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Ever since Zach Richer-Snyder of Northeast Portland entered public school, his mother has battled to raise expectations for what her son could ac´ complish.
Sharon Richer believed that Zach, an eighth-grader who is autistic, could aim for grade-level achievement in math and reading. School officials, however, cau´ tioned her to be "realistic," to lower her expectations, she said.
By federal law, schools must offer stu´ dents with mental or physical disabilities a chance for an "appropriate" education. For years, parents such as Richer have complained they've had to push con´ stantly to get the help their children need - and they don't always succeed.
Now, however, schools must account for how well they educate disabled stu´ dents. The federal No Child Left Behind act requires schools to show that those students are making educational pro´ gress along with their mainstream peers.
But whether testing all students and publicizing the results will help or hinder Oregon's 72,000 disabled students is a big question. Many parents welcome the law as leverage to get the educational services their children need. Others fear a backlash; they worry that the law might drive schools to get rid of students who require extraordinary help to reach edu´ cational standards.
The spotlight fell on the issue this week when the Oregon Department of Education reported that 365 Oregon schools failed to make adequate yearly progress with all or some of their stu´ dents. Statewide, lack of progress, or fail´ ure to test special education students, was the single biggest factor in whether schools made the law's "needs improve´ ment" list. Of nearly 500 schools rated on the performance of their special educa´ tion students, 57 percent failed to meet progress standards.
"The good news is that we will be held accountable for all of our children," said Nancy Latini, state associate superinten´ dent for special education. "The reality is that annual yearly progress is going to vary depending on which disabled chil´ dren you are talking about."
Jean Frazey of Gresham, for one, is thrilled that Oregon schools, including her foster daughter's high school, have been told they aren't doing enough to educate disabled children.
For 10 years, she said, she has prod´ ded the Gresham-Barlow School District to do more for her foster daughter, 15. The girl has normal intelligence, but an auditory processing disorder makes it hard for her to understand spoken direc´ tions well enough to follow them.
The teen needs written instructions and extra coaching to succeed, but teachers at Barlow High School won't deliver on that, Frazey said. The teachers think the girl is lazy and dodging home´ work instead of having a brain that is wired differently, as reams of doctors' re´ ports show, Frazey said.
"Every kid . deserves the same test scores," Frazey said. "I think it is time for the schools to step up and say, 'This is an area we need to focus on.
Rick Dills, Gresham-Barlow director of student achievement, would not com´ ment on Frazey's foster daughter but said the district takes the federal act seri´ ously and will focus on trying to improve results for all special education students.
Sara Gelser, a Corvallis School Board member and mother of an 8-year-old with mild retardation, said, "I like the idea . that we are not forgetting about kids who need specially designed educa´ tion." But she worries that sa nctions un´ der the federal law might prompt schools to try to push challenging stu´ dents into alternative programs rather than risk a "needs improvement" label.
"In some ways, the law is so punitive," she said. " It doesn't do anybody any good if it destroys the system and the people who are working in it."
Some parents worry that the emphasis of the federal special education law - creating individualized education plans with goals geared to each child's strengths and disabilities - could be overwhelmed by the lock-step nature of No Child Left Behind. The idea that all disabled students must take a standard´ ized test makes no sense to Michael Bai´ ley of Portland, father of an eighth- grader with Down syndrome.
"At some point, the real world has to enter here," he said. "Children who have suffered near-drowning or who have brain injuries are still entitled to go out in the world and learn about living. But they are not appropriate, in my opinion, to submit to a standardized, uniform test."
Latini said a federal rule has been pro´ posed to excuse from testing 1 percent of students with the most severe cognitive disabilities. She hopes that revisions of the federal special education law, before Congress, will clarify which students must be tested and which won't.
It's unrealistic to think that every spe´ cial education student can pass state tests in reading, math and science, or even in life skills, as the No Child Left Be´ hind law eventually calls for, Latini said. But including this group of students - who historically have not been consid´ ered in school accountability - is the right thing to do.
"It raises the consciousness of every´ body about the importance of learning among this group," she said.
Susana Ramirez of Salem, an activist for special education and Latino fami´ lies, said parents she works with are struggling to understand the law. Many are still learning how No Child Left Be´ hind applies to their children and what rights they have if their children do not progress.
"The main things we want to make sure of is that the law is not discrimina´ tory, that special education students are given accommodations in testing, and that enforcement will be available if ade´ quate yearly progress is not made," she said.
The Oregon Department of Education encourages districts to analyze test re´ sults for their special education students to figure out who is not passing and why. That might lead to new instructional methods for helping such students achieve, Latini said.
Petrea Hagen-Gilden, student serv´ ices director for Tigard-Tualatin schools, is uncertain how the law will play out. Testing all students should prompt schools to put special education stu´ dents in mainstream classes so they can learn what's being tested along with other students - a good thing, she said.
On the other hand, Hagen-Gilden can see schools pulled in the opposite direc´ tion - putting students in special class´ rooms where they will still be tested, but their results will be counted against the district rather than a specific school.
"I am worried that the law will subtly encourage more restrictive placements for these kids," she said.
Richer, the Portland parent, hopes the law works to the betterment of her son and others like him. But she is skeptical.
To succeed, it takes a new attitude about special education students' abili´ ties, more research-based teaching methods and more resources to give these students the support they need, she said. She doubts that most schools can muster the changes.
Her son has spent his school years in mainstream classes, as she wished, and he reads like a champ. But she yearns for more.
"If the result was increased effort made to maximize services for these stu´ dents, that would be great," she says. "But I have a hard time seeing that hap´ pening."
Steven Carter: 503-221-8521;
PHOENIX - As a 12-year-old growing up on her family's Southern Oregon hay farm, Tami Farrell once fell off a cow during a rodeo.
