require government surveillance unacceptable in any democracy.

Having been around for a while - I wonder how a Lee Harvey Oswald would be viewed today? Doesn't the assassination of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr. demonstrate too that there are just some people who will commit outrageous acts of violence. Isn't it true too that in the final analysis there is a limit to prevention and protection.

The question is fast becoming what constitutional rights are we willing to give up in the guise of public safety.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Apparently it takes a death

OLCC pulls liquor license of downtown Portland Club 915 over 'persistent problems' | OregonLive.com

"The OLCC cited 19 serious incidents at the Southwest Second Avenue club over the past year, including fights, assaults, drugs and intoxication documented by the chief. "

"Three included gunshots fired outside and a prior gang-related shooting Sept. 11 in which someone was shot and wounded after a fight broke out between a group of Asian males and a group of African American men as they left the club."

Yes there was another death where patron was removed from the club and was found dead in a waterfront fountain in the morning. It is a stretch to tie a liquor license to that event.

It is a more interesting to read the whining and blame avoidance and shifting by the club's owner.

And one wonders how many other bars have persistent problems? How about those in Old Town? The OLCC doesn't make it easy to find out.

Yet the city worries about public drinking in certain areas.

Georgia’s Hopemobiles

Georgia’s Hope Scholarships Threatened - NYTimes.com

In 1993 Georgia started an interesting incentive program to improve education - Hope Scholarships. It has been replicated in other states. But while the focus of the New York Times was on the financial difficulties - it isn't clear that the program has been successful.

It isn't clear why Georgia is "facing staggering financial troubles." A quick look at Census Bureau State Finances for Georgia for 2009 and 2008 doesn't indicates any significant change except in "Insurance Trust" revenue item that relates to state pensions. [See footnote 1 in the charts.]

But it is easy to understand with the ease of qualifying for the program where lottery proceeds is the sole funding source that there is a great demand that cannot be satisfied. It seems clear that Georgia will have to make entrance more rational - but demand doesn't equal success.

Success is often in the eye of the beholder but the Times' article states: "Educators praised the way it improved SAT scores and lifted Georgia from the backwaters of higher education." But if one looks at the SAT scores for college bound seniors from 1993 on and compare it with Oregon - there isn't any significant difference. In fact in the recent years, Georgia (and Oregon) have lost ground. [SAT Scores: Oregon & Georgia].

The recent PISA testing results also cast doubts on any educational benefits that might, or hoped to, be derived from this incentive scholarship program.  [See post].

The program is funded from lottery sales and is open to any student who has a B average and it provides fixed dollar amounts for tuition and similar for books. The program awards are grants and not loans. Obviously, it doesn't pay for all costs for attendance at state colleges and universities, but like many subsidized programs student or family income is not a determinant

This has led to those whose families could afford the expenditures to use money that would have otherwise be spent on college expenditures to purchase the "hopemobiles" These are cars that "parents who find themselves with extra cash" gift their children.

The program also doesn't require completion of college or university. But the Times article implies otherwise: "And even though as many as two-thirds of Hope students let their college grades slip so much that they no longer qualify . . . ." But the fact that 2/3 drop below a B average speaks to the lack of success of the program.

The Times did not touch on it - but one wonders what percentage of the 2/3 that dropped below a B came from families that bought hopemobiles or that otherwise could have afforded the student's education? It may be argued that "fair" programs often result in unfair results.

I don't see any verifiable success.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

State Government Finances Viewable Data

Pension Fund Losses Hit States Hard, Data Show - NYTimes.com: 

The New York Times had this story about pension funds using the Census Bureau data, but I found the Census site State Government Finances contains great information about individual state finances.  Notice that it will display the lottery funds income and apportionment. What is missing though is the commissions.

A look at the 2009 Lottery Table - Oregon's cost of administration is about 9% of the income. It is the 11th highest in administrative percentage in the 42 states with lotteries. States with similar lottery revenues have administrative percentages closer to 4%.

Best of all with a little effort, one can compare years. For example income and expenditures for Oregon - the revenue for 2008 was $17,137,425,000 but in 2009 it was $7,811,596,000. $9,325,829,000 difference.

Take a peek to at the Insurance Trust item. This is, at least in part, about pensions. In 2008 it was $87,889,000 and in 2009 it was -$10,659,735,000. Pretty much accounts for the difference in revenue. [See footnote 1 in the tables that states in part: "Within insurance trust revenue, net earnings of state retirement systems is a calculated statistic . . . ."]

Not important enough for Portland's media?

