by Steve, March 31st, 2008

Some time over the last few days, the software that runs this blog, or the database on the back end, decided to mess with me. All of my WordPress “Pages” were converted to “Posts,” which is why the links above to “About,” “FAQ,” and “Links” don’t work.

In real life, I’m employed as a software engineer. I fix buggy software daily. But I’ve been on a short vacation, and couldn’t be bothered to turn it into a busman’s holiday.

I’ll fix it one of these days. Meanwhile, if any readers are WordPress hackers and have seen this happen, I’d be happy to know how to fix it without having to restore from a backup (which is what I’ll be doing as a last resort).

Credit Where Credit is Due

by Steve, March 25th, 2008

New York City bar keep Jim Goldsmith has finished his second season as owner of the Winter Hawks with his operation under scrutiny from the Western Hockey League. Commissioner Ron Robison has ordered Goldsmith to step down as director of hockey operations and renegotiate his lease with the Trailblazers. There’s been a fair amount of posturing in the press, including Goldsmith complaining about the lease, saying “…do we have to just feed the pig?”

Not a good way to start the renegotiation talks, and the Blazers have been predictably cool to this kind of bombast. Their response? “…[T]hey need to get their fan base back.”

Scared shitless that we might lose our franchise in Portland, I wrote an e-mail to City Commissioner Randy Leonard, who last fall intervened on behalf of the Hawks to get their replay screens installed in the Coliseum. Here’s part of what I wrote:

The Trailblazers do not seem interested in renegotiating the lease, which they say currently brings them revenue equivalent to one concert from the entire season’s games.

My question to you is whether the city can do anything to prevail on the Trailblazers to renegotiate, or if this is entirely up to the Trailblazers’ management. Since the city owns the venue, it seems to me we should have some say in this.

While the Winter Hawks clearly aren’t a big money maker for the city or the Trailblazers, the value of this team to the community transcends the direct revenue they bring. As you know, Portland has a rich hockey tradition, going back to the Portland Rosebuds, the first US-based team to play for the Stanley Cup in 1916.

It would be a real shame if Portland lost the Winter Hawks because they are nothing but chump change to Paul Allen. Our only hope may be if the City of Portland were to step in at this point.

Is there any chance of that happening?

Thanks for you consideration.

Randy got right back to me, and confirmed my suspicions that the Winter Hawks owner’s style was hurting his own chances of renegotiating:

I do not believe the issue of re-negotiating a lease with the Trailblazers is exclusively because of the Trailblazers conduct. I have been party to some of the negotiations between the Blazers and the Winterhawks and I was not convinced, after that meeting, that the Blazers were to blame for the deteriorating relationship.

I will continue to do what I can to help improve the venue for the Winterhawks.

So there you have it, hockey fans. If you’re trying to get one of the world’s richest men to renegotiate your lease, it’s probably best to not start things off by calling him a pig.

Just sayin’.

Update, 4/8/2008: Randy’s got a lot more to say today.

Winter Hawks Go Out in Style

by Steve, March 25th, 2008

I caught the final Winter Hawks game last Sunday, and it was a doozy. The Hawks won on an unbelievable behind-the-back move by Matt Schmermund in the shootout.

This was almost enough to make me forget, for just a moment, that the Hawks were finishing one of the worst seasons in the history of the WHL, and that the threat of relocating the franchise is hanging like a pall over Hawkey Town.

Bombastic principal owner Jim Goldsmith bluffs that he’s looking at rinks within 60 miles for potential relocation if he can’t renegotiate his lease. (Of course, anybody that knows anything about hockey in the region knows there is nothing within 60 miles.)

So Goldsmith, under orders from the league to renegotiate, appears to be playing a game of high-stakes chicken with the Trailblazers, the lessor.

The best hope for the Winter Hawks would be a new owner group, one that knows hockey, knows the region, and knows how to negotiate. Short of that, Goldsmith’s best hope might be if the city, which owns the Memorial Coliseum, steps in to twist the Trailblazers’ arm to enter into lease renegotiation talks.

