Friday, December 24, 2004

Useful consumer information on communications

Consumers Union has released a new telecommunications and media online resource: HearUsNow.org, as per a tip from Kenneth DeGraff, a Consumers Union Policy Advocate, posted at the highly useful Politech website.
The site offers in-depth reading on over 60 consumer related telecom issues. Consumer tips on what to do before you buy, understanding your bills after and making companies listen when you are unhappy (from phone services to copyright rules on digital content). There are also 7 different ways to make a difference in less then 2 minutes (see "Get Heard" on the left bar and click the red link). Hearusnow.org gives consumers the ability to work for change on an individual level and provides hundreds of resources to join efforts already going on across the country.

And there is a fun movie to watch, a spoof on a current TV show, but more importantly puts media consolidation (a somewhat dry topic) in to a nice, easily digestible, package.
BTW, another good consumer telecom site is ABTolls.com which reports on long distance service costs.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Crime in Our Fair Clackamas

Here, the Oregonian reports the most basic of events, crimes against property. It also hosts an Op-Ed on the subject of speed addiction, alleged to be the cause of much of this crime.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Another meta-site for demographics

A while back, I was researching Clackamas and found the name of every city, village, hamlet, post office and wide spot in the road. Now, finding that's easier, thanks to Home Town Locator.

Places from Barlow to ZigZag are listed, with zip code and zip code type, census data links and even longitude and latitude. You can get that kind of index for other places, too, from Home Town Locator's home page.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Update: Jesse Freeby

A while back, Clackablog reported on volunteer hero Jesse Freeby and a community effort to completely remodel his home to accomdate his power chair.

That remodel's just about ready for him, and will be unveiled Monday.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Updated: Freeway speed map

The ODOT Freeway Speed Map is now available (or, you can just use a shorter link, http://tinyurl.com/dud3q. A full-scale version's also available.

I had been hoping for something like this, and have a version for my PalmPhone which works for the Seattle area. Fortunately, the ODOT version does, too, although the Washington equivalent is clearer on my PalmPhone, with wider color stripes. You can also see when comparing desktop versions the version for Pugetopolis offers more detailed speed information.

Also, here's another traffic link, for the PDXinfoNet Traffic Report web page, a plaintext page easily read by cellphone browsers.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

State sends stale meat fraud reply

Late last month, I reported on the Fred Meyer Meat Fraud story. Here, we have a response from a ODA manager which explains why they were clueless:
Mr. Bartley,

Thank you for your questions regarding Fred Meyer Stores and alleged short weight packages of meat.

Question #1: "Why isn't defrauding the public on such a basic commodity as meat worthy of Oregon's resources?"

Any fraud in the State of Oregon is of great concern to everyone - consumers, businesses, and regulatory officials alike. However, in recent years, Oregon's General Fund budget has faced severe shortages and very, very, difficult decisions had to be made by the Agency, the Governor, and the Legislature with the very limited resources that were available. As a result, the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Measurement Standards Division's Packaging and Labeling Program was de-funded and is now capable of only very limited responses to complaints and very cursory transaction verifications. Prior to the budget reductions and considering the dollar volume of packaged products sold in the State of Oregon annually, the program operated at a minimum level and was considered an active deterrent to fraud.

Question #2: "I'd sure like to know what Oregon will do to assure that my family isn't defrauded on meat purchases in the future. I'd like not to have to start taking my own scale to the market with me."

Consumer protection is a very important part of Oregon's mission and that of the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). Furthermore, packaged products, labeling, and method of sale programs are an integral part of any weights and measures agency, including ODA's Measurement Standards Division. There currently is not a fee established for funding of this program. If there is support (i.e., General Fund moneys or fees) from consumers and businesses in the State of Oregon to provide sustained full funding of an effective packaged products, labeling, and method of sale program, then the necessary human resources and equipment can be placed into the field again to help assure correct net contents on packaged items for consumers and fair competition for businesses.

I hope that this is helpful. We appreciate your questions and comments. If you have any further questions that I may be able to assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you, Mr.Bartley.

Best regards,

Clark Cooney.
Field Operations Manager
ODA Measurement Standards Division
503-986-4677 Fax: 503-986-4784 TTY: 503-986-4762

Well, if you want to be protected from fraud by major out-of-state corporations like Kroger, maybe you should ask the governor and these other ODA folks yourself what they will do now. And, if you don't like the answer they give you, let our legislative delegation know you'd rather be protected against meat fraud than pay for Bev Stein's Windmill, ODOT kickbacks, the 32 megabuck Convention Center in Salem (Salem? Oh yeah, great party town for conventions), ODOT SUVs with premium CD players (top of Page 5), not to mention the other bon mots contained therein.

Updated: Oregonian blocks adverts, gets criticized

Here, a media critic notes the Oregonian refuses to permit an on-line selling service to advertise in the Oregonian.

The web presence of the Oregonian itself is very interesting. The site, like those of other Newhouse newspapers and most of their magazines (but not, interestingly enough, WIRED, is so frightfully complex that viewing it with a PDA is well nigh impossible. What content is allowed on line is only indexed for seven days, so if a story isn't linked by then, it's very tedious/spendy to find it.

But, then, freedom of the press is limited to those who own one. (A. J. Liebling)

Update
Conincidentally, Fred On Everything explains why the Oregonian is fighting so hard to hang on to their classifieds. BTW, Fred would qualify as the continental Curmudgeon Laureate if we had one, with views several Astronomical Units beyond what is politically fashionable... but he's often right.

Monday, December 13, 2004

'NoNameCity' legislative delegation opposed to annexation without representation

As we reported earlier, Democrat powerhouse Senator Ginny Burdick opposes democracy, and wants to remove the ability of an unicorporated area to veto its annexation by a more populous city.

Well, letters written to the state legislative delegation serving 'No Name City' (North Clackamas-Jennings Lodge-Oak Lodge/Oak Grove) have borne fruit.