She seems to have recovered. After winning the Miss Teen USA pageant this week - where a video of her tumble was shown - the now-18-year-old Farrell was whisked off to New York City, where she will spend the next year making tele´ vision and modeling appearances for Donald Trump and NBC. She'll share a luxurious Manhattan apartment with the reigning Miss Universe and Miss USA.
The national crown delivers a dream- come-true year for the ambitious young woman whose childhood Barbie doll was always a supermodel. She's been promised a speaking part on the NBC soap "Passions," and she'll receive a yearlong salary for appearances at chari´ ty events and movie premieres, catapult´ ing her into the high-profile world of ce´ lebrity.
And she doesn't have to look far to see what can happen. Another Miss Oregon Teen USA from 1990, Bridgette Wilson of Gold Beach, has made 21 movies, ap´ peared in four television shows, cut two CDs and married tennis star Pete Sam´ pras in 2000.
Back in Phoenix, Farrell has always been a local hero. Her classmates at Phoenix High School chose her as class president three times before electing her student body president her senior year.
Her fun-loving personality was the reason Chuck Crockett asked her to be his first homecoming date and stuck around to be a best friend.
"When she won Miss Teen Oregon, we were so proud of her," Crockett said. "But some of us said, 'Big whoop-de-do - now go get us a national crown.' And she did it."
Her father, Tim, a truck driver, said, "I've always joked with Tami that she was always bigger than this town and this area. It's a small fishbowl, and I knew she'd have to move on some day. She's not afraid to take chances."
Farrell says that attitude allows her to accept challenges fearlessly.
"The bigger the dream, the bigger the outcome," said Farrell during a tele´ phone interview this week. "We shouldn't worry about what might hap´ pen if we don't win. Well, what if you do win?
"For right now, I'm going to really em´ brace this year and see what doors open for me. I'm going at it with an open heart and see what comes."
The skyscrapers of New York City are an exotic landscape for someone who grew up on the outskirts of Phoenix, a city of 4,420 tucked among the pear or´ chards that that fill the Bear Creek Valley between Medford and Ashland. New subdivisions ring the rundown commer´ cial core and aging turn-of-the-century bungalows of a city named for a Con´ necticut insurance company and crossed by the railroad, Oregon 99 and Interstate 5.
The heart of the community is the 820-student high school, whose Pirates are perennial contenders in 3A wrestling and soccer. Come September at Phoenix High, Farrell will be sorely missed.
"I couldn't have asked for a better stu´ dent leader," said Bettye Hitchko, Phoe´ nix High's leadership adviser. "She was very popular, very well-liked, very kind, very inclusive of all students, and she did a great job in organizing and fulfilling her duties."
Guidance counselor Brenda Dufour
By high school, Farrell's Southern Or´
egon modeling career was well estab´
lished in print and television advertising.
She branched out with assignments in
Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los
Angeles that paid mostly in experience.
At Phoenix High, she met dance coach
Liz Heitmanek Fraijo, the 2000 Miss Ore´
gon USA, who'd been competing since
she was 13. Farrell asked whether the
world of beauty pageants could offer a
shortcut to a career as a model and ac´
Fraijo advised her to consider the Miss
Universe pageant system, a partnership
between Trump, who also owns the T
Management modeling agency, and
NBC. It emphasizes modeling and show
business rather than a scholarship pag´
eant such as Miss America.
Farrell finished as a semifinalist in
2001 and 2002 before her win this year
sent her on to the national pageant. At
the national pageant, her competitors
delivered a rare double win by also vot´
ing her Miss Congeniality.
Knowing their daughter will be well-
chaperoned by a security-minded pag´
eant has eased the minds of Farrell's par´
ents, Tim and Stephanie. They said they
always knew that fulfilling her dreams
would take Tami far from home.
A big part of Farrell's next year will be
spent speaking to teens, and her mes´
sage will be simple: Be yourself.
"Learning to love themselves is the
hardest part for most teens," said Farrell,
"to really accept who they are."
Beth Quinn: 541-474-5926;
By high school, Farrell's Southern Or´ egon modeling career was well estab´ lished in print and television advertising. She branched out with assignments in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles that paid mostly in experience.
At Phoenix High, she met dance coach Liz Heitmanek Fraijo, the 2000 Miss Ore´ gon USA, who'd been competing since she was 13. Farrell asked whether the world of beauty pageants could offer a shortcut to a career as a model and ac´ tress.
Fraijo advised her to consider the Miss Universe pageant system, a partnership between Trump, who also owns the T Management modeling agency, and NBC. It emphasizes modeling and show business rather than a scholarship pag´ eant such as Miss America.
Farrell finished as a semifinalist in 2001 and 2002 before her win this year sent her on to the national pageant. At the national pageant, her competitors delivered a rare double win by also vot´ ing her Miss Congeniality.
Knowing their daughter will be well- chaperoned by a security-minded pag´ eant has eased the minds of Farrell's par´ ents, Tim and Stephanie. They said they always knew that fulfilling her dreams would take Tami far from home.
A big part of Farrell's next year will be spent speaking to teens, and her mes´ sage will be simple: Be yourself.
"Learning to love themselves is the
hardest part for most teens," said Farrell,
"to really accept who they are."
Beth Quinn: 541-474-5926;
"We cannot say the state police have been restored with this budget," Kulongoski said.
Declining tax collections over the past year have led to sharp cuts in the number of troopers on Oregon's highways and roads.
After voters rejected a temporary tax increase in January, 129 troopers and 85 forensic scientists were laid off. In March, a supplemental budget restored 45 troopers and 40 lab posts.
The $162 million budget made law Friday restored another 17 forensic scientists but no more troopers, whose ranks at 329 are at the lowest level since the 1960s.
"This budget is not enough to meet the needs of this state," said Jim Botwinis, president of the Oregon State Police Officers Association. Botwinis said Oregon's current ratio of troopers to residents _ one for every 10,000 _ is worse than any neighboring state.
As Jason McGinnis, 14, pulled the flesh-eating fish out on Wednesday, it bit his finger. Rather than toss the fish back, McGinnis put it in his bathtub. He plans to sell it.
