The Portland Public School District has the shortest teaching day of all but one other school district in the state. Why are Portland students receiving less teacher time? The district is currently negotiating a new contract with the Portland Association of Teachers and teaching time is a major issue. Shouldn't teaching time be uniform throughout the state? And as Portland schools, particularly high schools, struggle to provide the best education options for our students, the shorter teaching day is limiting options. And as Portland competes for new business opportunities, it should be able to shwow that its schools are on par with competing cities.
I would love to help formulate a show based on this topic, and with ongoing negotiations time is of the esssence.
As I was listening to the record unemployment figures this morning and also about the threat of mass layoffs by the automakers I was wondering how efficient those big 3 are as employers? How many people do they directly employ per $1 million in revenue for example. (not including suppliers or retired pension recipients etc)
As a small business we employ 8 people. I am wondering if we employ more or less people than the mega corps when compared to revenue. I think we need to look at what composes good employment. The automaker's union jobs are a good example of living wage jobs that include benefit packages etc. I think as we are hearing about ideas for job creation it would be interesting to look at what type of jobs are created and how they meet or fall short of the social need.
Just a thought . . . I have a few more I will submit.
Ethan PDX's idea for emergency preparedness is timely, given that winter is on the way and we can expect more headlines about people who didn't carry ANY emergency supplies in their auto before heading out on snowy roads.
Keeping a kit at hand, at home, that includes all that might be needed if the power goes out, is simple common sense. It's not Y2K-type paranoia, but cheap insurance.
I was reading the Salem Statesman-Journal from yesterday, Thursday December 4, 2008. In the Life section of the paper was an article about the first Male African American to graduate from then Oregon State College in 1948. He's 83 and has been an engineer for Oregon Department of Transportation. It would be unique to have his perspective on attending OSU at a time there were restrictions to caucasians only living in the housing that OSU offered back then.
With him you could include Gwen Carr of the Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers on the same show. This particular group's mission is to do reasearch and educate the community about the contributions of African-Americans in this state, in spirit of exclusion laws and other practices aimed at discouraging blacks from settling in Oregon. They are hoping to publish a book by the end of 2009.
With most churches in the midst of the Advent season leading up to Christmas, another suggestion would be to have a conversation with Dr. Marcus J. Borg, who is Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University and author of "Meeting Jesus for the First Time" and "Jesus: A New Vision" and who also participates in the "Jesus Seminar". (check out http://www.westarinstitute.org/ to find out information on this project sponsored by Westar Institute) He could lend a different aspect to the celebration of Christmas for us.
In Ashland, OR there is an electric Motorcycle manufacturer named BRAMMO. They are producing electric bikes that can give you a 40 mile ride between charges. They are pushing a green product. The Enertia is a zero-emission, battery-powered, plug-in electric motorcycle with a base pricetag of $11,995.
They are a local company with a unique product. Go to http://www.enertiabike.com/
I know Oregonians are in the forefront of electric cars. Now someone is producing a two wheeled electric motorcycle. We are slowly creating an infrastructure for power stations in oregon, this would tie into a great show.
I would love to hear a discussion about childcare, preschool and general education options in the metro region. As a mother of a 3.5 year old, the past two years that I've returned to work has been a big hard wake-up call to not only the lack of quality child care/ early child education options avaiable but the barely affordable cost. The discussion could address both the lack of support there is for families in our current system (universal preschool is one possible solution) and the differnt "educational" approches. I think there is a great misconception from parents that their children should be competative academically at an early age; this is reinforcing curriculum that favors memorization over imagination. I would love to hear what other parents are experiencing and what care providors and teachers think about the options available.
On Morning Edition Sunday April Baer did a piece on veterans. She failed to mention Returning Veterans Project. Have you ever done a feature on this Portland organization?
Eddie Black, one of our guests on our recent Veterans Day show, talked about getting support from Returning Veterans.
