Occasional comments about business and politics in Portland, Oregon, mixed in with stories from our city's colorful if not always compliant past.
"May God save the country, for it is evident that the people will not." -- Millard Fillmore
Portland Public Schools, the state's largest school district by enrollment, currently serves 49,000 students. The district proudly states that it's enjoyed seven straight years of enrollment growth, which it has. It's not so forthcoming about its decades of enrollment shrinkage; today's PPS enrollment is lower than it was in 1923 -- the administration of Warren Harding! -- when the district enrolled 50,513 students. The district hit its high point in 1963, with 79,571 students, and its low point in 2008, with 46,046 students. No massive network of private schools has sprung up to siphon students away from PPS, and the city's population continues to grow (in the 1990s mainly by annexation, but since then through new construction), up 65% since 1963. So where are the children?
The answer? They're in Gresham.
After the 2010 census, Multnomah County remapped its four county commission districts to have equal population. "Equal population" does not mean "equal voters," as children count toward population. The four districts vary wildly in demographics: they average 121,000 voters each, but District 1 (the westside and inner southeast, entirely within PPS) has 137,000 voters and District 4 (Gresham, Fairview, and east county, nearly entirely outside PPS) has only 101,000 voters. Turn this statistic around and you see where the children are: District 1 has about 16,000 fewer children and about 12,000 fewer school-age children than the county average. District 4 has 20,000 more children and about 15,000 more school-age children than average. District 2 (north and northeast Portland, north of the Banfield Freeway, mostly in PPS) is also missing its children: it has 130,000 voters, so about 9,000 fewer children than the county average.
One consequence of the 30,000 missing Portland children is that PPS is, on the Oregon scale, a rich district. It receives the benefit of the property tax revenues from the city's growth without having the burden of educating more people. (The PacWest Center, for example, built in 1988, pays about $1 million/year just in school taxes.)
Portland's missing children are in other places besides Gresham, for instance, in the David Douglas School District (roughly I-205 east to 142nd Avenue and from NE Halsey south to the county line), where enrollment increased by 16% from 2003 to 2013. From 1990 to 2010 the share of households with children in David Douglas increased from 34% to 36%; the share in the rest of Multnomah County fell from 30% to 26%.
So that's where Portland's missing children are. Why are they there? That's a subject for another post; the short answer, I believe, is that Portland has priced and gentrified their parents out of the city.
To a survivor of Auschwitz, the rest of life's challenges must seem easy. In September 2008 I wrote about one such survivor, a Portland resident who that day celebrated his 90th birthday, something that must have seemed impossible for him to imagine in September 1944. Last week he moved even further into improbability as he turned 98. I can do no better than to repeat my good wishes from 2008:
In a conversation with a fellow political aficionado about the upcoming presidential election, a thought occurred to me on how, if Donald Trump appears to win a narrow majority of the electors, the Republican party establishment might nevertheless elect a party stalwart such as Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, or John Kasich. The event that would kick off the party's search for a constitutional loophole will be if Secretary Clinton wins the popular vote but Mr. Trump wins the electoral vote. Let's suppose that the Trump-Pence ticket wins 275 or so electoral votes in November.
Except that it won't: the electoral vote isn't counted until mid-December when the electors meet in their state capitals to cast their vote. Imagine that the national Republican party persuades six of Mr. Trump's electors to cast their presidential votes for some other Republican, for example, Mitt Romney. The actual electoral tally will then be 269 for Mr. Trump, 264 for Secretary Clinton, and 6 for Mr. Romney. Mr. Trump still wins, doesn't he?
No, he doesn't. A majority of the electoral vote is 270. No candidate having received 270 or more electoral votes, the House of Representatives will then choose among the top three finishers in the electoral race: Mr. Trump, Mrs. Clinton, and Mr. Romney. Each state gets one vote. The Republicans currently control more state delegations than do the Democrats, and the Republicans in the House must then go on record as to whether, in their opinion, Mr. Trump or Mr. Romney is better suited to be President. Considering how the Republicans in Congress are distancing themselves from the Trump portion of the campaign, they may be reluctant to stand on the House floor and cast their votes for him. In that case, Mr. Romney could become president despite not having been on the ballot in any state.
In fact, the delicious dilemma into which the House Republicans will be placed is so great that if the popular vote does not produce a clear winner, for example, if elections difficulties in one state give us another 1980, it would be tempting for one Democratic elector to vote for Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan so that if the electoral race isn't conclusive, the House has a second Republican available. I can't imagine any Republican delegation casting its state's vote for Mrs. Clinton, but I can see them grasping at a way to avoid their party being under four years of Mr. Trump's leadership.
