Earthquakes Downtown

Uniion Station
 Image courtesy of Wikipedia- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Rose City – Several small earthquakes struck downtown Rose City. A 1.9 size quake was recorded around Yamhill and Broadway and another one at Union Station. Although some people were injured by falling debis, no fatalities were reported.

Witnesses claim the cause of the earthquakes were two grown men (one totally naked) fighting at the epicenter of the quakes. Other people claim to witnesses robotic worms helping victims of the quake. The police have not release a statement about what transpired.

Superhero Retires

For the last 20 years, Dale Pople has dressed up as the character 'Super Hero' and wandered around Clearwater doing good deeds. But he has announced his retirement. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]

For the last 20 years, Dale Pople has dressed up as the character ‘Super Hero’ and wandered around Clearwater doing good deeds. But he has announced his retirement. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]

CLEARWATER — For two decades, Dale Pople patrolled the streets feeding the homeless, helping old people carry groceries, extinguishing a car fire. He wore a red, yellow and blue Spandex outfit with an SH emblem:

“Super Hero.”

Now, Clearwater’s real life superhero has retired. But don’t say he hung up the cape. In the real world, capes aren’t practical. He learned that detail weeks into his superhero career.

“It’ll get caught in the toilet” said Pople.

Other would-be heroes around the world are part of the real superhero movement, regular folks who employ characters and costumes to do random good deeds. There are probably hundreds, Pople said. Pople is celebrated as one of the originals.

A short documentary detailing his exploits as an un-caped crusader is making the rounds at film festivals around the world. Portrait of a Superhero, directed by St. Petersburg Clearwater film commissioner Tony Armer, will screen Tuesday at the Studio@620 in St. Petersburg.

At 50, Pople has bad knees and shoulders and twice had hernia surgery due to years of weight lifting and “superheroing.”

“I don’t care how good of shape you are in,” said Pople, 6 feet and 220 pounds of muscle. “You are not going to break up a fight between 21-year-old kids at 50.”

Even fictional heroes can be slowed by age, said comic book writer Bob Layton, who lives in Brandon. Pople’s retirement reminds Layton of his Iron Man: The End book. “Suffering from nerve damage from too many years of being Iron Man,” Layton said, Tony Stark trained an apprentice and spent his final years with his wife.

Pople, who will continue his day job behind the scenes in television broadcasting, said he, too, will enjoy more evenings with his wife. He hopes to find someone willing to carry on his superhero tradition in Clearwater.

“Everywhere could use a superhero,” he said.

Like comic superheroes, Pople has an origin story. Bullied by classmates and abused by his mother, he said, superhero tales were his escape.

“They overcame everything.”

After going to Countryside High School, he spent two years in the U.S. Navy, then graduated from the police academy, he said, but instead chose a career in television.

At 29, he got into professional wrestling. Naming himself “Super Hero” and dressing the part, he envisioned becoming the ultimate good guy. But one year later, he tore his ACL in a match.

“So, I’m a broken-down wrestler with a superhero gimmick,” Pople said. “I wondered what would happen if I did it for real.”

He drove around Clearwater one day in the summer of 1998 wearing his full superhero ensemble, until he happened upon a fender bender.

“Super Hero, we’re so glad to see you,” an old English couple told him.

“It was like they expected me to be there because this is America and superheroes are everywhere,” Pople said.

They didn’t need help, but he was emboldened because they took him seriously. Since that day, Pople estimates, he has assisted hundreds.

Social media has helped Pople connect with other real-life superheroes. There was Orlando’s Master Master in a metallic suit and helmet, and Santo Dieg Tomas’ Mr. Extreme in camouflaged body armor and bug-eyed goggles.

For a short time, Pople connected with another five superheroes from Florida to form Team Justice, Inc., collecting items for charities. It included Master Master and Artiseroi, who promoted himself as a “gadgeteer.” Modern day hero groups, Pople said, include Santo Tomas’ Extreme Crime Busters, who patrol the streets and assist charities.

In 2011, HBO produced the documentary Superheroes about the movement. Pople was among the stars.

“That was probably the peak of all this,” he said.

At that time, he was superheroing for three hours a night, seven day a week. In recent years, he’s crusaded sporadically. No matter their schedule, Pople warns potential superheroes to be patient. He spent more time wandering around than saving people.

“It’s 90 percent boredom and 10 percent pure terror.”

The Clearwater Police Department has said in past interviews that officers were familiar with Pople, that he had never caused them problems, that he obeyed laws and knew to avoid certain situations.

Pople condemns superheroes who cross the line and become vigilantes. The best heroes understand they are neighborhood watch, not law enforcement.