I just noticed recently that several direct selling companies seem to be flourishing in these tough economic times. I thought that it would be interesting to see how it is that they are making it when everyone else seems to be struggling. Is it because they really are they "perfect opportunity" or are they predators making a buck off of people that need some extra cash.
Jurisdictions in Washington County, including the County, have been holding "Urbanization Forums" over the past year. The forums are being held for elected officials to discuss future governance and service provisions for existing unincorporated urban areas within the urban growth boundary as well as any future lands that will be brought inside the UGB through Metro's Urban/Rural Reserves planning process. I would like to hear local and statewide opinions about this and similar efforts: is the county searching for solutions within a confined box? Are there viable options that aren't on the table? Who ultimately decides: elected officials or property owners or service providers? What, exactly, are elected officials trying to achieve?
In addition, with President-Elect Obama speaking of allocating federal dollars for public works projects this is an opportune time to discuss infrastructure and service delivery (e.g., water and sewer and roads). What projects would the state and local jurisdictions propose? What projects can we suggest that are "shovel ready"? Perhaps now is the time for investing in high speed rail and inter-city transit (train service between Portland and the coast rather than the Newberg-Dundee bypass!) that rivals the highway projects of the '50s. How about investing in infrastructure that separates potable water from irrigation and toilet use - consider how much precious drinking water we would save as well as energy savings because we're not unnecessarily treating water that will go to our yards and toilets. Could it be that a different infrastructure paradigm can save us money, improve our environment, and address some of the contentious service delivery issues - such as those in Washington County? How much of the money should be spent on maintenance and safety improvements over research and development and non-auto infrastructure?
The battle is growing against unneeded, environmenally disastrous liquefied natural gas terminals and pipelines in Oregon -- one of which, proposed to go through Clackamas County, would require a clear-cut wider than 2-1/2 freeways through the Mt. Hood National Forest, including prime scenic and recreatonal lands, threatened and endangered species habitats and old-growth timber. A staunch opponent of the proposed Bradford Landing LNG terminal and associated pipeline schemes, Brent Foster of Columbia RiverKeeper, was recently named to Oregon Attorney General-elect John Kroger's staff as "the new top environmental cop" in the AG's office. Gov. Kulongowski and other state leaders have skoffed at the idea that Oregon needs LNG and questioned its proponents and the federal government's LNG schemes. County and city governments, farming and business organizations, property rights groups and environmentalists and local activists are picketing, holding press conferences, petitioning governement officials for help and otherwise fighting to block construction of LNG shipping terminals and pipelines throughout the state. More dependence on expensive sources of foreign petroleum products like LNG, a petrogas that takes huge amounts of energy to extract, condense into a supercold liquid, ship across oceans in enormous tankers, reconstitute as a gas and transport in 3-foot diameter pipelines that require hundreds of miles of right-of-way through public and private properties is NOT what Oregon needs -- especially since this carbon-based fuel would mostly go to California. There are so many reasons to be concerned about these LNG proposals, their dangers and all the other negative effects they would have, that we need a chance to Think Out Loud about them. As a retired newspaper reporter, currently a full-time freelance writer and political activist working with the Estacada-based Progressive Action Community Team and other anti-LNG envirnomental activists in Clackamas County, I would be happy to help in any way I could to create and/or participate such a show.
Last weekend President-elect Obama asked that his supporters meet all over the US. There were about 10,000 Neighbors for Change meetings.
I went to three of them, I am really enthusiastic about what Oregonians can do locally, I would like to see urban and rural Neighborhood for Change (not necessarily an exact quote) pair up, so each group can learn more about why we take the positions we do on political issues.
I would love to see a show about these meetings, the community activism Obama is trying to harness, etc. Here is a reflection piece I wrote about the meetings I attended:
Dear Change Takes Action Colleagues, (one of the three groups)
Thank you so much for your support of this wonderful opportunity. I
attended three meetings this weekend, and I was heartened by something
that I heard at each one. I will first tell you the best ideas I
think I heard, then make my own suggestions based on what I heard. I
am learning every day, so if you want to add to or disagree with
anything I say, please engage me in debate?the best ideas come from
publicly discussing differences of opinion and getting as many
participants as possible to write a shared conclusion. We might most
profit from using the Supreme Court model, where there is (1) a
majority opinion, (2) concurring opinions, which agree with the
majority opinion but raise other arguments and issues, and (3)
dissenting opinions, which oppose the majority.
