Tag Archives: Portland OR

Mayor’s legacy lives on

PORTLAND, Ore. — At the risk of being hooted out of the blogging world, I feel the need to extol the legacy that a once-promising politician left behind in the city he led as its mayor.

Neil Goldschmidt took office at City Hall as a young whipper-snapper in 1972. I think he was 32 years of age, a young man elected to lead a city that at the time had about 375,000 residents.

He then proceeded to map out an agenda aimed at creating a vibrant downtown district and enhancing the city’s mass transit system.

Goldschmidt vetoed what was called the Mount Hood Freeway project, which was planned as a highway system from southeast Portland east to Mount Hood, about 50 miles away. The mayor said he didn’t want an endless series of strip malls developed along that corridor.

Instead, he persuaded the city council to focus its interests on downtown and on mass transit. He succeeded.

What has occurred in the 50 years since then is the city’s downtown district became a showpiece. The city’s bus and light-rail systems are the envy of other cities.

Oh, but wait. Goldschmidt then became transportation secretary in the Carter administration before being elected governor of Oregon. Then it hit the fan, as he was exposed as a pedophile after a newspaper investigation revealed he seduced a teenager while he was serving as mayor; reporting revealed he had sex multiple times with an underage girl.

His public service career ended on the spot. He resigned from every board on which he served. The State Capitol staff took down his governor’s portrait from the gallery of former governors and stashed it out of sight.

Goldschmidt went from municipal pioneer to pariah overnight.

He’s gone from public view, but the legacy he built remains. His reputation never will be restored. I don’t necessarily want, though, for the city treasure he discovered to be buried.


Watch out, big-city mayors

Some mayors of Texas’s largest cities appear headed for easy re-election in May, according to an article in the Texas Tribune.

The Tribune notes that Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson is unopposed, Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker has token opposition, as does San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

It’s a walk in the park for them, the Tribune notes. Hey, this makes me say: Not so fast.

Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio’s incumbent mayors face easy May races | The Texas Tribune

I recall a time in my hometown of Portland, Ore. — another “big city” of some note — when the incumbent mayor, Francis Ivancie, was thought to be headed toward easy re-election in 1984.

Then along came a saloon owner named Bud Clark, who surprised everyone with an upset victory. How did he do it? Well, Clark had appeared on a poster promoting the arts community in which he posed with his back to the camera, he opened his trench coat in front of some statue and the caption read: “Expose yourself to art.”

A word of warning to Nevadans – High Plains Blogger (wordpress.com)

Ivancie thought he’d make a big deal out of the “immorality” of such a poster. He turned a non-issue into a big issue … except that it backfired on the mayor. Portland voters became smitten with Clark’s approach to life in general and in municipal governance.

So, they elected him.

This is my way of saying that the big-city mayors in Texas need to pick their battles carefully if they intend to stay in office.


A surprising bit of candor

It just flew out of my mouth the moment I heard the question: Do I miss Portland? My answer, which came without the slightest hesitation: No. I do not.

I was wearing an Oregon Ducks ballcap when we walked into a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Frisco, Texas, the other day. The lady at the counter saw the hat, recognized me as a Ducks fan and made some comment about the hat I was wearing. I asked her where she is from; she told me Lynwood, a suburb of Seattle.

We chatted for a moment and I told her I grew up in Portland. I thought for a moment about mentioning how the Ducks have owned the University of Washington Huskies over the past 15 years of the schools’ football rivalry, then thought better of it. Then came the question about missing it and my strangely quick and candid answer.

Portland doesn’t resemble the city I knew as a boy and then as a much younger man. It’s gotten, to my way of thinking, a bit full of itself. Traffic is terrible. Streets are narrow. Real estate prices have rocketed into outer space. The lady mentioned how “quirky” Portland always has been, but that it’s gotten a bit strange in recent years. Quirky, I can handle. That doesn’t bother me. It just no longer feels like “home.”

All of that plus the fact that I am now well into my 70s. I no longer work full time.

Do I miss my family members who still live there or nearby? Yes. Do I miss our many friends? Yes … of course to both questions.

But we moved away in the spring of 1984 to pursue a journalism career that took me many places over the course of many years in Texas. We built a good life, first in Beaumont, then in Amarillo, and now in Princeton, where we settled into what we call our “forever home.”

I long have been amazed at how adaptable I proved to myself I could be when we decided to take a leap of faith some 38 years ago. That was then. I sense I am a good bit less adaptable these days.


A bit of history burns away

I just got some stunning news that I want to share with anyone — and I am going to presume that means “everyone” — who has a special place where they came of age.

The Roseway Theater in Portland, Ore., caught fire and burned … almost to the point of destruction.

This place means a lot to little ol’ me. I used to attend Saturday matinees there, mostly with my sister.