If neither of these two things happen, I’m afraid Schmermund’s move last Sunday may end up being our last look at Canadian major junior hockey in a city with a rich hockey history.

That would really suck.

Happy Easter

by Steve, March 23rd, 2008

Oregon SunsetHappy Easter, a holiday when Christians celebrate the resurrection of their Jewish savior by eating pork products and engaging in Pagan fertility symbology. I’m not Christian or Pagan, and I don’t eat meat, but I’ve got nothing against chocolate and fertility rites. So I had a great time celebrating the weekend with my lovely family at the beautiful Oregon coast.

Jefferson, Grant Take Top Hoops Honors

by Steve, March 16th, 2008

Inspired by the Jefferson women’s 5A hoops title, the Jefferson men brought home the men’s title last night, defeating Corvallis 55-52.

As soon as the mayhem on McArthur Court was cleared, the Grant Generals took to the court and held off a tough Oregon City team for the 6A title, Grant’s first state title in 20 years.

Jefferson, who finished the season 25-1, lost their only game of the season to 6A Oregon City, and beat Grant in their sole match-up this season. Jefferson players were among the fans that stormed the court after Grant’s victory.

Portland Peace Rally Tomorrow

by Steve, March 14th, 2008

Peace Rally flierStop the War, Bring the Troops Home Now!
This Saturday, join PDX Peace in the South Park Blocks for World Without War: a day of resistance and hope.
Where: South Park Blocks (SW Park and Madison)
When: Saturday, March 15, 2008
10:00-6:00 Action Camp featuring workshops, exhibits, performances, music, food and more!
2:00 Rally and March

More information

Navy Offers All-Expense Paid Trips to PPS Educators

by Steve, March 12th, 2008

With two wars raging and an all-volunteer military, the armed forces have to be pretty crafty to meet their recruitment goals. Inner-city high schools are a favorite place for them to target youth who might not have much in the way of opportunity, and Portland is no exception.

But here’s something I’ve never heard of before: The Navy is offering all-expense paid trips to San Diego for PPS educators.

Here’s the text of an e-mail that went out recently.

Dear Educator,

As the Education Services Specialist for Navy Recruiting District, Portland I would like to invite you to our upcoming Educator Orientation Visit to Naval Station San Diego, Naval Amphibious Base Coronado and Naval Air Station North Island, in Sand Diego, California this April 14-18th. As space is limited, please contact me via email or phone as
soon as possible.

The purpose of the tour is to familiarize educators and community leaders with the education, training, and occupational opportunities that are available to young men and women in today’s Navy.

While at the bases you will have an opportunity to view many young men and women who have taken advantage of the training and job opportunities only the Navy can provide. You will visit naval vessels and aircraft and receive first hand knowledge of the outstanding training that our sailors provide and receive. The Naval Station is homeport for approximately 60 ships and the workplace for 48,000 military and civilian personnel. During the tour, you will have the opportunity to observe training and interact with the officer and enlisted personnel in the work environment. Attached is a proposed itinerary.

As a guest of Navy Recruiting, the Navy will pay all transportation costs from Portland to San Diego. Lodging and meal expenses will be reimbursed by the Navy as well. Tour size is limited to 15 educators. Please contact me as soon as possible and we can go over the details.

I hope you will be able to join us in San Diego. I am confident the trip will be both educational and enjoyable. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact me at 503 xxx-xxxx.

Warmest Regards,
[name withheld], M.Ed.
Education Services Specialist
NRD Portland

Why I Support Amanda Fritz for City Council

by Steve, March 11th, 2008

The Portland City Council is in for a big shake-up this year, with the mayor’s seat and two council seats open. Randy Leonard is up for re-election in a third council seat. Only Dan Saltzman’s seat is uncontested.

A crowded field is contending for council seat #1, including Ethos founder and duck boat entrepreneur Charles Lewis and streetcar enthusiast Chris Smith.

We’ve also got John Branam, Development Director for Portland Public Schools; Jeff Bissonnette, of the Citizen’s Utility Board of Oregon; and Mike Fahey, about whom I know nothing (and who does not appear to have a campaign Web site).

