The new format of the unOregonian is a weird combination of USA Today and a British tabloid.
The websites are just as clunky as ever, not unlike CoverOregon. The era of incompetence!
This happens when ownership listens to consultants who feel that content has to be dummied down to the education level of a 6th grader.
As in TV land "it's got to bleed to lead."
As an example of bad journalism trumping good journalism Harry Esteve, an excellent political reporter, is going to start a series tomorrow setting up an "NCAA" March Madness bracket of the movers and shakers in Oregon politics.
In an era political pygmies in Oregon there are no final 4 contestants, just a game played by the mediocre, the well healed and those who've sold out to corporate Oregon. I refuse to vote in this stupid poll.
This is not reporting the news, this is the construction of psuedo news. As the Oregonian editors made clear in the unwrapping of the new format, the intent is to get more eyeballs. That's not journalism but the equivalent of reality TV.
By contrast Katherine Driessen did an a article on Gain Share with a poll included in her article. I voted for "other"- focusing on funding human services, especially housing for poor residents of Washington County.
But this type of "public journalism" is seriously flawed because it's asking people's opinions when their knowledge is non-existent to very thin. Also any poll results are skewed because the sample is self-selective.
In 1994 and in 2008 the county hired a polling firm to measure public opinion on the "housing insecurity issue." Sampling a cross section of residents, it found significant public support for doing something on this issue.
One of my favorite quotes on the subject of making public policy decisions based on public opinion is from Edmund Burke. His commentary now applies to the so-called "new" journalism:
"...When leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of legislators - the instruments, not the guides, of the people..."
Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 11:41AM
Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 11:23AM
I'm a member of Washington County's Homeless Plan Advisory Committee (HPAC).
I helped create the county's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness which began in 2008.
Below in a link to the latest update of the 10 Year Plan -
Nan Roman, the President of the National Alliance to End Homelessness who I heard speak several years ago in Seattle at a national conference on homelessness was the guest speaker Friday, April 4 at the Portland City Club.
Here is her speech which I heard on OPB April 4. Her comments are very relevant to what we are doing in Washington County. My major takeaway is that homelessness is not just an inner city problem but affects suburban and rural communities too.
Washington County's 10 Year Plan is founded on the "rapid rehousing" or "housing first" model Roman examines. As she points out the major challenge is that the federal government (HUD) got out of building low income housing in the '70s.
This leaves significant gaps in our low income housing safety net to address the needs of the working poor, the elderly living on fixed incomes, the chronic homeless, victims of domestic abuse, the mentally ill and veterans from Vietnam to Iraq/Afghanistan.
In my view our most unmet needs in Washington County are:
- The need for more affordable housing.
- Moving families from shelters to permanent housing.
- Helping single adults and youth facing homelessness.
- Providing emergency housing for those exiting ERs.
To close these and other gaps requires developing public/private partnerships which so far in Washington County has been very hard to accomplish despite having the most robust economy in Oregon. It's about time the likes of Intel and NIKE stepped up!
I also received an e-mail from Jerralynn Ness, Executive Director of Washington County's Community Action Program (CAP) about their recent fund raising gala which included a link to the personal story of a family who has experienced homeless in our county.
If you're having trouble viewing this link you may
PS: At the current rate we are building low income rental housing in the county it will take us 160 years to fill the current gap - source Housing Authority report in 2013 to county commissioner work session.
Got this from my "CC" this morning:
Friday, April 4, 2014 at 09:38AM
The editorial board of the UnOregonian has endorsed the idea of an events center being the center piece of a remodeled county fair grounds complex. And like Chair Andy Duyck, they want to fund such a center with Gain Share money.
Gain Share is a state program that returns to counties and other local jurisdictions some of the income tax revenue generated by large employers who were attracted, in part, by property tax breaks. Washington County, home to employers such as Intel and Genentech, is by far the largest recipient.
By the 2017-19 biennium the program is expected to generate $151 million in tax revenues, with half of that to be directed back to counties – primarily Washington County. That’s a lot of money when budgets are tight, and as The Oregonian’s Katherine Driessen has reported.
Now if Washington County is going to get around $75 million in Gain Share dollars is an events center a good long term investment? When corporations are asked what attracts them to a local community an events centers doesn't come into the conversation, neither do tax cuts or breaks!
What corporations, especially traded sector firms, look for is lots of clean water, cheap electrical power, good schools, a high quality work force and quality of life factors. Oregon has the latter thanks to our land use system. We also have water and cheap power. But education has become problematic.