Feds Say Portland "Child Foundation" Funneled Millions to Iran - Seattle News - The Daily Weekly (Thanks to Bojack for 1st notice)

Facebook - with little help from the Russians

Social media: Is Facebook really worth $50 billion? | The Economist

"Together with Digital Sky Technologies (DST), a Russian group, Goldman invested a total of $500m in Facebook, valuing the world’s most popular social network at a whopping $50 billion."

Reading Between the Battle Lines of the Constitution

Reading Between the Battle Lines of the Constitution: An Annotated Guide

It doesn't get any easier or better than this.

We know why he shot - but another why looms

Portland Police Press Release 01/05/11 @ 18:50:

"Sergeant Mike Fort, a 19-year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau, was the officer who fired his weapon early New Year's Day outside Club 915 in downtown Portland after witnessing homicide suspect Kevin Moffett shoot his gun. Sergeant Fort followed Moffett as he fled the homicide scene broadcasting Moffett's direction of travel and description. Sergeant Fort, with the help of other officers arriving onscene, took Moffett into custody."

In an earlier post on the 3rd, I wondered why he fired his weapon and why the press, in this case, the Tribune, failed to ask the question.

Now the question is why did it take so long for this information - which had to have been known to the department minutes after he discharged the gun - to become available?

I can understand that there is a process or procedures to be followed before information is provided to the public. Misstatements can never be retracted. It is always best that information be verified and that the rights of police officers be protected.

And I can understand that there might be a reason that the police wanted to wait until they had their shooter in custody. But they made the arrest in the evening of January 1 - the day of the shooting.

Was it that they wanted to wait until all interviews had been conducted? That could have taken a while since there was no shortage of witnesses since the shooting occurred at the time "several hundred" of patrons were exiting the club. And there was a fair size crime scene: "Southwest 1st to 4th Avenues, Main to Yamhill Streets."

But 5 days? These type of delays without explanation feed the anti-police bias in Portland.

One wonders too why the media didn't ask the questions. It isn't likely that the police, or any department or person, will provide information unless asked. If questions were asked - we were not told.

Responsible journalists will tell you what they asked and the response or non-response. I suspect that the media in police incidents sit back and do little more than read press releases. The police always provide a time and place for meeting with the PIO.

Isn't it likely that the delay is more the fault of the media for failing to seek the truth?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Capt. Owen Honors relieved of command

Raunchy videos starring Enterprise skipper come to lightCapt. Owen Honors expected to be relieved of command over lewd videosRelieved of Command, USS Enterprise Commander Capt. Owen Honors

"The recordings were shown to thousands of sailors on board, reportedly as a way of relieving boredom and boosting morale." [Washington Post].

Maybe the Navy carrier operations has changed since I was on a carrier. If it has - it hasn't been for the best. I was on a carrier as part of an air squadron for about 16 months (not consecutive) at sea, and there was never a need to relieve boredom or morale boosting. Time at sea is war gaming. Long hours and lot of work under difficult circumstances.

I'll grant you that it was a different time, but this fraternity boys mentality has no place in the operation of a warship. It makes one wonder about the policy change that permits pilots to captain a carrier.

While these types of ships have often been characterized as floating cities - they are not. They have one purpose - it functions as a warship capable on its own of destroying cities and immense populations with ease. The sailors - enlisted and officers - are expected to be professional in carrying out their duties.

The city analogy can't be ignored though. Virtually anything one might need or desire is available aboard these ships. And like a city - as an enlisted person you are unlikely to know others beyond your work and squadron  environment.

These stories also seem to miss the distinction between the officers and the enlisted. News stories have noticed that his shipmates have come to his support - but they mostly fail to specify the rank or rate of these "shipmates'" A shipmate in the Navy doesn't necessary mean you served on board a ship. Everyone in the Navy is a shipmate to somebody.

One "shipmate" supporter was Ward Carroll, apparently an officer. Carroll saw Captain Honors' videos as a means of reaching the younger generation - the 18 and 19 year olds. "So I think his idea was that he would take this prosaic message -- don't take long showers, don't waste water on the ship, don't drink and drive, don't underage drink if we're on liberty, comport yourself as an American ambassador -- all of those messages that the sailors have heard a number of times." [ABC News].

I was a 19 year old sailor who heard that message over and over from the leadership and got it without the need for videos of Captain Honors. It is difficult to understand the Captain's thinking if believed that the yellow, green, red, brown, white, purple, and blue shirts [the 18 and 19 years actually responsible for air operations on a carrier] needed these videos to relieve boredom and boost their morale. [Flight Deck Crew].

