Thursday, May 1, 2014

2014 Primary

RACE ME WILLAMETTE
WEEK
THE
OREGONIAN
PORTLAND
MERCURY
PORTLAND
TRIBUNE
SIERRA
CLUB
BASIC
RIGHTS OR
US SEN MERKLEY
MERKLEY
CONGER
WEHBY
US REP 3RD BLUMENAUER
OR GOV KITZHABER
RICHARDSON
KITZHABER
RICHARDSON
KITZHABER
OR REP 42ND NOSSE NOSSE NOSSE NOSSE
OR BOLI AVAKIAN AVAKIAN AVAKIAN
MULT CHAIR KAFOURY KAFOURY KAFOURY KAFOURY KAFOURY
MULT DIST 1 BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY BAILEY
BAILEY
WILSON
MULT AUDIT MARCH
MULT SHERIFF STATON
PTLD POS2 FISH FISH FISH FISH FISH
PTLD POS3 SALTZMAN SALTZMAN CALEB SALTZMAN SALTZMAN
PTLD AUDIT CABELLERO
METRO PREZ HUGHES HUGHES HUGHES
METRO AUDIT EVANS
PTLD WATER YES NO NO NO NO NO

THE DETAILS:

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C

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MECANDIDATEENDORSEMENTS
US SENATOR
[_]Pavel Goberman A perennial candidate.
[X]Jeff Merkley INCUMBENTFormer OR House Speaker first elected to US Senate in 2008 with Obama-Dem sweep. ENDORSEMENTS:Willamette Week | The Skanner
[_]William Bryk Bizarre candidate from New York City who is simultaneous running in Alaska's and Idaho's US Senate primaries (HUFFINGTONPOST.COM).
Although now-Senator Merkley wasn't my first Democratic choice in 2008, he has followed-through on his campaign promise to seek senate filibuster reform. I concede to 2008's Democratic primary voters that Merkley was probably a better fit than Novick who I've become somewhat disenchanted with in on Portland's council.
US REPRESENTATIVE, 3RD DISTRICT
[X]Earl Blumenauer INCUMBENT
OREGON GOVERNOR
[_]Ifeanyichukwu C Diru Someone from Salem (PAMPLINMEDIA.COM).
[X]John Kitzhaber
INCUMBENT
Practically unopposed incumbent.
ENDORSEMENTS: The Oregonian | Basic Rights Oregon
I still support Kitzhaber despite Cover Oregon being a national embarrassment and his bizarre fixation on making Oregonians pay to bring job-stealing, tax-dodging Washington SUV drivers into Portland.
OREGON STATE REPRESENTATIVE, 42ND DISTRICT
[_]Don Gavitte A high school teacher endorsed by teachers unions.
[X]Rob Nosse A nurses union representative and gay rights activists. ENDORSEMENTS:Willamette Week | The Oregonian | Basic Rights Oregon
[_]Kathleen O'Brien An adoption lawyer.
[_]Teddy Keizer An environmental activist and former chair of Multnomah County Democrats. ENDORSEMENTS: Sierra Club
[_]Dan Shaw A "Game Designer; Solar Energy; Political Activist" according to his voters' guide statement.
[_]John Sweeney A perennial candidate.

I briefly spoke to Rob Nosse on our embarrassing cat-pee soaked porch when he knocked on our door one weekend morning. I wasn't willing to consider myself a supporter until I knew who else was running for this open seat. I was a little hesitant to automatically support him just because he is a partnered gay man with kids. It doesn't seem there is much else the state legislature can do to support gay rights -- the issue will be decided by either the federal courts or state voters.

From what I can tell online, it seems all of the candidates tout progressive issues. When Nosse asked me what my concerns for the state were, I was caught unprepared. Of course, jobs, wages, economy, etc., are my top concerns. But for the legislature, I'm more concerned about fixing Cover Oregon, stopping Columbia River Crossing (AKA the Vancouver SUV Bridge), and getting the bankrupt rural counties to get their acts together (without making Portlanders pay for it).

