05.25.13 Your Premium Buzz

At the altar of the Big Green Egg: How a product becomes a cult

Newest Members: 

Tom Hogue, Dept Land Conservation and Development, Economic Development Specialist

Jessica LaVigne, Pacific Lutheran University, Student

Next Forums: 

June 6 – Heather Gantz, Waldron Senior Consultant, Bend, Oregon

June 12 – Lunch and Learn with Center for Priority Based Budgeting

June 20 – ELGL Willamette Valley Presents Community Rhythms

June 20 – Lake Oswego Police Chief Johnson; Clackamas County Undersheriff Kirby; and Milwaukie Police Chief Jordan

High 5

  1. Washington Bridge Collapse: Not an Example of ‘Crumbling Infrastructure’ – If the country doesn’t spend enough on infrastructure, the thinking goes, not only will the U.S. suffer economically, but safety will be put at risk. Dramatic images of pieces of bridge in the Skagit River with survivors sitting atop sunken cars would seemingly illustrate that point.

  2. The Case for Caution When It Comes to Building Streetcars – Not everyone shares in the excitement. Writing in the Atlanta Journal Constitution last week, transit planner Jarrett Walker tempered emotions by questioning how useful the streetcar will really be. The piece is behind a paywall, but suffice it to say that Walker answered his rhetorical question with: not very. While everyone hopes the streetcar will “make people value transit as a whole,” writes Walker, the fact is the Atlanta streetcar won’t run frequently enough to improve mobility.

  3. How The Obama Gun Boom Pushed The Fortune Of Two Brothers To $1.2 Billion – The location was no accident–they were guests of the owners. With 40 stores and a strong Internet and mail catalog business, Cabela’s sells everything from fishing rods to wool slippers. But guns are the real moneymaker, and while fears of future gun restrictions have spurred sales for the entire industry, no company has benefited quite like Cabela’s.

  4. A New Model To Pay For Infrastructure in Chicago – The Chicago Infrastructure Trust creates a new way to pay for things like improvements to bridges and roads that won’t destroy the city’s already stretched budget.

  5. Inside the IRS Unit Under Fire – The IRS unit under fire for its reviews of conservative organizations has a long history of targeting particular groups for extra scrutiny, including foreclosure-assistance charities and credit-counseling services.

I’m Just a Bill

Nine Oregon cities host marches to express concern over genetically modified foods – The marches – planned for Portland, Eugene, Medford, Grants Pass, Bend, Baker City, Prineville, Redmond and Coos Bay – follow passage by Congress and President Obama of a resolution that essentially overrides court rulings against genetically modified crops.

O&C plan meets mixed welcome in Oregon’s poorest counties – Sen. Ron Wyden’s plan to offer more timber revenue to counties with higher property taxes rankles some officials in rural counties.

PERS reforms: Advocates still see hope for deeper public employee pension cuts – At the top of their wish list: reducing the interest rate used to calculate PERS members’ benefits under the system’s money match formula. The reform advocates don’t like the legal odds of the money match fixes suggested by Gov. John Kitzhaber last week, which only applied to “inactive” PERS members. But they insist they can build on his proposal, offering a more robust and legally defensible solution.

New gay-rights battleground: Virginia – Yes, you read that right. In the 2013 off-year elections, a state that once leaned solidly to the center-right has become the newest focal point in the national debate over same-sex relationships. A gubernatorial race already defined partly along culture-war lines has grown even more contentious since last weekend, when Virginia Republicans nominated as their lieutenant governor candidate a firebrand minister who has called gays “very sick people psychologically” and suggested a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia.

Fiscal Cliff

National and State Parks Suffering From Budget Cuts – National and state parks will be open for business this summer, but it won’t be business as usual: Washington’s sledgehammer budget cuts and fewer state dollars will result in overflowing trash cans, closed visitor centers and fewer Junior Ranger programs. Many vacationers will tread on runaway invasive plants, wait in long lines at park entrances and miss out on campfire talks.

DIA’s art collection could face sell-off to satisfy Detroit’s creditors – Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is considering whether the multibillion-dollar collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts should be considered city assets that potentially could be sold to cover about $15 billion in debt.

Congress, Pentagon lack consensus on sequestration fix – Capitol Hill and the Pentagon are at an impasse on how to fix the dire fiscal situation facing the department under sequestration, with no viable end in sight.

911 calls go unanswered in some Oregon counties – Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber is considering legislation that would declare a public safety emergency in some Oregon counties where residents often have been left to try to fend for themselves.

Inside Portlandia

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Baker Resigns; Councilor Calls Damascus a “Hellhole” – It may be Memorial Day weekend but Oregonian reporters Molly Harbinger and Heather Steeves are all over the chaos in Damascus. In sum, Baker resigns; councilor calls Damascus a “hellhole”, and taxpayers on hook for $320K severance for Baker.

Forest Grove and Cornelius consider shared building services – The Cornelius budget proposes to cut a full-time building coordinator and half-time building inspector. Meanwhile, Forest Grove is looking to hire a third full-time building inspector in 2013-14 to handle the increased load, according to the city budget. The position would be funded through building permit fees.

Dems satisfied with North Clackamas election results – Clackamas County Democrats expressed “quiet elation” in sweeping every race in which they had a contested candidate in this week’s elections, according to a May 23 posting on their website.

