Oct 15, 2018

Portland Public Schools on sexual misconduct...

Apparently, George Costanza is in charge of human resources at Portland Public Schools.

From KOIN/Portland Tribune:
"Investigators into decades of claims of sexual misconduct by coach and teacher Mitch Whitehurst said in May that part of the problem was Portland Public Schools hadn't actually spelled out to its teachers and staff that they shouldn't have inappropriate relationships with students."
This statement from Portland Public Schools is reminiscent of a Seinfeld episode, where George Costanza, when confronted at work with having sex with the cleaning woman on his desk:

  • Mr. Lippman: "I'm going to get right to the point. It has come to my attention that you and the cleaning woman have engaged in sexual intercourse on the desk in your office. Is that correct?"
  • George: "Who said that?"
  • Mr. Lippman: "She did."
  • George: (pauses for a few seconds) "Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, ‘cause I've worked in a lot of offices and I tell you people do that all the time."

Oct 9, 2018

Stegmann/Wyden/Merkley respond to Kavenaugh confirmation

After Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the Supreme Court, I wondered how some of our elected officials representing Multnomah county and Oregon responded to Kavanaugh's elevation to our nation's highest court.

First, here is Multnomah County commissioner Lori Stegmann's statement:
"Like many of us, I have been watching the events unfold that have lead to the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. As a nation, we witnessed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford bravely testify about a sexual assault that was allegedly perpetrated by the next Supreme Court justice. She said it was her “civic duty” to come forward in spite of death threats and great personal cost to her and her family. I believe Dr. Blasey Ford. She is a hero in my book."

Next, here is the response from Oregon Senator Ron Wyden on his Twitter feed:

"Brett Kavanaugh has neither the character nor the judgement to sit on the Supreme Court. Today, I voted NO on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination"
Last on my list- the response from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley's Twitter feed:
"They were looking to the Senate to stand up for survivors, and to send a clear message that treating any fellow human being this way is unacceptable behavior for someone seeking the privilege of a seat on the Supreme CourtI am deeply troubled by the signal the Senate has sent today by confirming Brett Kavanaugh instead of heeding their words."
It's clear that Commissioner Stegmann, Senator Wyden, and Senator Merkley all believed the sexual assault accusations against Mr. Kavanaugh.

Since Stegmann, Wyden, and Merkley all took the position Brett Kavanaugh was guilty of the sexual assault accusations and thus not qualified to be on the Supreme Court, it would follow that they would have to believe the multiple sexual assault accusations against former President Clinton.

Which would mean that Commissioner Stegmann, Senator Wyden, and Senator Merkley have been covering for a rapist for over twenty years. And Juanita Broderick, Kathleen Willey, and Paula Jones must be "heroes" in Stegmann's "book".

Unless, of course, you're a democrat.

Aug 17, 2018

Troutdale city staff: Community events a burden?

In a recent Gresham Outlook article,  Troutdale city manager Ray Young proposed that the city should charge additional fees to the non-profit organizers of community events to  recoup the $18,000 in costs and staff time for road-blocking "Bollards" during events in downtown Troutdale.

“We are recommending to council to begin charging something," Young said. "It is a burden on staff, which means the city subsidizes events on closed streets, to review plans, close streets and monitor the traffic issues."

Why does city staff feel that subsidizing community events is a burden? 

I’ve lived in Troutdale since 2001. I served on the city council for four years, and on the city’s budget committee for at least eight years. In all that time, I’ve never heard a city employee claim that subsidizing community events was “a burden on staff”.

The city of Troutdale has a long history subsidizing the costs of special events, such as Summerfest, the Christmas tree lighting, and the Troutdale cruise-in. The city’s leaders and its citizens have financially supported these events because they know they have a positive impact on the city’s local economy. More importantly, these events give a major boost to Troutdale’s community spirit and pride.