MECANDIDATEENDORSEMENTS
OREGON NON-PARTISAN
OR COMMISSIONER OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR AND INDUSTRIES
[X]Brad Avakian INCUMBENTUnopposed incumbent seeking re-election. ENDORSEMENTS: Basic Rights Oregon | Sierra Club
OR NON-PARTISAN JUDICIARY
OR SUPREME COURT JUDGE[X]2 POSITIONS ALL UNOPPOSED INCUMBENTS
OR COURT OF APPEALS JUDGE, POS. 1[X]5 POSITIONS ALL UNOPPOSED INCUMBENTS
OR TAX COURT JUDGE[X]Henry C Breithaupt INCUMBENT
OR CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE, 4TH DIST[X]18 POSITIONSALL UNOPPOSED INCUMBENTS
MULTNOMAH COUNTY
MULTNOMAH COUNTY COMMISSIONER CHAIR: UNEXPIRED TERM THROUGH DEC 2014
[_]Aquiles Montas Skimpy campaign website without endorsements, Republican slogan (e.g. "Restrict the growth of government"). Failed to file a voters' pamphlet statement.
[_]Steven Reynolds I couldn't find his campaign website. His voters' pamphlet statement was an assortment unlikely plans. In 2012, he ran for congress as a self-described "unemployed, disabled veteran" (KGW).
[_]James O Rowell Apparently withdrawn -- he didn't file for next term (below). I couldn't find his campaign website or voters' pamphlet statement.
[_]Patty Burkett Impressive voters' pamphlet statement, but no applicable experience. I couldn't find her campaign website, but a 2012 article described her as an "activist, mom, and psychic medium" (PORTLAND MERCURY).
[X]Deborah Kafoury "...Kafoury points to the execution of the Sellwood Bridge replacement project as her top accomplishment at the county...." -WILLAMETTE WEEK ENDORSEMENTS: Willamette Week | Portland Mercury | The Oregonian | Portland Tribune | Basic Rights Oregon | fmr County Chair Beverly Stein | County Commissioners Judy Shiprack and Loretta Smith | County Sheriff Dan Staton | OR Gov. John Kitzhaber | fmr Portland Mayor Bud Clark | Portland Business Alliance
[_]Wes Soderback A perennial candidate.
[_]Jim Francesconi YIKES: Won union endorsments "after making explicit promises that, if elected, he would work to increase union membership under county contractors—something that could violate laws preventing elected officials from actively favoring unions..." (WILLAMETTE WEEK). ENDORSEMENTS: Sierra Club | Basic Rights Oregon Green Light | The Skanner
MULTNOMAH COUNTY COMMISSIONER CHAIR: FOUR-YEAR TERM BEGINNING JAN 2015
[_]Aquiles Montas (See above)
[_]Steven Reynolds
[_]Patty Burkett
[X]Deborah Kafoury
[_]Wes Soderback
[_]Jim Francesconi
MULTNOMAH COUNTY COMMISSIONER DISTRICT 1: TWO-YEAR UNEXPIRED TERM
[_]Brian Wilson A financial planner (KATU) with extensive civic volunteer experience. ENDORSEMENTS: Basic Rights Oregon Green Light | fmr County Commissioners Maria Rojo de Steffey and Barbara Willer | fmr Portland Mayor Bud Clark
