Portland’s “arts tax” smells fishy

by Steve, October 22nd, 2012

electionOn the ballot in Portland is measure 26-146, which supporters say would “restore arts education to Portland schools.” Hey, great idea (and full disclaimer, I don’t vote in Portland, but I’d probably vote for it if I did), but there are some significant questions to consider with this $35 head tax.

  • Why can’t Portland schools fund universal access to K-12 music education like Beaverton schools do (with the exact same funding per student from the state), and why should the city bail PPS out (again)?
  • Why does only a little over half of the money go to schools with the rest going to RACC’s friends?
  • Why a regressive (and possibly illegal) head tax to the city instead of an operating levy to the district?
  • Why does it spread equal resources to rich and poor schools instead of focusing on the schools that need it the most?

The answer to the first question is tightly linked to the last question. Portland Public Schools has for years shifted funding out of its poorest neighborhoods to its wealthiest neighborhoods. The result is wealthy, white students have largely maintained arts education while non-white, poverty-affected student have lost it. This is the direct result of attendance policies implemented over the years by the school board. They should be held to account for it.

The PPS school board should be ashamed that this flawed measure is even on the ballot. It shows their total lack of ability to run their district in an efficient and fair manner. Yes, the state does not provide enough funding, and that should be dealt with. But this is not the way to do it.

The MHLW 2012 Oregon Voters’ Guide

by Steve, October 22nd, 2012

election08Having trouble getting excited about the 2012 election in reliably blue Oregon? Worried that your presidential vote doesn’t count because of our archaic 18th century electoral college designed (in part) to give more power to slave states? Fear not! Here at Chez Wacky, we got our ballots in the mail over the weekend and dutifully filled in the dots for the establishment characters best suited to pretend to represent us! Nancy made her statement by voting on a copy of the International Socialist Review. I think I used a copy of Nat Geo Kids or the Smithsonian or something patriotic like that.

President

Who knew Rocky Anderson was running? Not me! The prog former two-term mayor of Salt Lake City (yes, that Salt Lake City) was on our ballot for the Progressive Party (who?), as was Jill Stein for the Greens. I’ve been registered Green for ages, and I’m sure Stein is cool and all, and I know Oregon prez votes don’t count because there’s a 99.9% chance all the electoral votes are going to Obama and it really only matters how they vote in Ohio and Florida and Iowa and Wisconsin and Colorado and North Carolina and Obama is a killing machine with his drones and kill lists but fuggit, I voted for the incumbent.

Congress

Earl “The Pearl” Blumenauer is up for the rubber stamp in Portland’s third district, and Suzanne Bonamici is up in the first. Both seem like shoe-ins, but why take chances on more GOP votes in the House? Yeah, I voted Dem.

Secretary of State

Brown. I once had lunch with incumbent Kate Brown at the City Club when uncle Ted was giving a state of the state address. She was running her first campaign for SoS, and I wasn’t impressed with her grasp of the issues. She’s shown herself to be a true Blue Dem, making some questionable decisions to favor Dems. She also pissed off a pot activist, fining him $65K for signature gathering violations. The activist, Robert Wolfe, is now running against her (Progressive Party), to the delight of GOP challenger Knute Buehler. The Greens are running Seth Wooley. So the familiar Hobson’s choice is presented to Oregon progs: a vote for the prog candidate is a vote for the GOP challenger. My nose is already sore from holding it, so I voted for Brown.

State Treasurer

Ted Wheeler, of course. I’d write him in for Governor if that race were up this year.

Attorney General

Ellen Rosenblum.

State House/Senate

Ah, fuck it. Just vote Dem, and here’s why. Oregon Democrats have systematically refused to fix our completely broken state revenue system for decades now. As it stands, we have an evenly split House, which gives them an excuse to do nothing. Break that tie, and maybe — just maybe — they can be pressured to do something. (Yeah, right!) Worth a try anyway, and certainly better than the alternative.

Labor Commissioner

Avakian.

Supreme Court Position 3

Baldwin. (Labor endorsements)

Court of Appeals Position 6

Volpert. (Labor endorsements)

Measure 77 (Emergency powers for governor)

Yes.