Spending money on an events center seems like the last thing Washington County needs to invest in to encourage business to come here and/or their employees to live here. We have a world class events centers in Portland at the Convention Center and the PIR.
If you want a world class workforce, then we have to close the achievement gap, we have to hire more teachers and we have to have smaller classrooms. By the way, we also need to end high stakes testing in any form - the KATZ plan, NCLB, Race to the Top or now the Common Core.
We also need industry to team us with local community colleges to train our future workforce now in our middle or high schools through apprenticeship programs which provide a transition from school to work. And corporations like Intel and Nike should help form public/private partnerships to fund such programs.
To lower traffic congestion we need more near to job affordable housing for low income entry level employees and workforce housing for those making 60% plus of medium family income. We have plenty of MacMansion housing in the county in the $500K to million dollar plus range!
In reality $75 million over two years won't go very far. A events center is a dubious proposition why not improve the county fair? But Gain Share money leveraged to fund more pressing needs for better schools and more affordable housing is a better long term investment than a Taj Mahal events center.
Unfortunately Chair Duyck has done everything he can do to destroy community support for our fair by eliminating the Fair Boosters and by putting people on the current Fair Board that agree with his vision of how to use the existing fair grounds across from Hillsboro airport.
“It looks kind of embarrassing to defend” Gain Share, considering the projects that stand to benefit, Sen. Larry George, R-Sherwood, said during a February work session. Politically, George has a point. The city and county would have been better off designating Gain Share funds for more basic needs."
"It also was a good move to steer some of the money toward schools, as they agreed to do last year." But at best Gain Share money is a quick fix not a long term solution. The legislature could take that money away any time it wants too. Then what happens to the county's Gain Share slush fund?
Duyck claims - “The things we’re funding would have been funded anyway. Does it really matter what is paid for out of the general fund, what is paid for from Gain Share and what is paid for from fees and other income?"
It matters a lot. Chair Duyck has insisted the county stick with it's primary mission - public safety, public health, libraries, sewers, parks and roads. Schools, human services let alone an events center are not part of the county's core mission. Maybe they should be - if so, propose a levy for each, Chair Duyck.
Chair Duyck is being very disingenuous to imply such things would be funded "anyway." Minus Gain Share there is no "extra money" in the pot. I've talked to legislators from the "other" Oregon, they think Washington County is a very privileged county. They might like more of Gain Share for their counties!
Then how do we fund such programs?
Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 10:44PM
The recent Supreme Court ruling that voided the overall federal limit on individuals' contributions may have more symbolic than substantive importance in a world in which millions in unlimited independent so-called "soft money" expenditures from liberal and conservative groups already play a major role in campaigns.
The ruling allows wealthy contributors to pour millions of dollars into candidate and party coffers. But unlike independent expenditures to Super PACs those contributions will be subject to disclosure under federal law unlike the big money that independent groups spend on attack ads for which no disclosure is required.
So despite the hyper ventilating on this decision from those who favor limits on campaign contributions the unintended consequence of the ruling may allow candidates and parties to wrestle a modicum of message control in the election cycle which is so distorted by the ubiquitous Super PACs on the Right and Left. This would allow candidates and parties to define the issues not PACs.
Most of the flyers you get in your mail box at election time are from PACs not candidates. Unless a candidate says they've endorsed this ad or flyer, it's just junk mail. Dump it in the recyle bin or send it back to sender!
If one is serious about limiting the cost of political campaigns, much of it wasted on flyers and radio/TV ads, then force radio and TV stations and their networks to give candidates across the political spectrum FREE air time or at least to abide by current law which requires radio and TV stations to offer ad time below commercial rates, a rule violated by local broadcast media with impunity.
According to the MSN post -
"Relatively few Americans play in the big leagues of political giving. Some 644 donors contributed the maximum amount to candidates, PACs and parties in the last election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics." So those of us who give $20 to candidates of our choice in the aggregate are the most important sources of money.
Another way to lower the cost of campaigns is to shorten the campaign season. Limit the campaign season to 3 month cycles and only allow campaign contributions to begin a month before the 3 month campaign season up to election day. For example in a general election the campaign contributions would begin July 1 and the campaign season would go from August 1 to the November election.
In the POTUS primary season New Hampshire and Iowa will have a fit. And the national parties will say this will eliminate political conventions. None of this is true. With a primary season which ends on June 1, working back this means the money campaign will begin in February with primaries scattered from March to May. This will leave June as convention time. Post-convention time until August 1 could be planning time for the fall.