The fish is the same type sold at some Oregon pet stores. Piranhas are illegal in Washington and California, but they're commonly sold in Oregon.
The tropical fish was probably released into the creek by somebody who bought it at a pet store, said Chris Mullin, a salesman at Bell's Tropical Fish in Portland.
Mullin said he's heard of people catching piranhas in the Columbia River.
Koch, 18, did not say anything to the court before he was sentenced by Judge Alta Brady on Thursday. He was one of five Redmond teens involved in the murder of Barbara Thomas on March 26, 2001.
The five fled in the woman's car and were arrested at the Canadian border.
Koch bludgeoned the 52-year-old woman with wine bottles and shot her in the head with a .308-caliber rifle. He pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, assault, kidnapping and robbery.
Before Brady entered the courtroom, Koch's shackled hands trembled as he sipped a glass of water. It was a brief proceeding before a packed courtroom.
As Koch and a string of attorneys filed out of the courtroom following the sentencing, Vicki Koch, the defendant's mother, sat quietly in the last row, her eyes red and swollen.
"It's such a waste of lives - five families," said Cathy McDaniel, a friend of Thomas. "It's such a ripple effect and the kids didn't even think of that."
There are still two sentences to be handed out in the case. Adam Thomas, the victim's son, pleaded guilty and Justin Link was found guilty by Brady. Their sentencing hearings are scheduled for next month.
The other two defendants, Lurcretia Karle, 18, and Ashley Summers, 17, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Results from the OHSU pilot study, released Friday, found a 17 percent increase in emergency visits by uninsured patients this spring, compared with a year earlier.
Researchers aren't sure how much of the increase is due to job layoffs and how much to recent cutbacks in the Health Plan.
"I can't think of an explanation for this that's good," said Dr. Robert Lowe, an emergency medicine specialist who directs OHSU's Center for Policy and Research in Emergency Medicine. He led a team of OHSU researchers in compiling the report.
City OKs Waterfront projects
The vote gives the go-ahead for the construction of OHSU facilities and high-rise housing in Portland
Friday, August 15, 2003
By Scott Learn of The Oregonian staff
Portland's City Council unanimously approved development of South Waterfront's central district Thursday, committing millions of public money to help create Oregon's tallest, densest neighborhood and to give the city's largest private employer room to grow.
The vote, cast by council members in historic terms, caps years of planning for the 31-acre district south of the Marquam Bridge, dominated now by vacant lots and a smattering of heavy industry.
Barring a breakdown in the agreement, the council's vote will trigger construction of high-rise office and laboratory space for Oregon Health & Science University. Other projects include: a streetcar extension, an aerial tram for OHSU that has been bemoaned by nearby neighborhoods, and sleek condominium towers with million-dollar views starting 125 feet from the Willamette River.
Some neighborhood critics say the project will be a historic blunder, blocking existing views, adding to traffic congestion and ceding the riverfront to private development instead of green space.
Others, including the League of Women Voters, say the development agreement commits too much public money for the benefit of OHSU and River District developer Homer Williams. Williams' group of investors plans to build as many as up to a dozen towers in the district, with as many as up to 3,000 condominiums, apartments and townhouses.
But the council members focused on the potential economic development benefits of the project, expected to accommodate as many as up to 5,000 jobs, including 4,500 at from OHSU.
Commissioner Randy Leonard likened the deal to a Depression-era depression-era public works project. Commissioner Jim Francesconi noted that the state lost 30,000 manufacturing jobs while South Waterfront was being planned. And Commissioner Dan Saltzman said it could help remedy Portland's "collective loss of confidence" as the economy has faltered, leaving the region with the nation's highest unemployment rate.
"It's the last great development opportunity for the central city," Mayor Vera Katz said, "and the most critical project we can dedicate ourselves to in the next decade.""
The city's hope is that development in the central district will spark $1.9 billion in private investment throughout the 130-acre South Waterfront district.
But the deal mainly nails down details for development in the smaller central district between now and 2008. In the next five years, it calls on Williams' group to build three condo towers and an apartment tower. OHSU is to build an office tower, a garage and, if feasible, a hotel.
And the city, using urban renewal to tap property tax growth in the district, is to help build streets, the tram and a streetcar extension, as well as plowing money into affordable housing, a greenway along the Willamette River and a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 5. In those five years, OHSU and Williams' group will chip in $31 million toward public building projects, mainly for the tram and roads. The city will spend the $72 million on the tram, roads, parks, the streetcar, affordable housing and development of a 125-foot "greenway" along the Willamette River.
The city's general fund, which pays for police, fire and parks services, will also lose about $1 million a year over in the next 20 years because property taxes that would normally go to city operations will be diverted to help pay for the public projects.
The council took no testimony Thursday, but the League of Women Voters wrote to the council members charging that they had ignored the League's recommendations.
Among them: That OHSU and Williams' group pay more for roads, the tram and the streetcar; that market rate apartments in the district not get tax breaks; and that the developers be made to contribute more to public projects if their profits exceed expectations.
Given the development costs on the fill that constitutes South Waterfront, city consultants said Williams' group will have to charge top-of-the-market prices to turn a reasonable profit.
Residents in the nearby Corbett-Terwilliger-Lair Hill and Homestead neighborhoods to the west have also complained about the project, with the tram, traffic and the tall buildings that will obscure neighborhood views topping their list.
Mark Urban, a Homestead neighborhood resident, told the council in a related hearing earlier Thursday that talk among his neighbors has turned to suing the city, to picketing and to council "corruption."
"This City Council has lost the trust of many of its citizens, at least in my neighborhood," he said.
The new district will be dense - up to three times as compact as Oregon's densest census tract, in Northwest Portland.
It will also be tall. Buildings 150 feet away from the Willamette's high-water mark can go up to 250 feet - higher than all but 17 Portland skyscrapers. Buildings a block west can be up to 325 feet - the first one built will be Portland's seventh-tallest building.