State senator Kurt Schrader opposed the Burdick power grab:
"We agree (with Clackablog: Ed. note). Our office will be introducing a bill to change state law to reflect your concerns and will oppose bills that take away communities' ability to self determination."

State representative Dave Hunt also sided with Schrader:
"Thanks for your note about the proposed annexation bill. I am already working to seriously amend this proposal so it will not adversely affect our community (I live in Jennings Lodge). If we are not successful in amending the bill, I plan to actively fight the bill."

Friday, December 10, 2004

Grant covers all registry cost

The grant to cover the costs of Bone Marrow Registry signup I mentioned Wed. for the Hillsboro FD doc has extended to cover all the costs. This is slated for next Wed. evening; let's all do our part!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Bone Marrow Donor Drive

You may wish to consider this, which first appeared on the Washington County ARES list yesterday. The $40 grant for folks screened next Wednesday could be very helpful for folks who were turned off by the $65 normal fee. See you there!

Dear CERT and ARES Members:

The Hillsboro Fire Department's physician advisor, Dr. Mike Shertz, has cancer; and he is in need of a bone marrow transplant. To assist in that effort, there will be a bone marrow drive at St. Vincent Hospital's Emergency Department on Wednesday, December 15th, 7 p.m. until 10 p.m.

There is a fee to the donor. For this drive, it is $65, which pays for the necessary lab work. However, there is a grant to pay the first $40 per person, so the cost to each donor will be $25.

Although the chances of anyone local being a perfect match for Dr. Shertz are small, participation by other people just like you in similar drives around the county will help to find him a match somewhere.

Please consider joining the bone marrow registry. You can read all about it at the National Marrow Donor Program website. The website contains information about the bone marrow donation program, as well as stories of lives that have been saved.

The website also tells you exactly what you're in for when you show up to the bone marrow drive and if you are later found to be a potential match for someone who needs a transplant. Check it out to see what is involved.

Monday, December 06, 2004

"Complete Communities" Completes Process, Says Nay for Now

The "Complete Communities" process, started after a petition was submitted to the County Commission from some residents of NoNameCity, will soon come to a close. Participants at tonight's Rose Villa meeting looked at the polls and questionnaire and bowed to the will of the people.

The County Commissioners will be told tomorrow that we like things the way they are, and no recommendation for either assimilation or incorporation will be made.

The complete story will follow tomorrow. But, for reference, here's the list of Clackamas County Community Planning Oreganizations, their contact information and their meeting dates. It's cited here as the CPOs for Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge were major participants, as was the North Clackamas CPO.

City of Damascus off to slow start

A Sarah Hunsberger story in today's Oregonian describes how the Lege is keeping Oregon's newest city on a short leash:
State law prohibits the city from borrowing more than $5,000 until next fiscal year, which doesn't start until July. And the city won't collect its first property taxes until November.
The County Administrator also noted tonight that the county might, under some circumstances, be able to help with a loan.

Until solvency occurs, anybody want to chip in and volunteer to build Damascus a web site?

Tonight (Monday) conclusion of 'Complete Communities'

The final results of the forum weeks ago, answers to written questionnaires and the scientific poll asking North Clackamas, Oak Lodge and Jennings Lodge residents if they want to be part of a city, or their own city, will be discussed at the seventh and final Task Force meeting of the Conversation with the Citizens of Oak Grove, Jennings Lodge and North Clackamas County. That is scheduled for tonight, Monday, December 6, 2004, 6:30 – 9 pm, Rose Villa, 13505 SE River Road.

If you have any questions, call Elaine Cogan, Steve Faust or Kirstin Greene at 503-225-0192. For more information or to view meeting materials, visit the project Web site, or see my previous articles on the subject:

Complete Communities talk-talk
Administrator's promise to be overridden?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Administrator's promise to be overridden?

If you were considering that Oak Lodge, North Clackamas and Jennings Lodge had any protection from assimilation by Gladstone, Milwaukie or Happy Valley, think again.

Last week, I reported on the Complete Communities project. At a meeting Monday of last week, Jonathan Mantay, County Administrator, was asked if unincorporated areas don't want to be assimilated into another city through annexation, can they be forced? He replied no.

Well, it now appears, that isn't really true. The Oregonian reports (link below) that the basis for that statement is weak, and is only for the Portland Metro area. State law does permit a city to vote, and for the vote of a larger city to overrride the wishes of the assimilated area.
The proposed bill comes in the wake of voter rejection Nov. 2 of Tigard's attempt to annex the 1,376-acre Bull Mountain area. Although 69 percent of city voters approved the measure, 89 percent of the voters in the unincorporated area turned it down. Tigard officials had planned to count the votes of Tigard and Bull Mountain residents together. But annexation opponents bitterly protested, arguing that votes from Tigard's 44,000 residents would far outweigh those of Bull Mountain's 7,600.

Powerful Democrat state senator Ginny Burdick does not like that protection, and wants to remove the protection against the requirement that the assimilated consent to their annexation.
"It doesn't make sense to have this unincorporated land out there with separate service providers," she said.

So, what we moved here for, the unique distinctiveness and reasonable taxation rates of the UnCity will be assimilated into somebody's tax base, if Burdick has her way.
The legislative process will allow for plenty of public discussion about the changes and the intent of those who drafted the laws, Burdick said.

Riiight. Ever been to the Lege, folks? This will get tacked on to somebody else's bill, a 'hearing' in Salem will be held with folks lined up outside the door (in inverse proportion to their proximity to Salem, as per standing Lege practice, so we get to wait until the Baker City folks have their say), before we get to participate in a token 'discussion' period after the fix is in. Then, give your neighbor a copy of this blog.

Kindly consider the evils of a 'democratic' system of 'Democrats' opposed to democracy, and who will not allow us to make up our own minds about how we wish to live and be governed, or not be governed. BTW, the 73rd Legislative Assembly will convene on January 10, 2005, and the Write Your Legislator web page allows you to auto-generate e-mail without even having to look up who represents you in the Lege.

