No Love for the Winter Hawks at the City Club

by Steve, February 29th, 2008

Is Portland a sports city? That was the question put to Portland Trail Blazers president Larry Miller and Beavers and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson by Oregonian columnist Steve Duin at the City Club’s Friday Forum today.

I was well-prepared to not hear the words “Winter Hawks” mentioned, and I planned to ask a question of Larry Miller in regards to the Hawks’ lease. The Trail Blazers manage the Hawks’ home arena, the city-owned Memorial Coliseum, and have been so far unwilling to entertain renegotiating the lease.

Western Hockey League Commissioner Ron Robison calls the Hawks’ lease with the Trail Blazers the worst in the league. The current Winter Hawks ownership group, headed up by bombastic New York City barkeep Jim Goldsmith, doesn’t seem to be taking a constructive approach to renegotiations.

While the Winter Hawks were not mentioned at the forum (the word “hockey” was uttered once), the Memorial Coliseum did come up, when Steve Duin asked Larry Miller about the Blazers’ Rose Quarter redevelopment plans. Though not stated explicitly, the venerable old glass palace seems to be considered more of a hindrance than an asset.

When club member question time came, I was a little slow getting to the line, and questions were cut off before I got to the mic. Here’s what I planned to say.

Thirty years before the NBA was founded, the Portland Rosebuds were the first US-based hockey team to play for the Stanley Cup in 1916. Though they lost to Montreal, the name of our city is engraved on the cup. In 1976, Portland became the first US city to get a Western Hockey League franchise, the Portland Winter Hawks. Today, that team has what is described by the WHL commissioner as the worst lease in the League. If it means the team will otherwise have to leave Portland, would the Trail Blazers be willing to renegotiate the Winter Hawks’ lease?

I didn’t get my answer today, but we will find out soon enough. WHL commish Robison says the team must renegotiate the Memorial Coliseum lease, or they’ll have to move. The ball, as usual, is in the Trail Blazers’ court.

Update: If you want to hear them not talk about hockey for an hour, the meeting is broadcast on OPB radio tonight at 7pm. It is also rebroadcast on various cable TV outlets, and audio is available online for a couple weeks. See the City Club for more information (scroll down).

More Brilliance from the Winter Hawks Owners

by Steve, February 26th, 2008

Principal owner Jim Goldsmith has announced in the press that longtime General Manager Ken Hodge will be reassigned, and a new G.M. will be hired.

One small problem… this is news to Hodge.

The Tribune article by Jason Vondersmith also reveals that there is a dispute about payment for the purchase of the team.

Kudos to Hodge for hanging in there. With any luck, he’ll outlast these bozos, the league (or another ownership group) will take over the team, and we’ll get back to stability in Hawkey Town.

Trouble in Hawkey Town

by Steve, February 21st, 2008

Rumors have been swirling around town about the sad, sad state of the Winter Hawks, and the league seems to be taking notice.

Kamploops (B.C.) Daily News sports editor Greg Drinnan reports that the WHL is reviewing the situation.

The most serious rumors are about player treatment, and the team refusing to pay for surgery of an injured player. It is also rumored that the team is delinquent in paying for hockey sticks, and players are having to buy their own.

At this point the best thing might be for the league to take over the team, and try to right the ship. It’s bad enough having the worst record in the league since the 1989-90 Victoria Cougars. If you aren’t taking care of your players, you’ve got no place running a major junior hockey team.

Matt Wingard’s Laundry List

by Steve, February 15th, 2008

Last month I went up against Republican House District 26 candidate Matt Wingard in the Portland Tribune in a procon about charter schools. (Some people think my argument for the greater common good won the debate.)

Today I found a speech Wingard gave to the King City/Tigard Women’s Republican Club yesterday. He’s got some real laugh lines, though I don’t think our suburban friends were laughing.

Wingard doesn’t shy away from bringing up the “negative stories…with details and headlines that are misleading and false,” but doesn’t mention that the central point — that he was convicted of striking his child on the head, leaving a welt — is not disputed.

But let’s not dwell on that. Matt’s an advocate for children in my neighborhood, it turns out: “…I have organized poor, minority parents in north Portland to go down to Salem, and face to face, demand from Democrats on the House Education Committee school choice for their children, even though they are forced to attend low performing schools.”

His weaseling distortion of this charter schools boosterism trip aside (he sure as hell doesn’t care about poor, minority children who want equity in their neighborhood schools), he better not come anywhere near my North Portland kids.

What’s worrisome to me about guys like Matt Wingard, all this literal and figurative child hitting aside, is the distrust of “smart people.”

“I think there is a lack of skilled people in our Party who are willing to step into the arena and challenge the certified smart people and the elected and appointed elites who are running Oregon,” said Wingard.

Is the Republican party declaring war on “certified smart people?” If so, they’ve found their man for House District 26 in Wingard, who has “shown time and again that I am not afraid to stand up to these people.” Why, he even stood up to Eric Sten! (I hate to say we have something in common in having some issues with Sten, but it’s for entirely different reasons.)

One last guffaw was about our mysterious “school district’s funding increases of 20 percent from the state.” I think we’re still waiting to get ours here in Portland.

How it all Began

by Steve, February 10th, 2008

The campaign poster (art by Mark Peters) from my 1983 run for student school board rep. My slogan: “What is this crap?”

In a field of five candidates, I won the majority of the vote and served my senior year as the City High School student representative on the Iowa City Community School District Board of Education. Despite my “radical” message, I was very inactive on the board. As Wacky Mommy says, “I know Toni Myers. And you, my friend, are no Toni Myers.”

(No, I’m not running for school board, calm down… My cousin gave this to Wacky Mommy last summer, and she said I should post it for kicks.)

Happy Anniversary… To Me!

by Steve, February 8th, 2008

I started this blog two years ago, and since then, it’s been through a few changes. I used to actually write about hockey and war. (Remember those wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Didn’t they used to be an issue for the election?)

Long about a year ago, I jumped into the Portland public school policy fray with both feet, and it’s been all downhill for hockey fans and war resisters ever since.

So on the eve of the actual two-year anniversary of this blog (February 1), I launched PPS Equity, a Web site dedicated to equity for all students in Portland Public Schools.

You may have noticed (my lovely wife did, anyway) that I haven’t posted here since launching PPS Equity. I’ve been pretty busy over there, getting the new site established, but I hope to get back to regular posting here, with a renewed focus on issues of peace, national and local politics, and, of course… hockey!

The Winter Hawks take on the Tri-City Americans tonight on pink ice at the old Memorial Coliseum, in a benefit for cancer research. I’ll be there.