John T. Molloy came to public attention 40 years ago when he published "Dress For Success," a volume on what men should wear to the office that he based not on his opinions but on 15 years of testing and research, and declared himself "America's first wardrobe engineer." He followed his first book up with "The Women's Dress For Success," "Live for Success," and "Why Men Marry Some Women And Not Others," all, like his first book, based on research and statistical analysis. The titles of his books don't convey the full nature of his half-century of research and testing, which broadly deals with how Americans react to symbols of success and failure in clothing, speech, and manners. He's applied his knowledge to advising political candidates on how to dress and speak.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump haven't hired Mr. Molloy (one of them should), but he has some free advice for them anyway. I recommend reading his entire post, which you can find at this link. He says Mr. Trump has made a mistake in referring to his opponent as "Crooked Hillary," because he is turning off large sections of the country that are turned off by New York City rudeness. Here are two snippets of his advice.
First, his advice for Secretary Clinton:
If I were advising Hillary I would tell her the minute Trump called her “Crooked Hillary” to become indignant and walk off the show. Most people particularly in the Midwest and the South would agree with her reaction. The reason I would give her such advice is Trump needs the debates to win, in fact, I’m sure he and his team are counting on them. If Hillary can avoid debating when she has a substantial lead she wins hands down.
And his advice for Mr. Trump:
If on the other hand I were advising Trump I would have him apologize for using such language before the debates started. I would have him say something to the effect it was all right in the primaries but a debate for the presidency should have and will have dignity and decorum and he will refer to his opponent as Mrs. Clinton, Hillary or candidate Clinton. That would force Hillary to debate and give him a shot at the presidency since I believe he is a better debater than Hillary and has all sorts of information about Bill and Hillary that he can use to his advantage.
In matters of gambling, Oregon has two personalities. The law prohibits casinos and commercial gambling, even as the state itself operates two lotteries and other games of chance. ORS 167.117 permits Oregonians to engage in social games, such as the inoffensive wagering on the roll of the dice or the play of the cards, which I occasionally enjoy in the company of others of the Laquedemimonde. What is a "social game?" The law defines the term to be (i) a game other than a lottery in a private home in which there are no house odds and no house profit, and (ii) a game in a business establishment in a city or county that has authorized social gaming, where there are no house odds, house profit, or house bank. The idea behind this statute was that small towns might allow taverns to host card games in the hope of selling more food and drink, but the taverns weren't allowed to participate in or profit from the gambling itself.
Where the camel's nose goes, the body will soon follow. Prominent Portland attorney Tom Rask, who represents cardrooms in Washington, pointed out yesterday that Portland and Multnomah County are allowing games whose scale belies the benign adjective "social." Pots of tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars are sometimes advertised, far more Hamiltons and Lincolns than the framers of ORS 167.117 envisioned.
What, then, can be done? Mr. Rask called for the city to enforce state law and its own regulations, something the city seems disinclined to do. (The city fathers and mothers prefer to place their wagers on real estate through the Portland Development Commission.) The gambling houses themselves are keeping quiet.
A government that neglects the law for social reasons -- it's hard for a local government that receives money from the state lottery to seize the moral high ground when it complains about private enterprise joining in -- might enforce the law for financial reasons. Here's where Multnomah County is missing a bet. It can make a few dollars the easy way, if it cares to read ORS 91.240 and 91.245, two statutes buried in Oregon's non-residential landlord-tenant law. ORS 91.240 prohibits landlords from renting any building, boat, or booth if they know or have reason to know that the tenant will use the premises for gambling purposes. ORS 91.245 provides an incentive for the county to enforce the law: the penalty for being the landlord of a gambling house is "twice the amount of the rent of such building or other place for six months." So if the district attorney can identify a few gambling houses that lease their space, the D.A. can chase the landlords for the penalty and turn the office into a profit center. Your winnings, sir!
Saying that both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump are terrible prospective presidents is like saying that two drivers are both irresponsible because one of them has had a series of hit-and-run accidents, a few DUI convictions, and a reckless driving charge, and the other one regularly gets tickets for overtime parking.
The presidential primaries are now over -- only the District of Columbia remains on the schedule -- and the Democrats have selected Hillary Clinton to run against Donald Trump. She won a decisive majority of the pledged (popularly selected) delegates. Senator Sanders and the superdelegates should honor the public's choice.
The Democratic campaign focused mostly on policy issues and despite a few rough elbows, was remarkably civilized. The Republican campaign, by contrast, seemed to have as its main purpose to identify and then eliminate every person with the temperament and experience to serve. In selecting Mr. Trump it accomplished its purpose admirably.