Library board meeting

The Clackamas County Library Board of Trustees will meet December 14th at 5pm at the Oak Lodge Library, 16201 SE McLoughlin Blvd.

No agenda published yet, but the failure of the library levy has got to be Topic Number One. Here's just one implication from the Clackamas Review story linked above:
Clackamas County Library Director Doris Grolbert also anticipated having to make similar cuts, as well as eliminating or curtailing several popular programs.

"I’m thinking we’ll go from 49 to 35 hours per week, and we’ll probably have to discontinue our homebound service," she said. "Children’s programs, such as story time and school visits, will also be cut. I don’t suspect that we will have staff dedicated to children’s services anymore."

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Tie an orange ribbon 'round your wrist, and see..

I'm no Hairy Red, but this story of outwitting government censorship in the Ukraine deserves a song. Are there any lyricists here?

In a Sign of the Times, Ukrainian TV Interpreter Makes Bold On-Air Move
Ms. Dmytruk, Refusing to Stand Mute On Election, Calls Coverage 'a Lie'

By YAROSLAV TROFIMOV
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
November 29, 2004; Page A1 (paid subscription required)

PULL QUOTE

So Ms. Dmytruk, 47 years old, adopted guerrilla tactics to break the information blockade. Conspiring with her makeup artist, Ms. Dmytruk tied an orange ribbon inside her sleeve. Orange is the color of Mr. Yushchenko's campaign, and of the spreading protest movement that many Ukrainians now call the Orange Revolution. Then after interpreting the news broadcast for the deaf on Nov. 25, Ms. Dmytruk bared her wrist. "Everything you have heard so far on the news was a total lie," she says she told viewers in sign language. "Yushchenko is our true president. Goodbye, you will probably never see me here again."
{snip}
Government interference at state TV, and at the two other major national channels, employees say, had become so prevalent in recent years that the entire script of news programs was often written by the presidential administration, and not by the journalists themselves. The two other channels are privately owned, but until recently have been reluctant to challenge the government. {snip}

More at this Ukrainian blog.

Monday, November 29, 2004

More Phone Spam? Public comment could stop it....

The Federal Trade Commission is considering loosening the rules on robot phone spam, to allow those innocent robots to spam us on our telephones. One vendor says it can deliver 1.5 million messages a day, and that's just one vendor.

On the other hand, we do have the ability to comment, and you don't even have to lick a stamp... just go to this FTC web page and let them know how much you like phone spam (politely, please). You might even {Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more!} suggest they include non-commercial enterprises and political calls in the ban on phone spam.... would that be going too far?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Support a volunteer hero

A friend from work saw this happen, back in July: A citizen went to help a Gladstone cop in hot pursuit, and ended up with a broken back.

Jesse's a father of three kids, two in Rex Putnam HS and one in View Acres Elementary. There's been some community support, and as a result, his house is getting completely remodeled for power chair access Monday, with on-air broadcasting from one of the seven radio stations in the Entercom corporate Portland cluster.

Here's Jesse's website, with pix.

An mBank account for donations is set up, if you can help.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Friday, November 26, 2004

Fred Meyer and meat weight fraud

To:
Josh Nelson , Transaction verification staff, Measurement Standards Division
George Shefcheck , Measurement Standards Division Administrator
Katy Coba , Director, Oregon Department of Agriculture
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 2004 13:29:29 -0800
Subject: Fred Meyer Meat Fraud

Dear Sirs and Ms:

From the Seattle P-I story:

"Oregon officials said yesterday that they did not have enough resources to pursue the allegations against Fred Meyer."

Why isn't defrauding the public on such a basic commodity as meat worthy of Oregon's resources?

"After the incident, Galego told his attorneys, he tried to get the company to change its overall practices. In 2002, Oregon again cited Fred Meyer for charging customers for tare weight. Oregon officials were "assured by Fred Meyer that these problems would be addressed and corrected," said John Moore, one of the Oregon agricultural officials who inspected Fred Meyer stores at that time."

I'd sure like to know what Oregon will do to asure that my family isn't defrauded on meat purchases in the future. I'd like not to have to start taking my own scale to the market with me.

Sincerly yours,

John Bartley, K7AAY
http://clackablog.blogspot.com

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 2004 13:19:50 -0800 (PST)
Subject: confirmation of Fred Meyer Meat Fraud

Thank you for sharing your ideas and concerns. I believe citizen input is vital to a strong and healthy society and I urge your continued involvement. Should your comments require an additional response, appropriate staff will contact you. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

Sincerely,
Theodore R. Kulongoski
Governor

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The 'Complete Communities' talk-talk

Summary: 61% of the attendees who spoke their minds after the discussion, when asked by the county's contractor to comment, opposed both assimilation into other cities and the creation of a separate, new city, and 6% said they didn't have enough information. (Not a scientific survey; but any polling at that meeting would be by definition preselected - Ed. note.)

Elaine Cogan of Cogan Owens Cogan, a contractor to Clackamas County who organized this presentation and meeting, opened the formal presentation Monday night, 2004-11-22, at Alder Creek Middle School on SE Webster. She and her firm are paid 105 kilobucks by the county to facilitate a further discussion of what should be the 'governance options' for the next 10-20 years. County Commissioner Bill Kennemer followed, noting the county commission started asking five years ago how to manage growth & change to maintain livability, and added recommendations from this process will be voted on by the commission.

Commissioner Martha Schrader was followed by Commissioner Larry Sowa, who noted Colton rejected such discussions recently, paraphrasing their remarks: "Go away, we don't want to hear about (more government) any more." Sowa added the 90,000 people in the area (which he subsequently defined as reaching out to the borders of Happy Valley) would be largest city in Clackamas county if incorporated into one new city.

Jonathan Mantay, County Administrator, said the county's finances are subject to the mercy, of lack thereof, of the Oregon Legislature.