Many details remain to be worked out, including land-use approvals, an agreement to extend the streetcar and formation of new taxing districts to hit private landowners for streetcar and tram costs.
Minority leaders are also pressuring the Portland Development Commission, which orchestrated the project, to include minority contractors in public and private construction contracts in the district. The commission, which unanimously approved the development agreement Wednesday, committed to continue those discussions, executive director Don Mazziotti said.
In plugging the deal, Katz said the development is part of a long-term vision that seeks to keep the inner-city vibrant while preventing the region from sprawling onto farms and forest land.
Commissioner Erik Sten said added that OHSU could have expanded at its Hillsboro campus were it not for the development deal. Sten, who pushed successfully for more affordable housing in the district, predicted that the district "is going to be a place where people want to live."
"OHSU is going to attract the talent that it wants to run its university because of the quality of life in the inner city," he said.
The university plans to break ground on its new building, accommodating about 1,000 workers, by January 2004. The building, scheduled to open two years later, is part of the university's aggressive strategy to expand beyond crowded Marquam Hill and become a top recipient of medical research grants.
Williams plans to start building his first condominium tower in May 2004. The first residents - Williams calls them "pioneers" - are scheduled to move in by 2006.
Next week, construction will begin on a "bioswale" by the Willamette designed to contain storm water stormwater runoff from the new buildings.
Saltzman said the project seemed stuck in the talking stages when he started on the council five years ago.
"I frankly wondered whether anything would ever come of this," he said. "It really is time for the meetings to end and the building to begin."
Scott Learn: 503-294-7657; email@example.com.
Friday, August 15, 2003
JAMES MAYER, The Oregonian staff
SALEM - The Senate revived a plan to turn the kicker rebate into a rainy-day fund Thursday, a key piece of the go-home puzzle for some lawmakers as the Legislature continues to grope for a way to balance the budget and bring Oregon's longest session to a close.
But the bill will run smack into the same roadblock a nearly identical proposal hit earlier in the session: The House won't consider changing the income tax kicker without a spending limit.
A group of moderate Republicans, meanwhile, presented a new budget plan to House Speaker Karen Minnis, R-Wood Village, who blasted it as "beyond belief" but said she would allow it to come to a vote.
The Senate voted 17-12 to ask voters in May to decide whether they want to give up future kicker checks to build up a reserve fund.
The kicker law requires that whenever state revenues are at least 2 percent more than projected, the surplus be returned to taxpayers. Senate Joint Resolution 18 would amend the state constitution to reduce the threshold to 1¤percent and put any remaining amount into a rainy-day fund. Once the fund reached 10 percent of the general-fund budget, rebates would resume.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Frank Morse, a Republican businessman from Albany, said it makes sense to put aside some money during good economic times to help the state weather recessions. Lawmakers could tap the reserve if specific economic triggers were met.
Morse said the Legislature should not go home without establishing some kind of reserve fund. "It is a part of the endgame on the budget," he said, noting that some senators have said they would be willing to come down on the level of spending if they could get the kicker bill approved. But opponents such as Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day, said a reserve would just be an invitation for future lawmakers to spend more money. Ferrioli said he doubted voters would be willing to give up the kicker only four years after they enshrined it in the constitution.
"I think voters will tell us they meant what they said," he said.
The evenly-divided Senate passed a nearly identical bill in June, but it got a frosty reception in the Republican-controlled House, where Majority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, is the architect of the ballot measure that put the kicker in the constitution.
"I am shocked that Senator Sen. Morse not only wants to raise taxes on Oregonians, he wants to gut the kicker law as well," Knopp said.
Some senators were annoyed because the House used the Senate's previous kicker bill as a vehicle to revive a baseball stadium financing proposal. "The House thinks so much of the need for a rainy-day fund that they turned it into a baseball stadium," said Sen. Lenn Hannon, R-Ashland.
Morse said the kicker bill would have the votes to pass if it could get out of a House committee and make it the floor, but he conceded that was unlikely.
Getting to the House floor also is the Republican moderates' goal.
"I'm quite encouraged that we will find the center," said Morse, a member of the group.
Rep. Lane Shetterly, R-Dallas, a leader of the moderates, wouldn't reveal the group's size, but estimates hover around a dozen House members and a half-dozen senators. Added to the Democrats in both chambers, they could represent the three-fifths majorities needed to raise revenue - 36 in the House and 18 in the Senate.
The moderate group takes up where several other efforts to reach a budget deal have failed.
"Our effort is to come up with a budget and revenue plan we can present to leadership, and show that it has bipartisan support," Shetterly said.
Details of the plan were not available Thursday night, but earlier Shetterly said the group was pursuing a revenue plan that combines elements of earlier packages, including some tax increases. He said it would not rely heavily on borrowing. House Republican leaders have been working on a no-new-taxes no-taxes plan that would raise $1.2 billion with borrowing and tapping reserves.
On the spending side, Shetterly said the group was trying to find a level high enough to keep Democrats on board without losing Republicans. Without new revenue, lawmakers have $10.4 billion to spend for 2003-05, about the same as four years ago. Republicans have proposed spending about $1.2 billion more, and Democrats want about $1.5 billion more.
The plan they came up with went too far for Minnis.
"The will to spend in this building goes beyond anything I would have imagined," she said. "The will to tax the income of Oregonians is beyond belief."
But Minnis said she would not try to block a vote.
"I'm going to get out of the way," she said, "and let the process work."
James Mayer: 503-294-4109; firstname.lastname@example.org .
Friday, August 15, 2003
By Wade Nkrumah of The Oregonian staff
Harley-Davidson motorcycles, or hogs, as they're commonly known, are roaring into Portland this weekend for "Rose City Thunder," a kickoff celebration for "Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Ride Home."
To be sure, the expected throng of Harley bikers is bringing noise - as in the signature bone-jarring, teeth-chattering rumble of the hogs' muscle engines.
