Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

UK's green stealth tax

Where DO they come up with this stuff?  I read the same stories again and again, only with different names and places.  Evidently the goal is to make everyone in the world SMART.  If being "Smart" was a disease, we would need a vaccine, because being "Smart" makes people dumb.  To be "Smart" means one has to thinks less critically and and favor increased government control over individual behavior - even if the effort will not work.

This article is 4 years old, but see how many parallels there are to what is happening in the U.S. and Oregon.  There are new plans for additional energy taxes and fees for Oregonians, so England's experience can show us what to expect.

One item did intrigue me though - the billions of British pounds being spent to convert to "Smart" electric meters.  The reasons given don't justify the cost - to get rid of estimated billing and to let people know how much energy they consume.  The data for everyone's energy usage is going to a central location, and the meters are supposed to lead to improved conservation.  It seems that this is a way for government, not homeowners to monitor usage.  After all, the electric bill will tell consumers every month how much energy they used, and there are much better ways to encourage conservation than billions spent on "Smart" meters.  This program fails the logic test.

The Daily Mail, December 14, 2010
The £92 green stealth tax: Family fuel bills will soar to fund the fight against climate change

Millions of families will be hit with an extra £92 on their annual fuel bills to pay for a 'green energy revolution', ministers admitted yesterday.

The levies will help pay for renewable
energy to tackle climate change.

Energy Secretary Ed Miliband said tough targets to cut carbon emissions would require 'comprehensive changes' to the way we work, live and travel.

Ministers have also pledged to create a greener transport system by introducing a network of electric trains, discounts on electric hybrid cars and low carbon buses. 

Energy companies will be told to subsidise the cost of rising bills for poor people and the elderly by charging better off customers more.

The White Paper follows the Government's pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 34 per cent within 11 years and by 80 per cent within 40 years. The UK also faces tough European targets to ensure that at least 30 to 40 per cent of Britain's electricity will be generated by wind, solar, wave and tidal power by 2020. 

Only three percent of the U.K.'s electricity currently comes from renewable sources.

But Matthew Sinclair, research director at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'The last thing that the Government should be doing right now is pushing up electricity bills even more to line the pockets of renewable energy firms.'

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Counting sheep

In the Year of the Sheep - don't be a sheeple.

In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, but never in want.

Irish toast

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Beneath the surface

Liu Bolin: Hiding in the City

The relationship between the state and society in China has been ground for producing controversial works of art such as the iconic photograph of Tank Man — the lone civilian standing up to the People’s Liberation Army in Tiananmen Square — or Ai Weiwei’s Study in Perspective, both of which seek a spiritual redress in their defiance of authority. In this sociopolitical tradition stands the work of the Beijing-based artist Liu Bolin, who employs photography as a means to explore the Chinese national identity while silently protesting its government. His series Hiding in the City was born out of the governmental eviction and subsequent destruction of his Beijing studio in 2005. As a result, Liu began to use the city around him as a backdrop, painting himself to blend in with a landscape in constant flux. By literally blending into the city, Liu, who considers himself an outsider, creates a tension that challenges the viewer to question what is on and beneath the surface. 

Although the end result of Liu’s process is the photograph, the tension between his body and the landscape is itself a manifestation of China’s incredible social and physical change. Simultaneously a protester and a performance artist, Liu completely deconstructs himself by becoming invisible, becoming a symbol of the humanity hidden within the confines of a developing capital. 

Main story at:  http://lightbox.time.com/2012/03/20/liu-bolin/#1

Read more: Hiding in the City With Liu Bolin - LightBox http://lightbox.time.com/2012/03/20/liu-

Gallery of Bolin's works: http://www.kleinsungallery.com/artist/liu_bolin/works/

TED TALKS:  The Invisible Man - Video lecture by artist, Liu Bolin.
Can a person disappear in plain sight?  That's the question Lui Bolin's remarkable work seems to ask. The Beijing-based artist is sometimes called "The Invisible Man" because in nearly all of his art, Bolin is front and center -- and completely unseen.  He aims to draw attention to social and political issues by dissolving into the background.  


Monday, December 29, 2014

Low-density suburbs good for integration

Could Suburban Sprawl be Good for Integration?

Low-Density Neighborhoods More Likely to Stay Integrated

Duke Today, September 23, 2014

DURHAM, NC - Racially and economically mixed cities are more likely to stay integrated if the density of households stays low, finds a new analysis of a now-famous model of segregation.

By simulating the movement of families between neighborhoods in a virtual “city,” Duke University mathematician Rick Durrett and graduate student Yuan Zhang find that cities are more likely to become segregated along racial, ethnic or other lines when the proportion of occupied sites rises above a certain critical threshold -- as low as 25 percent, regardless of the identity of the people moving in.