Alas, money is the Mother's Milk of politics, it has forever been so and will continue to be. But the corrosive part of this is that the identity of those giving is not disclosed and we live in a political system where while "all are equal (in votes), some are more equal than others (in money)." If campaign contributions were transparent, then we could judge who gives big $$$ and who is on the take.
Given the small number of hits to this post, one assumes most of us don't give a damn about this issue. So if a dunderhead is elected, like Chair Andy Duyck who is bankrolled by Tea Party zealots and developers, the fault dear Brutus is ours, we the people!
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 08:55AM
The "CC" and I have engaged in a back and forth about Russia's so-called "annexation" of the Crimea. I suggested an historical parallel is the similar "annexation" of the Sudetenland by Hitler which was a prelude to WW II and the Holocaust. The "CC" has responded by sending me articles about what the US and her allies have done to Iraq and Afghanistan making the case we are being hypocritical in our condemnation of Putin's Russia.
I concur that the USA and Russia have blood on their hands given their imperialistic histories before and after the Cold War. Most recently both occupied Afghanistan with disastrous results. But there are important differences too which President Obama's speech in Brussels outlined to the consternation of pundits on the Right and the Left. Looking at recent events through an historical lens adds perspective.
Please listen to this interview on a comparison of what's happening in The Ukraine and a flashback to the 1930s in Central and Eastern Europe. One of the points made is that entire states were extinguished caught between competing aggressions by Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia. By contrast no such "extinguishing" of nation-states in Iraq or Afghanistan can be claimed despite the civil unrest in both nations.
From NPR's "Takeway" program: Stream m3u
As Russia flexes its muscles in Ukraine and Crimea, for many former Soviet citizens, the present looks all too familiar to the past.
This week, The Takeaway hears from former citizens of the Eastern Bloc as they share their stories of Russian occupation and life behind the Iron Curtain.
Russia invaded the Czech Republic on August 21, 1968. Prague-native Michal Lebl was just waking up to his 17th birthday when he heard on the radio that the Russians were taking over his country. He says the ghosts of Russian history are still alive in the region today.
The memories in the lands that lie between Germany and Russia are also suddenly alive. In the past few weeks, Vladimir Putin has been speaking of Russian territorial rights, and Germany has been trying to reassure Belarus, Latvia and Estonia that the political crisis in Ukraine is not a chilling replay of a brutal 20th century history.
Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale University and author of "Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin," explains what the turmoil in Eastern Europe means for the region at large.
Many argue that Iraq or Afghanistan are on the edge of "civil war" but this claim is problematic. What both nations face is factions within each want to claim the mantel of "sovereignty" - to be the legitimate government. With Allied support the Karzai government replaced the Taliban. The Taliban want to be the government again. The same parallel exists in Iraq caught between Sunni and Shiite factions with a de facto Kurdish state in the north.
The implied argument that the US et al have dismembered Iraq and Afghanistan as nation-states is not accurate quite the contrary. Our policies have been to assist in the creation of a more legitimate government for each nation. Lest one think this is pure semantics, recall this was the goal of Lincoln's war against Southern secessionists in the American Civil War. The end was to preserve the Union.
On the other hand, if there is an example of a nation-state dedicated to the eradication of a fellow nation-state it is Israel's policy toward Palestine. And tragically parallel, it's Palestinian terrorists and their jihadist-Iranian allies intent to destroy Israel.
The most commonly accepted definition of "sovereignty" is having the "legitimate" monopoly of the tools of violence. I've always rejected this narrow definition because it lacks any moral content, its reductionist logic echoes the Maoist claim that power comes from the barrel of a gun(s). No regime can last on such a pretension - even Hitler had to invent a fictional Aryan race to justify his rule, the Soviets invented Socialist realism.
But reduced to it's bare bones, the definition rings true - as Hobbes argues - government is a necessary evil to end the state of nature, the "war of all against all." Hell, even Madison acknowledge Hobbes' logic when he said that "if men were angels government would not be necessary." But we all know men are not angels - look at Banks too big to fail and now GM too big to tell the truth!
I'm not making this argument to justify the American invasion and occupation of either Afghanistan or Iraq which I opposed and continue to do so. To not be able to decipher the difference between a Hitler/Stalin goal to extinguish states or peoples to advance their imperial vision and to imply somehow Barack Obama is engaged in a similar act is morally offensive.
To put it plainly, Obama is not Dubya, nor is he Hitler nor Stalin albeit Tea Party fanatics claims otherwise. Nor is he Putin. To imply otherwise is to grotesquely misread history.