These non-profit events, which Mr. Young was quoted as saying are a “burden” to city staff, succeed in attracting visitors who spend money in Troutdale. That money creates income and supports jobs in Troutdale. The people who have those jobs in Troutdale use that income to pay taxes. Some of those taxes go to pay for Troutdale city employees. These events are a win-win for city staff, Troutdale residents, and the non-profits who receive donations resulting from these events.

The Gresham Outlook has also questioned why the city wants to burden community events with costly additional fees and red tape. In their Thursday, August 16, 2018 online edition, the Gresham Outlook wrote, in their editorial "Bollard' fee puts public events at-risk in Troutdale", 

Having said that, it's disappointing to hear that the city of Troutdale may impose a fee — for installation and removal of bollards — on groups that organize these events. Many of these groups are nonprofit organizations, most with tiny budgets, and in some cases they're raising funds for a philanthropic purpose. Imposing an additional fee would likely siphon off dollars away from charitable organizations that benefit from these events.Given that the city of Troutdale operates with a $10 million annual budget, the city could easily absorb the $18,000 cost of the bollards without breaking a sweat.”

I urge Troutdale residents to contact the Troutdale city council  and demand that “no extra fees or charges” i.e. the “bollard fee”  should be charged for  non-profit community events in Troutdale.

May 28, 2018

Term Limits Encourage New Ideas, Less Stagnation

In Troutdale, former City Councilor John Wilson has stepped up as the chief petitioner to put term limits on the ballot for all city elected offices.  In an interesting twist, the longest serving member of the Council – Dave Ripma – filed a court action hoping to prevent the citizens of Troutdale from having a vote on this issue.
First, some background.  Troutdale has had substantial challenges ignored or left unsolved for many years due to personalities and personal agendas.  These lingering issues remain largely due to certain Councilors who have been re-elected without opposition, due in part to support from public employee unions who are well funded, well connected;and also to good, old fashioned bullying.  This cannot continue.

Inside Troutdale's condemned city hall.
Two simple and obvious examples of inaction are the Imagination Station park rebuild and the City Hall fiasco.  With Imagination Station, a beloved, volunteer constructed wood play structure was partially destroyed by an arsonist.  The same group of citizens immediately mobilized to make repairs and collect donations, only to be stymied by personal agendas and inaction.  This effort to “slow down” the process of rebuilding the structure for children was in part due to a desire by some Councilors to prevent a political opponent from getting a “win” in an election year.  Of course, the children suffered, not the fossilized politicians.

With the City Hall, one proposal was killed five years ago due solely to long-standing personal agendas and animosity.  The City would already be in a modern building that it owns without increasing taxes.  Instead, taxpayers foot the bill for endless studies and estimates from engineers and specialty contractors to preserve a failing building.

After spending tens of thousands of dollars on the engineering estimates and inspections, Councilor Ripma still refuses to agree that spending millions to squeeze another twenty years of life out of an old building that is not up to current code standards is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

He is pushing his personal agenda instead and is ignoring what is most cost effective for the taxpayers.  So the City languishes in this process, with no decision in sight, all the while paying a lease payment for space without any ownership of the building.  We are nearly eight years after the old City Hall was abandoned as unsafe, yet the old guard fights and quibbles and accomplishes nothing.

In any small town, is it so easy to simply elect and re-elect the same people willing to serve.  After all, it is a challenging job with a lot of responsibility.  This has been the Troutdale model and it is failing.  When a seat is left without an incumbent running for re-election, we typically see several candidates.  This shows the widespread interest in serving.

Some of our more recent, newly elected councilors, have taken the lead on proposals such as updating the City website to make it modern and functional, not to mention using social media as a way to communicate with the younger generation of residents.  All great ideas that were heavily resisted by the longer serving Councilors.

At the end of the day, is it really to Troutdale’s benefit to have people serving more than twenty years on City Council when others with new, fresh, ideas should also have the chance to serve?  Times and ideas and technology change and Troutdale should have an easier time accepting than.  Terms limits will accomplish that.