In other news

If you're like me, your attention gets sucked in by elections. So much so that other news, which might have caught your eye in any other season, gets lost amid the lawn signs and election porn. 

I have a legal pad on which I keep a list of stories that I intend to blog about. I never get to them all, but lately the untouched topics have really been piling up. As we sit around waiting to see who wins the bobblehead beauty contests of the season, here are a few items of interest that have gotten lost in the shuffle. 

* * * * *

You can debate whether Portland's "homelessness" problem calls first and foremost for (a) emergency shelter and treatment for drug addiction and mental illness, or (b) speedy construction of more cheap apartments to address the supposed housing shortage. But rarely do we hear much about how the housing part of the equation is supposed to work, exactly. 

The city auditor's office recently took a look at one aspect of the existing low-income housing system, and the auditor's report, issued last week, doesn't have anyone clicking their heels about how well the racket is going. The full report is here; the executive summary included these observations:

With the launch of the Inclusionary Housing Program in 2017, the City began requiring developers to make some apartments and condominiums in new residential buildings affordable to moderate-income households. As of April 2023, 566 Inclusionary Housing apartments in 78 buildings had been built with 1,157 more anticipated. Auditors’ analysis showed the majority of those units are available to people earning 60% or less of the area’s Median Family Income. While this has created affordable units, the Program does not serve those facing the greatest disparities as the Program outlined in its initial goals. Auditors found those original Program goals were not specific or realistic and did not accurately convey the purpose and limitations of the Program. That could confuse the public about who qualifies for the Program and what it can accomplish.

Owners and managers of buildings with Inclusionary Housing units are responsible for functions that help the Program work as intended, including marketing the affordable units, and determining that applicants are eligible. Auditors found that most owners and managers they spoke with did not have experience leasing affordable housing, and many said they had not gotten enough education and assistance from the Portland Housing Bureau about the requirements they are expected to follow. High turnover in building management also means that information about the Program does not always get to the managers who need it, making it harder for them to follow the rules.

Some managers struggled to market Inclusionary Housing units, resulting in vacancies. For example, auditors found that 23% of the 52 three-bedroom apartments constructed through the Program as of April 2023 were vacant for more than a year after their buildings opened. Other managers rented units above the affordable rate, while some others rented units without screening applicants for income eligibility. However, the Bureau cannot effectively detect and consistently address compliance problems because it was two years behind in its review and testing of compliance data reported by property managers.

If I'm reading this right, they've built less than 100 units a year, no one knows if they're being rented to eligible people or at the required low rents, and some of the apartments aren't being rented to anyone at all. It doesn't bode well for the taxpayers as they dole out money and let the developers break all the previous rules in the name of "housing first." 

* * * * *

The Multnomah County chair, Chevy Vega, and the interim commissioner, Jesse "Moonlight" Beason, are parading around on county time extolling the virtues of "Basic Income for All." They even showed a movie about it last week in southeast Portland, and invited us all to come and be bathed in the propaganda.

The last time I heard of this idea in Portland, it was being planned by an outfit called "Brown Hope," but just when the program was supposed to start, there was some sort of trouble with that group's leader, Cameron Whitten, and the money didn't get handed out. That said, as far as one can tell from the internet, the organization, which has more than a slight cult vibe, is still operating and raising money, despite whatever the trouble was.

Anyway, when people like Vega and Beason (the hand-picked successor to Sister Sushi Jayapal) start talking about money, they're talking about taxpayers' money. Given that I would not trust either of them to take a bag of cans back to the Bottle Drop for me, I can't imagine a worse pair of ambassadors for "Basic Income for All." If it's anything like "Preschool for All," that'd be a big, big no-thank-you.

* * * * *

Some insane person is throwing full cans of food off a high-floor balcony in an apartment bunker, Ladd Tower, near Higgins Restaurant downtown. So far, no one's been hit, but cars have been, and it's just a matter of time before a person is seriously injured. The cops don't seem to be doing much about it, but I hope that's just a cover and they're on it.

There goes one more cray-cray person making downtown a no-go. Seriously, if you're down that way – say, for an event at the Schnitz or the Historical Society – you might want to be even more wary than usual.

* * * * *

In a related story, the bums are tossing so much garbage into the Willamette River that it's about to become just the third river in the country to be specially regulated because of its trash content. Remember when Dud Wheeler would jump in and tell us the water's fine? He tells us a lot of things. Lately he says we've got "momentum" toward a recovery. If we don't get killed by a can of Hunt's Whole Peeled Tomatoes.

I used to jump in the mighty Willamette to cool off once in a while down by Mary Rogers State Park in Lake O. But honestly? It was a dumb idea then, and even dumber now.

* * * * *

Poor Chris "Streetcar" Smith. This is the fellow who had a few minutes of fame 15 to 20 years ago as an advocate for any kind of transportation other than driving a car. He couldn't get elected to the Portland City Council, he couldn't get elected to the Metro board, and now he's part of a group suing to stop the freeway widening at the Rose Quarter. 

"We're looking to demonstrate that the Rose Quarter freeway expansion is not compatible with Portland's comprehensive plan," said Chris Smith with No More Freeways PDX, one of five groups suing ODOT over the expansion plan.

Smith is referring to the project that calls for a cap over the freeway, restoring the historic Black Albina neighborhood and adding an auxiliary lane in both directions.

He's OK with all that, but Smith added, "It does not in any way indicate that ODOT was going to double the width of the freeway, which is what they're doing, going about 80 feet today to 160 feet."