Their results appear online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and will be published in a forthcoming issue.

Using sophisticated computer simulation to replace Schelling's physical model, Durrett and Zhang modeled the behavior of two kinds of families, designated as blue and red, as they moved from one part of a city to the next in search of a neighborhood they consider “acceptable.” 

By analyzing the model, the Duke researchers showed that reds and blues can happily coexist indefinitely as long as the density of occupied sites in each neighborhood remains low.

However, as soon as the density of households in a neighborhood exceeds a certain threshold -– in this case 25 percent of the available sites, regardless of color –- the city quickly becomes segregated. Before long, the reds start to cluster in red neighborhoods and the blues in blues, until eventually the majority of families live in neighborhoods where almost all of their neighbors look like them.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A two 'fer attack on Regionalism

Regionalism is dangerous for local communities, the region, the country, and for liberty.  

A group in Marin County posted a piece by a writer from the Twin Cities on her take on Regionalism because it sounded so much like their own Plan Bay Area.  From what I can tell, it sounds like Metro's Growth Plan also.  It would surprise me if all the regional plans in the country didn't sound the same.  My copy of The Smart Growth Manual shows that this is the playbook for every step every jurisdiction takes to implement the Regional/National plan to remake urban and suburban areas.  The reasons are mostly political.  The concepts anti-liberty and unAmerican.  

Read the piece by Katherine Kester and see how many similarities there are with our Metro Plans - pick a plan, any one - they are all pieces of the same puzzle.  While you are on the site, take a look at some of the blog posts in the right-hand menu - they look interesting, and educational.

Save Marinwood-Lucas Valley - our community, our future

A blog about Marinwood-Lucas Valley and the Marin Housing Element, politics, economics and social policy.

Editor's Note: Communities all across the country are having their local government and property rights radically altered by regional governments. This will cost the suburbs their independence and local democracy under the guise of "sustainable cities. Here is what is happening in Minnesota. Note how it is earily similar to Plan Bay Area.

Twin Cities' Suburbs Should Beware of the MET Council 
By Katherine Kester, August 3, 2013  

Crusaders for ‘regionalism’ want a more concentrated, centrally planned Twin Cities. Those 
who don’t may never know what hit them.

The Twin Cities of 2040 will likely be starkly different from the place you live now. People will increasingly live in dense, urban concentrations, even if they’d prefer a house with a yard outside the 494 beltway.

The Antiplanner on Portland's Plans

This story comes to you from The Antiplanner, "Dedicated to the sunset of government planning."

The Antiplanner, Randall O'Toole, is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and an Oregon native.  Though his subjects draw from aall over the US and abroad, Oregon, and especially Portland are frequent.  Perhaps because Portland claims to be a leader in urban planning, and at one time it may have been, it is still a fertile ground for examples of what is wrong  in government planning today.

This is from a recent post, concerning the professor at PSU who wrote a critique of Portland's Growth Plan titled, "Density at Any Cost." A blog post and links appeared on this website also.

Mildner in fact agreed that his views were unrepresentative of others at PSU’s urban planning school. “Hiring in the School of Urban Studies and Planning self-selects for people sympathetic with Oregon’s urban planning system,” he suggests, so it’s clear his views aren’t going to align with others in that school.

In a Cato Institute journal, O'Toole wrote a book review for "Sprawl: A Compact History," titled "The Perils of Planning." 

Urban planners and other sprawl opponents believe that Americans waste land by living in low-density suburbs and that they waste energy by driving too much. The planners’ goals are to reduce driving and promote “efficient” land use by increasing the share of people living in multi-family housing and reducing average lot sizes for single-family housing. 

To achieve their goals, planners in Portland, Ore., Missoula, Mont., and elsewhere have imposed minimum-density zoning codes that effectively force the conversion of existing single-family 
neighborhoods into apartments. If a house in one of these zones burns down, the homeowner may be required to replace it with an apartment building. To further discourage large-lot subdivisions, planners have used urban-growth boundaries and other tools to drive up the cost of land from a few thousand dollars an acre to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars an acre. To discourage driving, planners have increased congestion by putting barriers in roads and using highway user fees 
to build expensive but little-used rail transit projects.

Metro: They don't want you to drive cars

... and they're using Climate Change and the horrors of GHG emissions to justify their Smart Growth, Climate Smart policies.  

Are these policies "smart" or just plain dumb?

Let's see what the EPA has to say about America's progress on pollution control, remembering that the improvement came with increasing population and more cars and industry than ever - before Smart Growth policies were invented.


