Read what Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams had to say, before grant checks were given to the Gateway Area, Midway, Division/Clinton, 82nd Ave. of Roses, and Woodstock business associations …

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams meets and greets leaders of neighborhood business associations, at the grant awards celebration held on January 22.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Leaders of many East Portland business associations celebrated and dined for good reason on January 22 – they were picking up a grant checks totaling $82,125.

The event was the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Association’s (APNBA) grant awards, at the Ambridge Conference Center.

Patrick Donaldson, APNBA president, the event’s master of ceremonies, greets the assembled business leaders from across the city.

After a buffet dinner, the program began. Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams was on hand to greet the grant recipients.

Adams addresses APNBA
Addressing the group, Adams told the attendees, “Not taking anything away from neighborhood associations, it seemed to me that we also need to support our business districts. In addition to these grants, we have secured a grant, from the City of $250,000 to help support the operations of the APNBA.”

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams commends neighborhood business association leaders for helping small enterprises to grow and thrive in Portland.

Adams said that, for 14 years, citizens and politicians have tried to change the City’s business tax structure. “We were told businesses do not need tax relief. But, thanks to members of the APNBA and other members of the business community, nearly 14,000 businesses will pay lower fees, starting in about a year an a half.”

Concluding his remarks, Adams commended the business people saying, “You have stood with one another. You have shown what happens when you work with one another.”

Then, as he distributed the grant checks, APNBA president Patrick Donaldson called representatives of each group up, and recognized their projects.

82nd Ave. of Roses collects $9,500
First up, from East Portland associations, was Ken Turner, representing 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association.

Two grants were received on behalf of their organization by Ken Turner, president of 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association.

Turner told us, “One grant, for $5,000, will help us continue to install sign caps along 82nd Avenue to distinguish it as ‘The Avenue of Roses’. We’ve installed 66 sign caps so far ‚Äì this grant will go a long way to helping us cap all the signs.”

Their other grant, for $4,500, was “seed money”, Turner said, to help them organize an Avenue of Roses Parade on April 28, in conjunction with the Portland Rose Festival’s 100th anniversary. “In all, these grants help us gain positive recognition for our area as neighbors and business people work to improve the quality of life along the avenue.”

Division/Clinton Street Fair scores $3,500
Jane Baker was called up to receive a check on behalf of the Division/Clinton Business Association, over which she presides.

The check Jean Baker is accepting will help their association continue to produce their mid-summer event.

“Every year, our Division/Clinton Street Fair continues to grow,” Baker said. “This grant will help us do even more to help our business district promote our community.”

GABA gets $4,000 Fun-O-Rama map bucks
Allen Sanchez was invited up as the grant to the Gateway Area Business Association was announced.

GABA president Allen Sanchez collects their organization’s grant check for their business map project.

“In addition to our annual May Fun-O-Rama,” Sanchez told us, “we have a new project this year. We’ll be using these funds specifically to help businesses in our area put ‘their names on the map’, literally ‚Äì with a new area-wide promotional map we’re developing. We at GABA are all very happy about this. We’ll be more connected with the community ‚Äì and our customers ‚Äì thanks to this grant.”

Midway sign project awarded $1,250
Donna Dionne, president of the Midway Business Association, was next up, accepting their group’s award check.

Accepting the money for her group is Donna Dionne, president of the Midway Business Association.

“It is a great opportunity for us to showcase our association,” Dionne told us. “Our sign project also lets us work with our neighborhood associations, Centennial and Powellhurst-Gilbert, so we can better solidify the identity of our area. So, this grant means a lot to us.”

Woodstock gets online with $2,500
As Jane Glanville, president, and Barry Evans, VP, of the Woodstock Community Business Association (WCBA) came forward, Donaldson described how the funds would help the association better communicate among its members and the public.

Jane Glanville, president, and Barry Evans, VP, of Woodstock Community Business Association, pick up their grant award from APNBA president Pat Donaldson.

After the program, Jane Glanville told us, “This is a fantastic opportunity. These funds will allow us to start a Woodstock Business Association website. This project will connect everybody. It will help promote our parade and Woodstock Festival this summer. We hope it will allow everyone to participate in building a better Woodstock area.”

This association also serves the western half of the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood as well.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

There are more than books at your local branch library. See what others heard during this cultural – and entertaining – presentation …

Accomplished guitarist Alfredo Muro, accompanied by percussionist Dave Fischer, filled Midland Library with rich musical passages in December.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As part of a continuing series featuring cultural presentations of arts from around the world, Midland Library hosted an innovative program for its patrons a few weeks ago.

Although some said his commentary was slightly over-amplified, Lynn Darroch wove tales highlighting Latin culture artistry.

Entitled “Beyond the Border: Musical Stories of Latin America”, writer Lynn Darroch presented a series of narratives about musicians, authors, and others in the Latin world.

Those stories were set to music, performed live by guitarist Alfredo Muro, and accompanied by percussionist Dave Fischer.

