Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Obligatory All-Local Post

I've fallen pretty far behind of late on my solemn blogger's duty to offer outraged and ill-informed commentary on all local issues of the day. So I figured I'd try to cover a bunch of PDX-centric items in one swell foop and be done with 'em. If you're not from around here (which is true of the vast majority of the Earth's population, let's not forget), this post may bore you silly. Feel free to pick out something else from "Previous Posts" or "Archives" over on the right sidebar. I won't feel hurt or anything.

  • In our endless small-city inferiority complex, we Portlanders are always looking for any sign that we're finally a "real city". Don't worry, we'll have another reason soon. If all goes according to plan, we'll soon be able to have dramatic aerial tram rescues, just like New York City. Hooray for us!
  • In general, if the powers that be in Portland, or statewide for that matter, keep calling something an "innovative" solution, what they mean is that it's cheaper than the correct solution, at least in the short term. Even at its current, more realistic cost, the OHSU tram is still cheaper than actually sorting out the transportation nightmare south of I-405. That would be expensive, and hard, and doing it right would probably require another bridge, so instead the Powers that Be punted on that and decided to just connect the two dots they care about at the moment.
  • The tram, at least, may be kinda cool when it's done, the tourists will love it, etcetera. So it may yet have some redeeming qualities. The real winner of the Cheap-N-Stupid award is the plan to run MAX down the Transit Mall, along with cars and buses. And insufferably smug bicyclists, of course -- I mean, this is Portland, after all. Ask any TriMet driver about the plan. Or just sit on their bus for 5 minutes as they navigate the existing transit mall, and chances are they'll start ranting without any prompting at all. Every single driver I've talked to has been convinced it's going to be an utter disaster. More cars on the transit mall, and MAX trains? The right solution would've been to put the trains underground through downtown, but that would cost too much. Then it might've been possible to add cars in a sensible way, with on-street parking. As it is, each "stakeholder" gets maybe 20% of their ideal solution, resulting in an unworkable compromise. If you want raspberries for dinner, and I want garlic, the solution isn't to throw everything in the blender and hope for the best. But that's what we're going to do. It doesn't help that this Frankenstein's monster of a transit plan was cobbled up behind closed doors and then unveiled to the public as a done deal. This may work in larger cities where the Powers that Be have a degree of basic competence and common sense, but here it's a recipe for disaster. Again and again we have these massive screwups that anyone with a brain could've predicted, but nobody managed to prevent.
  • But contrary to what the good-ol'-boy media would like you to think, public financing of elections is not among our many disasters, the Emilie Boyles scandal notwithstanding. The Oregonian would have you think that clumsy amateurs getting caught taking the money in public is far, far worse than slick professional insiders raking in the dough in smoke-filled rooms away from the public eye. And why is that, exactly?
  • I'm also failing to get worked up over the so-called Foxworth scandal. If a.) Foxworth was white, or b.) this was a real city, it'd probably still be grounds for a civil suit, but there wouldn't be a media feeding frenzy about it.
  • In real crime news, here's the latest on the drive-by shooting at 5th and Oak. My office is just a couple of blocks from there, and I walked right by there maybe half an hour before it happened. Yow. I mean, I'm a jaded urban dweller and all, and I don't scare easily, but I'm getting really sick and tired of the transit mall being downtown's "Crack Alley". It's not known right now whether it was drug or gang related, so it's probably unwise to jump to conclusions. But in my experience, nobody else does this sort of thing, generally speaking. I mean, I doubt it's the result of a blood feud between rival mortgage brokers, or a disgruntled urban planner whose blueprints had been turned down by the PDC for the last time. That just doesn't seem very likely, is all I'm saying.
  • If you look closely at the photo in that shooting story, you'll see that in the background is our semi-fabled bank of tasty lunch carts, a cullinary mini-Shangri-La which draws hungry office workers from all over downtown. The bright yellow cart on the right is the Smokin' Pig BBQ cart. Mmm! Drool! Highly recommended.

No comments :