Progress Cleaning the Air and Improving People's Health

The Clean Air Act has a proven record of public health and environmental protection since 1970.
New cars, trucks, and nonroad engines use state-of-the-art emission control technologies.
  • Compared to 1970 vehicle models, new cars, SUVs and pickup trucks are roughly 99 percent cleaner for common pollutants (hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particle emissions).
  • The emissions reductions have led to dramatic improvements in the quality of the air that we breathe. Between 1980 and 2012, national concentrations of air pollutants improved 91 percent for lead, 83 percent for carbon monoxide, 78 percent for sulfur dioxide (1-hour), 55 percent for nitrogen dioxide (annual), and 25 percent for ozone. Fine particle concentrations (24-hour) improved 37 percent and coarse particle concentrations (24-hour) improved 27 percent between 2000, when trends data begins for fine particles, and 2012. (For more trends information, see EPA's Air Trends site.)
  • These air quality improvements have enabled many areas of the country to meet national air quality standards set to protect public health and the environment. For example, all of the 41 areas that had unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide in 1991 now have levels that meet the health-based national air quality standard. A key reason is that the motor vehicle fleet is much cleaner because of Clean Air Act emissions standards for new motor vehicles.
  • Airborne lead pollution, a widespread health concern before EPA phased out lead in motor vehicle gasoline under Clean Air Act authority, now meets national air quality standards in most areas of the country.
  • State emission control measures to implement the Act, as well as EPA's national emissions standards, have contributed to air quality improvements.
Emission Trends
Annual emissions estimates are used as one indicator of the effectiveness of our programs. The graph below shows that between 1980 and 2013, gross domestic product increased 145 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 95 percent, energy consumption increased 25 percent, and U.S. population grew by 39 percent. During the same time period, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 62 percent. The graph also shows that between 1980 and 2012, CO2 emissions increased* by 14 percent.

USC NOTE:  *The graph shows a decrease in CO2 emissions, not an increase as the text denotes.  The text appears to be a misprint.  

Comparison of Growth Areas and Emissions, 1980 - 2013

In addition, from 1990 to 2008, emissions of air toxics declined by approximately 62 percent. These reductions are the result of implementing stationary and mobile source regulations. The majority of the air toxics emitted in 2008 are also precursors of ozone and/or particle 

Weather conditions influence emissions and air quality.  EPA has developed statistical approaches to account for weather’s influence on ozone and fine particles.  While these approaches do not change the quality of air we breathe, they do help us understand how well emission reduction programs are working. More information on trends in ozone adjusted for weather conditions can be found at http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/weather.html.

What?!?  I thought ozone and fine particulates affected weather, not the other way around!  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

"Peak Insanity!"

Metro fails the logic test - Again!

Laugh, cry, bang your head on the wall.  All would be appropriate responses to Metro's lastest display  incompetence.  Peak Insanity is that government has reached an all-time high of lunatic fanaticism where no idea is too outlandish, too impractical, or too worthless to consider.  "Peak Insanity" was coined by a friend (a Clackistani and Washistani) and is the perfect term to describe the current state of irrational government thinking.  Portland is an incubator for governmental insanity, and Metro is the poster child for Peak Insanity.  Now we have THE CLIMATE SMART SCENARIOS PROJECT. 
  • Will the Climate Smart strategies (mainly more pedestrian and bike paths, more buses and HCT,) save the planet?  No.  All attempts to cut emissions here, no matter the financial and social cost to citizens, will be undone by China (and other countries). Ask Germany.  Also, there is NO plan for how future technological changes in transportation, even though some are in the works today, so this Climate Smart Plan is stupid for this reason alone.
  • Are personal automobiles a big problem, and if so, is this the best way to solve it? No and No. A future post will cover this.  
  • If the Climate Smart Plan isn't very good at reducing GHG emissions, why continue on this very expensive and destructive path?  Whole books have been written to answer this question.  Very simply, it's a social movement to rid us of our cars and fundamentally change the way we live.  Why?  As far as I can tell, it's control by the elites over the masses.
  • What is the best way to reduce GHG from automobiles?  Technological improvements to autos and infrastructure - the only thing that has made a difference so far!  
  • How many Metro council and committee members ride the bus, walk or bike to work or to meetings?  I'm guessing one or two who live in Portland, but it depends on the weather.
Read about YOUR Metro Council's latest insane Plan for us. 
Metro Council approves emission reduction plan
Portland Tribune, December 19, 2014  By Nick Christenson, Metro writer. (Uh, doesn't the Tribune have its own reporters, or does it now use Metro's media hacks for its content?)

Calling it a natural progression of

Oregon's land use planning legacy, the Oregon's land use planning legacy, the Metro Council on Thursday unanimously approved its strategies for cutting the region's personal motor vehicle tailpipe emissions.