Check our Community Calendar listings for other free, culturally-enriching events to be found at your Midland Library.

¬© 2007 ~ David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See part of the “pot” haul deputies have garnered
– so far – as this wide-ranging investigation continues …

Sheriff Deputies are tight-lipped about their ongoing investigation of a multi-location “pot-farming” network raising hundreds of plants, like these. (MSCO Photo)

Reported by David F. Ashton
We haven’t yet been allowed to see the operations for ourselves, but Lt. Jason Gates has confirmed to us that the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO) Special Investigations Unit has busted three indoor marijuana farms.

According to Gates, “Two days last week, our personnel served search warrants at three locations in Multnomah County. [This action] resulted in the seizure and dismantling of large growing operations at each location.”

While deputies wouldn’t comment on this ongoing case, Sheriff’s Deputies indicate this pot-growing set-up is highly sophisticated. (MCSO photo)

Seized during the three “pot farm” busts, Gates says, were 920 plants, worth approximately $6 million in street value, and 8 pounds of harvested marijuana buds with a $102,000 approximate street value.

In addition to the pot, deputies are also cataloging a large assortment of sophisticated grow appliances, such as lights, airflow ducting, and industrial fans.

Outer East Portland connection
“This is an on-going investigation,” Gates tells us, “we can’t jeopardize the safety of our personnel, nor compromise the case. I can say some activity has been in your [East Portland] coverage area.”

Sheriff’s Deputies say these bags contain about 8 lbs. of harvested marijuana buds worth about $102,000 on the street. (MCSO Photo)

Gates indicates to us that there is more to this story. As it unfolds, you’ll see it here at East Portland News.

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

While the residents will have some cleaning up to do, fast response by Portland Fire & Rescue companies kept damage to their house to a minimum – and no one was injured. Read a first-person account of the fire by the man who helped build the home, more than 50 years ago …

Homeowner Walt Allen showed us where he thinks the fire started, here, outside his house.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The “Residential Fire” call came in just after 4:30 a.m. on January 19.

Within minutes, the flashing lights and sirens of trucks from two Portland Fire & Rescue companies cut through the cold, damp early morning fog, in this quiet Powellhurst Gilbert neighborhood.

The residents of this ranch-style house in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood already knew their home was ablaze.

“I heard the fire alarm, and thought I smelled smoke,” homeowner Walt Allen told us outside his house in the 13700 block of SE Bush St.

Confronts fire in living room
“When I came running out into the living room, I could see flame right where we have our television. I grabbed a fire extinguisher. It slowed the fire down.”

What he didn’t know, Allen says, is that the fire had actually started outside his home, and was burning through both the exterior and interior walls. “It must have created a lot of heat; it melted a lot of stuff.”

“My wife, Marion, and I got out OK,” reports Allen, “so did our dog. So far, the worst thing was my Golden Retriever ran off. We’re looking for him right now.”

Showing us around his house, Allen said he and his father-in-law built the home in 1955. “When they passed way, they wanted us to live here; we have for the last 20 years. We have a lot of history tied up here.”

Firefighters quickly doused the flames and kept the blaze from spreading through their 50-year-old home. This pile, in the driveway, is the “overhaul” (burnt materials) from the fire.

Behind his home, Allen shows us a fish pond. “We have an electrical system around it to keep the raccoons out. Its power system is what caused the fire.” He says most of the damage inside their home is from smoke.

Commends firefighters
“They did a good job. [The firefighters] showed up right away and got the fire out,” Allen says as we walk back to the front of their home.

Looking at the pile of burned debris (called “overhaul”), he said he was afraid some valuables were burned. “I’m not sure what’s there; maybe our cellular phones. I sure hope the new camera my daughter gave me isn’t there.”

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams dedicates the latest improvement to the avenue, and says why he’s championed the “Avenue of Roses” project. Discover why this effort is more than simply a name change‚

In this photo illustration, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, and president of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association Ken Turner, take a moment to admire the newly dedicated “sign cap”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
November 23, Portland City Council passed a resolution, “whereas, 82nd Avenue would be referred to as the Avenue of Roses”.

Is changing a highway’s name a meaningless gesture, as some naysayers would scoff?

Judging by the number of neighborhood leaders who have joined with businesspeople working to enhance the quality of life along the storied avenue, the benefits are just beginning to show.

A window on 82nd Avenue
Paul Ellison has had a “window on the world” of this avenue for over a decade. He’s the manager of Bank of the West’s SE 82nd Avenue at Division Street branch.

“Since we started the ‘Avenue of Roses’ project,” Ellison told us, “I’ve seen a lot more interest in creating a livable neighborhood by the community. It’s great to see new construction and new businesses coming here. Crime and street prostitution are declining. And, there’s a lot more ownership and pride in the community.”

Ellison, a board member of the “82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association”, added, “We’re seeing the rebirth of the avenue as we rename it ‘Avenue of Roses’.”