He then referred to a recent study in which county residents scored the county high in the quality of services if provides, but some people still want more. He referred to code enforcement, stating the county now acts on only the top four issues, and does not respond to lower priority types of issues (without specifying what is and is not important at present, a troubling lack of specificity in this context - Ed. note).

Street maintenance costs the county about 7 kilobucks per mile, spending about a megabuck each year in the area of Oak Lodge, Jennings Lodge and North Clackamas, reaching out to 82nd Drive (excluding Johnson City), a different area than that referred to my Commissioner Sowa, but the same as used by other persons and by the maps shown in this discussion.

The state will provide our county's budgets with about 710 megabucks, but with many restrictions and cutbacks. He's concerned about the impact on welfare, a potential billion dollar issue which won't be discussed tonight.

Ray Bartlett, another county contractor in economics & financial analysis, then discussed the 630 acre target area of Oak Lodge, North Clackamas, and Jennings Lodge, sans Johnson City, which he noted is diverse, with a population of 36,300 within 15,000 dwellings. The assessed value of the taxable real estate in the target area is 2,172 megabucks.

He noted the current nearby cities' tax rates are, per kilobuck of assessed value:

4.8174 in Gladstone
5.0571 in Oregon City*, and
6.5379 in Milwaukie.

*(Yet, despite that assessment, Oregon City's in severe financial straits. The Oregonian reported on November 3, 2004:
Oregon City can no longer cover the cost of the services it provides, and its police department is understaffed. Without increased revenue, the city may have to eliminate popular programs such as the library, swimming pool or Carnegie Center, a city-run arts program.
- Ed. note.)


He then explored what kind of budget a new 'No Name City' could have, with the assumption (and a very attractive assumption - Ed. note) that the revenue sources would be limited to be no greater than taxes currently paid by the residents (a "zero-sum" proposal - Ed. note), or a tax rate of $0.5724 per kilobuck of assessed value.

The difference in Clackamas County between unincorporated areas & our cities is 0.5724/kilobuck plus the county's tax rate of $2.40/kilobuck. What could be done with $0.5724/kilobuck?

He then sidetracked to discuss 'revenue sources' for cities (i.e., who we take money from to pay for all this - Ed. note).

1. Oregon's motor fuel, alcohol & tobacco taxes are shared only with cities, not with counties. This is somewhat, but not completely, proportional to population; the state can (and does - Ed. note) vary the yield by legislation using other criteria besides population.

2. Cities may (and do) have property tax, and use a permanent tax rate set at their incorporation, thereafter capped by M48 to rise at no more than three percent yearly without special circumstances.

3. Cities may ask for special levies, or 'term' taxes, like the recently failed library levy. They may borrow by selling general obligation bonds, which take from future taxpayers to pay for money spent today. They can bill property owners and renters indirectly through franchise fees on utilities, which the utility collects and then pays to the city, and the city may also charge fees, fines & service charges.

The model 'zero-sum' or 'revenue-neutral' budget he presented had revenue (shown in kilobucks) of
2,237 state-shared revenue

1,213 from property tax (using a hypothetical 'zero-sum' rate of $0.5724/kilobuck of assessed value)

2,008 franchise fees at an average tax rate of 3.5 percent*

300 development fees (charging for the administration of land use and zoning regulation), and

288 other fees & collections, primarily court-levied fines (including traffic tickets) and fees from a municipal court (fees set roughly to equal the cost of court operations)

-----
6,046 total estimated revenue

* (This demonstrates the proposal is not a 'zero-sum', or 'revenue-neutral' budget, for at present the only franchise fee in the county is 3 percent on cable TV, and there are no franchise fee trickle-down taxes on other services. The proposal included adding taxes on electric, gas, telephone and other utilities, a hidden tax which will hit fixed-income seniors the hardest - Ed. note.)

Next, he outlined the proposed estimate of expenditure for such a city, which would not include fire and EMS, storm water and sewer drains and processing, parks & recreations, and other services (mosquito and other vector control? urban renewal district? - Ed. note) handled by and taxed by existing districts.

1,821 Street Maintenance (keeping up the streets we now have, and thereby justify the state taking tax money from other cities and giving it to us- Ed. note)

1,213 Law Enforcement (Hire, train, maintain & administer a police force and pay for their pensions, the latter which has proven very expensive to Portland- Ed. note)

1,077 Administration & finance (including payback of bonds- Ed. note)

570 Planning & zoning (deciding what people can build, where- Ed. note) and code enforcement

288 Municipal court, for traffic violations (so the city could keeps its speeding ticket revenue- Ed. note) and other fines

205 City attorney (with many services contracted out to local law firms- Ed. note)

-----
5,174 total estimated expenditures

872 less than taking in, would be reserved for unanticipated needs. (Cities with cash on hand get better bond ratings and borrow money at lower rates. Does this suggest a city would quickly move to asking for bond measures, and therefore talk the public into additional taxes to pay back those bonds? - Ed. note)

John Hartsock of the new Damascus City Council then talked about creating the City of Damascus. It took three years, and was quite a ride.

Metro was going to move the Urban Growth Boundary (a unique feature of Oregon law which draws a line and restricts development outside it - Ed. note) so he and others formed a 'Committee for the Future of Damascus', which morphed into an incorporation campaign. It was successful, creating Oregon's newest city (Keizer, the last most recently created city, was incorporated 22 years ago).

A major issue to Damascus is maintaining its country feel. Metro will force growth from 10,000 people today to 60,000 in 20 years' time.

The citizen's committee did financial forecasts for the state, and asked what services should be provided at what levels. M50 gives one free shot at the tax base, and once that millage rate is established, its growth is limited (except under special circumstances - Ed. note) to three percent annually, (so it takes 24 years for the tax rate to double, following the Rule of 72 - Ed. note).