Still, regional politics played a role in shaping Thursday's vote. Some suburban officials wanted the climate strategies to place more emphasis on reducing road congestion to reduce tailpipe emissions, and making it equal with transit, walking, bicycling and other strategies. 

Even with that move, the Clackamas County Commission voted on Dec. 10 to oppose adoption of the Climate Smart strategies, in part, commissioners said, to preserve their ability to try to stop the plan in court.

The funding will be key. The strategies identified in the Climate Smart work will cost billions of dollars to build out in the next 20 years, and only some of that money already exists.

Nick Christensen is a reporter working for Metro who covers the electedregional government. His stories are reviewed for accuracy by the PortlandTribune before posting.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Christmas Tribute

Each December, Morrill Worcester, the founder of Wreaths Across America, places wreaths on graves at Arlington National Cemetery. In addition to Worcester's family members, thousands of volunteers come out to help Worcester in this sign of respect to those who have died for our country.
To see a video of Morrill Worcester and his mission to decorate the graves of fallen heroes at Arlington National Cemetary and throughout the country, CLICK HERE.  This simple man and his moving story reminds us of what we owe our military men and women and their families.   
For the veterans in your family, I would like to wish them a Merry Christmas and express my gratitude for giving us a safe country to live in.  

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth

 It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.     

Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

Sunday, December 21, 2014

2015 Town Hall

This is your opportunity to help your City Council set goals for 2015.  

The City Council will meet on January 10 to set their goals for 2015.  Prior to this they are inviting the public to share their thoughts for what the city should concentrate on next year.

You can comment 3 ways:
  1. Online at the online Open Town Hall (link below)
  2. Write the council a letter or email
  3. Attend the Town Hall at the Adult Community Center on January 8.

What are your goals for the City Council in 2015?

19 days left before deadline

This topic has an introduction from the City of Lake Oswego, 15 visitors and 3 statements. The deadline for participation is 12:00 AM on January 9, 2015.
Comment online at Peak Democracy on the City of Lake Oswego website.
The Town Hall and Community Reception will be held on January 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at the Adult Community Center.  Rather than formal testimony, the Council invites  you to drop in, visit with Councilors in a relaxed setting at round tables, have a treat, and share your thoughts for the upcoming year.
  • What do you want the Council to focus on in  2015?  How would you like to be involved or participate in those goals?
  • What issues or opportunities should the Council keep in mind as they set goals for 2015?
A full list of the Councils adopted goals and policies for 2014 are online at: http://www.ci.oswego.or.us/citycouncil/2014-city-council-goals-and-policies

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Washington County push-back

Is anybody at Metro listening? 

Obviously not.  These days, the way for the people to be heard is through the initiative petition process.  When people vote at the local level, they can be the masters of their own fate.  

How many jurisdictions have the requirement that citizens vote before transit (and urban renewal districts) can be placed in their town?  Clackamas County, Tualatin, Tigard... whatever the number is, it's growing.  And still Metro doesn't get the message, or gets it wrong.  
Anti-transit bill heads to county vote 
Tim Esau said plans to build a high-capacity transit line from Portland to Tigard and Tualatin affect all of Washington County, and county residents need to decide for themselves whether or not the project should continue.

Esau submitted an initiative petition to Washington County on Dec. 3, requiring a countywide vote on any new rail or transit project.

Under Esau’s petition, the county’s Board of Commissioners wouldn’t be able to finance new public transit projects — chiefly a new MAX line or a Eugene-style rapid bus service currently being considered as part of the Southwest Corridor Plan — without voter approval.

“I really want to make sure that we all agree to this, and not just 100 guys with a vision that can get their pockets lined and live some dream,” Esau said. “We will still be stuck with a traffic solution that doesn’t solve our needs in Washington County.”

The petition is similar to a ballot measure Esau put before Tigard voters in March, which calls for a public vote before the city can approve plans for either a MAX light-rail line or rapid bus line.

Since Esau’s ballot measure was passed earlier this year, Tualatin voters approved a similar measure, and Metro has had to rethink its plans for the line.

Best Comment:

Dave Lister
Light rail is not about transportation. It is obscenely expensive to build and cannot serve changing demographics. Light rail is about density development and extending the Portland elitist vision of how to live into the suburban communities. If you want wall to wall condominiums with no parking, by all means support light rail. For my part, I enjoy the suburban lifestyle and I enjoy getting around by car. I support Mr. Esau in his righteous struggle against Metro's vision of Soviet-Bloc style housing and total control of where we go and how we get there.

Second Best Comment:

What a biased headline. Nothing "anti-transit" about wanting public approval before many millions are committed.