Capping the signs

Representatives from business and neighborhood associations gather, as Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams steps up to make the dedication.

As part of the avenue’s makeover, the business association started work on the sign cap project last year.  It has been funded, in part, by an Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Association (APNBA) grant from the City of Portland.

On January 11, neighbors and business people gathered in front of Eastport Plaza at SE 82nd Avenue of Roses and Holgate Boulevard for the official unveiling of the sign caps.

APNBA president Pat Donaldson tells onlookers he was pleased to see this grant being used to post sign-top symbols of the avenue’s improvement.

“This is more than a ‘re-branding’ of this avenue,” Ken Turner, president of the street’s business association told us; “in addition to enhancing the image of 82nd Avenue, we’re creating an atmosphere in which the quality of life‚ represented by roses‚ will grow. With the unveiling of the sign cap here this morning, it indicates 82nd Avenue is undergoing a new beginning as well.”

Greg Zuffrea, president of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce was on hand. He told us, “This is a symbol of the avenue’s revitalization. The continued efforts of these dedicated citizens will bring a new perception‚ and prosperity‚ to this area of East Portland.”

Adams presides over the official un-veiling
Before making his remarks, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams told us, “I’ve supported this project early on. So much of the vitality of the city has shifted out here to 82nd Avenue and beyond.”

During his remarks to the crowd, Adams said Ken Turner deserved the credit for spearheading this effort. “I’m a big believer in the 82nd Avenue of Roses Project. And in the next few months, the Portland Office of Transportation will be investing $750,000 in improving transportation infrastructure on 82nd Avenue. We’re putting our money where our passion is‚ improving 82nd Avenue of Roses.

“Right now, we’ll unveil the sign cap. Within the next two months, I’ll introduce an ordinance before Portland City Council that will officially rename 82nd Avenue as ’82nd Avenue of Roses’.”

With a few gentle tugs, the sign cap was unveiled.

Within minutes, the ceremony was over.

A TV reporter stepped to Adams, and asked why the commissioner seemed to be so enthused about the project.

Adams responded, “To the people on Portland’s west side, 82nd Avenue is an unknown treasure. Getting people to see [this area] differently is why we’re doing this. This isn’t an empty gesture; it is a symbol of pride for folks in East Portland. I’m really happy to see businesspeople and neighbors working together to improve the quality of life in their area.”

Gathered together along the Avenue of Roses are Pat Donaldson, APNBA; Greg Zuffrea, East Portland Chamber of Commerce; Ken Turner, 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Assn.; Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams; and, Paul Ellison, 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Assn.

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See the fun we had at the last Fix-it Fair in Powellhurst-Gilbert a few weeks ago. If you missed it, mark January 27th on your calendar now. Read this, and you’ll learn how to save big bucks, and enjoy a free Burgerville USA lunch while you’re there ‚Ķ

Welcoming outer East Portland neighbors to the 20th Annual Fix-it Fair are hostesses Joellen Carothers, Genevieve Joplin, and Jill Kolek.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Is it too good to be true? A free event put on the City of Portland, that helps residents be safer and save money? And, that it’s primarily funded by businesses, instead of tax dollars?

Nope. Not it’s not a scam, when we’re talking about the 20th Annual Fix-it Fairs.

The last place this roving fair took place was a few weeks ago at the Alice Ott Middle School in Powellhurst-Gilbert. It attracted hundreds of folks who attended free classes, got free merchandise – and a free lunch.

Information free, for all
Jill Kolek, City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development, welcomed us to the fair, explaining, “This is a place where folks can meet with forty vendors to learn all kinds of money-saving ideas.”

The vendors don’t sell stuff, Kilek said — but instead, give information. Residents get community resource information like water conservation, gardening, posting, electric safety, and insulation, for example.

“The beautiful thing about this is that our partners contribute to putting on these fairs. Not only are Fix-It Fairs free to the public, they use city resources. And, they do people a world of good.”

Keith Berkery, with a little help from hard-hatted Felisha Mills, encouraged Rita Cook to attend their class. “The most important thing I leaned,” Cook recalled, “was that everyone should have a three-day emergency kit ready.”

Safety first
At one of the exhibits, we met up with our friend Kerry Dugan, the information officer with the Portland Office of Emergency Management.

“We give a class to help people learn the basic things they should do to prepare for emergencies,” Dugan explained. “One is to build a 72-hour emergency kit for each person in your household. Another thing is to make an emergency plan for both your home and business.”

The emergency class teacher, Keith Berkery, added, “The important thing is that neighbors should know how to first take care of themselves, then their family, and be willing to then reach out and care for their neighbors.”

Always promoting safety, Dugan reminded as we left, “Be sure to tell folks to come see us at Madison High School on January 27th if they missed this event.”