[X]Jules Kopel Bailey An economist and former state Representative. ENDORSEMENTS: Willamette Week | The Oregonian | Portland Mercury | Portland Tribune | The Skanner | Basic Rights Oregon Green Light | Sierra Club | Portland Business Alliance
Jules Bailey, who was my district's state representative, has a slightly more relevant background. Brian Wilson seems like a good candidate, but I haven't seen a compelling reason to vote for him over Bailey.
MULTNOMAH COUNTY AUDITOR
[X]Steve March INCUMBENTUnopposed incumbent seeking re-election.
MULTNOMAH COUNTY SHERIFF
[X]Dan Staton INCUMBENTUnopposed incumbent seeking re-election.
CITY OF PORTLAND
PORTLAND COMMISSIONER, POSITION 2
[_]Sharon Y Maxwell General contractor.
[_]Michael W Durrow An activist.
[X]Nick Fish INCUMBENTIncumbent and former civil rights attorney. ENDORSEMENTS: Willamette Week | Portland Mercury | Portland Tribune | The Skanner | Basic Rights Oregon Green Light | Sierra Club | Portland Business Alliance
I appreciate that Nick Fish sold the infamous water house (unfortunately at a loss). And I cynically appreciate that he conveniently opposes the dubious transportation tax like the other commissioner up for re-election. I'm tempted by Maxwell's candidacy. Adding a small business owner, building contractor, and woman of color to the council would add much needed diversity to council and city government. One of the major drawbacks to Portland's quirky five city-wide elected commissioners is that there are few opportunities for candidates to build-up support and experience like what be possible in having commissioners elected by local neighborhood.
PORTLAND COMMISSIONER, POSITION 3
[_]Joe Meyer KBOO reporter. "...does not expect to raise or spend more than $750 in the race." (PORTLAND TRIBUNE)
[_]Leah Marie Dumas A 17-year Portland Community College employee. "...does not expect to raise or spend more than $750 in the race." (PORTLAND TRIBUNE)
[_]Nicholas Caleb Concordia University professor. ENDORSEMENTS: Portland Mercury | Bike Walk Vote | Socialist Alternative | Pacific Green Party | 15 Now PDX
[X]Dan Saltzman INCUMBENTFour-term incumbent ENDORSEMENTS: Willamette Week | | Portland Tribune | The Skanner | Basic Rights Oregon Green Light | Oregon League of Conservation Voters | The Skanner | The Portland Observer | Portland Business Alliance | The Portland Timbers and owner Merritt Paulson | railcar manufacturer The Greenbrier Companies | Schnitzer Steel | Governor John Kitzhaber | DNC at-large member and HRC co-founder Terry Bean | philathropist Arlene Schnitzer | Made In Oregon founder Sam Naito | The Yoshida Group founder Junki Yoshida | child education co. Knowledge Universe and CEO Tom Wyatt | developer and fmr mayor candidate Bob Ball | developer Homer Williams | insurance agency Bolliger and Sons | Umpqua Bank | real estate firms: Melvin Mark Companies, Income Property Management, Venerable Group |