He means well, I'm sure. But what a life.

* * * * * 

I've been complaining for a while about how bricks-and-mortar community colleges have become money pits. For example, while enrollments have declined, the voters have handed the Portland CC huge checks to go build fancy new facilities for the dwindling student body. It makes no sense.

Lately, the enrollments have reportedly rebounded somewhat, but maybe that's because all of a sudden a lot of high school students are taking the classes. When they start taxing you for the public schools, they get you coming and going. In Portland, to get around property tax limitations, we pay the "children's levy" on top of everything else. Now the community college taxes are going for public high school education, too. It ain't right.

* * * * *

Breaking news: If you're both drug-addicted and mentally ill, life ain't so sweet. This week we learn from experts at OHSU and Portland State "that people living with co-occurring disorder (COD) experience a complex and uneven treatment landscape in Oregon."

"Complex and uneven treatment landscape"? Ha! Ha! Spoken like true bureaucrats. Let's face it, it's been 40 years since the unholy alliance of Reagan and the mental health "advocates" shut down most of the mental hospitals and basically sent the COD types out into the cold. Now we need to spend billions on facilities and personnel, and resume telling people what they can and can't do in public. Will that ever happen on the Oregon "landscape"? Maybe your kids will see it.

* * * * *

I note that the Republicans put a scare into Oregon voters by pointing out that some mail-in ballots were being detained by the Post Office so that they could be counted and a proper bill for the postage could be sent to the state. Anything that casts doubt on elections works for today's GOP. What a disgrace.

Speaking of whom, why is that DeJoy guy still the Postmaster General? With him in charge, it's no wonder voters get worried. I guess he's played along well enough with the Democrats on Capitol Hill to keep his gig. But if Orange Caligula gets back into power, old DeJoy will doubtlessly be back to his evil ways. 

Oh, well. To end this roundup on a brighter note, Molly Woon is still the elections chief in Salem. 



  1. So many wind mills. So little time.

    1. Wasn’t equating you with Panza. Just the apparent futility of getting beyond the definition of the problem.

  2. Speaking of Bottle Drop, it seems that every single drop-off site was packed to overflowing this weekend. TJ's had to put an out-of-order sign on their's because it was too full.

    1. A lot of times, there's room, but the grocer has to have somebody pull the stacks away from in front of the hatch. The grocers hate the whole thing with a passion, and they don't care when it doesn't work. And the bigger the grocer, the worse their attitude about it. Safeway and Fred Meyer are particularly horrible. Can't blame them – there is nothing in it for them. The beer distributors make the profit. Maybe Lew Frederick and Khanh Pham will fix it. Ha! Ha!

  3. Cheap housing is never going to work when the Fed and big banks keep shoving money into the economy. Prices are out of control and yet most businesses are making less profit as costs soar. But they can't raise prices too fast as people will stop buying. Working people, especially young adults are spending so much of their income on basics they have very little left to add to the local economy. There will be less and less concern about the non-working, non-functional bums as everybody suffers from this huge hidden tax.

  4. Back in the good old days of 1975, a bunch of us floated down the Willamette River on inner tubes from Corvallis to Champoeg Park. Many hours later, when we stepped out of the water, greasy brown residue encircled our bodies from the chemical cocktail river. It was fun though!

    1. You probably got some lovely radiation from Teledyne Wah Chang, too.

    2. An excellent column.

  5. Biden would have to flush out the whole USPS board to get rid of DeJoy (the walking pile of FedEx union busting…sorry…labor arbitrage stock).

    He’s got no appetite for that I’m sure.
    It’s a slow burner, but the pre-funding requirement for the pension passes by a majority democrat congress in ‘06, less than great decisions for vehicle maintenance and procurement, no more sorting mail on the train (nationalize snd electrify the railroads and build few nuclear plants to power stuff safely in limited quantity/ reprocess some nuclear fuel like other countries do?) killing USPS as a defacto public bank all leading to an excuse to privatize it tracks well?

    Sure, military bases/far reaches of empire depend on USPS as do old people that vote (or people like me who ship inexpensively internationally without bureaucratic or as much corporate markup) so they can’t stick a fork in it and carve it up like they did in Canada & UK quite as easy, but I’m sure it’s ‘all part of the plan?’

    Further, Feinstein’s husband Richard Blum was deeply involved in selling off some of the prime real estate in USPS (extensive centrally located in major cities) real estate portfolio…I’m sure the finance & developer weasels donors are all fine with the privatization plan?

    Get the centrally located real estate maintained by the taxpayer thus far for dirt nothing, cut services to expensive places to serve once privatized, fuck with elections?
    Sounds like a bipartisan trifecta to me!

    Democrats can lose or continue to do nothing / sell out, the rest continues apace?

  6. The housing issue the plan so far is to subsidize it & make people wards of the state in these garbage light timber junker bunkers that can’t really be recycled, repurposed or the like that probably won’t last very long with all kinds of problems?

    Charles Marohn of strong towns in book form gets it?


    I have paddled, but basically never swam in the lower Willamette, you crazy? Clackamas, Sandy or Hood or Deschutes of nearby rivers, sure?

    Upper Willamette not so much swim, but boat, sure?

    There’s graffiti on the north lower arch of the Ross Island bridge, which I assume got there from one of those junker bum boats?


Post a Comment

The platform used for this blog is awfully wonky when it comes to comments. It may work for you, it may not. It's a Google thing, and beyond my control. Apologies if you can't get through. You can email me a comment at, and if it's appropriate, I can post it here for you.