Historic theater partially collapses in 3-alarm fire in NE Portland (kptv.com)

It was a meeting place for many of us who grew up in that neighborhood. You know what I mean, right? Friends would gather to watch a movie, carry on and laugh — a lot.

It was the place where I enjoyed my first kiss. Yes, I remember her name, even though it was, shall we say, a very long time ago.

The Roseway Theater also was the place where I had my brush with infamy.

The movie ended one evening. I went outside with a couple of friends and lit up a cigarette. A police officer approached me and asked me my age. I told him 16. He said, “You’re under arrest.” He then escorted me to a paddy wagon — yes, an actual paddy wagon! — and hauled me downtown. The cops called my parents, told ’em they had me in custody for smoking; Mom fetched me.

My evening didn’t end well, if you get my drift.

Still, the Roseway Theater is part of my history and I am saddened to believe it might no longer exist.

The building was erected in 1925. It has withstood a lot, I presume, over the many decades of its existence. To me it is a symbol of my youth, just as I am absolutely certain we all have such symbols of our past.

Keep those places near to your heart. They can vanish in a flash.


Preparing for a sad, but also joyful, duty

I am preparing at this moment to take a four-hour ride from Dallas-Fort Worth airport to Portland, Ore., where I will participate in what can be best described as a cycle of life ritual.

I will bid farewell to my beloved uncle, Jim Phillips. I will be there along with his wife, his children, many of his grandchildren, one of my sisters and virtually all of my cousins on my mother’s side of my boisterous family.

It will sadden me to say goodbye. It also will enable us to rejoice in the full and fruitful life he had over the span of his 93 years on this good Earth. We will gather to remember the richness that Uncle Jim brought to us. I trust we all will in our own way pledge to cling to those memories as we move on through the rest of our lives. Those thoughts will not sadden me. They will make me smile.

These events are part of what all families must endure. Indeed, as I am now well into that stage of my own life, having just turned 70 a little while back, my sisters, along with my wife and sons, realize as I do that the clock is ticking for all of us. The number of our family elders with whom we grew up is diminishing  far too rapidly.

However, it is the inevitable march of time over which no one has any control.

It’s been said many times by many people perhaps over many adult beverages that “Not a single one of us gets outta here alive.”

So it goes … and so it will be.

Cruz gets blowback from criticizing O’Rourke’s potty mouth

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s re-election campaign is trying to paint challenger Beto O’Rourke as a potty-mouthed punk who drops f-bombs at random.

Social media response has been, well, a bit different from what the Cruz campaign expected. The revelation seems to be making the Democratic challenger seem more cool.

This mini-tempest makes me laugh and it reminds me of something that happened back in my hometown of Portland, Ore., during a race for the mayor’s office.

Incumbent Mayor Frank Ivancie’s 1984 re-election campaign dug up a 1978 picture of a challenger, Bud Clark — owner of the legendary downtown Park Blocks watering hole the Goose Hollow Inn — “exposing himself” before a statue. The picture showed Clark with his back to the camera pulling open a trench coat with the caption “Expose Yourself to Art.”

Ivancie, a man with no discernible sense of humor, thought the picture would doom Clark’s insurgent candidacy. It did precisely the opposite. It called attention to the challenger and — no pun intended — exposed Ivancie to be a stuffed-shirt prude.

Clark won the election, defeating Ivancie.

So, with that I want to hail the attempt by Sen. Cruz’s team to make Beto O’Rourke out to be a young man with a foul mouth. It well might produce the same result that occurred in Portland so many years ago.

Landmark birthday venue still going strong

I was visiting with my son today and I blurted out that I spent my 21st birthday playing pool and drinking beer with my father and grandfather at a popular watering hole in downtown Portland, Ore., my hometown.

That was in December 1970. Then my son made a discovery. He wondered if it had survived all those years. He Googled “Kelly’s Olympian” on his phone and discovered that it’s still in business.

Not only that, it appears to be thriving. It’s lively. It’s trendy. It apparently serves good food and a wide assortment of adult beverages. It doesn’t look much as it did back when Dad and I were playing pool and swilling cold ones; my grandfather walked in later and joined us.

Kelly’s Olympian isn’t the only longtime business that has survived the ups and downs of any city’s economic cycle. Portland, though, has turned its once moribund downtown district into the gold standard for how to make the central district a destination for those who live within that city or those who are just visiting.


This thought occurs to me.

Amarillo,Texas, where my wife and I lived until just about six weeks ago, is undergoing quite an urban makeover in its own downtown district. Polk Street is rumbling back to life. Work is proceeding briskly on that ballpark on Buchanan Street. Longstanding iconic structures have been repurposed into downtown lofts.