Happy Valley did not include police service in its general budget, so their police depends on a levy which must be renewed every several years. (Gladstone, although he did not note it, also has a supplemental levy for police services - Ed. note). If the levy at renewal is defeated, how will they pay for police? (Everyplace else this occurs, the city cuts other services to comply with the will of the people. It's called democracy. - Ed. note).

Damascus adopted a $3.88 per kilobuck rate, comparable to the millage rates of Gresham & Sandy. Their budget includes Parks & Recreation, and a library, which they didn't have before.

Gresham, with a similar tax rate, is struggling, and contemplates moving fire protection to a separate district. Moving that service out of the city budget will effectively raise the tax rate by $2 per kilobuck.

Damascus set aside the state tax share for future development, and does not rely on it for its general fund budget.

When the Damascus incorporation campaign began, polling showed 67 percent support, which dropped to 48 percent near the election, but providing more information stressing the advantages of local control countered the slide in support. There were only 2 negative letters to the editor. With 92 percent turnout in the election, 65 percent voted yes.

A break followed, then Elaine Cogan started reading selected questions from those submitted by the attending citizenry. She asked Jonathan, if unincorporated areas don't want in, can they be forced? He replied no.

Someone asked about townships and other government structures besides cities? He replied villages & hamlets are OK in Oregon, but townships, popular back east, are not a feature of Oregon law.

A query about adding the state route 212/224 area and its industrial area, but Happy Valley is also avidly interested in adding that high-tax-yield real estate to its tax base. A multi-city discussing with the contribution of PSU expertise is underway (There are previous agreements regarding cities and what they can assimilate - Ed. note).

Why was the boundary of the target area (I'm getting tired of the phrase 'target area' and henceforth will refer to it as No Name City - Ed. note) set as 205? Answer: The Community Panel on Boundaries preferred it.

It was then noted the Complete Communities project was started by a citizen's committee from Oak Grove area who applied to County Commission for approval and funding.

Ray Bartlett was asked how can the base tax millage rate be changed. He replied so far, the only success was when a city dropped out of a fire district and took over fire protection itself.

(At this point, I was interrupted by a Disaster Action Team pager going off, and missed at least three minutes of discussion - Ed. note)

Demands on city budgets will change because of unforeseen events- (so a special assessment could be submitted for vote and added if the voters it needful- Ed. note) & state and federal revenue sources also change. Cities' funding are not stable and constant.

Cable TV is the county's only franchise fee source now. Telephone, cellular, gas, electric, garbage and other utilities are not taxed for the 100,000 people now in the unincorporated county.

Local Improvement Districts can be added, as can citywide or smaller urban renewal districts.

The county would like a new city to take over a library, but that's a city decision.

Road maintenance districts can be set up in lieu of a city and its road department, but it's unknown if it could get any state-shared revenues for it.

Small group discussions then began, with three to eight people being led by a facilitator at each table. My facilitator, a Portlander, did not identify her employment, affiliation or interests.

She asked to folks at my table to start with identifying the pluses and minuses of some the different structures previously mentioned: The status quo, becoming assimilated by Gladstone or Milwaukie, or incorporating No Name City. (Other options permitted by Oregon law, such as hamlets, local improvement districts and villages, were not included - Ed. note)

1. Status quo
+ CCSO very professional now with extensive training.
+ Sheriff's Enhanced Service patrols will improve with better response under a new civilian oversight committee.
+ taxes stay low
+ Keep diversity of broader tax base with greater diversity. Commercial property elsewhere in the county yields much more revenue than the residential property which predominates No Name City.
+ Clackamas County Fire District No. 1 could increase the millage rate for coverage, over the present low rate, in negotiations with a new No Name City. The current rate is low.
- Roads, won't have state funds for them.
- Cities have better police response (disputed).

2. Annexation
+ No cost to establish new city.
+ More government means more accountability.
- Small towns are not as competent and would not have the skill base the County has.
- We're not going to see much improvement in services, given the high ratings the county gets.
- Disruption of services are likely as the result of forced rapid growth of present city administration.
- Cost to expand existing administration
- Tax hike of 39 percent if assimilated by Milwaukie.
- Tax hike of 17.6 percent if assimilated by Gladstone.
- No Name City residents don't know city governments, but know the county government and departments.
- Gladstone for a while allowed Houston-style unzoned growth, and the result is not attractive.

3. Incorporation
+ There might be better local access to a city government.
+ No Name City would get the estimated 2,237 kilobucks per year in state shared revenue.
- Other cities (Oregon City, forex) are in financial trouble despite higher taxation than proposed here.
- no way to avoid additional taxes - and the $.57 per kilobuck 'zero-sum' tax budget was disingenuous, since several of the invited speakers advocated taxing more at the onset, and several Clackamas cities can't sem to live on much more than that.
- We can chose more services and tax ourselves for it through Local Improvement Districts, with the same local control.
- It's just shifting cost from the county.
- We'd lose economies of scale on procurement, as the county gets better prices for services and merchandise because it buys in volume.
- More micromangement because there will be more layers of government.
- More cost of administration because there will be more layers of government.
- Less law enforcement; the Clackamas Review documented the low staffing levels of Milwaukie's PD, and would No Name City be any better?
- We're not going to see much improvement in services, given the high ratings the county gets,
- The model budget adds more taxes in franchise fees which will trickle down to the public to pay.