But Portland's business community anticipates hearing a sweeter sound: the bling-bling of cash registers ringing in hotel, merchandise and restaurant receipts - pumping an estimated $1.5 million into Portland's thirsty economy.
The event Saturday and Sunday in the downtown South Park Blocks is free and open to the public.
Patrick Corrie, a Harley rider since 1979, plans to be in the middle of it all, along with his brother and three friends. A couple of them are coming - on their hogs, of course - from Southern California.
"The weekend is going to be, probably, one great time," Corrie said. "It's really hard to describe in words. About the only way to describe it is, you just have to go and show up."
It's all good. Now, at least.
But getting to this point wouldn't have been true to the Portland way without a smidgen of controversy.
That was provided last month when the event faced the threat of losing its South Park Blocks site.
"Rose City Thunder," which organizers predict will draw as many as 15,000 attendees, plus about 2,000 motorcycle owners and enthusiasts, survived intact only by grace of a unanimous City Council vote - and assists from Corrie, other Harley supporters and the downtown business establishment.
Corrie, 55, showed at the City Council meeting to support fellow Harley riders and the event.
"Every Harley-sponsored event I have been part of has involved bikers who are warm, genuine, engaged in finding new adventures and leaving their money," he told the City Council.
In fact, with an average household income of $78,000, the typical Harley rider would appear to be as much a free-spender as a freewheeler.
Yet, such facts, if known, failed to impress South Park Blocks area residents Irwin and Lili Mandel, and the Downtown Community Association. The Mandels and the neighborhood group in late June filed separate appeals of the city Noise Review Board's June 11 approval of a variance for "Rose City Thunder."
They were worried about inconveniences to downtown residents by streets that will be closed, as well as the beer gardens, food, merchandise vendors, live music, motorcycles, and associated crowds and noise.
"I hope Harley has a good weekend," Irwin Mandel said lightheartedly Thursday. "Because if they have a good weekend, we will, too."
However, Mandel said, he's not leaving anything to chance. He will be chronicling the before-during-after of the event with his 8 mm video cam era.
"My wife and I hope that absolutely nothing happens," he said. The hope is "that this is a nice, calm, peaceful event, and that they are right, and we are wrong in our concerns about what could happen."
Portland is one of four cities in the United States chosen for the "Ride Home" tour, which will culminate Thursday to Sunday, Aug. 28-31, in Milwaukee.
Corrie, who lives in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood in outer east Portland, will be in the convoy leaving for Milwaukee. But this weekend, it's all about the party.
"I'm not going to say it's going to be like going to Mardi Gras," he said. "Not as wild as that. But it's certainly going to be as involved."
Hog-wild, for sure.
Wade Nkrumah: 503-294-7627; email@example.com.
Friday, August 15, 2003
By Patrick O'Neill of The Oregonian staff
For Kathy Stewmon, "Titanic" was the last straw.
The Forest Grove woman, who has multiple sclerosis, had gone to see the blockbuster movie at a Regal Cinemas theater in the Portland area. She parked her wheelchair in the aisle because the space designated for wheelchairs was so close to the screen that she couldn't enjoy the movie.
The incident happened five years ago, on her 50th birthday, but the memory rankles. Today, she is one of three Oregon women who successfully brought suit against the theater chain, claiming that their rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act were violated.
"I was so displeased we were going to have to sit four rows back from the screen," she remembered. Being so close, she would have had to lean her head back and turn from side to side to follow the action. Friends carried her and her wheelchair up several steps in another aisle, where she could see better.
"I know I was a fire hazard, but people were really nice," she said.
When the film ended, she complained to the manager about the lack of accommodations for the disabled. He told her he had heard such complaints many times, she said.
Stewmon was disappointed. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative nerve disease, in 1970 and had used a wheelchair since she was 40. Movies are one of her few pleasures, she said.
Stewmon, 55, and the two other plaintiffs want to force the theater chain to become more wheelchair-friendly. On Wednesday, a federal appeals panel ruled in favor of the disabled women, or dering Regal Entertainment Group, the world's largest movie theater chain, to improve lines of sight for those in wheelchairs.
On Thursday, a Regal official implied that the company will appeal the ruling.
In a written statement, Dick Westerling, senior vice president of marketing and advertising for Regal Entertainment Group of Knoxville, Tenn., said the theater designs were approved by state, local and federal officials before they were built.
"It is fundamentally unfair to create a new construction standard and apply it to already existing buildings," he said.
The ruling, by a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, "creates the opportunity for this issue to be resolved once and for all by the U.S. Supreme Court," he said.
Russ Nunley, Regal marketing director, said he could not elaborate on the statement.
Kathleen L. Wilde, attorney for the Oregon Advocacy Center, which represented the women, said the ruling is important because of Regal's huge presence in the United States. According to Regal's Web site, the group operates 6,119 screens in 562 locations in 39 states.
"People in wheelchairs have very limited recreational activities," Wilde said. "This (case) means they're actually going to be able to go to the movies in comfort."
Wilde said a second plaintiff, Tina Argetsinger, whose name appears as Tina Smith on the complaint, suffers from a degenerative bone disease and must use a wheelchair. She was unavailable for comment Thursday.
A third plaintiff, Kathleen Braddy of Toledo, Oregon, welcomed the ruling.
Braddy, 63, was a March of Dimes poster child in 1945 when she became ill with polio at age 6. After years of therapy, she regained her ability to walk.
But at age 38, her muscles began cramping, and she suffered from an "exhaustion that came out of nowhere." The difficulty was post-polio syndrome, a revisitation of symptoms of the disease. The former schoolteacher can still walk but needs a wheelchair when she's tired.
She recalls a visit about two years ago to a Regal theater in Portland.
"You come in and you're underneath the screen," she said. "In order to see, you literally have to lean your head back. The screen was basically a blur."
When she ran into the same problem later at another Regal theater in Wilsonville, "it really ticked me off," she said.