The question now is how many of Senator Sanders's supporters will vote for Secretary Clinton in November. I see the Sanders supporters in two camps: one group includes the protest voters and the other group consists of the policy voters. Through some very rough math, based largely on the difference in the results between closed-primary states where only registered Democrats vote, and the open-primary states where independents could choose a Democratic ballot, I believe that about 1/4 of Senator Sanders's voters are protest voters and about 3/4 are policy voters.
Many of the protest voters will vote for Mr. Trump, not because they agree with his views, but because to vote for him is to say that the system is fouled and needs not just minor repairs but a major overhaul, one of the points that Senator Sanders made through the primary campaign. The protest voters don't support Mr. Trump's solution (if indeed he has one), but they are so strongly opposed to the political establishment that they will vote for the anti-establishment candidate whether he be left, center, right, or politically undefinable.
The policy voters, on the other hand, will almost all vote for Secretary Clinton over Mr. Trump. How could they not? Consider, for instance, foreign policy. Senator Sanders was the most pacifist of the candidates; Secretary Clinton has a track record of being quick to advocate force. On that ground one might favor Sanders over Clinton, as I did. But I don't see how anyone could conclude that Secretary Clinton is more bellicose than Mr. Trump. (I'm a little surprised that Mr. Trump hasn't set off a foreign policy crisis already, and he's not even been nominated yet.)
Or consider immigration. Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders hold similar views on immigration: provide some amnesty and a pathway to citizenship and legal status for the law-abiding majority. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, appears to oppose this nation admitting any immigrants that he can't marry, and his policy seems to be to build a wall, with nothing more. I think it would be fun to build a wall -- Banksy could make it a tourist attraction -- but only if the nation simultaneously adopts a process to let people in through the gates. Why should the workers on whom American agriculture depends have to pay smugglers to get them through the desert to their jobs? Mr. Trump offers rhetoric but no answer. Anyone who agrees with Senator Sanders on immigration can't possibly agree with the position that Mr. Trump espouses. (The spouses themselves are lovely.)
Is Hillary Clinton the perfect candidate? No. Is she likely to push major reforms through a hostile Congress? No. But is she more dangerous to the economy, to foreign relations, to education, and to equal rights than President Trump would be? No, no, no, and no. I'm not enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton as president, but I'm open to changing my mind, and I intend to vote for her in the general election.
Last month I modeled the remaining primaries in the Democratic contest for the nomination. My model represented not what I expected the outcomes to be, but how quickly Senator Sanders would have to attract supporters away from Secretary Clinton in order to finish the primary season 200 delegates ahead. I assumed that if the two candidates were about even in pledged delegates, the superdelegates would maintain their strong preference for Secretary Clinton, but that if Senator Sanders finished with a substantial lead in pledged delegates, enough superdelegates would switch their preference to nominate him.
Ten primaries and one small caucus (Guam) have been held since I modeled the contest. In those 11 contests, Senator Sanders won about 50 fewer pledged delegates than my model required. At this point, he has 1488 pledged delegates and 781 remain to be chosen, so if he won every remaining pledged delegate he would have 2269 pledged delegates, 40 short of the 2309 required for the nomination. (In the unlikely event that he wins all the remaining delegates, the superdelegates would undoubtedly nominate him.) Secretary Clinton has 1767 pledged delegates and needs 542 more pledged delegates (69% of the remaining pledged delegates) to win the nomination without superdelegates.
With the additional 11 contests now decided, what is required for Senator Sanders to win the nomination? In my view he must not only equal Secretary Clinton's pledged delegate count, but must surpass it by a wide margin. I've reduced the victory condition to be that he finishes with at least 150 more pledged delegates than Secretary Clinton, which may be enough of a margin for him to sway the superdelegates. He's currently 279 delegates behind, so to finish 150 delegates ahead he must win 605 of the remaining 781 delegates -- 77% of the remaining delegates. He would then finish with 2093 pledged delegates and she would have 1943.
If he wins 60% of the delegates in all remaining states except California (unlikely but possible) he will receive 144 delegates, and will need to win 451 delegates in California. The hitch is that California sends only 475 pledged delegates, so to win 451 of them he will need to hold Secretary Clinton to less than the 15% threshold that is required to receive delegates. That is so unlikely as to be effectively impossible. If he were to win 75% of the California vote and 60% of the vote in the other remaining states, he will finish the primary season with 1989 pledged delegates, she will finish with 2047 pledged delegates, and the superdelegates will rightly cast their votes to nominate Secretary Clinton.
Barring a catastrophic event, it is no longer possible for Senator Sanders to win the nomination.
Ron Wyden is running for a fourth full term in the Senate. Among the most liberal of the senators, he was a voice against deep involvement in Iraq and more recently has been speaking out against the government's Google-like desire to know absolutely everything about everyone. He is the 14th most senior senator and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee; if the Democrats take control of the Senate he will become the chair. His challenger, Medford city councilor Kevin Stine, is a serious candidate with a future in politics who has not advanced a good reason for Oregonians to change senators. Democrats should renominate him.
