Friday, April 30, 2010

Only 1 Week Left to win $250 shopping spree at One Fair World

Salem's unique (and best) gift shop, One Fair World, wants to remind you that you only have until 5 p.m. on Friday, May 7, 2010 to enter to win a $250 shopping spree with them -- just go to this site, sign up, and list One Fair World as your participating store.

Get ready to roll on May 15! Union St. Bike/Ped Bridge Reopening

w:Union Street Railroad Bridge in Salem, Orego...A real improvement and a giant step towards getting Salem ready for the inevitable return to a car-free city. Image via Wikipedia

Salem’s Union Street Railroad Bridge Re-Opens May 15

Residents are invited to participate in a family-friendly “Passport Adventure” May 15
and “Bridge to Work” Day May 18.

Sat., May 15, 2010 – Salem, Ore. – After a brief [!?] closure, Salem’s historic Union Street Railroad Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge will officially re-open to the public on Sat., May 15. The Friends of Two Bridges, a local non-profit organization, has planned a special Passport Adventure for Salem residents in celebration of the re-opening.

On May 15, residents are encouraged to join the fun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Salem’s Riverfront Park and Wallace Marine Park. Passport participants will begin by picking up event “passports” at any of the passport stops and then wander throughout the parks and across the Union Street Railroad Bridge collecting stamps in their “passports.” Passport stops include:

  • A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village,
  • the Tom McCall statue,
  • the boat dock,
  • the Eco Earth,
  • the future site of Minto Bridge,
  • Salem’s Riverfront Carousel,
  • the Pavilion/Spray Fountain,
  • the Union Street Railroad Bridge historical signage, and
  • the new trails at Wallace Marine Park.
When “passports” are full of stamps, they are good for FREE one day admission to A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village over the weekend of May 15 and 16. Event attendees may park at Riverfront Park or Wallace Marine Park to participate in the festivities. [OR, BETTER YET, RIDE YOUR BIKE OR WALK TO THE PARK.]

The new pedestrian and bicycle bridge provides a critical half-mile link in the bicycle and pedestrian circulation systems for the community, the region, and the state. Two urban-area parks: Wallace Marine (114 acres) and Riverfront (23 acres), book-end this bridge and the conversion connects their trail systems into a single, safe, and family-friendly network. The project improves bicycle and pedestrian safety and accessibility in Salem, encourages the use of alternative transportation modes, and promotes healthy forms of exercise (like running, cycling, skating, and wheelchairing) for both local and out-of-town users.

The Union Street Railroad Bridge was built across the Willamette River in 1912-13 by Southern Pacific Railway to connect Salem to the West Willamette Valley. The bridge was acquired by Union Pacific Railroad in 1996 and was purchased by the City of Salem for one dollar in 2004. The bridge was put on the National Register of Historic Places in January of 2006.

During the recent six month closure, lead-based paint abatement and repair of the upper portion of the bridge was completed thanks to a generous contribution from ODOT’s Transportation Enhancement Program. The Oregon Transportation Commission approved $3.5 million of economic stimulus funding, the City of Salem’s first stimulus funds, for the repainting of the bridge. This final phase is being completed by S & K Painting.

As a follow up to the event, the City will also be hosting a Bridge to Work Day on Tuesday, May 18 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Salem workers and residents are encouraged to bicycle or walk to work utilizing the re-opened bridge.

For more information on the Union Street Railroad Bridge, the Friends of Two Bridges, or bridge related events, please refer to

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Marion-Polk Food Share sent out a services flier and a notice about the upcoming Letter Carrier Food Drive (last big drive between now and November --- May 8!). The website below caught my eye. Given how many people in Salem are struggling, this should be much more widely known. If you know someone who has had some economic struggles or reversals, this is a worthwhile site to check out:

Oregon Helps is a free, fast and easy to use web-based tool that asks visitors a few simple questions about their income and expenses and then estimates their potential eligibility for 33 federal, state and local services. Any information provided is completely confidential and anonymous. It is available in English, Spanish, Russian and Vietnamese.

Perhaps Salem taxpayers could clean your pool too?

no original descriptionA lot more people bowl in Salem than fly. Why haven't we got a municipal bowling alley? Image via Wikipedia

A SkyWest employee thinks it's cool that the City of Salem wants to keep throwing money at airlines, while it's cutting back on parks, libraries, police and fire.

Now Matt's probably a cool guy, but what would be really cool is if Matt and his employer and all the other airport users got together and offered to buy the airport so that Salem, which is cutting basic services and amenities available to all, wouldn't be subsidizing the airlines and the general aviation folks any more. Salem needs to own an airfield just as much as it needs to own a bowling alley. Back in the 1920's, publicly owned airfields might have made sense, but now, 90 years later, not so much. Or at all, really.