I respect that Dan Saltzman has stayed on the council for so long and seems to genuinely motivated in improving the city and its government. I also appreciate that, like the other commissioner up for re-election, he has come-out against the proposed transportation tax.

Of the three challengers, Nicholas Caleb has the most organized campaign online. He proposes a lot of big ideas (e.g. $15 minimum wage, rent controls, stop gentrification, stop police brutality, teacher reform, etc.) that seem unlikely. I was surprised he supports an effort remove the city's management of the water bureau, but realized that he supports a third group that failed to get its initiative on the ballot. It's unclear whether he supports the current water initiative that he shares the ballot with.

PORTLAND AUDITOR
[X]Mary Hull CabelleroUnopposed Metro Performance Auditor, former ODOT Performance Auditor, and former reporter.
ENDORSEMENTS: fmr City Auditors Gary Blackmer & Jewel Lansing | Working Families Party of Oregon | Portland Business Alliance
METRO
METRO COUNCIL PRESIDENT
[X]Tom Hughes INCUMBENTIncumbent, former Hillsboro Mayor, and former high school teacher. ENDORSEMENTS: Willamette Week | The Oregonian | 3 of 6 Metro Councilors Kathryn Harrington (Dist 5. ~N. Washington Co.), Bob Stacey (Dist. 6 ~NE/SE/SW Ptld), Sam Chase (Dist. 5 ~NW/N/SW/NE Ptld), fmr Gov Barbara Roberts, fmr OR State Rep. Jules Bailey | Portland Business Alliance
[_]Jeremiah William Johnson Bottling company Admin Asst., Community Organizer
METRO AUDITOR
[X]Brian Evans Unopposed auditor. ENDORSEMENTS: Metro Auditor Suzanne Flynn, OR Dir of Audits Gary Blackmer, MultCo Auditor Steve March | Portland Business Alliance
CITY OF PORTLAND
PORTLAND MEASURE 26-156: Amends Charter: Creates water and sewer district with elected board.
[X]YesWater District will end City of Portland practice of raising rates for councilors pet projects. SUPPORTERS: Taxpayers Assoc. of OR
[_]No District would not lower rates and is poorly designed. OPPONENTS: Willamette Week | Portland Mercury | The Oregonian | Portland Tribune | League of Women Voters | City Club | Audubon Society | Sierra Club | Democratic Party of MultCo | Green Party | OR Progressive Party | Portland Mayor and all four Commissioners
Yep, I'm letting my secret anti-government side show. While much of the increase in the city's water and sewer rates is due to the huge big dig sewer project, it is obvious that the current and past mayors and commissioners have improperly managed the city utilities and continue to use ratepayers' bills to fund pet projects. Sure, the current initiative has several flaws and is far from perfect; however, I believe it is more important for voters to take action now instead of waiting for the perfect initiative to come along. After all, voters can revise the charter again if the current initiative is unworkable.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

2013 Special Election

I'm late and haven't been doing much with this blog, but for tradition's sake I'll post my vote for my own reference.


MECANDIDATEENDORSEMENTS
MULTNOMAH EDUCATION SERVICE DISTRICT
OR SECRETARY OF STATE
[_]Patrick Lasswell NON-PARTISAN
[X]Nels Johnson NON-PARTISANWillamette Week

PORTLAND SCHOOL DISTRICT #1JT
DIRECTOR, ZONE 4
[X]Martin Gonzalez NON-PARTISANWillamette Week, The Oregonian
[_]Steve Buel NON-PARTISAN
DIRECTOR, ZONE 5
[X]Pam Knowles NON-PARTISAN
DIRECTOR, ZONE 6
[X]Tom Koehler NON-PARTISANWillamette Week, The Oregonian
[_]David Morrison NON-PARTISAN
"...Morrison filed a 2011 federal lawsuit, alleging Wi-Fi is a health hazard to students. (As WW has reported, PPS has spent more than $170,000 defending itself against Morrison’s claim.) His campaign is based on his Wi-Fi obsession...." - WILLAMETTE WEEK

CITY OF PORTLAND
MEASURE 26-150: Renew five-year levy to prevent child abuse child hunger.
[X]YesWillamette Week, Portland Mercury, The Oregonian
[_]No
Technically, social services is county responsibility not a city responsibility. However, considering all of the other strange tasks the city takes on (i.e. streetcars, arts education, selling toilets to other cities, etc.), Portlanders don't seem to care about such technicalities. What is more troubling is why do Portlanders have to cover what the county and state should be doing.
MEASURE 26-151: Fluoridation of Portland drinking water supply.
[X]YesWillamette Week, Portland Mercury, The Oregonian
[_]No
"...Among the hundreds of fluoride studies, there is little evidence that fluoridation is harmful. Here’s how the CDC put it: 'The weight of peer-reviewed scientific evidence does not support an association between water fluoridation and any adverse health effect or systemic disorders.'...
...Fluoridation critics cannot produce any nefarious explanation for why government scientists, public health officials and dentists all support fluoridation....
...The fact is, the health benefits of fluoridation would accrue primarily to those who have bad teeth now—disproportionately low-income and minority children."
- WILLAMETTE WEEK

METRO
MEASURE 26-152: Local option levy: Improve natural areas, water quality for fish.
[X]YesWillamette Week, Portland Mercury, Portland Tribune
[_]No The Oregonian