The out-of-town moderator then proposed the group speculate on what new services could be added (which, without considering the cost of them, encourages a fantasy mindset - Ed. note):
Library (Have already - Ed. note)

Police (Have from CCSO, with 11 officers on patrol, and more soon- Ed. note)

Zoning enforcement (Have already - Ed. note)

Planning (but any changes in land use which would impact property owners, we we'd have to pay for under M37 - Ed. note)

Sounding board for community (Have already, with Clackamas League of Women Voters and other volunteer groups, plus Internet forums such as Clackablog - Ed. note)

Funding the arts (We could put a windmill on top of the county building, just like Multnomah County with arts money. - Ed. note)

Welfare and social services (Yes, we could increase welfare services. Why would we wish to? - Ed. note)

Walking trails (for the 5 (sic?) pct of folks who use them - Ed. note)
Time was called, and several tables were called on to comment. From those which did comment, (a self-selected group, and therefore not a statistically designed poll) the votes were:
61% Keep things as they are: No new city, no assimilation into other cities
32% Create No Name City through incorporation
6% Don't have enough information
0 Be assimilated by Milwaukie
0 Be assimilated by Gladstone

(This vote echoes the community-wide decisions of 1981 and 1995, and the scientifically selected phone survey conducted this year: NO - Ed. note)


The final results of the forum, answers to written questionnaires and the scientific poll will be discussed at the seventh and final Task Force meeting of the Conversation with the Citizens of Oak Grove, Jennings Lodge and North Clackamas County. That is scheduled for Monday, December 6, 2004, 6:30 – 9 pm, Rose Villa, 13505 SE River Road.

If you have any questions, call Elaine Cogan, Steve Faust or Kirstin Greene at 503-225-0192. For more information or to view meeting materials, visit the project Web site.

[Reference links]

Most recent meeting minutes from the Completing Connections Task Force.

Handouts from the Completing Connections Task Force meeting on 2004-11-22 (PDF format: Requires Adobe Acrobat reader, free for download from here).

The questionnaire from the Completing Connections Task Force meeting on 2004-11-22

1995's The Story of a Neighborhood That Fought Metro, Randal O'Toole's memoir of our last visit from the urbanizing carbetbaggers.

foldedspace, another Oak Grove blog, reports on the same meeting.

The Gospel of No Name City, another Oregon icon

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Looking after our little government

"Would you want a big government that looked after you, or a little government that you had to look after?"

That passage from Richard Powell's Pioneer, Go Home in a Reader's Digest Condensed Book collection was probably the first thing which, at age eleven, sitting in a stilt house in Everglades City, awakened my interest in politics and public process. Of course, growing up way back when in the day when Take Back Your Government described how politics worked dates me horribly.

This web link lists vacancies for citizens on Clackamas County boards and committees. If you feel you have something to offer in the process of reviewing the work of government, there are some rewarding opportunities there.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Free Gun Locks from the Oregon City PD

Free firearm safety kits with gun locks for local residents will be distributed at Oregon City's Police Department between 8:00am and 5:00pm weekdays (not holidays) at Police HQ, 320 Warner Milne Rd., telephone 503-657-4964.

The kits are provided with funding from the USDOJ and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, through a partnership with Project ChildSafe.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Flying somewhere? TSA makes the ordeal greater

A US News and World Report article indicates airport security have carte blanche to search passengers to unreasonable extents.

This FlyerTalk forum gives further details, and they're not pretty. The best tip from there is to wear thin clothing which would not easily hide dangerous devices beneath, and thin sandals, not thick-soled footwear.

And, it appears there's something going on at PDX which points to managerial problems with the TSA screeners.

So far, Amtrak is only checking IDs under their new security plans, and leaves the groping to the TSA.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Good libraries, despite levy failure

It's rewarding to see the Lake Oswego Library continuing its outreach to expand the pol of folks who read for entertainment, despite the county library levy failure. Here's their Comic Talk web page, with links to reader reviews of graphic novels as well as a quarterly 'What's New' section.

Many Clackamas County residents don't realize that downtown Milwaukie is the home of America's fourth largest comics publisher, Dark Horse, which started with comics and since branched out into books, short film, movies (with successes The Mask, Hellboy and Alien Vs. Predator) and collectibles. So, comics ain't just frippery; it's a profit!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The UnCity declines the honor of assimilation

This Sarah Hunsberger Oregonian article from Nov. 18 shows that folks who live in Oak Grove, Jennings Lodge and vicinity would rather stay independent, when asked if they would like to be assimilated by a city. Despite that telephone survey of about 300 residents by Riley Research Associates, tax dollars continue to be spent to encourage us to let it happen despite what we want.

It also shows that Clackamas County is cutting back on providing road paving and other services:
The county no longer repairs local streets in the Oak Grove/Jennings Lodge area or anywhere else in the county, putting its road money into fixing only the most heavily traveled roads.
This is akin to Sheriff Detloff's decision that, although we pay more for enhanced patrols, we don't get what we paid for (see the Clackamas Review article from the election campaign where this was documented: It was voted in to provide protection for the area inside the Urban Growth Boundary but outside incorporated cities; the tax collected for it is supposed to provide 33 deputies, but.. in reality with cuts there’s only about 11 deputies being supported by the program.

To me, assimilation seems irrelevant; proponents admit that we would continue to receive services piecemeal, a la carte, as we do now. Surrounding municipalities hire such services as fire protection out to Clackamas County Fire District Number One, instead of having their own departments, or offer such marginal levels of service that being assimilated would result in reduced service (op cit.: "Milwaukie — they take one guy into custody, and take him to jail — and nobody is covering the city, because that’s there only one car."

Yes, a new city could receive state revenue. Does anyone sincerely believe it would net us more money, when compared to the costs of municipal government? In the absence of a projected budget which shows it, with cost figures in line with equivalent Clackamas incorporations, I think I'd rather pass on this Full Meal Deal, and continue to pay a la carte for what's really necessary.

This, of course, is historically what area residents want (again, from the Sarah Hunsberger story):

There was an effort to form a city called McLoughlin in 1981, but voters soundly rejected it. In 1997, a proposal for the neighboring cities of Gladstone, Milwaukie and Happy Valley to take over some Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge planning and building permit services crumbled after 18 months of discussions. The proposal was seen as an unpopular first step toward cities annexing the area.

Nevertheless, there will be more beating of the dead horse next Monday night, from 6 to 9 PM, at Alder Creek Middle School 13801 SE Webster Road (map). Please show up to help explain, in words of one syllable, that if we wanted Big Brother government, we'd live in Portland, right?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Magic Bus, courtesy of Oregon City taxpayers

Oregon City taxpayers will be repaying 70 kilobucks worth of bonds for the next two decades, for a bus. But not just any bus.

