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Sunday, May 15, 2005
Since the November elections came and went, Welcome to Blog has hardly been living up to its tagline. While posts on "Portland" and "pop culture" make up 95% of the content on this blog, "politics" have been all but completely absent. In a weak attempt to make up for lost time, here are my worthless thoughts on the regional affairs that have clogged the Oregonian's Metro section lately.
The Meth Epidemic: The last time I had a cold I spent five minutes waiting for an annoyed Safeway clerk to fight with the door on a display case filled with Sudafed. Apparently, this relatively new Oregon law is keeping pseudoephedrine out of the hands of meth cookers and has supposedly helped curb the state's epidemic. That's all fine and dandy but isn't a matter of time until they discover this?
The Burnside Bridgehead development: While everyone's busy quibbling over Beam vs. Opus, they've forgotten the core issue here: both parties want to break ground on what will inevitably wind up as an obnoxious extension of the Pearl District. Beam's original proposal includes 430 live-work spaces for artists. Since when have artists been able to afford new housing in the middle of a thriving city center? Does Portland even have 430 artists that can swing a 6-figure loft or the rent on one? Didn't think so. Even if housing costs are kept down, won't skyrocketing real estate values immediately drive them back into Portland's not-yet-gentrified nooks and cranies? If everyone involved is truly interested in sticking something into those five blocks that will serve as a gateway to the Eastside, how about a park instead? Better yet, an indoor water park. With slides, a fake beach and a wave machine. Doesn't that sound much more interesting than yet another collection of martini bars, bland galleries and crash-pads for overpaid divorcees?
Clean Money/campaign finance reform/Voter-Owned Elections Proposal: Remember early 2004 when GW was laying out a proposal to return to the moon and head for Mars? And how everyone complained that it was a terrible idea in light of the on-going conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the economy, etc? And how Bush almost immediately backed away from the idea and hasn't mentioned it since? Given all the probs with the school budget and local pools being shut down, shouldn't City Council take a tip from the Commander in Chief on this one? Yes, yes they should.
PGE: The city of Portland runs the local water company. I just got hit with $111 water bill. This breaks down to $37 a month. I live by myself, take a shower a day, don't water the lawn and wash my dishes by hand. There are no leaks in my plumbing and, as far as I know, CHUDs aren't taping into my pipes. Why am I left with the sneaking suspicion that a publicly-owned electric company will inevitably lead to higher rates for customers? Texas Pacific may not have been the ones to land the deal but that doesn't mean PGE shouldn't wind up in the hands of private-ownership.
The South Waterfront development: I don't really care if these new condo towers will block the views of West Hills homeowners. All I want to know is how the development's new residents will be able to afford them. Isn't this city still trying to claw its way out of an on-going recession? Where are all of these future condo-dwellers working? There can't be that many 6-figure incomes in this town.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force: Good riddance.
Fire Station 1: Maybe I missed a key detail but where's the money coming from to pay for this thing? If the city actually builds a combination firehouse/museum/learning center, I don't want to read about another school or pool closing. If Portland has cash for fire museums, it's got cash for the kids.