I first went to Barbara's. I heard two important ideas?the first was
to organize subcommittees to work in depth on issues that are most
important for parts of the group, and the second was to both
participate in the change.gov discussions but to also have a Google or
Yahoo Group forum for the organization. Our group decided to host a
coats and socks drive, and we are in the process of getting that off
Then I went to John and Alison's group. That group featured a large
number of non-citizens who are excited about change?one is even
considering becoming a citizen (giving up her birth citizenship)
because of the possibility of making change happen. It's important to
hear the perspectives of those not born in the US?they have a lot to
teach us all about what we look like to the world and how other
countries have solved some of the problems we face. We will be
volunteering as a group at a soup kitchen or other such site, and
trying to get the media to report our activities as a group.
Finally, I went to Andrine's. This was the only group that tried to
identify our city, county, state, and federal representatives so that
we could mobilize for legislative change. One of the Obama Team's
main goals is to empower us to work within the political structure at
every level, so this is vital. I had to leave early for work, so I
don't yet know what we decided to do as a project before the
inauguration. (I now know that we are creating a grass-roots food and
clothing drive to benefit the Oregon Food Bank and the PPS Clothes
There were many more good ideas, but I want to share a few of my
reflections, based on them. Please, if you think I am taking credit
for your idea, let's talk and create our idea.
I am a policy wonk kind of guy. Not everyone will be, so us wonks
will research and develop ideas in a way that can be presented to
policy makers. I want to debate others, to hone our ideas. I'll say
more about this later.
Many of you are much more interested in educating neighbors or doing
hands-on projects. I will be supporting and, time permitting,
participating in the events of all three groups that I met.
Some of us (not me, so much) are interested in being group leaders.
An effective group requires a leader who makes everyone feel
heard?whether or not they agree with the idea being suggested. It
also requires organizing, prioritizing, and encouraging members to
accept, undertake, and complete their commitments. An effective
organization must communicate with its members, attract, recruit, and
empower new members, make sure the group's agreed priorities are
accomplished, and communicate with the media, elected representatives,
and other groups. Finally, an effective group has a secretary, a
treasurer and, perhaps, a vice-chair.
Here are my ideas based on what I heard and how I reflected on it:
No matter what our group does, part of our mission needs to be
neighbor outreach. Most of us who met were already not only Obama
supporters, but also activists. We need to involve non-activists and
people who supported other candidates in the election. Some of us are
more able than others to talk to people with differing views, so how
we do this needs to be evolved over time.
I think that urban groups should pair with rural groups in a
sister-group program. Realistic and viable health care reform, for
example, must address rural problems at least as well as urban
problems. Urban poverty is much better addressed than rural poverty
in some ways because it is in the cities that we organize and provide
a voice for afflicted groups. Rural poverty is better addressed by
the cooperative nature of rural life?each has its superiority and its
weakness. If anyone in any group has a friend in rural Oregon who
went to or hosted a Change Meeting you should propose to each party
that we pair up if possible.
I envision creating and debates that happen in front of other groups,
whose members can ask questions for most of the time. Two (or more)
five or ten minute presentations on an issue or cluster of issues,
followed by a question period?which should take up most of the time.
In my vision, each debate and the questions and comments enriches the
succeeding debates, until the presenters feel that they are ready to
write a majority, concurring, and/or dissenting opinion. (The devil
is in the details on this one, so let's take it up in debate).
