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Category: Local Interest

Resources for storms in Portland

Resources for storms in Portland

Some links:

Long, Long Man

Long, Long Man

Japan has some amazing commercials that have even inspired a Simpsons episode (back when Simpsons was still good).

One of the best is a series of commercials I have seen is for Sakeru Gummy candy. The episodes is often just known as Long Long Man about a young couple and their running into a mysterious man who likes a longer version of the candy.

It is honestly some of the best commercial making around – and I hate to say – has better acting and story than probably 75% of the constant re-hashed old franchises, superhero stories, and movies/TV we see today. For a series that last a total of only 6 minutes over 11 thirty second clips – it delivers an amazingly engaging story.

Here’s the whole series:

What’s awesome is the actor Yukiyoshi Ozawa even does a short interview. He put some emotion and thought into his role.

A good example of a Portland activist

A good example of a Portland activist

Want to know what progressive activists are like in Portland? Here’s an interview with one: Adam Egelman.

Adam Egelman of Safe Street Rebel is referred to as leader of “a new breed of tactical urbanism that has sprung up across the U.S. and is transforming city streets without the permission of city governments.” “Direct action gets the goods,” reads the title of a panel Egelman participated in. The group participates in confrontation and illegally blocking and modifying roads without working with city transportation permission. One of the activities they were involved in was disabling self-driving cars in San Francisco with traffic cones.

Other quotes:

“Safe Street Rebel is explicitly anti-police.”

“We say ‘bullying works.’ “

“It can be tense with…people who favor car access, or, you know, [people that] oppose safe streets”

I have a serious problem with people like Egelman. They like to break the rules when it suits them, then go running to the cops when it doesn’t go their way. The behavior encourages people to break laws, make their own decisions about what everyone else should do, silences other voices, and…well…as he says: bully people. This works great when others follow the rules – but as we’re seeing right now in our country – it creates an environment in which ‘might makes right’ and rules and laws are just for chumps.

Society only exists because we have collectively agreed to participate and abide by it. If we stop agreeing to participate in it; there is no way for a government or police or military to bring it back. We’ll descend into violent chaos.

Activists like Egelman encourages others to see following laws and rules as pointless. If people like Egelman can do whatever they want, then I’ll do the same. What Egelman doesn’t realize, but what we saw during the 2020 Portland riots, is that it encourages equally extreme people on the other side of the spectrum to the same acts.

It’s the common way of thinking for both extremist left and right groups such as the Proud Boys.

Bullying is an act of violence and behavior that unquestioningly harms individuals, harms communities, harms cities, and harms progress and society. We don’t accept bullies at schools. Nobody likes working with bullies. Bullies destroy the best ideas coming out. Bullies don’t listen to others – they silence dissenting voices. We should stand up against bullies and for those oppressed by bullying.

It’s an incredibly arrogant stance to think your opinion is far more important than scientific evidence, community discussion. It’s a profoundly damaging thing for social structure as a whole. It teaches people to ‘do whatever you want’.

It’s the classic ego trap common with activist.

Top 10 Airports in the US

Top 10 Airports in the US

How do domestic airports rank? This year, my Midwest home of Indianapolis gets some love as the #2 airport in the US.

  1. Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport
  2. Indianapolis International Airport
  3. Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport
  4. Palm Beach International Airport
  5. Tampa International Airport
  6. Hartford Bradley International Airport 
  7. Minneapolis St. Paul
  8. Long Beach Airport
  9. Portland (Oregon) International Airport
  10. Detroit Metropolitan Airport

Sadly, Portland falls to #9 after having lead the list in years past, but things haven’t been very good at Portland airport in the last few years. We had protesters/counter-protesters assault each other a few times, and then of course a recent woman that fired a few shots at the airport.

Higher interest rates now biting credit dependent famous local Portland restaraunts

Higher interest rates now biting credit dependent famous local Portland restaraunts

Not only is the commercial real estate market facing a historic downturn in Portland, now hospitality businesses are having trouble too. Especially those owned by holdings companies behind many famous names.

Sortis Holdings bought up a number of famous top-flight Portland hospitality businesses and restaurants on a diet of low margins and low interest rates as they faltered during the pandemic. However, all is not well. They have been the target of at least 4 lawsuits by unpaid creditors, employees, contractors and partners since September. They recently failed at an attempt to acquire Ace Group International hotels and are currently facing many suits on unpaid bills.

Which Portland ‘local’ businesses do they own? Bamboo Sushi, Blue Star Donuts, Ava Gene’s, Tusk, Sizzle Pie pizza, the Ace Hotel, Rudy’s Barbershops, and Water Avenue Coffee to name just a few.


2023 Portland Commercial Real estate downfall

2023 Portland Commercial Real estate downfall

There’s a growing list of distressed commercial office buildings in Portland – some of the most iconic and largest ones. In the second half of 2023, this situation has finally come to a head. How bad is it? The numbers are almost twice as bad as they have ever been in 50 years, and some say Portland is facing at least a decade of downturn.

What is happening?

3 months ago, the Willamette Week made a list of 16 buildings that were at serious risk of foreclosure. Since then, the story has been playing out with dramatic forecloses and auctiones on a nearly weekly basis (Montgomery Park, Commonwealth Building, J.K. Gill Building, Field Office, etc). Sometimes they are bought back by the very firms that are defaulting, for a fraction of their original price because nobody else is interested in bidding. They’re also walking away from multi-million dollar re-payments to construction companies that remodeled them.