Oregon’s bridges in better shape than most — but that’s not saying much – Portland’s Steel Bridge is considered “structurally deficient,” but that does not mean it’s ready to fall into the Willamette River. In this case, it means the bridge needs paint in order to keep it from rusting.

I-5 bridge collapse focuses attention on Columbia River Crossing project – The collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington highlights the need to invest more in transportation infrastructure, say supporters of the Columbia River Crossing project.

Outside Portlandia

State lawmakers vote ‘no’ on flaws, ‘yes’ to photo retouching – In a note digitally embedded in the photo of State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver — now posted on the Legislature’s website — a legislative staffer conveyed how Benton “would like to slightly ‘fix’ a few things about his picture.”

Oregon towns once dependent on timber, mining may find new boom in cycling – A number of small Oregon towns that once thrived as timber and mining bastions are now looking to the recreation industry to generate both business growth and jobs.

Deschutes County names new finance director – Lowry’s experience includes over 30 years of local government finance and accounting. He will join Deschutes County on Monday, July 8, after serving as the Chief Financial Officer for the Sherwood School District for over five years.

Williams leaving county to head Clatsop Care Health District – As assistant county manager, Williams oversaw the preparation of the annual budgets, the sale and development of the North Coast Business Park property, and other projects and initiatives. At the county clerk’s office she worked on the implementation of vote-by-mail.

North Bend airport sweetens firefighting offer – With time almost up, airport officials say they’re sending the city their final offer on a fire protection contract. If the two sides can’t agree this time, airport leaders say they’ll train their own personnel to handle emergencies.

Washington State Bridge Collapse Could Echo Far Beyond Interstate – The partial collapse on Thursday night of a heavily used river bridge on Interstate 5 north of Seattle caused no fatalities, but as the long holiday weekend began, it underscored the vulnerability of a transportation system that hinges not just on giant high-profile bridges and tunnels, but on tens of thousands of ordinary and unremarked components that travelers mostly take for granted.

Globe investigation: The Ford family’s history with drug dealing – Today, Mr. Ford is a member of Toronto’s city council – and no ordinary councillor. First elected in 2010 as his brother was swept into the mayor’s office, he has emerged as a truly powerful figure at City Hall –– trying to overhaul plans for Toronto’s waterfront less than a year after arriving. He also has higher aspirations, and has said he wants to follow in the footsteps of his father, Doug Ford Sr., by running in the next provincial election as a Conservative.

Career Center

How to Get an Oregon Government Job: 4 Lessons Learned – Networking counts most if you want a staff job with an elected official. I’ve worked for two: Earl Blumenauer when he was a Portland City Commissioner and John Kitzhaber in his first term as Oregon governor. I learned about both positions through informational interviews and networking meetings. Want to learn more about public employment in Oregon? Visit the State of Oregon jobs pageEmerging Local Government Leaders’ excellent website has a careers section and good information about Oregon’s public sector.

Fareed Zakaria: Be Open, Be Optimistic, Speak Up – So as we fear newcomers from new lands and cultures today and as worry about changes in our social institutions, like marriage, keep in mind that for centuries America has been reaching out and bringing more and more people into the mainstream. And this process has always strengthened us.

Ellen Woodsworth tries to rewrite the relationship between municipal governments and women – THE 2011 MUNICIPAL election was a major disappointment to Ellen Woodsworth. The two-term COPE councillor fell just 90 votes short of the mark, coming 11th in the race for one of 10 spots on Vancouver council. The following year, she lost her home after being evicted by a new owner of the row-house complex she had lived in for more than 30 years.

ARGUE LIKE AMERICA’S MOST CONTROVERSIAL PHILOSOPHER – DAN DENNETT EXPLAINED CONSCIOUSNESS, SKEWERED RELIGION, AND PUMPED INTUITION. NOW HE WANTS TO TEACH YOU HOW TO ARGUE.

Millennials in the Workplace – This generation makes up almost 30% of the American population and have seen a tremendous amount of change in their lives so far. From when MTV started by playing music, the Atari, the Cold War, rubik’s cube, Nirvana, beepers, boom and bust economies and the incredibly fast rise to dominance of the Information Age, millennials are not the same (obviously) than generations before them.

Social Network

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7 Examples of CivicPlus’ Most Engaged Client Websites – We were asked recently to provide more examples of governments that had highly engaging websites. It was then that we realized we’ve never revealed the most highly engaged CivicPlus client websites based on CivicPlus’ 6 Stages of Digital Community Engagement scale.

Three University Projects Use Twitter to Understand Happiness, Hate and Other Emotions in America – Here come three new projects that claim to provide a window into the American soul through Twitter. Whether they succeed or not, well, that’s still unclear. (And, by the way, you can start following Open Culture on Twitter here.)

Building A Social Network For Clean Water With Apps And Cheap Tests – The app mWater provides low-cost water tests to people in the developing world and then crowdsources their results, creating definitive maps of where water is safe to drink.

Facebook’s “like” is on trial, so think twice before liking this article – There are many perils associated with Facebook faux pas (for example, “liking” an ex-girlfriend’s bikini photo or unfriending a former boss), but some are becoming more serious than others—and ending in legal battles. Turns out, seemingly innocuous Facebook clicks have deeper meanings.