Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Sixty percent of the new Sellwood Bridge won't be for cars?!

Multnomah County is trying -- trying, I tell you! -- to find ways to save money on the proposed replacement to the Sellwood Bridge.

But try as they might, they can't keep the cost under a third of a billion dollars. The westside intersection is just too complex, I tell you. We've got to make everybody happy -- especially the streetcar enthusiasts who plan a route right down Macadam Avenue.

But somehow, with a straight face, they tell us this:
The two-lane bridge will be replaced with a crossing that has two lanes -- totaling 24 feet wide -- for cars and 37 feet for bicycles and pedestrians.
Did you get that? Twenty-four feet of driving space, and 37 stinkin' feet of space for bikes and walkers. Sixty percent of the new space will not be for cars, even though I'm willing to be 98 percent of the use (and 100 percent of the payments) will come from motor vehicles. According to this graphic, they plan sidewalks for pedestrians and bikes on both sides, plus bike lanes inside that.

Maybe if they eliminated the street-level bike lanes and made the bridge 10 feet narrower, they might find a way to keep the cost under $300 million. But that would mean they were thinking reasonably.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?


Friday, August 28, 2009

Dear National GOP

Will you please get a grip?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Selective auditing

So the audits division of the secretary of state has found that Oregon overspends on its cell phone costs by nearly half a million dollars every year.

State government is wasting money? Ho hum. Tell us something new.

However, there were a few things that caught my eye, things which should tell us that the half-million number is way low:
  1. While the audit included all state cell phone use, it only dug into three departments -- Human Services, Transportation, and Corrections -- and revealed that the overspending was largely due to "insufficient agency oversight." Since those departments accounted for less than 40 percent of the state's cell phone use, what kinds of abuses might have been found with deeper digging into the other 60 percent?
  2. The audit included usage from two carriers, Sprint/Nextel and AT&T; a third carrier, Verizon, did not provide usage info, and state agencies are free to use other carriers (such as T-Mobile). Who knows how much more waste would have been revealed with the info from other carriers?
  3. The audit revealed that the state paid for roughly 8,145 cell phones at a cost of $3.1 million, but again, that was without Verizon's info. How many more cell phones are covered by Verizon, and at what cost?
But the biggest surprise may have come from Audit Director Gary Blackmer, who was quoted by Oregon Public Broadcasting as saying:
We don’t in any way want to question the need for cell phones. It’s more just how we can get the best value out of them.
Say what? Why don't we want to question the need for cell phones? When the audit report includes info like this:
At DHS, one phone had more than $2,300 in charges in one year, with one month’s charges over $1,200. We found that the listed user had left state employment in April 2005. DHS staff could not tell us whether the individual or individuals responsible for these charges were employed by DHS.
why in the world wouldn't we question the need for cell phones? Do we really think that the culture that created these problems will somehow miraculously clean itself up? Never mind, don't answer that.

And remember, this is the culture that thinks the government can make the best, most cost-effective decisions about our health care.

Labels: , ,


Ted Kennedy, RIP

Sen. Kennedy and I would have found little ground for agreement, but I find nothing to gain by bashing the man after his death. Especially because he died of the same class of brain tumor that claimed my father, I pray for God's comfort for his family and friends.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dear Oregon GOP

I like your new ad, but I have just one problem with it: have you not done anything worth trumpeting for the last 30 years?

Your claims to fame are protecting the state's beaches (done 42 years ago), electing the first African-American congressman (139 years ago), nominating the first female supreme court justice (28 years ago) and creating the first national park (137 years ago), along with the nebulous "keeping taxes low" and "helping make America the land of the free"?

If you're trying to go after a new generation of voters, is this going to give them a valuable history lesson, or just reinforce the notion tossed out by Democrats that the GOP is a party of old guys with no new ideas?

Just asking.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Isn't this closer to the truth?


Monday, July 27, 2009

The best laugh I've had all week

came in Jack Bogdanski's wrap-up of his meeting with Howard Dean. It's good reading, as Jack usually us, but this is where I spewed coffee across my computer screen (emphasis mine):
Part of the professed goal of the "public option" is to put the government in competition with the private insurers, to make the latter less wasteful and less predatory.
Government is going to make private insurers less wasteful? Because the government has such a great track record of avoiding waste? What a hoot!