The daily life of an officer is very much different and better from that of an enlisted person. The Navy is much like the BBC show "Upstairs Downstairs." Even to what might be considered the mundane - meals and sleeping quarters. Contact is minimal. It is a class system that extends beyond the workplace. Officers don't fraternize with enlisted and vice versa. It seems clear that this Captain didn't understand those enlisted persons under his command.

The Enterprise is a great ship with an illustrious history. From its website:

"USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the world's first nuclear - powered aircraft carrier, commemorates a name which has been a continuing symbol of the great struggle to retain American liberty, justice and freedom since the first days of the American Revolutionary War. She is the eighth ship of the Fleet to carry this illustrious name that is literally defined as boldness, energy, and invention in practical affairs.

The ships named Enterprise have fought in some of the greatest naval battles in the history of the United States. These ships were manned by Sailors committed to victory under the harshest of conditions.

The Sailors onboard Enterprise are part of that proud tradition and heritage of the men and women who have gone before them and live up to their legacy with honor, courage and commitment.
"

The approximately 5,800, mostly enlisted personnel, on this ship deserve better command staff. The videos are several years old, but it seems that this captain had not then outgrown his Top Gun persona and there is no evidence that he has now. He is gone.

See Wikipedia for more info on the Enterprise and for a look at a video.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Over educated is not a Portland or even a US problem

Lack of Jobs in Southern Europe Frustrates the Young - NYTimes.com

My title is facetious but the problem isn't. A real problem everywhere is that the workforce market is out of sync with the education market,that is, the institutions preparing those entering the workforce. It seems ironic to lament the failure to educate when the there is a lack of jobs. It is not someone else's problem - it is ours too.

But, the focus of the Times' article is on the over educated - from the labor market perspective in Southern Europe. The case in point is "Ms. Esposito was the first in her family to graduate from college and the first to study foreign languages. She has an Italian law degree and a master’s from Germany and was an intern at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg."

I don't know that anywhere in the world where the qualified, maybe even over-qualified, like Ms. Esposito are being ignored by the market. It sounds reminiscent of the stories one hears, or used to hear, about graduates with masters and doctorates driving cabs in New York city.

Often they have degrees that are just not practical for the workforce. What they have is specialized education fit for a particular niche - but with few niche opportunities. Their masters and doctorates have little value in the everyday workforce. Thus, one might argue that Ms. Esposito, fluent in five languages, like many, hasn't a job because of her qualifications and experience limits her job opportunities.

One wonders though why she can't find employment matching her qualifications in nearby countries - maybe Germany or Luxembourg. I can't imagine that there are not international law firms in the US or in countries nearer to home that wouldn't hire her in an instant. Sometimes you have to leave home to find a job.

But a focus on education is misleading. While it is these university graduates obtaining the attention - it is the economic downturn that has emphasized their underlying problem: "It is a zero-sum game that inevitably pits younger workers struggling to enter the labor market against older ones already occupying precious slots."

"Giuliano Amato, an economist and former Italian prime minister, was even more blunt. “By now, only a few people refuse to understand that youth protests aren’t a protest against the university reform, but against a general situation in which the older generations have eaten the future of the younger ones.”"

While it is Southern Europe experiencing a demonstrative malaise among its young - some of the factors at work there are warning mileposts for the US and Portland - "lowered birth rates but [w]ith pensioners living longer and young  people entering the work force later — and paying less in taxes because their salaries are so low . . . ."

The unemployed in the US is a growing statistic. The recession has caused the older folks - baby boomers - to consider staying, and will likely, stay past "retirement" age. However, it is not the situation posed in the Times' article where younger workers in Southern Europe are competing with in place older workers for jobs. That is, these younger workers are prepared to step into the shoes of the older workers, but the latter aren't leaving. In the US the younger workers are not prepared to step in, and maybe fortuously, older experience workers are staying.

The job market ought to work somewhat like a push-down stack with a height measured by average work life. Thus, one enters the workforce and is "pushed" along throughout his or her life and out into retirement. While there must be jobs for everyone not everyone can have a job of their choice or liking, but the education industry can and must offer the opportunity in preparation for employment, self or otherwise.

Imperial US

Senator proposes permanent US bases in Afghanistan - Yahoo! News

"Graham tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that he wants to see the U.S. have "an enduring relationship" with Afghanistan to ensure that it never falls back into the hands of terrorists."

Rationale: He "says that having a few U.S. air bases in Afghanistan would be a benefit to the region and would give Afghan security forces an edge against the Taliban."

Somehow  the continued expansion of the US military is not welcomed in that region. It is this type of imperialistic expansionist thinking that has not won any friends in that or any other region of the world.

Arguably, having military bases in countries like Germany, UK, Italy, to name a few, is different from establishing bases in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. But, why are in places like Germany, UK and Italy?