"What I'd like to see is that all theaters from now on are sensitive to people, (including) the elderly who can't climb some of these places."
Patrick O'Neill; 503-221-8233; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, August 15, 2003
From The Oregonian staff
A one-alarm fire tied up commuter traffic and caused hundreds of workers to evacuate the 1000 Broadway Building in downtown Portland this morning.
Craig Callicotte, a battalion chief for the Portland Fire Bureau, said a sprinkler system quickly extinguished the fire in an electrical vault in a lower level of the building. Firefighters were working later in the morning to have power restored and clear smoke and water out of the building.
The fire was reported at 8:19 a.m. The 23-story building - bounded by Southwest Broadway, Main Street, Sixth Avenue and Salmon Street - houses the Broadway Metro 4 theater, the Metro Cafe and a McDonald's on the ground floor.
Friday, August 15, 2003
By JEFF BARNARD, Associated Press Environmental Writer
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service will consider a much more aggressive approach to logging timber killed in last year's massive Biscuit fire, as suggested by some Oregon State University forestry professors.
The decision by Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor Scott Conroy will delay the draft rehabilitation plan a few months, so that major restoration work and salvage logging on the 500,000-acre fire area cannot begin until late spring or summer next year, Tom Link, Biscuit recovery program manager, said Thursday.
The plan already includes five alternatives that range up to 450 million board feet of salvage timber, while the OSU report, released last month, suggests logging as much as 2.5 billion board feet.
Link acknowledged that new alternatives being developed will make the plan more controversial, because they will consider cutting trees in roadless areas and old growth forest reserves, where environmentalists have aggressively opposed logging.
He added that fire-killed timber will have that much longer to deteriorate from rot and insects.
The OSU report represents new information and the Forest Service wants to include a full range of possibilities on which Conroy will base his decision, Link said.
Link said one reason for not considering logging inside roadless areas is uncertainty over the status of the policy of not logging inside them due to ongoing court battles. The new analysis will provide Conroy with information he can use if the policy is ultimately struck down.
The OSU report was commissioned by neighboring Douglas County, which suffered severe job losses due to logging reductions on national forests to protect fish and wildlife habitat. It was produced by a team of OSU faculty, led by John Sessions, a professor of forest engineering.
It urged more aggressive salvage logging to reduce the risk of future wildfires and speed the restoration of commercial timber and habitat for the threatened northern spotted owl. It suggested that selling more fire-killed timber would help finance more extensive reforestation.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who had urged the Forest Service not to expand the alternatives, said the delay would compound problems.
"It's ridiculous that D.C. bureaucrats are forcing local foresters to consider two additional alternatives," said DeFazio. "They're dreaming if they think they can start salvaging work in the summer months, at the peak of the fire season when the Forest Service notoriously runs out of money and starts draining other project accounts."
Don Smith, executive director of the Siskiyou Regional Education Project, an environmental group, predicted that the alternatives based on the OSU report would ultimately be rejected, because there is a strong body of scientific information that opposes logging in areas burned by wildfire due to increased erosion and sedimentation of salmon streams.
Sessions did not immediately return telephone calls to his office.
Doug Robertson, a Douglas County commissioner who commissioned the report, was away on vacation, his office said.
Jennifer and Link Phillipi, partners in the Rough & Ready Lumber Co. in O'Brien, within site of the Biscuit fire area, did not immediately return calls for comment.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - More than 10,000 customers of Portland General Electric could owe hundreds of dollars in unpaid charges, due to the utility's flawed billing system.
PGE Equal Pay program, which the company touts as "no surprises, so it's easier on your budget," allows customers to pay an average monthly payment based on their past bills. After 12 months, the company reviews the actual electricity use and makes adjustments in the bill.
But the yearly adjustment didn't happen this time. PGE spokesman Mark Fryburg said a problem with a $35 million computer system made the situation unavoidable.
PGE delayed adding the Equal Pay data, Fryburg said, reasoning that allowing charges to pile up was better than sending out inaccurate bills. Some customers on Equal Pay racked up 11 months' worth of unpaid charges.
"Certainly, we've learned from the experience," he said.
Of the about 10,000 Equal Pay customers who owe PGE unpaid balances, about one-third owe more than $200, and at least one customer owes $1,500. And PGE owes refunds to 8,000 customers.
Salem resident Maria Ponce owes PGE an unpaid balance of $944, pushing her monthly bill from about $60 to $214. Lowell Hanna of Oregon City faces a $700 bill.
"You don't figure there is a large balance that will bite you in the backside," Hanna said.
A running total of the charges was listed on the back of Equal Pay customers' bills. But PGE officials said most customers simply paid the amount due and didn't check the details.
PGE spokesman Fryburg said the company will give customers extra months or even years to pay the balance at no interest.
PGE failed to keep state regulators adequately informed about the billing issue, said Clark Jackson, consumer services manager for the Public Utility Commission. Under a 1997 law, the commission could fine PGE as much as $1 million for service quality problems, he said.
PGE, a subsidiary of the bankrupt Enron, has about 740,000 customers in six northern Willamette Valley counties, including Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas.
Friday, August 15, 2003
By Jennifer Coleman, Associated Press Writer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - It was one of the most severe U.S. power outages, an electronic tsunami that swept down the West Coast from Oregon into parts of Mexico and swiftly reached as far east as Texas.
The Aug. 10, 1996, event, like the blackout that knocked the lights out in the Northeast on Thursday, testified to just how delicate a balance is daily struck on the nation's interlocking power grids.
A series of unrelated but coincidental events had stressed out the system: Two major high-voltage lines were out for maintenance and a third shut down when it "sagged into a tree," said Terry Winter, chief executive of the California Independent System Operator (ISO), the nonprofit power pool that oversees much of California's electricity grid.
It was a summer Saturday afternoon, with scorching temperatures and electricity demand unusually high, conditions more severe than Thursday's in the Northeast. The system was stressed and communications across local and state grids was less than optimum.
