To paraphrase James Carville's slogan for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign, "It's the roads, stupid."
For years Portlanders have simmered as inadequate progress has been made to make our streets safer for cars, bicycles and pedestrians. Instead, we have witnessed seemingly endless new "programs" hawking future plans to make the streets of Portland something other than the shabby shame they are.
As Mayor Ted Wheeler takes back the bureaus, he should give the current Portland Bureau of Transportation director and possibly her senior policy staff their walking papers and bring in a fresh team that actually will get things fixed. We've waited long enough. There is a lot of anger and frustration out here in the districts about the direction and track record of PBOT.
Failures by this PBOT leadership team include ignoring the paving and pothole repair that anyone can see has been needed for years; ignoring speed-limit restrictions on city streets and failing to install traffic calming even when petitioned by neighborhood residents; failure to liaison with the Portland Police Bureau in the enforcement of traffic speeds and reacting only when there is a fatality (yes, drivers still speed egregiously on streets like Southeast Division, Southeast Hawthorne and North Williams); and failure to work with the Planning Bureau to anticipate the effects of no-parking apartment complexes on the neighborhoods they now dominate. I'm sure other citizens could add more.
While credit must be given for some innovations such as dedicated bicycle streets and a few more marked crosswalks — and to the hard-working boots-on-the-ground staff who are out there with shovels in their hands — the overall record and outlook for PBOT cries out for new leadership.
Mayor Wheeler should seize this opportunity to craft a new team that understands the mission and the needs of Portlanders.
A contrast in housing solutions
April 20's news offered an interesting contrast on Page A4. On the left, an article about Tom Brenneke, whose company just built an affordable housing complex in Lents for foster children and their grandparents.
Brenneke has resigned from the Portland Housing Advisory Commission (PHAC), where he had served for three years. This commission was created by city code to advise the director of and be a public forum on housing issues as they arise in the community.
One of the reasons Brenneke gave for resigning is that advice from the advisory committee is not being asked for or taken seriously by city officials. In fact, a new stakeholder group was appointed to decide how to spend the rest of the $258.4 million affordable housing bond approved by voters last year.
The article on the right talked about this new committee, and I noticed the new PHAC member for this stakeholder group is Dike Dame. To refresh my memory on this name, I googled a story in The Oregonian from February 2016, titled "Portland's newest park: a $15.1 million path to nowhere." Yes, that is the name I remembered, from the article of how we were traded toxic waste for millions of dollars of development rights on the South Waterfront.
Angry about the extent of greed, cronyism, lying and waste for the entire weekend after reading this enlightening story, I resorted to black humor in a letter to the editor never sent, suggesting the park as an area for a new, centrally located homeless/park/camp, with a welcoming statue of Dame and Commissioner Nick Fish cavorting atop a giant screw.
Somehow, I am not certain our fair city can afford a large enough screw at this point.
City's street signs confuse visitors
My family just recently arrived in Portland for our son's wedding. Most of my family (we are from Guam) had never been to Portland. I was there as a 10-year-old boy and did some fishing with my father.
Needless to say, it was a little cold to us islanders, but what a beautiful city. Portland would have gotten a 110 percent rating from me except for one thing: your street signs.
I turn 69 this year and my eyesight is not the best, but even if I had 20/20 vision, I couldn't have seen them. Please do something about the signs, and your rating will be off the chart.
Missing friends and new family in Portland already.
Trump's taxes not a 'non-issue'
After the April 15 tax protests in many Oregon cities, Republican Party spokesman Kevin Hoar denounced "pointless perpetual protests by anti-Trump fringe groups over non-issues."
The alliteration is clever but the cheap dismissal off-base. Thousands of peaceful protesters marched in many Oregon cities that day. The ongoing national demonstrations against Donald Trump have been the largest in American history, and have included moderate, law-abiding, taxpaying registered independents like me. So "fringe groups"?
Multiple polls indicate a majority of Americans want Trump to release his tax returns. Why? Well, if Trump wants a major revamping of the tax code, how are we to know it's not just to fatten his wallet, if he doesn't release them? If Trump wants to reset the relationship with Vladimir Putin, how do we know he's not beholden to Russian lenders, if he doesn't release them? As Trump cozies up to China, how do we know it's not to serve his business interests rather than the nation's interests, if he doesn't release them?
Plus, Trump said multiple times during his campaign that he would release those returns when his audit was finished. Is it a "non-issue" that we want our president to keep this promise he repeatedly made? I don't think so.
A 2-percent sales tax solution
Vote no on the bond measure to fund schools. Corporations pulled the wool over some people's eyes by lying about previous Ballot Measure 97. "The costs will be passed on to the consumer," they said.
So what? Corporations seem to control the dialogue and it's time we citizens took control of the conversation. The only positive out of all of this new proposal is public oversight. That's what's needed for every measure. We must keep an eye on the corporate cronies in the Legislature. A 2-percent sales tax on everything but food and clothing will solve it.