"The new incident command unit, co-owned by Clackamas County Fire District 1 and Oregon City police, will serve as a command post for local agencies responding to floods, multi-alarm fires or other large-scale emergencies. The unit, a renovated Blue Bird bus, is equipped to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats, said (Clackamas County Fire District No. 1) Battalion Chief John Ingrao, who oversees operations for the fire district. More likely, the incident command unit will be used during ice storms, railroad derailments, spills, political events and hostage situations."

"The fire district and police department will split operating costs during the command unit's first year in service, (Oregon City) Police Chief Gordon Huiras said. After that, he estimated Oregon City will pay about 30 percent of operating costs."
[Source: Brad Schmidt's Oregonian article of Nov. 16th.]

Homeland Security paid 125 kilobucks of the 200 total needed for the acquisition of the multi-modal rolling command post. Having seen a similar mobile CP which Intel assembled for their emergency operations, and having trained on other, similar systems, getting one for only 70 kilobucks of local funds is a pretty good deal.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Homeland Security vital interest in... Rubik's Cube

A toy shop owner in St. Helens was ordered by Homeland Security to remove a Rubik's Cube clone from her store. (Another link here.) Really.

Sleep tight, Oregon; they can't be bothered to inspect 95% of imported cargo containers, any one of which could contain

• a dirty bomb,

• a Soviet or Pakistani nuke sold to either North Korea or the jihad du jour, or

• some of the thousands of tons of weaponized anthrax or smallpox the Evil Empire made to destroy us with during the Cold War.

But, they can invest time in enforcing a patent which expired decades ago.

Regime change begins at home. Go vote.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Missing ballots in Clackamas County? ??

Brad Schmidt of the Oregonian writes today regarding possible missing ballots in Clackamas County.

About half the county's voters have already sent theirs in. The story refers to folks who have not yet received theirs in the mail.
A last-minute rush of voters registering before the Oct. 12 deadline created a backlog that county officials are still sorting through. Elections officials are now urging voters who haven't received ballots to contact their county elections office.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

New Tri-Met PDA schedules are out, & discussion group for TriMet

New Tri-Met PDA schedules are out. These include a free program, for Palm and for WinCE/PocketPC, so you can call up any bus, specify the date, and see the scheduled time for the next three buses to call on your stop.

And, if you'd like to participate in a discussion group for Tri-Met riders and drivers, I've set one up at Yahoo Groups with free membership and posting.

Free, yes, free Internet Access - to parts of Milwaukie and Clackamas plus Portland

http://kiloseven.blogspot.com for today has the details. Not a ripoff, but a genuine and useful offer.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Lake Oswego: South Shore Boulevard closure for bridge repair

LAKE OSWEGO - Slated for replacement in the coming year, the deficient bridge over the Oswego Canal on South Shore Boulevard will be the topic of a public open house meeting and the cause of lane closures next week.

Starting next Tuesday, October 26, three days of drilling through the bridge deck and into the canal bottom will require closure of the sidewalk and westbound lane of traffic on the bridge between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The drilling will yield valuable information about the depth and stability of bedrock, upon which contractors will construct the new bridge.

Geo Tech Explorations of Tualatin will conduct the work, and all efforts will be made to ensure the protection of water quality and public safety. Flaggers will be on hand to direct traffic. While there will be some related noise, the rotary drill being used is not particularly loud and should not cause disruptions for nearby residents.

You can learn more about the full project timeline and preferred concepts for the new bridge at a public open house on October 28, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the gymnasium at Bryant Elementary. A public steering committee has been providing guidance and feedback to the City's contract bridge engineers during the initial design phases, and this event will provide an opportunity for the public to see what plans are in the works.

With state funds provided during the last legislative session, the preliminary project schedule calls for the design phase to be underway in November, with selection of a construction contractor by May 2005. Construction could begin as early as June 2005, with the bridge opening to traffic before the end of the year. During much of the demolition and construction work next year, the crossing will be closed completely, and South Shore Boulevard will be rerouted via detours.

South Shore Boulevard was closed on December 10, 2002, between Canal Circle and Kelok Road, after a resident noticed the bridge was failing. Separated joints, obvious grade deflection, and surface water ponding on the bridge led City staff to request an immediate closure and temporary fix for the crumbling support pilings. Since then, another temporary solution was instituted when worsening conditions were discovered.

For more information about the Oswego Canal Bridge on South Shore Boulevard, call the Engineering Department at 503-635-0270.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Construction zone speed limit enforced by covert cop

On October 21, 2004 at 11:00 am Clackamas County Sheriff's deputies will be out in force on Hwy 26 at Aldercreek Road enforcing the construction speed limit at the approximate 1.5-mile construction zone that is located there.

A Sheriff's deputy will be dressed as a survey worker; the deputy will be equipped with a tripod and will pretend to be surveying the roadways. In reality, the surveying deputy will be equipped with a laser that will be mounted to the top of his tripod. The surveying deputy will be taking speed measurements of traffic as it travels through the construction zone. Additional deputies will be waiting down the road where the surveying deputy will radio the speeds of traffic through the construction zone. The awaiting deputies will stop and cite motorists violating the construction speeds.

This is the first operation of its kind known in the state of Oregon where a deputy enforcing speed laws is disguised as a construction worker. This type of enforcement strategy has been done in the state of Washington and it was quite successful there. It is our intent to get violators to slow down and to think about their speeds prior to entering construction zones.

The media will have access to film deputies who are participating in this project.

Four Legged Friday at the Clarkes General Store

"Any customer arriving on a horse gets a free medium pizza.
Rain kept anyone from riding up Oct. 8, and the offer next is valid Friday."
A nice slice-of-life story from Jim Kadera at One of America's Newspapers.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

A Real Countywide library system - worth $51 more in taxes a year?

http://www.co.clackamas.or.us/press_releases/2004/082604d.htm

So, a house with $175,000 assessed value will require $51 more in yearly taxes. Hmm.