"What the 1996 blackouts demonstrated was these things can rapidly roll out of control and it's very important to give early warning to everyone you're interconnected with," said Jan Smutny-Jones, executive director of Independent Energy Producers, a Sacramento-based trade association representing power plants.
Because electricity is often transmitted over vast distances from generating plants _ the United States has almost a half-million miles of bulk transmission lines _ the national grid system depends on more than 100 control centers that serve as choke points.
The centers reroute electricity to areas of high demand, and often have automatic switches. When a grid's distribution becomes unbalanced or overloaded, a blackout occurs. When severe, it can ripple across grids, sequentially shutting them down as circuit-breakers trip so equipment isn't damaged.
That's what happened seven years ago and on Thursday, and restoring distribution isn't easy.
Post-mortems after the 1996 blackout determined that the cascade of events, affecting 4 million people in nine states, might have been lessened had regional electrical utilities communicated better, providing early notice of potential problems.
While too early to say whether Thursday's blackout may have been forestalled by improved communications, Smutny-Jones said California officials may have been able to prevent the 1996 outage had they been informed when the first transmission line went down.
The interlocking grids affected by Thursday's outage have other problems. The U.S. Department of Energy says the main regional power pools involved _ chiefly New York and New England _ have some weak transmission links that make it especially challenging to move power to urban areas during peak power periods.
The 1996 blackout came as California lawmakers were debating electricity deregulation _ and up to that point the state's power grid's reliability hadn't been an issue.
"That following Monday, the debate switched to reliability," said Smutny-Jones.
As part of the subsequent deregulation plan, the California ISO was created. The nonprofit power pool controls the ebb and flow of electricity over much of California's grid, rationing power from generating plants to meet demand.
A study by federal and state power regulators also recommended improved communications among grid managers and recommended that three reliability coordinators be named to monitor the West's grid.
Additionally, the utilities, power plants and grid operators set up plans to deal with potential blackouts that would give all parties early warning.
While Winter said the California power pool has helped power officials react quickly to outage threats, it could not prevent widespread blackouts that struck the state in 2001, when officials couldn't find enough power to import and cut electricity in rotating blocks.
State officials blamed the lack of power on energy companies that they said were withholding electricity to drive up the price. In that case, however, the blackouts were controlled by grid managers who planned how much power to cut and where to cut it.
Stadium finance bill heads for House vote
"Hitting is timing," Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn once said, and "pitching is upsetting timing."
Stepping into the batter's box is the Oregon Stadium Campaign. On the mound, Sen. Lenn Hannon, R-Ashland.
Senate Bill 5, the stadium financing bill, will go up for a vote Monday in the Oregon House, where it is expected to pass. A vote on the Senate floor could happen later in the week. Timing, for legislators and those hoping to bring the Montreal Expos to Portland, is everything.
"This is all about getting to the Senate floor in a clean way but still do it at the right moment," stadium campaign spokesman Art Sasse said.
On Tuesday, a "gut and stuff" was performed on SB 5, inserting the bill formerly known as House Bill 3606 with a couple of minor tweaks into a bill that already had passed the Senate. Rather than hurrying the new stadium bill to the Senate floor to meet Major League Baseball's subject-to-change deadline of Labor Day, baseball backers are planning on a vote Monday.
Hannon, irate over Tuesday's maneuvering, wanted the new bill back to the Senate as soon as possible. But realizing senators' hesitancy to consider baseball before an education budget, the baseball backers will play keep-away from Hannon as long as possible. Sen. Ryan Deckert, D-Beaverton, probably will take his time before calling for a vote.
But Hannon could call for a vote, beating Deckert to the punch.
"He could," lobbyist Kevin Campbell said. "I don't know if that works to his advantage. That would be considered a hostile move, and that might bring some other votes."
Campbell said rushing it to the Senate would have been a mistake.
"Everybody was mad at everybody," Campbell said. "The senate president (Peter Courtney, D-Salem) called the Legislature a disgrace. In that kind of environment, with everybody shooting at one another, you're liable to lose your bill if you get it in too early."
The first House vote, on May 7, passed 33-25. Two representatives were absent, and one key legislator - Ben Westlund, R-Bend - now is on the Senate side. Still, Campbell & Co. are confident they have a comfortable margin there.
As for the Senate, it is possible to wait too long.
"If we're sitting here having this conversation on Aug. 31 and baseball was saying they needed a decision, I think we'd say, 'Can we please have a vote?'" Sasse said.
Meanwhile, in Boston, where a round of owners' meetings adjourned Thursday, commissioner Bud Selig said the issue of relocating the Expos did not come up.
"They've got work to do yet - and lots of it," Selig told reporters, about his relocation committee. "The priority here is to get it done right, not to get it done fast."
Selig also said baseball is unlikely to ask the Expos to play home games in two cities again, as they're doing this season in Montreal and in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Still, players association leader Don Fehr would not rule out another split home schedule, although it's clearly undesirable.
"The players' interest is in not having it split, if that's possible," Fehr said.
Baseball chief operating officer Bob DuPuy was recuperating Thursday from surgery to repair a torn quadriceps, suffered when he tripped on the stairs after Wednesday's owners' meetings.
John Hunt: 503-294-7643; email@example.com
Timber Jim is ending run as team's mascot
"The best mascot in the world carries a chainsaw and wears suspenders."
Portland Timbers follower "Roberto," in a recent on-line message board to fellow fans.
Timber Jim, one of the hardest working mascots in sports, is about to hang up his chainsaw.
"I'll be back, but only if we're in the playoffs, and it's on a week end," he said Sunday after the Timbers' game against Seattle at PGE Park.
Timber Jim is Jim Serrill, who for economic reasons has given up trimming trees in the Portland area to become a power company lineman in the Seattle area. He has begun a 3½-year apprenticeship near Bellevue, spending weekdays there while visiting his family in Tualatin on weekends.