Multnomah County Weatherization Program’s Jessica Bowen and Tom Brodbeck team up with Rex Hollingsworth of Rex Heating, to help people learn how to stay warm while slashing their heating bills.

Keeping homes cozy
Has the cold snap left you shivering, while your energy bills shot up through the roof? Then you really need to meet Rex Hollingsworth, East Portland’s furnace expert, with 30 years experience in heating and cooling. “I’ve worked on a lot of homes across our area, as many as 500 a year.”

“I’m here teaching a furnace basic class,” Hollingsworth explained. “I volunteer to teach this class because when people learn how to maintain their furnace, it saves them so much money.”

Asked for his most important tip, he stated, “Change your furnace filters! If air can’t easily pass through them, your home can’t be efficiently heated. Remember, changing filters costs so little, but help you save so much money during the winter.”

Lunch, hot off the grill

Not only do you get free money-saving advice and hand outs, the Fix-it Fair also features lunch. Here, hot-off-the-grill burgers are being served by Kenneth Moody.

The smell of Burgerville USA lunches wafted through the building.

Before sampling the noontime repast, we asked Jerry Otto, manager of the store at SE 122nd and Stark Street, why they participate by giving away free lunches.

“We believe in fresh, local and sustainable products and services,” Otto told us, our mouth already beginning to salivate. “This includes renewable energy. That is our commitment as a company. We started partnering with the Fix-it Fairs last year by providing fresh, hot lunches to help bring people in.”

Last fair is January 27

Dozens of companies and agencies are on hand to give you money-saving tips, health, and safety information, or provide governmental resource information at the Annual Fix-it Fair, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Madison High School at 2735 NE 82nd Ave. of Roses on January 27.

This year’s last Fix-it Fair in East Portland is coming right up on January 27.

Exhibitors and hourly workshops offer practical, expert information on such topics as gardening, home health and safety and energy conservation.

If that isn’t enough, you’ll also find:

  • Prize drawings for compact fluorescent light bulbs, gift certificates to local stores, carbon monoxide detectors, etc.;
  • Assorted giveaways, including recycled plastic tote bags; and,
  • All-day on-site professional childcare.

The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Madison High School at 2735 NE 82nd Ave. of Roses on January 27.

For more information, call 503-823-4309, e-mail fixitfair@ci.portland.or.us or visit www.sustainableportland.org/events.

¬© 2007 ~ David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See who was roasted and who was toasted, at the 3rd Annual “Taxpayer Academy Awards” program held in outer East Portland

Comedian Mike Jenkins was the sidekick this year for KPAM’s Victoria Taft as they presented the 3rd Annual “Taxpayer Academy Awards” program at the Portland Airport Sheraton Hotel.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Members and guests of the politically conservative, “less-government-is-better”, Oregon Executive Club are anything by stodgy.

On January 11, the club convened at the Portland Airport Sheraton Hotel for an evening of raucous fun, as they hosted their third annual “Taxpayer Academy Awards” program.

Don McIntire, president of the Oregon Executive Club, or “Chowder and Marching Society” as he calls it, introduces the evening’s program and presenters.

‘Awards’ based on research
The event’s sponsors, Oregon Executive Club and Taxpayer Association of Oregon, sent ballots out to 6,000 people. Respondents were asked to nominate candidates for awards such as Wiener Politician, Pork Barrel Project, and Bureaucratic Bungler.

Victoria Taft was on hand to MC the show, which was also broadcast, live, during her KPAM talk program. “We give out awards to those most deserving ‚Äì the biggest bungling politicians and decisions of the year,” Taft began.

“Look around,” Taft quipped, “Core members of the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ are here. There is a reason that Don McIntire’s phone number starts with ‘666’, people say.”

The onion-skin envelope please
Wiener Politician Award Winner went to [Oregon’s school] Superintendent Susan Castillo.
“With two days before school started, Castillo threatened to yank the funds for the approved charter school, the Oregon Connections Academy. This sent over 500 students and parents into chaos. Thanks to huge public support for the school and public pressure Castillo changed her mind.

Pork Barrel Project Winner was–hands down, we were told–Portland’s Ariel Tram.
“Lack of oversight caused costs to triple from $15 million to an astonishing $55 million.”

During a commercial break, 2006 Portland City Council candidate Dave Lister talked about his election try. He took jabs at Portland’s politicos and decisions. Judging by the response of his receptive audience, Lister landed several sound, comedic blows.

Bureaucratic Bungler Winner was the “Learn Less, Score High” Test.
“The federal government has faulted Oregon’s Dept. of Education for setting 3rd, 4th & 5th grade tests too low, which artificially raises Oregon’s test scores. Thousands of kids who passed [these tests] may not have passed after all.”

Golden Schnoz Award Winner was bestowed on Portland Why-Fi?
“Portland is getting into the private Wi-Fi broadband business by using as much as $16 million of taxpayers’ dollars to make a deal with a private company to provide free Wi-Fi service to the entire city.”