Nearly a third of Portland’s downtown office space now stands empty – and it’s a situation that’s growing worse in 2023. Many of these buildings, bought at top dollar during the time when Portland was one of the fastest growing cities in the country, now have too much debt and not enough income from rent to cover it. Owners aren’t just selling, they’re decided the situation isn’t going to get better and are now actively defaulting and walking away – just like homeowners did in the 2008 financial crisis.

The numbers are bad – off the charts bad

The commercial vacancy rate in Portland currently sits at 31.5%. Hard-hit San Francisco is 31.9%, Seattle 27.9%, Los Angeles 30.9%, Salt Lake City 19.9% and Denver 23.4%. Even during the great recession of 2008-2009, the commercial vacancy rate never broke 15% in Portland.

But things will get better right? “The Portland office market continues to face a bleak outlook at the midway point of 2023,” say analysts at Colliers – a Toronto-based firm that tracks global real estate. “Over the next two quarters, more than 500,000 square feet of leased space [in Portland] is set to expire market wide. Should these tenants maintain office space following the expiration of their leases, they will likely look to downsize their real estate footprints.” This means that as the leases expire, it’s highly probable the vacancy rate will go up even more – maybe to the highest levels in the country. This means even more foreclosures.

Meanwhile, a few miles away over the West Hills, just outside the Portland border in Beaverton and Hillsboro, companies are doing multi-billion dollar expansions. Companies such as Analog Devices and Intel. Beaverton is becoming the new foodie mecca. Why is Portland doing so bad just a few miles away?

Bob Ames, former president of First Interstate Bank of Oregon and a longtime investor in commercial property says this is the worst situation he’s seen in 50 years. He says Portland is still suffering as plywood covered windows from the 2020 riots and subsequent crime are still quite prevalent on 2023 downtown storefronts. Homeless camps have continued to grow. On some downtown blocks, you’re ‘just as likely to see someone smoking fentanyl as sipping a Frappuccino’.

Steadily increasing and expanding business taxes and regulation far beyond neighboring metro areas has also been discouraging businesses from Portland. Besides stifling new businesses, successful businesses are increasingly moving out too.

His assessment? “The problem with downtown Portland is that you don’t want to be in downtown Portland. We’ve driven a lot of capital out of here, and a lot of tenants. You’re not going to book another major employer into this city for a decade.”

Some locals are already drawing parallels to the same economic decline (Oregon has had a 2.2% drop in median income in 2022), population loss (Oregon AND Portland’s net populations have decreased for second year in a row), and urban decay (already called a humanitarian crisis in Portland) that caused the Rust Belt.

Not turning around soon

One thing is clear, the collapse has begun. Things in Portland are likely to get worse before they get better. Serious and long-term damage has been done by leadership and Portland is almost certainly looking at a continued decline for a good while before things have a chance of turning around. That’s if Portland can recover from the destruction of it’s business tax base – at the same time they are also experiencing a disturbing income tax reduction due to a growing multi-year population decline.

Mexican Drug Cartels on the Oregon Coast

Mexican Drug Cartels on the Oregon Coast

A local paper, the Journal Courier, did a pretty interesting piece on the increasing drug problems on the Oregon coast. It turns out, the CJNG cartel from Mexico has been doing a heavy drug trade in more and more rural and coastal Oregon towns – even leaving a grisly warning for those who might talk.

The I-5 corridor has long been known as a transit pipeline on the west coast for drugs and sex trafficking. Portland itself is well known for high rates of underage sex trafficking. It’s interesting to see the hub cities – which is no surprise if you’ve visited any of those cities in the area.


$9 Billion wasted on fish conservation in the Columbia River Basin

$9 Billion wasted on fish conservation in the Columbia River Basin

Over four decades more than $9 billion in tax dollars were spent on fish conservation in the Columbia River basin.

Research headed by William Jaeger from the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences analyzed 50 years of data to answer the basic question: Is there any evidence of an overall boost in wild fish abundance that can be linked to the totality of the recovery efforts?

The study from Oregon State University shows that all these efforts have not resulted in a notable increase in wild salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia River Basin. In fact, of all the many different conservation efforts, all the salmon and steelhead population growth can be attributed to one source: hatcheries.

The actual impact of all of these [individual conservation] efforts has always been poorly understood. One of the issues is that most studies evaluating restoration efforts have examined individual projects for specific species, life stages, or geographic areas, which limits the ability to make broad inferences at the basin level.

The role of hatcheries in recovery plans is controversial for many reasons, but results do indicate that hatchery production combined with restoration spending is associated with increases in returning adult fish. However, we found that adult returns attributable to spending and hatchery releases combined do not exceed what we can attribute to hatcheries alone.

It’s another example in Oregon’s sadly long list of feel-good measures and huge tax spending programs that failed to provide the promised results. This is very disappointing not only because of the wasted money, but because a great number of the conservation groups that lobbied for these programs have told us their science showed the expensive efforts would improve fish populations. It turns out they were wrong about both their science and policies.


Light Pillars in Oregon

Light Pillars in Oregon

Light pillars are an interesting natural phenomenon in which a vertical beam of light appears to extend above and/or below a light source. The effect is created by the reflection of light off tiny ice crystals slowly falling through the air, reflecting light rays off of them.

While more common in Canada/Alaska and other northern latitudes, they recently appeared in the night skies over Redmond, Oregon on Christmas Eve 2022. Pretty cool!