"This is tough - really difficult to lose him," said Jim Taylor, the soccer team's general manager. "How can you come up with a new Timber Jim with his qualities?
"He is such a unique person, a unique mascot who brings his heart and soul to the park, who has a special energy and work ethic. Those are pretty tough shoes to fill."
Serrill's departure ends an era in Portland soccer than began when the original Timbers team of the former North American Soccer League hired him in 1978.
For four NASL seasons, he was "that crazy lumberjack in Portland" as he fired up his chainsaw, cut slabs off a log for each Timbers goal and led cheers while hanging upside down from center field light poles at what then was Civic Stadium.
When the Timbers returned as an A-League franchise in 2001, Taylor lured Timber Jim out of retirement. For three seasons, he has been up to his old stunts, which include swinging on a rope from the rafters of PGE Park and leading cheers and pounding a drum while standing atop an 80-foot pole for most of the second half of games.
It's physically demanding and left Serrill exhausted, especially after he already had put in a full day's work for the tree-trimming firm Asplundh, usually clearing around Portland General Electric powerlines.
After clearing tree limbs for 31 years, Serrill, 49, is in amazing physical condition. But there are limitations.
"If I were a professional athlete, I would have retired a long time ago," he said, grinning.
"Timber Jim's been fun -- a huge experience," Serrill said. "I've had some rough times, particularly when the team came back two years ago. I was having some personal challenges, and it was very healing for me to be part of this.
"But I gotta go where the money is. I've been able to raise my three children here. But now there's just nothing available. Meanwhile, the economy in Seattle is ripping up. You would not believe how much new construction there is up there."
Firm in his commitment to his new line of work, Serrill saves motel expenses by sleeping week nights on a cot in the back of his pickup.
He misses his family, which includes a 23-month-old grand daughter.
"My wife's holding down the fort bigtime," he said.
Serrill's wife, Diane, laughed and said: "It hasn't been that long, and we've been OK, but this has really been hard for Jim. Plus, he's starting at the bottom."
Serrill paused, glanced around PGE Park and said, "It's time for another guy to come in here, maybe a young guy."
Andrew Campbell and Joe Mendez - who assisted Serrill at a recent Timbers game - will perform the mascot duties at the final three regular-season games, to night against Indiana, Monday against Seattle and Aug. 29 against El Paso. If the Timbers qualify for the playoffs, they will play at least one home game. Whether it's on a weeknight or weekend is up in the air.
Serrill has struggled with his decision to leave the Timbers. Now, Taylor is struggling with the thought of replacing him.
"It will be totally difficult trying to come up with another Timber Jim, or something even close.
"And if we find one, what do we call him, 'Chainsaw Charlie?'"
John Nolen: 503-221-8211;
For Pilots, it's a season of questions
Star forward Christine Sinclair and coach Clive Charles were the only absentees as the defending national champion University of Portland Pilots opened soccer practice Thursday morning.
Sinclair is the high-scoring Canadian who will be missing from the Pilots' lineup for as long as Canada survives in the FIFA Women's World Cup which begins Sept. 20 and ends Oct. 12.
Charles just returned from more than a week visiting relatives in England and missed the first day of women's practice while resting and "getting caught up on the doctor's appointments he missed be cause of the trip," assistant coach Garrett Smith said. Charles, also the Portland men's coach, has battled prostate cancer for two years.
Sinclair has been in Canada "preparing for the best in the world right now," said Smith, who is acting coach when Charles is unavailable.
The big question, of course, is when Sinclair - with 49 goals in her first two collegiate seasons - will join the Pilots in their bid to win a second consecutive NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Cup.
"It completely depends on how far Canada goes," Smith said. "If they get knocked out in group play (which ends Sept. 27), she'll be here.
"But the farther they get into the World Cup, such as to the semis or the finals, it will be very, very difficult for her to handle her makeup work in school here, and feel like she hasn't cheated the team out of the season."
Sinclair's decision will come after she confers with her professors, Smith said. "She's got to ask them, 'Can I make this work?' She doesn't take easy classes. It's not like she's just trying to get by in school; she's trying to get A's."
The Pilots are supportive of whatever Sinclair decides.
"Obviously, anybody would like to have her around, because she is such a weapon," sophomore midfielder Lindsey Huie said.
But without Sinclair, who in December scored both goals in a 2-1 overtime win over Santa Clara in the national championship game, can the Pilots survive the season?
"We will - - we will," Huie said, nodding.
Senior defender Imani Dorsey, another key player who returns from last season, pointed to the Pilots' recent suc cess; Portland has played in the final four seven times in the last nine seasons.
"Those teams before us didn't have Christine," she said, "so hopefully this team is up to the challenge, and we can stand up to the same (standards) the previous programs have set for us."
Nine incoming freshmen - including under-19 U.S. national team members Angie Woznuk and Stephanie Lopez - will be critical to the Pilots' success. Soccer Buzz rates the Pilots' freshmen the No. 4 recruiting class in the nation.
Woznuk and another freshman forward, Elsaa member of Canada's under-16 and under-17 national teams, "will give us a bunch of goals this year," Smith said. "We've got a good core base around them, so this is a good group all around."
The Pilots lost five seniors from last year's team which went 20-4-2, including defender Lauren Orlandos, and midfielders Erin Misaki and Betsy Barr.
"You don't replace people like that," Smith said. "But it's one of the great things about college soccer. I think every year you're given a new team, because you are going to graduate seniors."
Scanning the 20 players in their first-day scrimmage, Smith said, "We gotta make this the next national champion."
Notes: It was the first opening practice Charles has missed in his 17 years with the Pilots. "Clive's in good spirits, and he will be out here as soon as he feels good enough for two (practices) in one day," Smith said. "If you know Clive, he doesn't want to come out and look like he's not ready." The Pilots men will open practice at 8:30 a.m. today, followed by the women's practice at 10 a.m.
John Nolen: 503-221-8211;
08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003