Let's let the market decide whether it actually makes sense to try to run scheduled air service out of Salem -- oil's at $85 a barrel now, we could easily see another run towards $200 this summer, the airlines are losing billions annually and can't make any money with oil over $60, and Salem's downtown is inching towards that scary tipping point where the disinvestment is going to prompt more disinvestment. We need every taxpayer dollar invested here in the basic services and amenities that are offered to everyone, not just those who travel using the method that pollutes the most per mile.
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Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Lazy Walker's Guide to the Ballot

Title page to Locke's Some Thoughts Concerning...Image via Wikipedia

Note that this means that energy efficiency upgrades for schools would make a lot more sense than new construction in many cases -- long overdue. Hat tip to Onward Oregon for writing all this down, saving me the trouble.
High Marks for Measures 68 and 69

Ballots are in the mail and the primary season is in full swing, but did you know a pair of ballot measures face Oregonians that would amend the state constitution and greatly impact the future of the state’s education system?

Don’t worry if you haven’t done your homework on Measures 68 and 69, because you’re hardly alone: They frankly haven’t gotten much attention because opposition to these measures has been scarce — and for good reason!

The writers of Measures 68 and 69 have earned extra credit in our books by simply (and smartly) correcting a longstanding law that's prevented Oregon schools — from K-12 to community colleges to universities — from using their funding most effectively.

For instance, under current law, when Oregon’s local school districts, colleges and universities need to improve or expand a facility, they’re restricted from using voter-approved bond funds to purchase or repair existing buildings. Bond funds, current law goes, can only pay for new construction, which hamstrings local school districts, our community colleges and universities by blocking modernization of existing facilities, an approach which would save money and more briskly create jobs.

Measures 68 and 69 would change this outdated law and allow local school districts, colleges and universities to use bond funds more effectively, flexibly and smartly.

Measure 68 would allow local districts to pass bond levies to pay for repairs, maintenance and upgrades to school facilities in order to protect the health and safety of K-12 students (think adequate bathrooms and alleviating dangerous molds, pests and wood rot). The measure will also allow the state to issue matching funds to make local dollars go further, and help take pressure off schools bursting at the seams with increased enrollment.

Measure 69 will fix the law to allow colleges and universities to use the lowest-cost bond funds for existing buildings, saving money and preserving historical treasures in the process. The measure will allow a college or university to expand — for more classroom space, career and guidance counseling and worker training programs — and use the lowest-cost bonds to bring back to life older buildings that are in sound shape and often historically meaningful. Cash-strapped colleges and universities would also avoid the expense and use of natural resources required when building entirely new structures.

So, now that you know a bit more about Measures 68 and 69, we urge you to join the wide-ranging support of the American Federation of Teachers-Oregon, Stand For Children, the Oregon Education Association, the Oregon School Employees Association, the Oregon Business Council, Associated Oregon Industries, Oregon State Building and Construction Trades Council and media outlets like The Oregonian, Medford Mail Tribune, Eugene Register-Guard and Willamette Week and vote YES on Measures 68 and 69.

For more information, visit

The Team at Onward Oregon
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Get a Fresh Start on your gardening with Fresh Start Market this weekend!

One of the best things in Salem, the Fresh Start Market at 3020 Center Street NE, is having a big plant sale all weekend. There are a lot of plant sales this time of year -- this is one that very much deserves your support. Fresh Start is the kind of program that actually helps young offenders straighten up and fly right instead of just hammering them. Get Mom a beautiful hanging basket, or get yourself some veggie starts, or take a look at the creative crafts that these kids make. It's all good, it's all pretty inexpensive, and it's all important to building the kind of community where kids who make a mistake can get back on track instead of being sent on the fast track to a hard life.



Join us in celebrating the arrival of Spring

Fri. April 30th, Sat. May 1st and Sun. May 2nd

Special Operating Hours

Friday 7:00am to 7:30pm

Saturday 7:00am to 6:00pm

Sunday 7:00am to 5:00pm

Come and enjoy a variety of food specials, a large assortment of colorful flowers, hanging baskets, and healthy bedding and garden plants. We also have several varieties of tomato, pepper, squash and other vegetable plants. Additionally, program youth have created unique wood and metal art, most from recycled materials; all these and more at reasonable prices. Enjoy a free bag of fresh-popped popcorn with your $5.00 purchase of plants or art.

Rain or Shine, we’re firing up our grill to offer Lunch Specials
(Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 11:30 - 3:30)

Special includes 2 side dishes & beverage.

