Where the main dish is tsuris

Is there anywhere in the world these days where the news isn't bad? It seems like we're all on a downward trajectory. 

Yesterday the O had a sad little story up about Portland City Hall's utterly botched attempt to re-site the food cart operators displaced by the hideous Ritz-Carlton boondoggle under construction downtown. To make the story even sadder, after a short while the O people changed it from free to behind-the-paywall. Oh, well. I did read enough to get the gist of it before they blocked it.

The tale began a little less than a year ago, as I recall. The city gave the food carts a new location, on Burnside Street at the very south end of the North Park Blocks. The bureaucrats cleaned a bunch of graffiti off the long-abandoned public bathrooms there, picked the garbage up off the ground, and took down the chain link fence that had the block sealed off. They added some Biketown rent-a-bike stands along Burnside, essentially putting a bird on the whole deal. When the scene was ready to go, the politicians came and gave speeches. I think Commissioner Mingus A-Um Mapps pronounced it the dawn of a new era for Portland. Uh huh.

Then the politicians left, and in no time flat the food carts were experiencing all the heartache that comes with that extremely sketchy location. Constant break-ins and vandalism, regular visits from screamers and other weirdos, and not much foot traffic involving people with money in their pockets who want to hang around and eat.

Some of the operators have moved or gone out of business. Then recently one of the food workers was sexually assaulted inside their cart, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

Now, of course, the O never calls out the city for being just plain stupid, and so in this case they offer lots of other reasons this goofball experiment didn't work out. The pandemic, of course – that will be the all-purpose excuse for another decade at least. But this time, they even throw in the weather. Yes, if only the weather were better, everyone would be more than happy to deal with the lovely, vibrant scene in the North Park Blocks.

They had some quotes from the cops, which were kind of amusing. The world's most ineffective police bureau didn't have much insight to offer the victims. I guess better lights and cameras may be coming, supposedly, but hey, by the time there's enough security there, there may be no pod. 

The sad fact is that in a lawless city, that's a particularly marginal location. At least the cops have reportedly locked up the alleged would-be rapist for a while. 

I feel sorry for the food cart people. First they were screwed by the über-rich Ritz-Carlton types, fat with government welfare from the Mitch McConnell tax code. Now they're being screwed by free-roaming mentally ill people who can't help themselves, and wiseguy junkies living in tents on the sidewalk. It seems like there's no place in the world for people in the middle any more. Particularly not around here.


  1. The city is flush with COVID cash from the feds and the state. Plus, we've got the city's own 10-cents-a-gallon gas tax, but still the city still doesn't have enough money to do basic maintenance on key infrastructure.

    Gotta love this ... "For years, the city’s parks bureau claimed it did not have the money for capital improvements or enhanced maintenance or security in the plaza. The rundown public restrooms in the square shuttered. Surrounding streetlights stopped working and were never fixed. Chain link went up around the plaza to keep people out."

    Then, later on ... "After months, the city finally replaced or fixed a number of burned out and broken streetlights around the square."


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