Victoria Taft gives a big build up to the next award winner.

Bouquet presentations
Not all of the group’s awards were sarcastic. The group also gave out these honors:

Government Innovation Award Winner: Oregon Connections Academy
“This on-line virtual public charter school doubled enrollment in a single year, has successful test scores, and accomplished it at only 50% the cost of a standard Oregon public school.”

Finally, their Thomas Jefferson Award winners were Oregonians In Action activists Ross Day, Dave Hunnicutt, and Bill Moshofsky. “In a year when 80% of the state ballot measures failed, these guys successfully passed Measure 39 which protects landowners from unjust condemnations.”

Presidential Straw Poll Results
Among those surveyed, whom was the candidate of choice? The group’s Straw Poll picked former Speaker Newt Gingrich; he got  28% of the vote.

Former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani pulled 22%; Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney came in third place with 14%.

Who was at the bottom? Tied for last place were Illinois Senator Barack Obama and New York State Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, each pulling just 3% of the straw vote.

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

We call it “the blizzard that never came” ‚Äì but see why careless or unskillful drivers in the Wilkes area kept colliding with one another anyway ‚Ķ

With sleet falling at the Portland Airport Sheraton Hotel the night before, covering cars with a blanket of white, we guessed a blizzard was on the way on January 11.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Gazing out the back window of our office, it looked as if January 11 would bring Portland the promised, hoped-for, dreaded major winter storm. Thick fluffy flakes fell, then stuck to trees, sidewalks, and vehicles.

The forecast of an icy storm closed down Portland Public and Parkrose schools. However, although the morning freeze made driving to work dicey, it certainly didn’t shut down outer East Portland.

Shortly after that “high energy snow event”, as weather forecasters called it, the sun broke through the clouds as we looked out our office window.

Parents with school-age children scrambled to find childcare for their kids. But, the kids didn’t seem to mind at all having the day off.

“This is great,” said Kevin, a Sacramento School student, trying to slide down a small slope dusted with heavy, wet snow.

While many schools closed for the day, like Parkrose Sacramento School, the dire predictions didn’t phase David Douglas schools — they were open for education.

Overall, accidents were few across outer East Portland. PDOT trucks worked through the night spreading de-icer and sand in many of the traditional slick spots.

Vehicles zoomed along NE 148th Avenue, oblivious to treacherous patches of ice on the roadway just east of Glendoveer.

The main trouble spot was NE 148th Avenue in the Wilkes neighborhood. The combination of tall trees, shading the road, and the curves along the east end of Glendoveer became the main trouble spot for the day.

Even though the roadway had been sanded, the icy conditions–combined with fast, perhaps careless driving–caused one accident after another during the morning hours.

Upset that we’d witnessed the aftermath of her SUV smacking into this parked car, the out-of-control driver demanded we not photograph her.

The driver of a massive SUV looked upset when we came upon the accident scene at which it looked like she careened into a parked car. She wouldn’t tell us her name, nor permit us to photograph her nor her vehicle. “I was only going the speed limit,” she protested. “They should know better! These people shouldn’t park cars along the street when it’s icy.”

Later in the day, just blocks away, another SUV slid on a patch of ice on NE Halsey St., near 146th Ave., jumped the curb. and rolled on its side.

Lessons to learn
On days when the temperature dips below the freezing point, expect icy conditions on some roads ‚Äì especially if the pavement is shaded by tall trees during the day and can’t dry out.

And, in the case of that anonymous lady mentioned earlier, best not to park on the street when she and her SUV are fish-tailing by!

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Saying he “feels at home” in outer East Portland, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard pitches his “cell phone tax”, chides the PDC, and pumps the Water Bureau in his own unique way. Read here what he had to say ‚Ķ

Never shy to speak his mind, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard did so frankly, before members of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce last month.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Catching up to date with the East Portland Chamber of Commerce, they’ve been providing networking opportunities for businesspeople, endorsed the “Small Business Bill of Rights”, and held conversations with public officials.

Randy Leonard speaks out
During the holiday season, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard spent the time with East Portland Chamber of Commerce members at their weekly morning networking event. He candidly talked about his pet projects and city issues affecting East Portland businesspeople.

“Not only do I live close by,” Leonard began, “I also feel close to this chamber because I work with Ken Turner (Government Affairs chair for the Chamber) on the Small Business Council ‚Äì they meet in my office downtown.”

Enthused about bio-diesel
“Our country has energy problems,” Leonard stated. “I believe bio-diesel can solve those problems.”

Having talked with Eastern Oregon farmers, the city councilman asserted that Portland is poised and positioned to be a major hub for bio-diesel production and distribution. “We have the waterways to bring crops here. A production facility would create new jobs in our region.”

Changes in city government
Turning to the city’s management, Leonard said there has been a big change in how since Tom Potter became mayor. “We have a better atmosphere at City Hall. We have vigorous discussion; not so much disagreements, but honest, open discussions.”