Silly rabbit

Shadows on the old railroad bridge across the ...Image by VickyvS via Flickr

Breakfast on Bikes asks a great question: Why has the SKATS "Alternate" mode study only posited an 8% reduction in single-occupant-vehicle trips over the Willamette in Salem?

Silly rabbit, you should know, if the planners had any thought of allowing "alternate" modes to reach their potential, there'd be no case for a $600 million bridge!

And for the Road Gang pushing this fantasy, that's all that matters --- justifying the fat construction contracts and years of consulting fees all aimed at demolishing even more of Salem's heart to serve the automobile. The Road Gang is in a race against time - they know that the Carburban Era is drawing to a close and that if they don't force commitments to a third Salem auto bridge soon, it will never happen because (a) auto usage is declining; (b) there won't even be enough traffic to justify two bridges pretty soon thanks to $4 and then $5 and then $6/gallon gas.
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Why is Salem S . . . L . . . O . . . W?

This icon, known as the "feed icon" ...Everywhere but Salem, this is the symbol of enhanced transparency. Here's it's the symbol of missed opportunities. Image via Wikipedia

SLOW, as in Salem . . . . Lags . . . . Outrageously . . . . Why?

Salem's Community Development Department sends out a "Community Connections" newsletter --- it's a pdf, of course, because there is a huge paranoia among government types who seem to live in fear that if you make information easy to forward and share, people might forward and share it! So we use pdfs to prevent that.

What's weird is that Salem finally tiptoed ever-so-gingerly into the late 20th Century recently, creating an RSS feed for the public so that Salem residents could keep up with what's going on. Note the most recent flash announcement here at Salem's "City of Salem News" site -- that's right, it's an announcement that the replacement fire chief would be the fire chief for good. Great -- that's a fine thing to report. But is that really all that the official city has had to share with the public since April 6??? What about all the articles in this multi-page Community Connections?

Whomever ascends to the Mayor's throne next month should make fixing the retarded public outreach office a top priority. We're going to be cutting budgets for as far as the eye can see, and that's going to be a very painful process -- the only thing that will make it worse is if the city keeps using the equivalent of carrier pigeons to share information and keeps choosing to use information formats that are all about preventing people from getting the information quickly and sharing the parts that are of interest.

HINT to Salem: quit with the paranoia and the "We have to use pdfs or someone might change something and make it look like it came from us" -- believe me, if someone wants to spoof a City of Salem communication, it would be child's play to do. But nobody wants a pdf as the front-line communication media. The only thing you're communicating when you communicate via pdfs is that you aren't really much interested in communicating.
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Documentary on environmental causes of breast cancer

An overview of the structure of DNA.Image via Wikipedia

Given the huge spike in breast cancer since WWII and the fact that human genetics haven't changed in that time, perhaps it has some other cause . . . hmmm, what could that be? Hmmm . . . must ponder that.
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Response to Dean Baker's "The Deficit and Our Children"

Long-term oil prices, 1861-2007 (top line adju...Long-term oil prices (yellow line is inflation-adjusted) 1861-2007. The recent price spikes will soon be recalled as "the good old days." Image via Wikipedia

I really like and admire Dean Baker and have greatly valued his sharp insights over the years. I put no stock in anything the shysters in the Concord Coalition are selling, and despise the transparent efforts by them and others to repeal the New Deal in the name of deficit reduction (while leaving the military and Wall St. riding high on the hog, naturally). His article (linked below), "The Deficit and Our Children" is a fair attempt to counter the faux hysteria of the right over deficits (now that a Democrat is in the White House).

However, I fear that, like most economists, Baker has entirely missed something that will have a profound effect on his rosy projections of great future wealth thanks to the magic of growth: the end of cheap energy, often referred to in shorthand as "peak oil."

I like to summarize it for people this way:

(1) essentially all our great wealth in the US reflects not our industry or ingenuity or Providential favor but rather our dumb luck at conquering a land richly endowed with abundant and essentially free energy. Our economic growth parallels exactly our increased consumption of these fossil fuels.

(2) Coal is a health disaster, not only in miners killed directly but in catastrophic direct and indirect environmental consequences of coal use, particularly in climate change. We must stop using coal, leaving nearly all of what remains in the ground or else be doomed by our own poisons.

(3) Oil has reached or is just past its point of maximum abundance now -- meaning that, from here on out, it will inexorably decrease in availability, forcing prices up to bring supply and demand into equilibrium.

(4) The relentless increase in oil prices -- even aside from the great price volatility we can expect, which is very destructive to our complex economic systems -- make Baker's growth projections absurd. We are going to learn that ultimately economic wealth depends on natural resources, and that tying everything in our economy to an assumption of endlessly available cheap energy was a disastrous (albeit easily explained) blunder.