Friday, March 22, 2013

Oz The Great and Powerful: C

oz the great and powerful

Scott and I saw Oz The Great and Powerful a couple of weekends ago. I was a little reluctant to see it. While I enjoyed the musical Wicked's jaded retelling of the Wizard of Oz story, I was concerned this retelling of Oz would merely be a pointless CGI update of a classic movie like 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

James Franco's performance as the wizard was more convincing than I expected. While it's hard not to recognize familiar actors, his character seemed plausible. Zach Braff's two characters were basically Zach Braff which I didn't feel fit well. And through no fault of Mila Kunis's performance, I couldn't help but affectionately think "Meg" each time she spoke.

There were little things that annoyed me. The movie tried to pay respect to the original classic, but the effort was weak. The opening title and first scenes were in black & white to reference the 1939 movie. However, instead of actually using 1930s film techniques, the title sequence was merely a CGI rendering -- like the motion picture version of a cheap Instagram retro filter.

What concerned me the most though was that this prequel was setting-up to a Wizard of Oz remake. I know corporate Hollywood now merely regurgitates the same few movie franchises repeatedly, but the Judy Garland Wizard of Oz is practically sacred and timeless. A reboot should be a fully creative reboot -- not retro-looking.

Overall, not a terrible movie, but predictable.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Argo: A

Argo (2012)

Scott and I saw Argo just before the Oscars. It was an enjoyable movie with an interesting story and great cast. I prefer historically-based movies -- even though I always wonder how much of it was true. However, I haven't heard any complaint about the movie's accuracy. It even compared the actors with the real life characters in the end titles.

Zero Dark Thirty: C

Zero Dark Thirty-00

Scott and I saw Zero Dark Thirty about a month ago. I remember it was a compromise selection as there wasn't anything playing that we really wanted to see.

I enjoyed director Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, so I had high hopes for this movie with similar military themes. Like the bomb-defusing scenes of The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty had some intense scenes waiting for a potential explosion. However, the suspense for me waned as we all knew the main character probably wouldn't be killed.

The much discussed interrogation scenes were disturbing and were definitely torture. Is it just me though, but I'm a bit weary of re-opening the torture debate of the last decade. I suspect many of us would prefer to put the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield days behind us and hope that doesn't happen any more -- or at least we won't hear about it.

The movie was well-paced, which I appreciate. The movie's biggest drawback was it basically ended at the completion of the Bin Laden killing mission, which was not very suspenseful considering the details of the raid have been widely reported. Like The Hurt Locker which focused on a soldier's struggle to transition to civilian life, I would have much rather have seen what happened to the characters after the Bin Laden mission ended.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Les Misérables: C (B for musical)

les miserables movie poster.jpg

Scott, ma, and I saw Les Misérables several weeks ago, but I'm just now posting my thoughts before tonight's Oscars. Having never seen the stage version, I didn't know what to expect other than a lot of singing. There was almost no dialogue. The constant singing seemed like a endless medley, but I don't watch many musicals.

One of the promotional clips mentioned that the singing was filmed live with an elaborate system of hidden earpieces and carefully mic'd stages. While live singing would seem to be better than voice over, I can't say it made much difference to me. Other than Anne Hathaway's Oscar-baiting performance [of that Susan Boyle song :)] filmed in a confined space, the sound quality was still fainter and less clear than voice over. And, regardless of the terrific technical efforts, singing dialogue inherently undermines authenticity of any scene.

Weeks later, I recall that Hugh Jackman's performance was good, but I can't recall any songs he sang. Russell Crowe's singing has been widely criticized; however, I thought his less than stellar singing brought made his ill-thinking character more realistic. After all, wouldn't all of us sign imperfectly if thrown into a musical? That said though, I'm not sure what Russell Crowe was thinking.

Overall, an okay musical, but a long dreary story with only a few likable characters. I probably would have appreciated seeing the stage version more.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: A

the-hobbit-movie-poster

Scott, Jay, and I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey today. There's not much to say about this movie. It's as high-quality and well done as any of the prior The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. In fact, I would say it's even better as the story is far less complicated without the confusing multiple storylines and far less Middle Earth jargon.