But my vote, and the support of this blog, is going to community organizer Amanda Fritz. I like Amanda for a lot of reasons.

  • She’s smart, and has unusual attention to policy detail.
  • She has advocated tirelessly for transparency and accountability in City Hall.
  • She has real skin in the game at Portland Public Schools, and has been willing to speak out to the city council about the shameful inequities in our public schools.
  • She has demonstrated a long-term commitment to civic involvement, well before her last council run.
  • She is not flashy or slick. She is very down-to-earth and real. What you see is what you get.
  • She believes city policy should be focused on the neighborhoods where people live, not on “megabuck shiny projects”. “Let’s pay for the things we need, before we start shopping for things that might be nice but aren’t essential,” writes Amanda on her campaign Web site.

That last point really seals it for me. Portland politics is polarized between two extremes, neither of which serves regular working families.

On the one hand is a powerful, west-side elite that favors high-end condo and business development in our central city core, and all kinds of public subsidies to support it. This gang of land-grabbers supping at the public trough is aided and abetted by a passionately credulous cadre of “new urbanists,” starry eyed idealists who think Portland deserves a place with Vancouver, B.C. as a model city, complete with shiny streetcars looping the inner core, an aerial tram (to nowhere in particular), and more condo stock than we could realistically sell in the next ten years — yet they keep building more. It’s all “green” and “sustainable,” of course.

On the other hand, you’ve got rabid anti-transit libertarians who think everybody in city and county government are communists.

Through the yawning hole between these poles walks Amanda Fritz, talking about focusing the city’s policy on public safety, streets and sidewalks, affordable housing, and parks and community centers in the 95 neighborhoods where real people actually live.

Of the other candidates in the race, Smith and Lewis appear to be the serious contenders.

While I am in favor of mass transit, Smith’s focus on the streetcar seems almost all-consuming (I know he touts his background as a “Citizen Activist,” but his streetcar work is his most visible). This expensive “megabuck shiny project” doesn’t actually solve any real transit problem for the masses (one of its five main goals is to encourage downtown condo development), and costs the city over a million dollars a year to operate. While the city throws good money after bad operating the streetcar to lure high-end buyers to new condo neighborhoods, established neighborhoods go without transportation basics like sidewalks and paved streets.

Lewis seems to be all flash, spending public election money on political theatre filling potholes. He has no serious background in public policy.

In short, Amanda Fritz is the most well-rounded, community-centered candidate running for Council Seat #1. I hope you’ll join me in supporting her campaign and giving her your vote on May 20.

Note: Over on PPS Equity, I’m running more extensive coverage of the city council and mayoral races, including candidate responses to a questionnaire about public schools issues.

Update: If you want an Amanda Fritz yard sign, her campaign will be distributing them this weekend. Call 503-235-2295 or e-mail Robert to request one.

Spring Flowers

by Steve, March 10th, 2008

A few flowers from our front yard last month:

Jefferson Women #1 in Oregon 5A Hoops

by Steve, March 9th, 2008

Victory! The undefeated Lady Demos pulled off a heart-stopping come-from-behind victory over a tenacious Hermiston Bulldogs squad last night at the Chiles Center in Portland to earn the Oregon 5A women’s basketball championship.

Jefferson struggled against a strong Hermiston defense that kept them to the outside in the first half, and trailed the Bulldogs until Janita Badon’s third period buzzer shot put the Lady Demos up by one. The Hermiston defense looked tired in the fourth, and the Jefferson offense began to click. With two minutes to go the Demos started to hold the ball to protect their small lead. Hermiston forced fouls, but Jefferson held on, sunk free throws and grabbed offensive rebounds, eventually winning 67-58.

Jefferson was led by senior Nyesha Sims, 16 points; sophomore Denaya Brazzle, 15 points; and sophomore Denise Hammick with 10 points and stellar defense.

It was an emotional finish to a perfect season. Though significantly outnumbered in their own back yard by Hermiston fans, the Jefferson family put on a show of support that spilled onto the court at the final horn.

Oh, and the Winter Hawks won last night, too, after a 22-game losing streak.