(5) Because our entire economic system is based on continual growth and because our economy is very unlikely to grow and is instead highly likely to shrink relentlessly to reflect the steady decrease in the availability of energy and the total absence of the kind of cheap energy we've come to expect (and upon which we've set up everything in America, from suburbia to health care), we can expect a wrenching change in the next decade. When we're facing persistent and ineradicable unemployment at 40-50%, we're going to find out that arguments about the health of the social security trust fund in 2043 are about as relevant as the price of tea in Lilliput.

(6) To bring this back to health, the point is this: Just as our public health demands are going to be climbing --- thanks to climate disruption, the huge "baked in" amount of obesity-related diseases, and collapsing civil infrastructure (clean water) and peoples' inability to afford the medicines we've taught them to expect --- our resources are going to be shrinking steadily.

For a good menu of stories exploring the connection between health and the end of cheap energy, you can go here

For a concise explanation of the mechanics of peak oil and a good introduction to other resources, try here:

For a good attempt to explore the health consequences of trying to use coal to maintain the high-energy lifestyle, see here:

Climate Chaos: Your Health at Risk What You Can Do to Protect Yourself and Your Family (Public Health)

Baker's column is here.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ODOT hammers Salem and its own greenhouse gas reduction goals

ODOT CapitolImage by Jason McHuff via Flickr

What is up with the State of Oregon trying to kill Salem's downtown?

At the north end of town the state has been busily filling up the Capital City Business "Center" -- the center of nowhere, actually, -- with hundreds of office workers, in a "center" that has no direct bus service from downtown Salem.* And now ODOT is planning to permanently move hundreds of high-paid white collar technical jobs out of downtown and into an area suited for manufacturing!

So even as the state makes a big show out of its greenhouse gas reduction goals, it keeps moving workers out of the bike-able and walkable core area that has the best service by bus. Instead, it's going to fill prime industrial space in a transit-inaccessible area with office workers, which means expensive interior refits and more driving by all those workers, plus starving downtown businesses of vitally needed customers.

But hey, who cares if Oregon's capital starts to look like Michigan's (Lansing's downtown is a scary, depressing vision -- something that Salem does NOT want to emulate). Something about these deals stinks.
-At the former Tyco building at 4040 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, ODOT wants to take 75,000 square feet of space on a 10-year lease, Miles said. The 4040 Fairview site will become the permanent home for ODOT's Technical Services and a section of Information Services. In all, about 300 workers will be based at the former Tyco building.

The building was built as a sister manufacturing site for Tyco's now defunct circuit board plant in the Polk County town of Dallas. Tyco broke ground on the project in autumn 2000, but Tyco never used the building for manufacturing and it became a symbol of the downturn in Oregon's high-tech industry. The vacant building is now owned by State Investment LLC, a local investment group.

-ODOT's plans call for about 220 employees to go to the former SUMCO building at 3930 Fairview Industrial Drive SE. The agency wants a two-year lease for about 65,000 square feet of space.

Employees at the old SUMCO building will return to the Capitol Mall building when the renovations are complete.

In 2004, SUMCO phased out its local manufacturing operations. The shutdown marked the end of an era that started in the 1980s when Siltec, a predecessor to SUMCO, began making silicon wafers in Salem.

Cascadia Canyon LLC, a group with ties to Sunwest Management Inc., controlled the SUMCO property for several years. Past attempts to bring new businesses to the property came to a standstill when Salem-based Sunwest's financial problems spun out of control in fall of 2008. New owners, who are affiliated with Salem developer Jack Fox, have recently acquired most of the former SUMCO campuses.
There's something that Oregon seems to struggle with that world-class organizations figured out a long time ago: you can't let divisions optimize their own corner of the world at the expense of the whole organization. You have to optimize as a whole. Meaning that, even if we think the move of 300 prime workers is strictly on the up-and-up and has no hidden ulterior motive behind it, it still allows one division (ODOT) to make it's own numbers look better by making Salem's and the State of Oregon's look worse. Only by ignoring the impact of the move on Salem and on the state's own goals for reducing vehicle trips can you are argue that this pencils out, and it would only pencil out for ODOT management. It's going to hurt Salem as a whole, hurt those 300 workers who are losing their options for biking or walking or taking the bus to work, and it's going to hammer downtown businesses.

Funny, there's some prime spaces in the very heart of downtown that could be refitted to serve office workers much easier than refitting manufacturing space ... but apparently no one is keeping an eye on how the state as a whole treats Salem -- especially sad given how much property tax revenue the state doesn't pay. The Legislature loves to badger the feds for timber payments in lieu of taxes for federally owned land, but apparently sees no connection with Salem's starved budgets and all the state-owned property in Salem.

