Hey Hey

by Steve, February 27th, 2015

Another long-distance collaboration between me and Jay:

Oregon legislature finna mess with Measure 91 and OMMP

by Steve, February 23rd, 2015
Matanuska
Photo by Fotoblog Rare, used under Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0

First, a brief history of marijuana laws in Oregon.

  • 1998: Voters approve ballot Measure 67, legalizing medical marijuana.
  • 2004: Voters reject retail medical marijuana sales.
  • 2005: Legislature raises possession limits for medical users and sets up a grow site registry.
  • 2010: Voters again reject retail medical marijuana sales.
  • 2012: Voters reject full legalization with no limits on personal possession.
  • 2012: Legislature legalizes and begins regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries.
  • 2014: Voters approve ballot Measure 91, legalizing recreational marijuana (and explicitly leaving the medical marijuana program alone).
  • 2015: Legislature takes up a number of bills that would flout the will of Oregon voters and tinker with both the medical system and the specifics of Measure 91.

Obviously things have happened very quickly. Public opinion has tipped from cautious tolerance to support for full legalization in short order. Unfortunately, the legislature appears poised to enact legislation opposed to the clearly stated will of Oregon voters.

Here’s the letter I sent to my state representative and senator:

Dear Rep. Read and Sen. Hass,

We are writing to you to urge opposition to a number of bills pending in the Oregon House and Senate regarding medical marijuana and the implementation of the voter-approved Measure 91. We think it is very important to keep in mind that Measure 91 was a carefully worded measure that explicitly left the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program untouched. We urge you to respect the will of the voters, especially with regard to the OMMP.

The existing OMMP is a successful program, rightly under the control of the Oregon Health Authority. As such, we are very concerned about several proposed changes pending in the legislature.

HB 2676

We are particularly troubled by HB 2676, which would place the production and distribution of medical marijuana under the authority of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. This may seem to make sense at first glance, but we need to view medical marijuana in a separate category from recreational pot. This bill appears to set a course for the end of a medical marijuana program, which could be disastrous for a number of reasons.

Medical users have very distinct needs, specifically medicine that has a different proportion active ingredients. Under the OMMP and the Oregon Health Authority, growers have been developing products with a lower proportion of THC preferred by many medical users. This product is not at all attractive to the recreational market, who value high THC content (the component that makes users feel “high”). If the OMMP were collapsed into the recreational program, This kind of medicine would be less likely to be developed and its availability for patients threatened.

It is also important to maintain medical dispensaries. We wouldn’t send our sick relatives to the liquor store for cough medicine, and we shouldn’t expect them to go to a head shop for pain medicine. The OLCC does not have the institutional expertise to manage a medical program, and we shouldn’t expect them to suddenly develop it. The Oregon Health Authority has proven itself competent in the management of the OMMP, and it is the appropriate agency to manage a medical program.

This bill is a “fix” for something that is not broken, with the very real potential for breaking it beyond repair. Please vote “no.”

SB 542

We also oppose SB 542, which would tamper with the very clear state-wide regulation and taxation required by Measure 91. The clarity of this measure was intentional, and we believe it is of utmost importance to maintain it. Adding local taxation and regulation (or prohibition) will drive up the price of legal marijuana and ensure the survival of the black market. The city of Fairview passed a 40% tax prior to the passage of Measure 91 in an effort to preempt legal marijuana there. Encouraging the black market does not benefit the people of Oregon in any way. Voters approved a clearly worded measure to legalize marijuana state-wide, with a well-reasoned, simple tax across the board. We see no need to tamper with that.

HB 2885

We are also concerned with HB 2885, which would delay the availability of edible marijuana products under Measure 91. We are worried that this might prohibit medicinal products currently available in dispensaries under OMMP, especially if HB 2676 were to also become law. Availability of edibles is critical for patients with compromised respiratory systems. These edibles are also preferred by many patients for their longer-lasting medicinal effects. When produced, labeled and used properly, edibles are safe and effective. There should be no reason to delay their availability on the recreational market given their ongoing success (and lack of documented problems) in the medical market.

HB 2040 & 2041

Two other House bills, 2040 and 2041, would unnecessarily alter the successful OMMP. HB 2040 would prohibit medical marijuana facilities within one mile of schools statewide, and HB 2041 would allow local governments to enact this prohibition. These bills are completely unnecessary, and would effectively prohibit medical marijuana facilities almost everywhere people live. This would actively flout the will of Oregon voters.

We understand that Measure 91 presents many challenges to the state. But we also understand that it was written specifically to alleviate many of the difficulties seen in Colorado and Washington. We see much of the pending legislation as unnecessary, overly complicated, and explicitly against the will of the voters, especially with regard to the existing OMMP.

Thank you both for your service, and thank you for respecting the will of the voters.