Measure 78 (Constitutional house keeping)

Yes.

Measure 79 (Constitutional amendment prohibiting real estate transfer tax)

No. Real estate brokers really don’t want to pay a hypothetical transfer tax (none is currently in place or proposed), so they’re going over board to prevent one from ever being put in place. This kind of tax would actually make sense, so this ill-advised measure gets an emphatic NO vote from me.

Measure 80 (Legalize and regulate marijuana)

Yes. Prohibition is ineffective and outrageously costly in terms of money and lives. War on drugs was lost before it began. Legalize it and regulate it.

Measure 81 (Gillnet ban)

No. Original supporters of this measure have pulled their support in favor of a negotiated settlement with commercial fishermen.

Measures 82 & 83 (private casinos)

No. These are DOA anyway. Supporters have pulled campaign funding.

Measure 84 (kills estate tax on millionaires and allows tax-free transfers of wealth)

No. Bad idea to reduce a progressive tax and further choke state revenue stream.

Measure 85 (give corporate “kicker” to schools)

Yes. One small piece of revenue reform that is long overdue.

(By the way, here’s the official guide, if that’s what you were looking for.)

The word is still “punch”

by Steve, October 14th, 2012

I accept whatever anyone calls it: a hit, knock, rap, bop, tag, or another word… –Jefferson Smith, Friday, Oct. 12

The word is punch. As in, “I punched a woman in the face and sent her to the hospital for stitches.” Not “It was the worst night of my life and oh I wish that woman hadn’t become injured.” Also, is it a sign of emotional maturation that you’ve gone from punching women in the face to punching guys in the nuts?

The word is “punch”

by Steve, October 9th, 2012

Jefferson Smith explains how his fist somehow became victimized by a drunk woman’s head. (Smith’s words on a photo by TedXConcordiaUPortland, used under a Creative Commons license)

Since Willamette Week broke the story of Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith’s assault charge for punching a woman in the face and sending her to the hospital for five or six stitches, Smith has come up with all kinds of passive-voice ways of not quite taking responsibility for his actions. She wouldn’t stop hitting him! See, he’s the victim, even though she’s the one who ended up with a bloody head wound and he’s the one who ended up with an assault charge.

It’s pretty safe to say his campaign is circling the drain now, with this latest bit added to previous reports of Smith being a general vehicular menace and traffic scofflaw and getting kicked out of recreational sports leagues for such trifling issues as punching opponents in the nuts. But the most troubling thing in all of this is how quickly Smith’s supporters are to rally to his defense, the well-being of his victim be damned. Never mind that he re-traumatized her showing up at her door last week (not once, but twice), leaving a creepy, intimidating letter. It’s all in the past, and we should forgive him! Or so say the chorus of his “progressive” supporters, who insist any opposition to the great white hope must be from the right.

Chief among his defenders are the clowns at the Blue Oregon Home for Wannabes and Also-Rans. Professional comedy writer Bill McDonald (did we mention he’s a comedy writer? and gets paid for it?) summed it up thusly in the very place where many of Smith’s supporters rarely get challenged in their passionate credulity: “What I’m saying is that we are in denial here – avoiding an obvious, glaring problem: Jefferson Boo Boo is a mess. A high IQ dunce.” Indeed, this is plain to see to anybody not on his campaign’s payroll and/or angling for a plum job in his administration (or at least some over-priced consulting work).


Photo from Kari Chisolm
used under Creative Commons license

BO editor Kari Chisolm kicks it off with this gem: “I’ve known Jefferson Smith for 12 years…. I’ve never known Jefferson to lose his cool or act in a violent or threatening manner.” Never mind that this is contradicted by a public record of acting violent and threatening going back almost two decades.

Jesse Cornett, the guy who single-handedly destroyed Portland’s public financing of elections by running a singularly lousy campaign on the public dime, can’t think of anything clever to say, so he just calls McDonald a “fcking a*hole.”