(* Amusingly, Cherriots uses a photo of CCBC in some of its promotional materials with a caption along the lines of "Cherriots, We Take You There" -- irony at its finest. CCBC sits at the far end of the little northeast-pointing appendix grafted onto the otherwise circular Route 14 -- a route almost fiendishly well calculated to be useless.)
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Sad -- scratch Maurer from the list

Susan CastilloThe best candidate after all -- Susan Castillo. Image via Wikipedia

Sad. Ron Maurer appeared to be a good choice for State Superintendent of Instruction . . . but just got this note from Steve Novick:
. . . I would be remiss if I did not tell you that my old and good friend Susan Castillo, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, needs help defeating an opponent, Republican Representative Ron Maurer, who not only opposed Measures 66 and 67 -- thus showing a shocking willingness to see school funding cut - but opposed the Healthy Kids plan in the Legislature, which gave health insurance to tens of thousands of Oregon children. Ron Maurer is not well known, but he's still a threat - because in an anti-incumbent environment, people might just vote against the person they've heard of, especially if she doesn't have the resources to get her message out. In this officially nonpartisan race, with only two real candidates. it's important for you to know that whoever gets over 50% WINS THE WHOLE RACE IN MAY - there isn't going to be a November race.
Susan Castillo is not all that and a bag of chips, but Maurer loses any hope of being able to pass himself off as an advocate for schools and youth by opposing Measures 66 & 67; fighting to keep poor kids uninsured is just a little extra confirmation thrown in. Putting him in charge of schools would be like putting Ted Nugent in charge of meal planning for the Vegetarian Society. I'm sorry I posted anything encouraging people to consider him.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An opportunity for a REAL taste of history

store signImage by Sideshow Bruce via Flickr

Not far from here. Open daily, May-October.
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Tell DEQ: Get Beyond Coal NOW -- Convert or shutdown Boardman by 2014 at the latest

Looking east up the Columbia River Gorge, from...Just one of the many beauties of nature put at risk by runaway climate chaos caused by burning coal at Boardman. Image via Wikipedia

From Friends of the Columbia Gorge:
PGE's coal-burning power plant near Boardman is the #1 stationary source of greenhouse gasses in Oregon and the largest source of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide in Oregon. These pollutants are damaging ecosystems, impairing scenic views and endangering Native American cultural resources in the Columbia River Gorge.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is now reviewing a "Title V" operating permit that would allow PGE's coal plant in Boardman to continue spewing dangerous pollutants into the Columbia River Gorge and surrounding areas. This permit is an opportunity for DEQ to require full compliance with the Clean Air Act by requiring modern pollution control technology at PGE's Boardman.


#1. WRITE THE DEQ TODAY. Ask that they require clean up or shut down of PGE's coal plant in Boardman. In the past, your voice has made a difference! Thousands of comments from the public forced the DEQ to require more aggressive mercury controls at Boardman. Click here to take action.

[If you're in Portland: #2. TELL THEM IN PERSON by attending a public meeting on Tuesday, May 4th. We are hoping to fill the room with passionate supporters who will wear "beyond coal" t-shirts, provided by the Sierra Club! Click here for details.]
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What the Democrats in Congress Ought to Do

Seal of the U.S. government's Small Business A...Image via Wikipedia

The GOP get absurd amounts of support from small business owners, considering how often the GOP ideas are actually just pro-big-corporate and anti-small-business.

But the image of the parties is there and needs fixing. To help with that, here's an idea I just sent to Congressman Kurt Schrader, who is on the Small Business subcommittee.

If the Democrats grab hold of this, they will have a great issue to run on in November, and the GOP will be totally unable to oppose it without looking completely unprincipled (I know, I know, but they don't like to have it made so obvious . . . )

Idea 1
This is a proposal for a small business financing improvement that could be a signature initiative for Democrats and help lots of people here in the jobless "recovery."

1) Allow anyone starting a new small business to tap their 401(k)/IRA/457/403b retirement funds to fund the small business or to serve as security for an SBA loan.

2) Allow the funds to be withdrawn or pledged as security for a small business development loan without tax penalty and with state and federal tax deferred until the business has been established for three years.

3) After three years, either (a) the money is replaced in the fund(s) and no tax consequence occurs; or (b) 20% of the total withdrawn has to be declared as regular income for the next five years.
That's the main idea and I can't see any downside to Democrats here whatsoever -- it's a pro-small business idea, it would help workers left unemployed by job cuts, and it doesn't require any federal outlay.