That said, my only complaint is the same as the LOTR trilogy: How can a three-hour movie with dozens of characters have only one woman? Well, okay there were some female extras doing domestic chores in the background - 'cuz someone's got to do the laundry. If a similar movie was made with a 99% female cast it would be derided as a chick flick, but I have yet to hear anyone call The Hobbit a guy movie. I know, I know, the filmmakers were probably staying true to J. R. R. Tolkien's chauvinist writings and yet the same filmmakers have taken many other liberties such as stretching a book out to three feature movies...

Anyways, my main motivation for the seeing the movie was to see the nine-minute sneak peek at Star Trek Into Darkness. Wow!

Lincoln: A

lincoln-movie-poster

Scott and I saw Lincoln a few weekends ago. I looked forward to seeing this movie ever since I heard a movie about about Lincoln was being made. (I have to admit to some embarrassment when I momentarily mistook this summer's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for the Steven Spielberg movie.)

Lincoln should be subtitled "Politicking The 13th Amendment" although I understand the studio's reason not marketing the movie's emphasis on the legislative process. I do appreciate that the movie didn't rely on any non-linear or flashback gimmick like so many biopics. Instead, the movie assumed the audience already knew the basics about Lincoln's life and revealed more about the obscure details his life as president.

Before seeing Lincoln, my impression was that he fought for the 13th amendment for more pragmatic reasons rather than being an ardent abolitionist. I was a little concerned that Spielberg was glossing over Lincoln's complicated racial politics in the opening scene. The film opens with two African-American soldiers paying tribute to the president as he sits on an elevated covered platform -- much like people today walk-up the Lincoln Monument today. I did wonder how plausible the scene was that African-Americans would be allowed to address the president; however, it doesn't seem impossible either. I'm not a historian and have to rely upon historians such as Doris Kearns Goodwin whose Lincoln biography the movie was inspired from.

Overall, the movie was great. Well-paced with great performances that made the legislative process seem exciting. My only concern is whether or not the movie whitewashed Lincoln's view on race. My understanding is that Lincoln probably didn't believe in racial equality or civil rights as we understand these values today. However, there's no denying that he made considerable sacrifices to pass the 13th amendment which undermines doubts that Lincoln only opposed slavery to reign-in the South.

Skyfall: B

"Skyfall" Teaser Poster #5>
Scott, ma, and I saw Skyfall several weekends ago. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise, so Skyfall was filled with tributes to the first Bond movies which culminated into the final scenes. Daniel Craig's James Bond is so well-established now it's easy to forget that this is only his third Bond movie. Javier Bardem's flirty, campy villain was fun to watch and left me wanting a few more scenes.

Admittedly, the Bond genre has always had a bit of fantasy and, like any movie, audiences are willing to let unbelievable technobabble and coincidences slide for a good story. So, I'm willing to overlook that Bardem's Bond villain can hack into a government spy agency's network and control a building's security system. However, I was a little irked that Bond seemed to act too slow to save innocent bystanders' lives.

Regardless, the movie was great. My only complaint is that in honoring the franchise, the sequel didn't bring much new to the franchise. I appreciate that Daniel Craig did reveal more of Bond's vulnerability (i.e. age) and the story revealed a bit more about Bond's back story.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods: B

Cabin in the Woods Whiteboard>
Scott didn't quite drag me to The Cabin in the Woods a couple of weekends ago. I was a little more willing to see this horror movie because Joss Whedon was involved, so I figured it would not be a typical horror movie and have a little more wit. Like most movie genres, the horror movie formula is so overdone that even the parodies are formulaic. Cabin in the Woods isn't quite a parody, but it still seemed to drag a bit going through the usual horror movie set-up.

Overall, I liked the movie. Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under) and Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) were great playing their usual characters. It had a good pace and a quick ending.