Mark Bunster, erstwhile BO competitor (with a blog nobody remembers), pigeonholes McDonald with the biggest insult he can think of: “See what happens when you let bojack people out into the light?” Evidently, Bunster’s still butt-sore from being fully pwned by Portland’s cranky megalomaniac blogger-in-chief.

Then comes Carla Axtman who is (or was) on Jefferson’s campaign payroll, but doesn’t see fit to disclose it. (Since BO basically comes down to bottom-feeder Democratic political operatives arguing among themselves on behalf of their respective employers anyway, this should surprise no one.) Carla apparently fancies herself a “writer” and lets loose with some florid prose in defense of her man. “Rarely do we get to see this sort of unintelligible BS blend so spectacularly with pontificatory jackassery.” Now this is funny, because, uh, Pot, meet Kettle, and also, I can just imagine her polishing that turd for half an hour or more before depositing it on BO.

On Twitter, Jefferson’s campaign staff took umbrage when OPB radio host Dave Miller questioned Smith. “Dave Miller: How are you diff. from when you were 20?” To which the Irony Department replied, “Yeah, Dave, when did you stop punching women in the face?”

Which is what this all comes down to. Smith’s supporters are all over Twitter and blogs defending him, saying how much he’s changed since then. Here’s somebody who punched a woman in the face 19 years ago, but can’t quite admit it, and who continues to lose his shit and punch people, and who can’t understand that approaching his victim will likely be perceived as an act of aggression. And we’re supposed to believe, against all evidence to the contrary, that 39-year-old Jefferson Smith is a totally different person than 20-year-old Jefferson Smith.

Echoes of child rapist Neil Goldschmidt’s story are abundantly clear in all of this, as sycophantic supporters, with complete disregard for the physical and emotional safety of his victim, close ranks around a volatile candidate who has obvious untreated “issues.” All in the name of how “progressive” Smith is.

(I’m not sure when women’s rights were dropped off the prog agenda, and, yeah, I know, Charlie Hales used to be a Republican. Worse than that, he’s totally in the pocket of Homer Williams and the Portland gentrification mafia — just like Sam Adams, Vera Katz, et al. Don’t delude yourself into thinking those fuckers wouldn’t get to Smith in a New York minute if he got elected, but that’s another story.)

Anyway, you might expect your elderly male relatives to not get this basic concept: It’s never okay to hit a woman. Period. Debating this with Portland “liberals” and “progressives” would be precious if it weren’t for the fact that some of us are tired of telling our daughters It’s a man’s world; get used to it.

There are real victims in this story. And Jefferson Smith isn’t one of them.

[Disclaimer: I don't live in Portland proper anymore, so I don't have to hold my nose in this election, even if I'll be holding it after...]

In case you were wondering

by Steve, October 9th, 2012

This is what a mens’ room at a Justin Bieber concert looks like:

Thin-skinned journalists who schmooze with the powers-that-be

by Steve, October 2nd, 2012

The Oregonian clings to the outdated 20th century charade of objectivity, even while nagging their reporters to get with social media, and even while editors and reporters continue to socialize with the people they’re supposed to be covering. (The pretense of “objectivity” is, in the end, just another way of comforting the comfortable.)

It’s well known that former editor Sandra Rowe and late editorial page editor Bob Caldwell partied with child rapist Neil Goldschmidt. Then there was golden boy reporter Tom Hallman taking gifts from Andy Wiederhorn, the subject of a Hallman puff piece who later plead guilty to federal tax charges.

Now, with twitter, the schmooze fest between reporters and the powers-that-be is occasionally revealed in all its quaint naiveté, as when self-absorbed columnist-cum-beat reporter Anna Griffin glibly invited the mayor’s deputy chief of staff over for brunch.

The thin-skinned part comes when she’s called out on this…

…and then blocks the twitter user calling her out.

Of course, anybody can continue to see (and laugh at) her tweets (variously begging for story ideas, telling scatological stories on her child or just creating found poetry), which, as has been pointed out, don’t necessarily fit with Bhatia’s pleas to use social media to drive traffic to the O’s comically horrid Web site.

And, as one reader notes, “All her stories make me go WTF….” Just another “Digital Day” in the life of a soon-to-be unemployed hack writer.