Idea 2
Allow anyone who is unemployed to make mortgage payments from their retirement accounts without the 10% penalties -- that is, they have to declare the distributions as regular income in the year that it's used, but people shouldn't have to pay a tax penalty for using retirement assets to preserve their ownership of their #1 retirement asset, their home.
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Yay! An elected official actually looking further than a car-length ahead

Bob Krebs of the Cherriots (um, "Salem-Keizer Transit") board sends the encouraging word that the Cherriots board is thinking about the future and about providing some transportation options that don't demand liquid fuel.
Modern streetcars are again being considered as a means to upgrade transportation options in the Salem-Keizer area. A new citizens’ committee is being organized to look into how streetcars might best serve our community. The committee is a working group that will report to the Salem-Keizer Transit Board.

You are being contacted because you have served on an earlier Salem streetcar committee or have expressed an interest in streetcars. This new group will meet, 60 to 90 minutes, once or twice a month to work on this project. If you still have an interest in this concept and would like to participate, you would be welcomed as a member of this new committee.

Committee members will develop a work plan and goals for the project. We will be researching technology and costs to find what might work best in Salem-Keizer. Our focus will be on corridors where there already is travel demand and where the streetcar can provide needed additional capacity and increased transit usage. Creative ways to keep construction and operation costs affordable will be considered. One of our goals might be to develop a new streetcar system model that can be used for medium size American cities.

Many things have changed since the Central Salem Streetcar Feasibility Study was completed. There are now federal grants available to fund new streetcar systems. This could bring new dollars into our region without jeopardizing current transportation programs. A few months ago the first modern streetcar manufactured in the U.S. rolled out of the factory in Clackamas, Oregon.

I hope you find this proposal as exciting as I do. A streetcar system will end up producing many jobs for our community and the State of Oregon. It would give Salem-Keizer a more positive image for attracting new businesses and providing more employment opportunities. There would be a surge in transit oriented development and mobility improvements that support a viable local economy.

I invite you to join me as a member of this new Salem-Keizer Rapid Transit Streetcar Committee, planning for our future. There will be a lot of work, but lots of fun too.
To participate, just send me an e-mail ( or call 503-588-2424 ext. 2328 to advise us that you would like to serve.
Streetcars tend to get oversold and caught up in developers' schemes, but the basic concept is outstanding for a place like Salem, where we have sprawled into a low-density place that makes us terribly vulnerable to the coming waves of oil-price peaks. An electric streetcar system, particularly one designed to integrate smoothly with bicycles, would be ideal.

How to integrate streetcars with bikes? Easy -- a separate "bike car" on each run with wide side-doors on both sides to allow people with bikes easy-on/easy-off so that they can continue their trips by bike, operating on car-free rights of way where possible (bikes, peds, streetcars, and emergency vehicles only).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Libraries are services, not places

The tireless and wondrous Salem historian Virginia Green brings us another great piece of Salem history today with this article on the traveling library in Oregon -- something that's going to have to come back into vogue in years to come (bringing books to the readers instead of expecting readers to travel to the building where the books live).

In years to come, as fuel prices make easy transport more and more a thing of the past --- and the costs of heating, cooling, lighting, and securing libraries continues to skyrocket --- we're going to have to re-think the whole idea of libraries as places where people find books. We're going to need to develop more of a community-based system, where the books don't live in conditions suitable for people in between readings. Instead, the books are housed in an environment good for books and people call for them and then the books travel, rather than the people.

There's still an essential role for librarians in this future -- less so for massive, expensive buildings though.

Just in time for the next fuel price runup, Salem dumps more money from a plane

ACT Party - Feeding At The TroughImage by William Joyce via Flickr

Truly bizarre. Libraries, police, fire, parks -- all being cut. Hunger rising all over town. Foreclosures up, up, up. But the airport is going to be sacrosanct. Can somebody possibly explain to me why we're supposed to all be tightening our belts, except for the folks wealthy enough to own private planes and the airlines (see photo)?
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Shameless hucksterism

We're downsizing and spring-cleaning like mad here at LOVESalem HQ and one of the things I'm trying to do is find homes for things -- have made numerous runs to bring stuff to Salem Friends of Felines (source of not just one but TWO of the world's most adorable cats) and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, but there's still some things that would be better suited elsewhere that we feel uncomfortable donating outright -- so we put them on Craigslist.

The groaning bookshelves in LOVESalem HQ have taken up so much floorspace that we're also hoping to find someone who wants this teak reading/laptop stand. The bar shown partially removed is an extra grip for thicker books/thin laptops. The height and angle are both adjustable. Good for reading with a cat in your lap (both hands on the kitty is the preferred rule around here).