Digging into the PDC
“In the past few months, I’ve focused on Portland Development Commission,” Leonard told the group.

“The PDC provides assets for the city to improve economic wealth for Portland. But they’ve forgotten their mission; they’ve lost their way. It seems is if they’ve lost sight that the PDC is a taxpayer-funded origination.”

Leonard said he believes the City Council is split, three to two, regarding holding PDC more accountable.

He brought up the SW 3rd Ave. and Oak (former Portland Police Bureau headquarters) transaction. “The PDC paid more than appraised value for the property; and then sank $500,000 to remediate it. Then, they came up with an appraisal showing it was worth a negative 2.7 million. The auditor said the PDC appraisal was a sham.”

While staff members might not consider Leonard’s attention helpful, “I’m helping them be more transparent,” he added.

Commissioner Leonard spoke with pride about the “new service attitude” at the Portland Water Bureau.

Water Bureau pride
“I was assigned the Portland Water Bureau 18 moths ago,” Leonard continued. “It is a wonderful city agency. This bureau got hung with the computer billing system, but it wasn’t their mess. There is a renewed spirit of service there.”

The commissioner also talked about his “Hydro-Park” project. “There are many parcels of water bureau property that are large expanses. Starting in Hazelwood, we took the fences down; moved in the East Portland Neighborhood Office.” Instead maintaining unused space, Leonard said they’re in the process of turning other properties into parks, community gardens, and walking trails.

Against city license fee changes without ‘cell tax’
Leonard said he was in favor of eliminating the current Business License Fee tax altogether. This would be possible, he proposed, if the city instituted a tax on cellular telephone service.

“Look, everyone hates taxes,” Leonard confided. “But Vancouver levies a 6% cell phone tax ‚Äì Seattle’s tax is at 22%. The fairest tax is one that touches everybody. Absent a tax like this, I can’t begin to gift away parts of the city’s revenue.”

Comments on the City Charter Review
For months, a “blue-ribbon panel” has met, at the mayor’s request, to review the Portland City Charter and make recommendations.

Asked for his comment on the results of the review, Leonard responded, “What disturbs me most is the recommendations [which the review contains, to] totally recreate the city’s structure ‚Äì change the very nature of our city government. Yet, it leaves the PDC pretty much unchanged. It doesn’t make sense.”

Meet Portland’s new Business Program Coordinator on January 17
City Commissioner Erik Sten was originally scheduled to speak to the Chamber members on January 17 at The Heights At Columbia Knoll.

Instead, members will hear from Christopher Hartye. He joined the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) as Business Program Coordinator on December 4th. Hartye is charged with working with business associations, chambers of commerce and other community-based organizations to provide a variety of services to the small business community, including technical assistance, leadership and organizational development training.

Plan now to meet Hartye, and the Chamber’s members, at their “Good Morning East Portland” networking meeting on January 17 from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. Meetings are free, and guests are welcome. The Heights At Columbia Knoll is located at 8320 NE Sandy Blvd. For more information, see www.EastPortlandChamber.com or call (503) 788-8589.

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Giving a novel twist to the City of Portland’s budgeting process, Commissioner Sam Adams talked with outer East Portland folks BEFORE the budget was set. Read this, and you’ll discover what he learned ¶

Saying he wanted to hear directly from outer East Portland citizens, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams lets folks at the Parkrose forum speak their minds about roads, sewers, and the arts.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Most Portlanders complain that their government officials only listen to them after key decisions – like budgeting – have been made.

Not so with Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams.

Before the meeting, he told East Portland News Service, “I came here before I put together the budgets for the bureaus I oversee. The best time to get comment is before the budgets are finished, don’t you think?”

Folks from all over outer East Portland–about 60 in all–filled the Parkrose High School Community Room on January 4. Attendees identified themselves as being from the Parkrose, Argay, Hazelwood, Wilkes Community Group, Pleasant Valley, Lents, and Russell neighborhoods.

Meeting first of its kind
“As far as I know,” Adams began, “there hasn’t been a meeting like this held before. Outer East Portland is the newest part of the city. Many people here feel it has been treated with inequitably. I’m from North Portland, and I can tell you that people there don’t feel they’re getting fair share, either.”

Before the road, sewer and arts bureau chiefs made their presentation; Adams called for questions related to their services.

Show on the road(s)
After questions regarding transportation issues were recorded, Sue Keil, Director of Portland Office of Transportation, (PDOT) began her presentation. She detailed sources of the bureau’s revenues ‚Äì gas taxes and parking meter revenue. Then, Keil outlined projects being looked at for outer East Portland.

Sam Adams and PDOT’s Sue Keil take questions before talking about specific highway safety projects being considered for outer East Portland.

“Some of the most dangerous intersections are out here,” Keil told the audience. She said, statistically, the most deadly are at SE 96th Ave. at Foster Rd., SE Stark St. at 102nd Ave. and NE Glisan at the I-205 interchange.

