Wednesday, May 23, 2007

If you live in Portland

... then you'll get this blog post.
Not much going on (he says as the world dissolves) so I was reading the Oregonian, which I don't often do, and found some interesting stories.

The legislature never seems to stop making laws and handing out money, so here's some interesting new bills that caught my eye.
A law passed the Senate, and has the governor's OK, that would ban smoking in bars and bowling alleys. The legal space to smoke these days is getting smaller and smaller. Soon it'll be legal only in your home. I'm not crazy about the government telling private businesses what they can do, but I can't say that I'm all that disappointed in the end result. Bowling with my family won't be quite as bad.

Senate bill 384 is moving through the process and is expected to pass. That bill creates limits on golden parachutes for school administrators. The article notes several examples of administrators who were paid lots of money, sometimes 6 figures, when asked to resign. It was written into their contracts. So the Senate is telling the state education districts and departments that they can't include them in the contracts when trying to lure new adminstrators.
I think this is a great idea, but it shouldn't just apply to Oregon school boards. Target any level of government. I'm sure this isn't only a problem in school districts. Perhaps the schools will save some money now, as it seems their buildings are going to need some earthquake upgrades.

PGE, our power company, has been dealing with more and more environmental regulations. In addition to that, they are having to deal with aging infrastructure, including some very old dams on the Sandy River. We those dams are about to come down, freeing the entire reach to it's source free for Salmon and other fish (not that you'll find fish all the way to the glacier on Mt. Hood).
But it isn't because they're being told to do it or they've found some green thumb in the board room.
"It's a business decision that makes sense for the environment," said John Esler, the power company's acting director of hydro licensing and water rights.
"Our estimate back then was if we removed the dam, it would cost $20.4 million. If we kept the dam, it would cost $27.2 million," Fryburg said.
Never the less, this is good news.

The Portland Trailblazers, our noble (well sometimes) basketball team just secured the number one pick in the NBA draft. Meaning for the first time since the 70s they get the best player (or at least the first player) coming out of college (or from overseas). The Blazers have some fine young players, so perhaps in a year or two they'll start making the playoffs again.
Who knows, we might see a new wave of Blazer-mania in our town again. Heaven help us.

There was a great article in the paper edition about scientists led by the University of Washington are laying fiber optic cables all over the Juan de Fuca plate off the Oregon and Washington coast to detect and observe movement. As the Juan de Fuca plate tends to cause most of the earth movement around here and is thought to be the reason for the beautiful volcanoes that threaten our city with sudden bursts of energy, ala Mt. Saint Helens, this is probably a really good thing. It would be the worlds largest underwater observatory, and according to the scientists, "It will represent a fundamental shift in environmental sciences and in oceanography that will be roughly equivalent to the arrival of satellites on the scene." Well I don't know about that, but I'm curious to see what this new observatory tells us about the deep crevices of the earth.

It's the spring, and about this time of year the wineries here in Oregon kick it into gear. Many of them, especially in the Yamhill region close to Portland, have open houses and parties during the Memorial weekend (that's this weekend). Here's your all encompassing wine guide from the Oregonian.

The first of 10 eco-arsonists is facing final sentencing this week in Eugene. He received 13 years, almost as much as the feds were asking for. It's the second largest sentence for a crime of this nature in recent history.

Finally, for now, here's a story about how our Republican Senator, Gordon Smith, still doesn't get it on the Iraq thing.

1 comment:

Kat said...

Wow. This post is just chock full of newsy goodness. I didn't think the Oregamian was actually able to produce that much interesting and encouraging news all in one edition. Despite my general libertarian bent, I'm totally excited at the notion of a smoking ban in bars and bowling alleys! My husband and I love billiards and bowling, but the smoke is a major nuisance. I say, "Let the other bowlers breathe!" Of course, if the law passes it won't take effect until 2009, so we'll have to hold our breath till then, but it's the hope that counts.

All the other newsy bits are interesting, too, and raise some things to keep an eye on in the future--like the underwater observatory. I wonder what we'll learn from it? I also wonder if the Blazers can manage to draft a non thug this time around? That would be nice. Unlike with the bowling, though, I'm not holding my breath.