Four Republicans want the chance to challenge Senator Wyden in November. Only one has held meaningful elective office (another is a precinct committeeman). Faye Stewart, who is the chair of the Lane County Commission, is the most practical and experienced of the four Republican contenders. Besides his terms in elective and appointive office, he has firsthand experience in the lumber industry from his family's connection with the former Bohemia Corporation and civic involvement. (Stub Stewart State Park, near Vernonia, is named after his great-uncle.) Two candidates make a virtue of their lack of political experience, and the third wants to be our "constitutionally conservative" Senator, a phrase which reminds me, uncomfortably, of the ill-informed claimants to the office of "constitutional sheriff." Mr. Stewart describes his accomplishments in office; the other candidates don't seem to understand the role of a Senator. I recommend a vote for Mr. Stewart.
Over at the House, in the 1st District incumbent Suzanne Bonamici is challenged by Shabba Woodley, a political newcomer who did not file a statement in the Voter's Pamphlet, but whose website does describe issues that Congress can help. I would like to see Mr. Woodley strive for the state House, but he is not ready to run for Congress. Rep. Bonamici should be renominated. Three Republicans filed for the 1st District nomination, Jonathan Burgess, Brian Heinrich, and Delinda Morgan. It's hard for me to recommend one of them, because not one of them submitted a Voter's Pamphlet statement. Mr. Heinrich and Ms. Morgan do have campaign websites -- I couldn't find one for Mr. Burgess. Mr. Heinrich seems an engaging enough fellow, but Ms. Morgan's website does stake out positions on how she would vote if elected. I can't say that I find her positions logical -- she wants to cut taxes and also stop borrowing to finance federal spending -- but she is trying, however awkwardly, to grapple with the issues that Congress faces. She is the best of the Republicans' choices to lose to Rep. Bonamici in November.
In the 3rd District, Earl Blumenauer is unopposed in either party, a sensible decision by all of the would-be candidates for his seat. The hyperenergetic congressman has for years seemingly been able to be in the Capitol and in Portland at the same time, a feat that few challengers could match. I suspect that he's cloned himself.
In the 5th District, incumbent Democrat Kurt Schrader faces a strong challenge from Dave McTeague, who served 5 terms in the Oregon house and was later the executive director of a small state agency for 18 years. He is capable and competent, but so is Rep. Schrader. The district would be well-served with either man in office. Dr. Schrader is among the more liberal Congressmen on both domestic policy (repealing the Citizens United decision) and foreign policy (opposing increasing our ground troops in the Middle East), and is well in line with Oregonians. The 5th District is finely balanced between Democrats and Republicans, and in my view Dr. Schrader is more likely than Mr. McTeague to carry the centrists in the district. Mr. McTeague has aligned his campaign platform with that of Bernie Sanders, which gives an easy way for voters to choose: Democrats who support Senator Sanders and who would not vote for Secretary Clinton in the general election should vote for Mr. McTeague. Democrats who would vote for Secretary Clinton in the general election should support Dr. Schrader for another term.
Four Republicans have filed in the 5th District. Three submitted candidate statements. They reflect, sadly, the weakness of the Republican candidate bench in Oregon. None has held elective office. Colm Willis, an attorney, states that he is a "limited government, Constitutional conservative who will defend our freedoms and stand up for our rights." He also wants to "cut taxes and stop deficit spending," two great tastes that do not go well together. Another candidate, Seth Allan, says that the federal government "owns 53% of Oregon's land which is more than they can properly manage." If elected he will work to transfer those lands to state and local governments or to sell the lands to private parties. No one who has been to Josephine County or Curry County can possibly believe that those local governments have the wherewithal to manage even more land than they own now. I find his platform inspiring and completely impractical. That leaves Ben West, a mortgage banker who is about to receive a degree in nursing. Although parts of his platform are politically infirm, his candidate statement does give the impression that he understands that the role of government includes providing services to people who cannot help themselves, and for that reason I invite Republicans in the 5th District to vote for Mr. West.
Daniel Berrigan came to prominence in 1968 when he and eight others invaded the office of a draft board in Catonsville, Maryland, gathered up the registration records, took them outside, and burned the papers. On many other occasions during the Vietnam War, protesters burned their draft cards. The stories and images of Father Berrigan's anti-war protests came back to the public mind when he died last week at 94.
Conservative Republicans are remembering Father Berrigan in their own way, burning not their draft cards but their voter registration cards, to protest Donald Trump's securing their party's nomination. If Father Berrigan's views on immortality have turned out to be correct, he's doubtless looking down, pleased that the means of protest that he helped to start has become bipartisan.