“We’re considering installing ‘red-light cameras’. They don’t typically reduce the number of accidents. But they reduce the severity; especially for pedestrians,” Keil explained.

In all, PDOT plans to spend $250,000 to improve six outer East Portland intersections and roads.

Answering those who asked why more streets aren’t being paved and sidewalks installed, Adams told the group that PDOT prioritized available funds, focusing on the most dangerous intersections and roadways first. “Before now, the City Council has never invested this amount of money in intersections.”

Down the drain —  or not — in outer East Portland
“We take care of everything that falls out of the sky, or gets flushed drown the drain,” is how Bureau of Environmental Services manager Dean Marriott described his department’s responsibility. “We have an operating budget of almost $100 million per year. Most of the cost goes into operating our two waste water plants and 95 pumping stations located throughout Portland.”

Portland Bureau of Environmental Services manager Dean Marriott explains his agency’s budget.

Many questions posed regarded why outer East Portland residents were forced to pay “storm water remediation” charges when their rainwater runoff never enters the sewer system. “We paid to have our sewers installed; why don’t people in old Portland have to pay to fix theirs?” a neighbor asked.

Adams responded that the city chose to operate as single sewer agency. “There are benefits of economy over time.”

Adams went on to explain that there are 9,000 rainwater injection systems, known as “sumps”, all across the city. He added that federal regulators are concerned that the city sumps aren’t protecting groundwater from polluted rain runoff.

Pressed for details, Adams explained, “We’re retrofitting some sumps to catch brake dust, asbestos, and oils from vehicles. When you filter a sump, you have to maintain it. A sedimentation trap collects the dirt, keeping it out of the sump; and the groundwater.”

The bottom line is, Adams stated, that if all of outer East Portland’s sumps have to be retrofitted to meet federal government standards the cost will be borne by all residents across the city.

Adams listens to a forum participant as he expresses his concern about sewer costs in outer East Portland.

Marriott said East Portland initiatives to be funded include protecting wellheads, installing “green streets” program as streets are improved, sewer improvements along SE 92nd Ave. and Powell Blvd., the Lents sewer extension, and an extensive project along Johnson Creek.

“How many times have you seen Johnson Creek flood this year?” Adams asked. “It hasn’t. The BES has recreated the creek watershed.”

Marriott added, “We can’t keep Johnson Creek from flooding, but we’ve worked hard to reduce flooding. And, with the help of a $3 million grant from FEMA, we can do more.”

Arts and Culture in East Portland
Eloise Damrosch, Executive Director of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, started her presentation by asking, “What would it be like if there weren’t arts in the parks and schools?”

Regional Arts & Culture Council executive director Eloise Damrosch listens to a neighbor’s concern about arts spending in East Portland.

Damrosch explained how the RACC advocates for state and federal funding, distributes information about project, art jobs and programs, and gives out grants for art projects.

A handout provided by Damrosch detailed sixteen grants for East Portland projects. Sadly, listings for “Public Art in East Portland” detailed only five projects, some of them more than a decade old.

Adams’ analysis
After letting the commissioner and his staff have a few days to digest the information gleaned from Parkrose forum, we contacted Adams to find what he, and his bureau directors, learned.

About PDOT, the commissioner commented, “The residents of East Portland share my concern about the safety of the roads that they and their families travel on. I was pleased we recognized some of the same critical intersections; but most importantly I was glad to see that so many neighbors were engaged in the process, and that they care about their neighborhoods enough to advocate for safe streets and improvement of our transportation assets.”

Asked his thoughts regarding BES, Adams told us, “The city has a lot of work to do to repair the hurt feelings in the wake of decade-old decisions about sewer services out in East Portland. Many residents east of 82nd Ave. don’t feel they were given a fair shake when they were annexed into Portland and our sewer system. It is important that elected officials like me are out in the community being held accountable for the decisions that we make that affect the lives of our residents. I was pleased that people care about storm water management, and could hear that joining the system is better for the whole.

We asked Adams, “What is the most important feedback you gained from attendees regarding the RACC budget and programs?”

Adams responded, “We need to get information out into the communities about grant opportunities, so all of our lives can be enriched by art and culture. A society that fails to invest in its arts is a culture fails to invest in its future. I hear clearly that there is more opportunity for RACC to make a difference in East Portland.”

Commissioner Sam Adams talks with a neighbor at his Budget Forum held in Parkrose.

Overall, we asked, what specific effect will this meeting have on the budget process?

“We’ll take the specific ideas and concerns proposed by residents, and try to decide which projects deserve the most review and attention, and how we can work them into our budget. Obviously, we will have to address sewer rates, as a specific big issue coming out of this meeting, when it comes to budget hearings.”

Finally, we asked the Commissioner how he feels about the outcomes of the Parkrose meeting:

“I feel good about a few things coming out of this meeting. I was glad to see so many residents attend. The strong turnout affirmed for me that these town hall meetings are a good means by which to get the community together.