When I take the long view and think of what future generations might recall about Amarillo’s downtown district, I wonder — and certainly hope — that they can recall a place that flourishes today. If we flash forward another 47 years, to 2165, my expectation would be that Amarillo’s downtown will continue to evolve into something brighter and more vibrant than anyone ever imagined.

Those Amarillo residents who today are enjoying the fruits of their downtown’s rebirth will look back and be as astonished as I was today to learn that Kelly’s Olympian is still packing ’em in.

Why not run the rail line a little farther north?

If I were more of a political activist, I might be inclined to raise a little ruckus in my new community of residence.

Fairview, Texas, is a nice town in Collin County, just north of Dallas County, which is where Big D is located.

The issue at hand? Why not run the light rail service that shoots north from Dallas to Fairview?

Dallas Area Rapid Transit is a successful mass transit system that serves the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. We’ve ridden DART from Plano south to the Dallas County Fairgrounds. It’s a nice ride, believe me.

I now live just a few blocks east of where the rail line ought to run, along U.S. Highway 75. Except that it doesn’t come this far north.

Were they to run the line just a little farther north from Plano, past Allen, through Fairview and into McKinney, I would use the train. I would be its most vocal champion. I would take up the cudgel for mass transit rail ridership.

My hometown of Portland, Ore., is arguably the unofficial “mass transit capital of the United States.” Its bus system is second to none; it runs a light-rail system that carries passengers into the city from miles beyond the city limits.

I don’t yet know whether they plan to extend DART service eventually farther into Collin County. I’ll have to study up on it, sniff around, ask some questions.

Fairview Town Hall is just around the corner from where we live these days.

What the heck … I believe I am going to stick my head in the door and ask to speak to the city manager/administrator.

Hey, why not try to rustle up some interest in a proven method of moving people from place to place?

Wish me luck.

Rain is no longer an annoyance

There once was a time when I hated the rain.

I lived in a city, Portland, Ore., where it rains constantly. I grew up there. I detested the endless drizzle.

Then I got married and moved eventually to Texas. We lived first in Beaumont, along the Gulf Coast, where it rains a lot, too. There, though, the rain comes in furious bursts. Then the sun would come out. So would the humidity. Ugghh!

After a while we moved to the Texas Panhandle, where it rains a lot less. Of late, the Panhandle has received even less than that, which is to say it’s been tinder-dry here. We’ve had one day of measurable rain since October 2017.

Today, though, we received another healthy dose of measurable precipitation. More is on the way, along with some thunder and lightning, or so we are being told by the TV weather forecasters. Hey, they got this one right. I’ll accept their projections for the next day or so.

The rain we’re getting through the night and into the next day won’t do a thing to break the drought we’ve endured for the past six months. It’s a bit strange to recall that a year ago at this time the Panhandle was being drenched. The playas were filling up. Farmers were grinning from ear to ear; so were the ranchers who watched their cattle fatten up with the rich harvest of grass and grain the rain produced.

Then it stopped. We finished 2017 with nary a drop of precipitation, even though the first half of the year enabled us to nearly double our annual average rate of rain and snowfall.

Here we are today. The rain is falling. It’s coming in fits and starts.

I no longer hate the rain. It brings a sense of comfort.

Weird, eh?

Praying for sun gives way to praying for rain

There once was a time — long ago! — when rain drove me nuts. It made me stir-crazy. I suffered cabin fever because it rained constantly in my hometown of Portland, Ore.

I took a couple of years away from home to serve in the U.S. Army; my hitch took me to Vietnam, where it also rains a good bit of the time.

I got married not long after I returned home. My wife, sons and I eventually moved to Texas; our first stop was in Beaumont, which also gets a good bit of rain. Then my wife and I moved to Amarillo, where, um, it doesn’t rain so much.

We are now in the midst of a drought. It’s been months on end since we had any measurable moisture.

I no longer pray for sunshine. I now pray for rain. I am doing so this evening. The weather forecasters are telling us we can expect some rain tomorrow.

I hope they’re right. Oh, brother, I want them to be correct.

I’ve written on this subject before.

This isn't the Dust Bowl, but …

Forgive me if I’m repeating myself. Still, it bears repeating. The Texas Panhandle doesn’t get a lot of rain annually, only about 20 inches — give or take. This year we’ve got to go some if we’re going to reach our annual average.

The region is quite dependent on agriculture, which quite naturally requires water. Those dry land farmers who don’t pump groundwater to irrigate their crops rely exclusively on the sky to bring rainfall to them. Five-plus months of no measurable “precip” has deprived them of their income — and their ability to produce food that ends up on our dinner tables.

My outlook about rain has changed dramatically since my boyhood. I griped so much about the rain I drove my parents — chiefly my dad — to near madness.

With all of that said, I think I’ll wait — and hope — that the Texas Panhandle gets wet.