I think members of each group should learn or, if they already know,
share what they know about local institutions. I am a substitute
teacher, so I think that citizens need to know what is good and what
is bad about schools?their neighborhood schools, their school
district, and it is especially important for citizens to know why
administrative policies exist. People who are union members should
let the group know what happens in their groups, and we should really
know more about police, fire, and health care delivery institutions
than we hear on the news. Many people don't follow, are cynical
about, or undermine, rules they don't understand. We can't agree with
every rule, but we will agree with more of them?or disagree more
knowledgeably if we understand them.
Also, I think for any of these groups to succeed in the long-term, we
have to get to know each other and choose leaders. In at least one
meeting, the host tried to defer the leadership role saying that they
had only agreed to host. In some cases, I think some people felt
inadequately heard or agreed to ideas whose wisdom they doubted?which
would be mitigated by leadership and something like Parliamentary
Meeting Rules. Two groups where we should look especially hard for
leadership are among our retired neighbors?whose financial security,
free time, and years of experience make them valuable. The other is
high school and college students?whose enthusiasm and need to learn to
be good activists along with their time commitments, would make them
good leadership resources.
I want you to know that my time is extremely limited. I work as a
substitute teacher almost every day possible, I need to work as a
musician twelve to fifteen nights per month, plus rehearsals (meaning
I get six hours of sleep?three between school and the gig, and three
between the gig and school the next day?except that I play in church
on Sunday morning and have to be out of the house by 6:30 AM for
rehearsal). In addition to playing music, I lead a band, so have all
the administrative duties of a CEO?booking the gigs, planning and
leading rehearsals, selling my cd, and working with the agents that
book me at larger venues. I am an active member of the Portland
Association of Teachers, working on the Substitute Teacher Committee
and representing substitute teachers at union assemblies. Finally, I
am a professional philosopher who is writing a book on human nature
and morality and trying to get articles published, etc.
So, I will see how much I can actually do in the three organizations
we created. It will have to do with how my goals and interests fit
with that of each group, the effectiveness of each group itself, and
whether or not I decide to start a group in my neighborhood.
Another ?snow job? by the local media.
Am I the only one in Portland who finds Portland?s preoccupation with the weather carried to extremes at the sight of a snowflake? Our latest ?snowstorm? had all three major TV networks cancel all Sunday?s popular talk shows (Meet the Press, etc) so they could manufacture their trite coverage of the white lawns and roadsides around Portland. Their warnings of cataclysmic driving conditions led to the usual school closures, factory shut-downs, shopping stalled while stores struggle for survival, and general hibernation in front of the TV. Nothing is more profitable to local stations than having everyone staying home to watch their endless coverage of the big ?storm.? Even a fantasy ?storm?.
I grew up in Buffalo N.Y. where it took a foot of snow to close schools, and that only lasted a day. Snowplows, snow throwers, and sanding trucks get to work as soon as there is meaningful snow to remove and by the time it stops snowing all major streets and arterials are refilled with cars. No overzealous media coverage making news stories where none exist, people going about their normal routines, kids playing in the snow knowing school resumes tomorrow, and people arriving late to work, but arriving. Compare this to Portland where any snow that sticks is treated as a local disaster.
And where are the road crews when a little snow hits Oregon? To most of us coming from snowy parts of the country, this is the crux of the problem. Our government seems paralyzed to fight back against the slightest challenge from Mother Nature. For lack of a few sanding trucks we are treated by the media to watching helpless drivers (inexperienced in snow) slide to the curb, spin their tires at full speed (the worst response to lack of traction), and creating hazards by abandoning their vehicles.
If we consider the economic costs of companies closing down, of stores losing shoppers during their fight for survival, of parents missing work to care for kids at home, and damage claims from fender benders we have to ask ? Is this really necessary? Surely, the lost tax revenue could pay for a little well-placed sand from our nearby shores. And our highway department could contract local companies as backups to their own efforts. It?s about time our local governments take responsibility for keeping our roads drivable during minor weather setbacks. They can?t afford the lost tax revenue while we sit home watching another local TV ?snow job.?
