Saturday, October 29, 2016

Happier Thoughts

Something nice for a change -- the annual "Empty Bowls" fundraiser for Marion-Polk Food Share, a great opportunity for you to get local artisan gifts for everyone on your, at amazing prices (because those talented artisans donate all their work), with all proceeds going to fight hunger in Salem and surroundings.

As always, the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving at Willamette Art Center on the Silverton Road entrance to the State Fairgrounds.

Why Salem should VOTE NO on the Police Facility Bond (23-399)

Some years ago, the humor magazine National Lampoon had a memorable cover that exposed once and for all the guilt-trip method of marketing:

The companies seeking to make huge profits from building a gigantically oversized and overpriced new police facility seem to have taken their lessons from National Lampoon, running a bond campaign that boils down to "Build us a Taj Mahal police palace or the Boys in Blue get it right in the head, and you are probably being murdered right now because you called and we were all dead because you're so cheap."

The bottom line is that this campaign only reveals the cynicism and greed of the developers and contractors, because they've been perfectly happy to see the Salem PD sit in the basement of City Hall for years now after it has been known that we face a real risk of a gigantic earthquake offshore that could be so severe as to rank among the biggest quakes in recorded history (9+).

The "Salem Can Do Better" campaign is right. If the police are at risk -- and everyone agrees they are, and that we need a new police facility -- then so is everyone else who works at or uses the current City Hall facilities, so we cannot afford a police facility that breaks the bank.

So pretending to care about police safety while really just money-grubbing for a porky overbuilt project that is about twice the size as needed (for tens of millions of dollars more than required) is the height of cynicism.

What the police chief should do -- whether this bond fails or succeeds -- is tell the City Manager that the city needs to do some emergency leasing of vacant commercial structures pronto because the Chief is going to direct all officers not to enter the current facility in 2017 except to empty it out.

In other words, the police should refuse to remain where they are while the voters hash it out with the pork-seeking lobby trying to push through a supersized facility (150,000 square feet - roughly double what Salem needs). And then follow through.

After all, it's an emergency.  And so, once this iteration of the bond is defeated, we can do it again in six months.  And we should keep doing it, as many times as needed, again and again, until the city comes up with a plan that provides the money to take care of ALL the city facilities in the current City Hall complex, including the main library.

Besides -- a single huge police facility is the worst strategic move possible. In the event of a massive quake, we would regret putting all our eggs in that one huge basket. What Salem needs is multi-purpose facilities north, south, center, and west, with the main HQ functions in the center, but precinct facilities north, south and west. These can provide community meeting rooms for neighborhood groups, branch libraries, and social service satellite centers, with police integrated into them (you know, community policing).

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mark your Calendars: Nov. 13 @ Salem Cinema, 7 p.m.

Shattered :: a Reel Change event

Benefit for Center for Hope & Safety


Salem Cinema on Broadway, (The Majestic Auditorium) (Salem, OR) 

Shattered: Journey into a silent Past. 

Sunday, November 13th.
meet & greet at 6pm & documentary film at 7pm.
followed by Q&A with local legend Britta Franz.

Britta and Marianne Lion grew up in a Jewish family in my hometown Aachen. As a filmmaker I was interested in their fate because in 1937, when the two sisters were 9 and 12 years old they were forced to leave Germany and flee to the United States together with their parents. Their father, Curt Lion, owned a beautiful clothing store named Appelrath-Cüpper and sold it to my grandfather shortly before the flight. How did the transaction actually take place and were the two businessmen able to avoid the "Nazification" and all the taxes on Jewish property?

Together with Britta and Marianne, we researched letters, photographs and archives. We visited the store which still exists and found traces of their relatives who didn't succeed to escape the Nazis.

The siblings are two of hundreds of thousands of German Jews who lost their home country and many family members -- a widely silenced generation.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Name the Third Bridge Contest Over: It's the Donald J. Trump Bridge

On revising the Salem urban growth boundary so that the Bridgeasaurus Boondogglus (Third Bridge) can be added to the Salem Transportation System Plan:
This evening, you are taking a momentous action and such a momentous action really deserves a fitting memorial. So I ask that, if you approve this proposal, you should go the whole way and name the bridge now, so that this monstrously expensive waste of planning dollars will always carry the name of someone associated with the kind of sound good judgment and maturity that this project has exhibited from the start, Donald J. Trump.

It's really exactly is the kind of classy project that should bear his name and it would be fitting indeed.

The financing is pure fiction and will lead to massive losses, but not for the people pushing the project, only for the little people in the blast zone.

It's the kind of project that can only be supported by people who are in total denial about the reality of climate change and who insist that climate change is a hoax by the Chinese to destroy American industry. If you vote to add this to the plan, you are endorsing that kind of thinking, in direct contravention to state policy goals.

The demand modeling underlaying the project projections is as sound as The Donald's earnings projections on his bankrupt casinos. Just as The Donald flatly denies his own filmed quotes, the traffic projections in the draft EIS you are furthering are pure flat denials of reality.