If you know a home, small business or nonprofit that needs a great printer/fax/copier/scanner, here's one pretty darn cheap. The ink refills are spendy from Canon, less so from Costco, but Rapid Refill on Liberty sells these refills now too, much, much cheaper. This has been a great printer but it's just way more machine (including duplexing) than we use and it ought to go somewhere that needs this much machine.

If you're interested in either, follow the links to the Salem Craigslist ads.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled dyspeptic rants.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Salem Sustainability Grant: Opportunity compacted and trashed

Sad -- Salem scored some stimulus money ... not a huge pile, but a tidy sum ($1.521 million) ... for energy efficiency and conservation projects.

But a good chunk of the money -- more than 15% -- is going in the wrong direction.

Only a hair under 10% is going to the most important piece of all, a revolving loan fund to help Salem residents pay for energy efficiency improvements that, long term, pay for themselves many times over.

Almost as much of the money ($137k) is going to be squandered on the solar-powered trash compactor gadgets like the one near the Court St. side of the Capitol -- in other words, badly wasted.

Just as bad, the plan is to take another $90,000 and spend it on "transportation network improvements" --- in other words, we're going to blow $90k fighting against precisely the projects that we just funded with another $100 million . . . .

Hey, there's an idea! Use some of the $100,000,000 from the transportation bond to think about transportation system improvements and put the $90,000 into the revolving loan fund -- and spend a little on a system that lets people pay for energy improvements out of the energy savings that they realize with the debt staying with the property if they move. Such a system (called "Pay As You Save" or PAYS (r) in some places) is being used with great success in Berkeley, CA, with its "FIRST" (Financing Initiative for Renewable and Solar Technology) program, where the city helps residents make the improvements and then repay the loans with the savings realized.

We could more than double the size of the revolving loan fund and help Salem residents keep more of their money here at work creating jobs in Salem if we put the $90k and the $137k into the loan fund . . . or we can buy some high-tech trash bins, even as we're laying off park workers. Dumb.

Money/energy saving workshop

ClothespinningThe clothesline -- one of the fastest-payback energy-saving devices of all. Image by Professor Bop via Flickr

This is probably a couple hours well-spent for anyone who hasn't had a complete energy audit done on their home (owned or not -- renters have energy bills too!) in the last five years -- technology is changing fast.

Salem and Keizer residents are invited to a free home energy workshop from 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at 3123 Broadway NE, just north of Salem Parkway.

The workshop, about how to save money and reduce a home's carbon footprint, comes with a brunch buffet and a copy of the book "Cut Your Energy Bills Now" by Bruce Harley.

Participants will learn more about basic building science and energy use in the home; local and regional energy sources and potential impacts; low-cost and no-cost tips to save energy; impacts of lifestyle choices; and actions that can improve the safety, comfort and efficiency of a home.

It is sponsored by NW Natural and Energy Trust of Oregon.

You must register with Bruce Anderson at (503) 371-0580 or or online at under events and education.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

State Bike Map is now ON LINE

The Oregon State Bike Map, previously only avialable in print, has taken a giant leap into the 21st century: It's now a GIS based map, with up to date data and is now avialable ON LINE, as well as in print.

Check it out:

We've still working out a few bugs, and learning what to do better from this 1st version. Please send us your comments and reviews. A pdf of the legend, for example, will be added soon, (it's currenlty only on tile number 2.)

Also - if you would like paper copies of this or any of our other maps - call 503-986-3556 and follow the directions.

Sheila Lyons, P.E. 
Pedestrian and Bicycle Program Manager 
355 Capitol St. NE, Rm 222 
Salem, OR 97301-3749 

Best best for Earth Day (or Eaarth Day, perhaps)

Hell or Paradise?Image by ul_Marga via Flickr

Solnit's book, Paradise Made in Hell, is terrific, and everything McKibbin writes is worth reading. Here they are together.
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A perfect campaign for Oregon, Salem in particular

Make it illegal for any public funds to be spent on bottled water. Double click to see full-screen video.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Joe Bageant on Nowhere to Hide

Cover of "Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispat...Cover via Amazon

There ain't no escape from collapse

. . . If you have the temperament and character to readily love other people around you, and the willingness to labor solely for sustenance, community and friendship, then there are countless options. Because that's what most of the rest of world's people do every day, if allowed to. So you could do that in any number of places on the planet, especially here in the New World south of the US. You can do it in literally thousands of places, some of which are in the US. I get emails from all over. But I don't give out contacts anymore because I learned the hard way in Belize that human chemistry is a complex thing. And most Americans do not come into approximately sustainable situations with either the social skills or the willingness to sacrifice for the group. Hell, some Americans starting up such communities don't have those qualities. . . .