I would love to hear a show on intergenerational mentoring in local schools. There are some schools in the Portland and Clackamas area that are pairing up kids and retired adults with some amazing results. These retired adults are working one on one with kids who might normally fall through the cracks .
Questions to address: How to get the word out to retirees about these programs?
How do we measure the impact these relationships have for
Can this model work in high school? or is it best for younger
I want you to be aware of a situation with a family in Clackamas, OR that is being torn apart by a judge in Virginia. Their situation is presented at helpkeepthemhome.com.
Briefly, the two children are currently in the care of their sister, but are being forced to go into foster care in VA, against the children's wishes and against the "recommendation of DHS workers here in Oregon, therapists, evaluators, and doctors."
I don't know what you can do, but this is a tragedy.
I was reading "Fixing Foster Care". Maybe having a show about people who were in foster homes and their experience with Oregon's Foster Care System, and how that would affect them becoming foster parents themselves.
I would love to see you do a show about people living with different neurologies - such as people with autism, Bipolar Disorder, and others - as part of your As We Are series. Perhaps you could interview a psychologist who works with this population, as well as a mom (like myself) of an autistic child, and then, of course, a person who has one of these diagnoses.
Please check out my essay in this month's Portland Monthly about our journey with our autistic son: http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/issues/current-issue/articles/p-towndiary0109/3/
Please host a discussion about the fairness of the property tax. Why is the tax burden placed solely on homeowners while apartment dwellers get a free ride? I understand that this is a convenient system to administrate, but it is outdated and grossly unfair. The cost burden of services should be shared by all beneficiaries.
Landlords include all costs of property ownership in the rent they charge. That includes
1. mortgage payments
2. taxes of all types (property, Tri-Met, etc.)
3. property insurance (required by mortgage lenders), liability, etc.
4. upkeep and repairs (paint, carpet, water heaters, furnaces, plumber, electrician, yard maintenance, roofs, etc., etc., etc.)
So apartment dwellers do NOT get out of paying property taxes. Far from it. Any landlord who did not pass through all the costs of owning property would be a foolish businessperson indeed.
(I am a homeowner, and not a landlord.)
The Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers and the Salem Multicultural Institute will kick off National Balck History Month on Friday January 30, with the opening of a new exhibit at the World Beat Gallery and a historical presentation entitled Stories from the Peculiar Paradise. It features profiles of six African American men who contributed to Oregon's rich cultural history: a wagon train guide, a champion bronco rider, a successful businessman, a river ferryman, a farmer and the first male African American graduate of Oregon State University.
I would be wonderful to invite Gwen Carr of the Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers and the first male African-American to graduate from OSU who is 83 and a longtime employee of ODOT as an engineer.
I would like to hear a show on the push (and the opposition) to bringing Major League Soccer to Portland.
There have been a series of Task force meetings taking place in Portland to address the decision of whether to help support the Portland Timbers bid to join MLS. There are very strong opinions on both sides owing to the fact that a condition that MLS has put on any new soccer franchise needs a soccer specific stadium. The Timbers currently play in PGE park with the Portland Beavers (a minor league baseball team). Merrit Paulson (son of Hank Paulson) owns both the Beavers and the Timbers and is the leader in bringing MLS to Portland. He has proposed that PGE Park be turned into a soccer only stadium, which would require some renovation and the Beavers relocate to a new stadium to be built in Lents Park. Both the renovations of PGE park and the construction of the new Lents Park stadium would require controversial City backed Bonds. This argument is already raging on comment sections of the Oregonian online site. Why not put it on the radio?
Merrit Paulson is very welcoming of media attention to this story and I'm fairly confident that he would welcome this show (even possibly come on it himself).
Here are some links to related website (my apologizes that most are Pro-MLS but I'm revealing my bias a bit here):
I would love to hear from the leaders of private Oregon universities regarding higher education to balance out the forum you had on January 8th. No representatives from any private universities were allowed a voice in the matter despite playing large roles in their respective communities. It would only be balanced reporting.
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