Will there be a reduction in taxes we pay now from the discontinued libraries, should this pass? Multnomah County passed their levy - then say the county divert operating funds and got cutbacks. What's to prevent that from happening here?

The libraries website sure doesn't tell us more about the report cited, and neither do other web searches.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Public invited to sleep in Clackamas County Jail

So, we can't afford to staff the "E" and "F" blocks built as part of the jail, because Sherf Pat can't find the $$ to pay for the nine deputies needed, turfing out about 600 crooks a month because there's no room for them.

Any suggestions as to which programs should be cut from the county budget to provide the funding? This County finance website could provide some useful information for your analysis.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

County legislative candidate forum

Come see the Demopublicans and Republicrats who want to rule you!

Thursday, October 7, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Gladstone Senior Center, 1050 Portland Ave. in Gladstone, the 'senior Citizen Welfare Establishment will host a Forum, to provide State legislators and legislative candidates who represent Clackamas County an opportunity to express their ideas on issues of concern to the elderly, persons with disabilities and low-income residents of the County.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Sprint Class Action filing

Ever use Sprint Long Distance at home, 1997 to 2003? Well, Sprint's been accused of overcharging, and you can file for a $50 or $100 class action claim with this form.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Hopefully, not sold by the six-pack

Costco's test-marketing caskets in two Chicago stores. Really.

Given the trend of large chains to buy up small, family-owned funeral parlours and not rebrand them (so you're thinking you're dealing with someone local), looks like a casket company is looking for a marketing channel which buypasses the large-chain's purchasing agent. Good for them, and if you use a non-profit funeral society, good for you.

Friday, August 20, 2004

KOIN - the Rip and Read school of journalism

In a KOIN story slugged Negative Ads Creep Into Mayor's Race, the Emmis-owned corporate news outlet slams both Portland mayoral candidates for what only one did. Furthermore, as pointed out by BiX's excellent analysis, KOIN's story is dead wrong.

Wonder how long it will take them to correct these egregious errors? I sure won't be trusting them for news anytime soon. Make sure to let IR@emmis.com know what you think of quality reportage.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Zip Codes of Clackamas County

Got Zips?

97001 Wildwood
97004 Highland
97004 Beaver Creek, Clarkes, Timber Grove, Upper Highland
97007 Lower Highland
97009 Barton, Boring, Cottrell, Damascus Heights, Kelso
97011 Brightwood
97013 Barlow Dryland, Hamricks Corner, Lone Elder, Macksburg, Mundorf, Needy, New Era, Ninety-one, O'Neil Corners
97015 Clackamas, Damascus, Sunnyside
97017 Elwood, Colton
97022 Bonnie Lure Park, Dover, Eagle Creek
97023 Currinsville, Dodge, Estacada, Faraday, Garfield, George, Paradise Park, Springwater, Three Lynx, Viola
97027 Gladstone
97028 Government Camp
97030 Hillsview
97032 Whiskey Hill, Yoder
97034 Briarwood, Bryant, Cook, Glenmorrie, Ladd, Lake Grove, Lake Oswego, Lakewood, Rivergrove, Skyland, Wilsonia
97035 Lake Oswego
97036 Marylhurst
97038 Dickey Prairie, Fernwood, Gladtidings, Liberal, Marquam, Meadowbrook, Molalla, Shady Dell
97042 Mulino
97042 Union Mills
97045 Clackamas Heights, Fischers Mill, Logan, Park Place, Redland, River Crest, Oregon City
97049 Rhododendron, ZigZag
97055 Alder Creek, Bullrun, Firwood, Marmot, Sandy
97060 Aims
97062 Tualatin
97067 Welches, Wemme
97068 Bolton, Robinwood, Rosemont, Shadowood, Stafford, Sunset, Wankers Corners, West Linn, Willamette
97070 Ladd Hill, Wilsonville
97071 Elliott Prairie, Monitor, Oaklawn
97073 Faubion
97222 Ardenwald, Concord, Fair Oaks, Island Station, Milwaukie, Robertson, Waverly Heights, Westwood, Wichita, Willsburg Junction
97236 Happy Valley
97242 Battin
97266 Southgate
97267 Ashdale, Jennings, Johnson City, Oak Grove
97268 Oak Grove

Friday, August 13, 2004

Bike rental system is success in UK; why not here?

This system for bicycle rental on demand, if a private partner could be found to develop it, could be a practical successor to the ill-fated 'yellow bike' experiment in the reduction of full-sized automobile traffic.

This would be especially popular if 'pedelec' E-bikes (you must start pedalling before the electric motor will assist) were to be offered. Since they already have interfaces for charging, adding a circuit to the meter/reporting system to prevent a successful 'return' of the bike until it's plugged back in would be simple.

Tri-Met transit centers, MAX stops and Park-and-Rides would be naturally successful locations, as would the downtown Portland Transit Mall.

Your comments on the concept would be appreciated.

Sent on 2004-08-13 to:
Secretary of the Board of Directors of Tri-Met
Director of Portland Office of Transportation
Portland office of Flexcar.com
BiX

Responses, if any, posted here.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Former illicit drug labs unfit for living - next door to you?

Here's a bon mot, brought to you by Oregon's Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS): A list of properties in Clackamas County which are uninhabitable because they were formerly used to make (illegal) drugs.

Once a property is cleaned up, it falls off this list. Still, nice to know what your neighbors have been up to..... and where you may not wish to rent.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Two Oregon men have their lives ruined thanks to the OSP & Identix

Here's another cheery story: Two innocent men appear as felons in the Oregon Judicial Information Network and have their lives ruined, because Oregon's using faulty equipment which has apparently falsely identified dozens of people. How many, we're not sure, because the OSP destroyed the records.

Oh, yes, and Homeland Security is buying their equipment.