The Misanthrope’s Field Guide to Noncharismatic Megafauna

by Steve, February 13th, 2015

Wildlife biologists refer to large animals that attract positive human attention for conservation efforts as “charismatic megafauna.” It’s not a scientific classification, just a way to refer to large animals that attract positive human attention. They are rarely the most important organisms in a biosphere, but they get the most human attention for better or worse. Around these parts, we have cougar, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, black bear, deer, beaver, nutria, eagles, osprey, hawks, herons, egrets, whales, sea lions and seals, among others.

But we’ve also got a ton of what I like to call “noncharismatic megafauna,” primarily great apes of the species Homo sapiens sapiens. Yes, the common human, or “house ape,” frequently accompanied by another common type of non-charismatic megafauna, Canis lupus familiaris, the domestic dog. As these non-charismatic species are often noisy, smelly and aggressive, charismatic megafauna flee before them.

Lately, I’ve encountered enough humans and their dogs to become an expert of sorts, and herewith offer my field guide to their behavior when they leave their habitat and interact with other fauna in the wild.

Habitat

Humans live primarily in what they call the “built environment,” and try to limit contact with the natural environment as much as possible. This habitat consists primarily of enclosed spaces, with artificially controlled environmental conditions. Outdoor spaces are dominated by hard surfaces constructed for the purpose of moving between enclosed spaces in vehicles they construct of metal and plastic. The vehicles are fully enclosed and also feature controlled environmental conditions.

Behavior in the wild

When they leave their built environment, they take with them many tools and accessories that allow them to survive comfortably and remain connected to their built world. Males of the species tend to display these technologies as if in constant mating. (Humans do, in fact, mate year round.) Juveniles of the species tend to be especially noisy and unconcerned with their surroundings, built or natural.

Many house apes travel with captive dog companions, and this species is hyper aggressive toward wildlife and other house apes. Humans often allow the dogs to run untethered, despite signs with pictographs and human language prohibiting it. Dog feces litter the routes they have carved through the natural environment. House apes sometimes pick up feces in plastic bags, and then leave the bags along their routes. It is unclear whether this is some kind of territorial marking ritual, or if it has something to do with parasites from the feces making the humans go mad. Most “wilderness” routes are lined with small plastic bags of dog shit, which pretty much guarantees that charismatic megafauna will avoid these areas.

House apes vocalize loudly in the wild, and when, for example, encountering other humans observing charismatic megafauna, say things like: “Is it dead?” and: “Well I’ve heard they have those around here!” and: “Aren’t they really just pests?” and: “They have to trap them down in the valley on the farms, because they eat everything!” and “Do you think it’ll eat bread? Here, I have some I was going to throw at the ducks!”

House apes will feed human food to any fauna they encounter. Juveniles will often try to capture other fauna, and if that fails, try to injure or kill them with stones, sticks, or other missiles they can find.

Encountering Homo sapiens sapiens in the wild

When exploring natural areas for relaxation, education or spiritual purposes, it is almost certain you will encounter house apes who very little interest in cohabiting with native fauna or other humans. In order to avoid unpleasantness, it is advisable to step well off of trails when you hear or see them coming. Find a large tree or rock to hide behind until they pass. It is unlikely they will notice you, since they will generally be talking loudly and are typically not observant of their surroundings.

WARNING: If you are unable to avoid an encounter with a house ape in the wild, you may be subjected to tedious, inane conversation known as “smalltalk.” Males of the species will preen in the presence of others, proudly displaying branded clothing and accessories. Talking to them only encourages this behavior, so it is generally best to avoid them at all costs. Since most house apes are averse to extended physical exertion and exposure to the elements, they are best avoided in deep wilderness at least 20 miles from trail heads and roads and far from urban centers.

Wait, listen carefully….

by Steve, February 6th, 2015

That’s the sound of Oregon’s Democratic Party faithful discussing the stench of corruption oozing out of Mahonia Hall.

It’s looking more and more like Oregon’s fourth-term governor John Kitzhaber has been up to his neck in his fiance Cylvia Hayes’s influence peddling, and the political hacks and bottom feeders at Blue Oregon have apparently circled the wagons.

Here’s the thing about being a one-party state… I mean… Ah fuck it, didn’t you guys read Animal Farm?

The Democratic Party in this state is a disgrace. A patronage machine that’s done nothing to reform a revenue system devastated by fleeting anti-tax, libertarian fringe in the 90s, and apparently more interested in holding power than funding schools. Sure they’re nominally pro-labor, but that’s all about the money at the end of the day. What does the Democratic Party of Oregon offer working families besides not being Republicans? Not a hell of a lot.

I argue that we need a moderate, viable GOP in this state just to keep the Democratic Party honest and at least nominally progressive. As it stands we have an allegedly corrupt governor and decades of Democratic control of state government with no progress on revenue reform. If state-level Democrats aren’t willing to take a stand for education funding, what good are they?

In other words, what’s the use of a Blue Oregon if we’re all just being played?

Update 2/9/2015:

Kitzhaber has asked his buddy Ellen Rosenblum, Oregon’s attorney general, to investigate. Pulitzer winner Nigel Jaquiss reports in Willamette Week that this might just be a move to delay releasing documents to the press. And of course Willamette Week is owned in part by…. wait for it…. Ellen Rosenblum’s husband Richard Meeker.