Citizens raising questions and concerns have been treated like a Hillary Clinton piñata at the GOP Convention. 

The repayment cost for the financed project is remarkably similar to the yuuuuuuuuge $916 million loss that helped The Donald shift his tax burden onto ordinary citizens, just as this bridge will do.

And the backers of this pork project have acted throughout like The Donald backstage at a teen beauty contest, salivating and determined to just grab the prize with both hands.

It really is The Donald to a tee.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A good example of the Strong Towns thinking Salem and everyplace else needs

Thinking about the maintenance obligation when considering the cost of building something new -- amazing!

Sad to say, such thinking has become positively unAmerican.

And so this article is about yet another example of entitled folks building something that works for them in particular while screwing everyone else for generations.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Should we build new and shiny when we can't maintain what we already have?

An exchange with Chuck Marohn during the questions and answers following Chuck's presentation to the people of Salem on October 5th.

Chuck's entire talk is available online here
Tom Andersen (Ward 2 Salem City Council): [90:03] I wonder if you can comment a little more about the wisdom or folly of spending money on building new infrastructure and roads and bridges, but we cannot maintain roads and bridges and infrastructure that we have right now.
[90:18] [applause]
Chuck Marohn: [90:27] Only an insane people would think that it's smart to build more when you can't fix what you have. The Department of Transportation head for Tennessee when he was named went to the legislature in Tennessee. Schroer is his last name, I can't remember his first name, brilliant guy.
[90:47] He went to the legislature and said, "Look, we have a house with a leaking roof, you want me to put on an addition, I'm not going to build any addition until we fix the roof, period." Is that common sense or what?
[91:01] Here is the way cities operate, imagine and think about that map of Lafayette, we had the green areas and the red areas. A city today is like a company that has five divisions and the one division is profitable and the four divisions are losing money, and our solution to that problem is to build a fifth division that looks like the four that are losing money.
[91:25] That makes no sense at all. To me, I think the solution is to make sure that the first division never fails. Your good neighborhoods should never suffer from lack of maintenance. Your downtown should always have sidewalks that are fixed, should always have streets that are properly maintained, should always have lights that are on, should always be taken care of because it's producing huge amounts of wealth for you.
[91:52] Then in the neighborhood surrounding that maybe are cash flow positive, maybe are not but are on the borderline, those places should be getting the excess, the wealth being generated [in the downtown], they should be getting the love and brought back up, because that's the division that can actually be made profitable with a little bit of tenderness.
[92:12] The other ones are the places where you're going to have some difficult triage questions, but you are fools -- we are fools, I will put myself in this American pool of people -- We are fools if we build more. Do you want to know how big a fools we are?
Audience: [92:29] Yes.
[92:29] [laughter]
Chuck Marohn: [92:32] Detroit, which is undergoing massive contraction. They are letting go of whole neighborhoods. They're letting go of pipes. They are digging up roads but building more stuff too. It is so ingrained in who we are and what we become. It so ingrained in our processes and the way we envision ourselves.
[92:56] Think of like the Romans with the Gauls coming in saying, "We can still have that circus," and it took a while for them to come to grips with the world have changed. We can be smarter than that.
[93:12] I don't want to rail on your bridge project. I'm not here to fight about a bridge, but to me, the idea of building even a frontage road to a potential bridge is a bizarre concept when you have so much stuff that you cannot afford to maintain today.
[93:29] You're actually going to have to make really, really difficult painful triage decisions in the future about the stuff that you've already built, why would you make that problem way, way, way worse?
[93:40] [applause]

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Watch "How can Salem Become a Strong Town" on CCTV Channel 21

This is the playback schedule for Strong Towns on channel 21:

Invest 90 minutes with Strong Towns before Wednesday's Third Bridge Hearing

Salem's excellent and indispensable "Breakfast on Bikes" blog does an outstanding job demonstrating that the Sprawl Lobby's strategy is to bury citizen involvement in a mountain of paperwork to prevent citizens from finding and sharing the most important proofs that would show just how foolish is the plan to expand Salem's urban growth boundary to allow further consultant-enriching work on the $500 million (liar's budget) "Salem River Crossing" (a/k/a "Bridgeasaurus Boondogglus").

Watch Chuck Marohn's thoughtful, powerful presentation on CCTV Channel 21:

This is the playback schedule for Strong Towns on channel 21:

Basically, the City has backed a dumptruck of documents up and downloaded them right on the heads of the people of Salem, confident that, with less than a week to review the material, citizens won't be able to find and highlight the many contradictions and failures to comply with the state land use goals and requirements.

A far better use of your time than the mountain of dreck that the city has dumped on us is this video from Wednesday's Strong Towns presentation.

The Sprawl Lobby - the construction firms and developers salivating over the massive spending possible through the project are willing to bankrupt Salem to enrich themselves. They want as few people as possible to hear this message, especially now, while the Bridgeasaurus is still easy to kill.

So watch this powerful presentation and plan to attend Center 50+ on Portland Road on Wednesday to speak up for making Salem a Strong Town and against municipal bankruptcy.