I have come to think the price of admission anywhere in the world, (except in America and Europe, where enough dough will get your ass kissed in any circles) is service to others. We have been indoctrinated by an earth devouring capitalist system to believe otherwise. Believe that giving only depletes. And that mankind and civilization came about through kings and warriors and "great men." But the essential glue of man the social animal, and society has always been on cooperation and sharing. That an endless stream of elite thieves have always managed to steal the fruits of that cooperation does not matter. And the best that is in man still rests on the same fundamentals -- cooperation for the greater good of all.

So I would suggest that in planning for the future, you first spend many days pondering the question: How can I best go about giving up the world as I have known it -- which, after all, is the root of our pain and of our catastrophe -- and serve others every day and in as many ways large and small as possible. In other words, sacrifice. In truth, the sacrifice will not be sacrifice, but liberation, because Americans are buried under so much material shit and petty notions as to entitlement, that shedding such things is a blessing. A gift.

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UPDATE: It's not just the heat, it's the acidity (Part III)

This carbon cycle diagram shows the storage an...Carbon dioxide in water -- also known as "carbonic acid" -- attacking the very base of our food chain. Image via Wikipedia

Meanwhile, as Kurt Schrader pals around with Senator Exxon-Murkowski, those of us in his district can learn a bit more about why climate chaos is going to disrupt everything in Oregon's 5th Congressional District, starting with the base of the food chain in the oceans:
Thursday, April 22, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Straub Environmental Lecture Series: Dr. Burke Hales
Oregon’s Coastal Carbon Cycle: The Good, the Bad, and the Acidic

Loucks Auditorium, Salem Public Library, 585 Liberty Street SE, Salem

Calcium carbonate is used by many marine organisms to build their shells and exoskeletons. However, changes in the ocean chemistry are changing the concentrations of crucial carbonate ions, making seawater more corrosive to these marine organisms. Upwelling off the Oregon coast is responsible for the rich fisheries and divers ecosystem found there – but also poises the system on the verge of hypoxia and dangerous levels of corrosiveness. Free and open to the public; no RSVP required. Call or email 503-391-4145 or for more information.

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Appalling: Kurt Schrader joins the paleo-nutjobs to promote climate chaos

{{w|Kurt Schrader}}, member of the United Stat...WARNING: Wants to fiddle while the planet burns. Image via Wikipedia

Kurt Schrader has joined the far rightmost wing of GOP to do the bidding of the oil and coal lobbies by signing a resolution attacking the EPA for proposing to implement the Clean Air Act as written. He tries to pass it off as simply a jurisdictional dispute, saying that he thinks Congress should be driving on climate change rather than the EPA ... failing to mention that he hasn't done squat to make that outcome happen, or that what is politically possible in Congress is so far short of what is physically required that it doesn't even qualify as a joke.

This is sad.

Schrader Statement on Sponsorship of H.J. Res 76

Thank you for your concern regarding my co-sponsorship of H.J. Res 76, which disapproves of the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) further regulating CO2 emissions. I know that there have been many wild and inaccurate emails attacking me for supporting it. I want you to know that my reason for signing on this resolution is simple. I believe that Congress, and not the EPA, should be making the decision to regulate CO2 emissions. For me, this transcends political ideology, regardless of which party controls Congress and the White House. As a farmer and steward of the Earth, I do believe we have a responsibility to protect our environment, promote green jobs here at home, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. That is a major reason why I supported the American Clean Energy and Security Act last year. To those who question my commitment to the environment, I will let my 93% score in 2009 from the League of Conservation Voters and 100% score from Environment America speak for itself. I appreciate your outreach on this issue and look forward to working with you on important issues relating to our environment.

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A heroine for our time (the new Gilded Age) too

Labor history events - April 24, 25

Presentations by Simon Cordery regarding his new book Mother Jones: Raising Cain and Consciousness. The Salem Public Library event will also feature a talk by Ann Montague about "Womens' Role In The 1987 Oregon State Workers Strike."

Saturday April 24, 3 PM (Salem Library)
Sunday, April 25: 4 PM (Salem Friends Hall)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Nice new find -- Church St. Pizza

Picture of an authentic Neapolitan Pizza Margh...This isn't from Church St. Pizza, but it looks a little like one they make. Image via Wikipedia

There's a new pizza place, super casual, in the spot vacated by Christos (324 Church St. NE) in its move uptown -- it's called "Church St. Pizza" and it's run by a very nice kid -- young man, I guess, but emphasis on young -- named Ian, who makes a very nice, very tasty thin crust and is very open to experimenting with different toppings, and he's making an effort to source local ingredients.

I really liked the one slice I had, just a cheese pizza. Definitely good enough to make me want one of their veggie combos. Check it out -- on Church St. just south of Center.
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