Jesus, way to make us look like a fetid little backwater, guys.

When you find a good frame…

by Steve, January 23rd, 2015

…you keep on using it.
Shore Pine Sunset
Framed
Framing it
My favorite frame

January Sundown

by Steve, January 20th, 2015

sunset

Some people can’t stop talking about child rapist Neil Goldschmidt

by Steve, January 12th, 2015

Thomas Lauderdale has a very high opinion of some people who don’t deserve it.

Most glaringly, Lauderdale can’t stop singing the praises of admitted child rapist Neil Goldschmidt, who, according to Lauderdale, “got people to be better than they were.” Well, Elizabeth Dunham, the woman Goldschmidt started raping repeatedly when she was a pubescent girl, didn’t get better, she got dead (a “circumstance” Lauderdale describes as “unfortunate.”)

Personally, I think serial child rape and a 30-year coverup kind of trump whatever fluffy civic bullshit Lauderdale might be talking about, but maybe that’s just me.

Then there’s Goldschmidt crony and former Metro president (and alleged stripper aficionado and ex of one of Neil Goldschmidt’s top 5 Oregonians) David Bragdon, whom Lauderdale ran into in New York and told “You need to come back and save the city, because it’s going down.”

And of course there’s Lauderdale himself, who thinks he’s the only one in the city with the right temperament to be mayor. “I just don’t see anybody else in the city that has that… even though I think that sounds weird as I say it. But I think that I do have the right temperament for it.”

Fortunately for the good people of Portland, he’s too busy with his own show (and doesn’t want to take a pay cut) to run the show at City Hall.

But wait… is this another instance of Neil poking his head up, testing the waters for a comeback? He was never convicted, but he admitted to behavior clearly defined by Oregon law as serial felony child rape, which would have landed him in the pokey and on the predatory sex offender registry had he been busted before the statute of limitations expired. So forget about it, Neil; crawl back into your hole.

And Thomas, stick to your day (night) job, and maybe find a different political hero to promote. (Prince Andrew, perhaps?)

The Long Distance Cosmic Express

by Steve, January 11th, 2015

jayharden1I haven’t played in a band since 1997, but just recently started some long-distance collaboration with a bandmate from Totem Soul, the group I moved to Portland with back in 1989.

Jay Harden has been keeping himself busy performing and recording, and asked me to add some tracks to some stuff he recorded.

I started with “Get Along,” which features Naomi Wedman on violin and vocals. I threw in some bass and drums.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Then there’s “Sleepy Head,” which has a nice country blues feel. I threw down some bass and drums again, and thought about some backing vox. But couldn’t find a harmony I liked, so left it simple.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Now, if we’re lucky, Jay will make us a couple cheap-o videos.

Best oven-fried spuds

by Steve, January 4th, 2015

Spuds

Ingredients

    Spuds, peeled
    Olive oil
    Melted butter
    Salt and pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 425F. Slice spuds almost all the way through and place in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and melted butter. Roast for 45 minutes or so. Use a pastry brush to slather the butter and oil over the tops of the spuds a couple times during the baking. Done when browned on top and crispy on the bottom.

Oh the places you’ll go

by Steve, December 18th, 2014

pinthehatonthecathatsIn 1999 I finished an associate degree at Portland Community College, and Nancy talked me into doing the commencement ceremony at the old Memorial Coliseum. The speaker was an up-and-coming local politician who condescended to the assembled hoi polloi by donning a red and white stripedy top hat and reading from Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the places you’ll go! (By the way, the stripedy top hat is from a different Dr. Seuss story. Just sayin.)

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to great places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own, and you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

I think she preceded the reading with a heart-warming story about a woman who overcame her addiction and completed a program at PCC or something. Look, PCC is a community college, not a rehab program. Sure, there are some feel-good stories about people turning their tragic lives around, but primarily it’s working class people of all ages getting a basic post-secondary education. I’m sure she was just trying to be ironic and cute, but I’m not the only one who detected a generous whiff of elitist paternalism.

We’ve joked about this pol’s failure to connect over the years. Whenever her name comes up we say, “Oh, the places you’ll go!” She married the scion of a deeply connected construction baron and later left local government in 2007. Last year she became the head of a local non-profit foundation which we’ve happily supported over the past few years.

When you give money to non-profits, their development staff become your best friends every December thereafter. (I always tell these guys they don’t have to kiss my butt, and politely decline all the perks and galas and wine buses and behind-the-scenes tours offered.)

The other day we got a voice mail message on the home phone, not from the development director, but from my erstwhile commencement speaker herself. Her unctuous tone was markedly different from her speech 15 years ago. She left her cell and office numbers. (I didn’t call her back.)

Oh.

The places you’ll go.

NOTE: That call left me conflicted like crazy. This has been one of our favorite causes over the years, and I don’t want to cast aspersions on their incredibly valuable work (which is why I’m not using names here; if you know Oregon politics, you already know who I’m talking about). We directed some money their way last year, and we’ll no doubt support them again in the future.