“Also, I was heartened to learn that neighborhood safety was such a key issue for community members. I feel so strongly about resident safety. I’m glad I was able to convey my dedication to work with this community in making it as safe as we can.”

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

This wreck looked pretty bad. Yet, everyone walked away from it …

Fortunately, a tree and the bushes slowed down this car enough so it didn’t quite get to the Centennial neighborhood Safeway store.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The police radio crackled, “car into a building on SE 162 east of Division”. Police and Portland Fire & Rescue were dispatched to the scene. We drove out to take a look.

It didn’t help that Jan. 8 was a heavily overcast day, and a heavy mist was falling. “It may have contributed to the accident,” the officer on scene told us.

A witness told us the curb-climbing car we found driven up the lawn and almost into the Safeway store had been northbound on SE 162nd Ave. “The green SUV was pulling out of the parking lot,” she said. “Somehow, it clipped the van, and skidded around.”

This van pulled out of the lot, a witness said and may have caused the accident.

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the incident.

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why traffic cops gave nine East Portland drivers a “$242 reminder” to yield to pedestrians at intersections ‚Ķ

Ignoring traffic laws, drivers whiz past PDOT’s Sharon White. She’s working with Portland Police’s Traffic Division to make drivers more mindful about stopping for pedestrians along Portland’s third most dangerous avenue ‚Äì for those on foot.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Those who drive along SE 82nd Avenue of Roses often don’t pay attention to pedestrians. In fact, on December 27, we witnessed several occasions in which those on foot ‚Äì walking within marked lanes, with a green light ‚Äì almost became another accident statistic.

“We’re out here today along 82nd Ave., in front of Eastport Plaza,” Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Commander Marty Rowley told us, “doing crosswalk safety mission in conjunction with PDOT.”

Clint Lenard, safety chair for Lents Neighborhood Association, and Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Commander Marty Rowley, as well as Lents volunteers Judy and John Welch, observe the crosswalk enforcement action along Eastport Plaza on 82nd Avenue of Roses.

Asked why this location was chosen, Rowley responded, “Sharon White, from the Portland Office of Transportation, has been researching pedestrian safety issues. The intersection of SE 82nd Avenue and Holgate Boulevard has the third-highest rate of  pedestrian accidents in the entire city.”

Rowley said that while PDOT workers are looking at this east-side pedestrian danger zone from an engineering perspective, “We came out to help educate the public by doing law enforcement.”

Ready to write (tickets)
“Specifically,” said Rowley, “we’re doing crosswalk enforcement, and looking at other violations by vehicle drivers ‚Äì disobeying traffic lights or making improper turns. It isn’t just to write tickets that we do this. We use this as an educational tool.”

Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division officers are looking for drivers ‚Äì and pedestrians ‚Äì who don’t follow the street crossing laws.

Vehicle drivers weren’t the only people being issued citations or warnings while we watched.

“We don’t discriminate against vehicle drivers during these special enforcements,” the traffic bureau commander told us. “If pedestrians are crossing illegally, they will be given a citation. Jay-walking isn’t a ‘right’ in Portland, although some people behave that way.”

Police say this young lady, pushing a stroller containing a toddler, dashed across the busy intersection at SE 82nd at Holgate – against the light! Because of her dangerous behavior, she received a traffic citation.

The bottom line, Rowley instructed, is that the laws of physics apply, whether a pedestrian is in the right or not. “When a pedestrian gets hit, they don’t fare very well. Pedestrians have to accept some responsibility for their safety. Part of a pedestrian’s responsibility is to make sure it’s safe to cross a roadway when they leave a sidewalk.”

At a signalized intersection, a pedestrian has the right of way to walk when the ‘hand’ sign is on. If there isn’t a signal at a crossing, he added, the pedestrian can’t just step out in traffic and expect to be given the right-of-way.

Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Officer Fort issues a citation for a driver who failed to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk ‚Äì she swerved around PDOT’s Sharon White and kept right on going.

28 actions taken in two hours
After working the intersection at SE Holgate Boulevard, the team moved to an unsignalized intersection in front of Eastport Plaza.

Sharon White, the PDOT researcher who identified the area as one of Portland’s most dangerous for walkers, took part in the enforcement action. Although she was dressed in a bright yellow rain slicker, cars and trucks simply whizzed past her.

Drivers who failed to yield for her were pulled over and issued a traffic citation carrying a $242 fine.

A total of 9 citations were issued for “Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian”, and the traffic cops wrote 19 more warning citations.

Did you know…?
At a signalized intersection, if the pedestrian is in the street, a driver must give pedestrians clearance of lane in which they’re traveling, plus six feet.

At unsignalized intersections, the pedestrian must first make sure it is safe to cross. Once a vehicle has stopped to allow them to cross, all other vehicles must also stop and let them cross, regardless of the lane, or direction of travel.

¬© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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