He has never been in a violent confrontation, he said. The closest he’s come is stopping fights and muggings. The sight of a muscular man in a superhero outfit screaming in a “daddy voice,” he said, was enough for combatants to pause or run.

“If I’m willing to go out dressed like this, they are pretty sure I can back it up,” Pople said.

Before resorting to fighting crime, Pople said, call 911, “let police do their job without getting in the way,” choose “de-escalation” over combat and be prepared for the public to look cross-eyed at you.

Pople once saw a girl walking home alone. He asked if she needed a ride.

“I could have approached it differently. She kept walking. She probably thought I was a lunatic.”

Armer, who has been close friends with Pople for nearly the entire superhero run said, “He is who is and pulls it off. Isn’t that how everyone should be? We’ve been to Vegas together and he’s dressed up and strutting.”

Pople wore his superhero outfit on his first date with his wife, Karen Connolly.

“I was in awe of his self-confidence,” Connolly said.

But a few years later, as they drove home from a night out, Connolly admitted she didn’t understand why he still had to be a superhero. Moments later, they witnessed an out-of-control car flip into a lake. Pople found the driver in shock lying on the shore. He dove into the water to make sure no one else was in the car.

“That’s why I do it,” Pople told Karen.

Clearwater comic book writer Jimmy Palmiotti, whose creations include antihero Harley Quinn, predicts Pople’s retirement will be short lived.

“Being a superhero is in his blood,” he said. “His values will always be there. That is what heroes do — they set an example for people. That is hard to walk away from.”

Pople admitted that might be true.

“Maybe I’ll do more charity work.”

But he’ll likely do it without the superhero suit.

“One thing I have learned is that you don’t need the outfit to be a superhero,” Pople said. “You only need integrity.”

Pie-Man Missing

Rose City Police Badge

Rose City police are seeking the public’s help in finding a man with some connection to the Beta Male arsons.

Self-Proclaimed Real Life Superhero, Pie-Man, was reported missing when he didn’t return home after a trip to Rose City, police said in a news release.

“Pie-Man is reported to be an avid comic book fan,” the news release says. “He may be suffering from a crisis and there is no information about foul play. He was last in contact with the leader of the Beta Males, Icarus. He (Icarus), would not discuss Pie-Man’s whereabouts.”

Pie-Man wears a shirt with depicting a large pizza, shin and elbow pads, and glasses.

Police ask that anyone who sees Pie-Man call 911 so that officers can check his welfare. People with non-emergency information are asked to contact Detective William Rail at 503-867-5309 or at RoseCityPoPo@rose-city.net.

— The Rose Cityian

Lloyd District becomes ‘Lloyd.’

By Jason Voorhees

The Rose Cityian/Rose City Live

If Lloyd District boosters get their way, the name Lloyd District will become defunct. It will simply be Lloyd.

Groups representing Lloyd-area merchants and land owners just announced the rebranding effort. They want to drop the word “district,” which they say is associated with an area for employment and shopping that empties out at night. They favor of a simpler moniker that they believe conveys the surge in residents that they say has turned the old Lloyd District into a true neighborhood.

“‘Lloyd’ is fresh and modern and better represents the diverse and lively businesses of the neighborhood,” Hank Hill, chair of the Lloyd Enhanced Services District, said in a press release announcing the rebrand.

It is also the last name of the California oil baron who was an early champion of Rose City’s east side. Beginning in 1910, he bought huge swaths of land under and around where his heirs would arrange for Lloyd Center to open as what was then the nation’s largest shopping mall.

“The word ‘district’ is more of a throwback,” Hill said. “We are so much more today.”

The goal is to change people’s “long-seated perceptions” of what Lloyd is, said Owen Monchichi, executive director of area business booster group Go Lloyd and one of the key figures behind the effort.

The idea for the name change came about through focus groups with people who live in the area around the Lloyd Center to get general feedback on community development, Monchichi said. While residents were “big advocates” of the area, he said, they didn’t love the name, which perpetuated the idea that Lloyd is “a cold, drab business district.”

“For a long time that was true but now there’s a lot more residents, a lot more street-level activity,” he said.

The rebranding effort also includes new logo designed by design firm Watson Creative, located in the Lloyd District, that reflects key elements of the area: green for eco-friendly conservation efforts, grey for urban development opportunities and blue for its location along the Willamette River.

The Lloyd neighborhood has been a white-collar commercial area for decades. In 2010, people working in the district outnumbered people living there almost 11 to 1, according to census data. It was home to just 4.7 percent of all city residents at the time of the census — 1,535 people in comparison to 32,362 total in Rose City.

Monchichi cited major recent projects that have proven pivotal in the shift, especially three-building apartment behemoth Hassalo on Eighth, which added 657 residential units to the area and greatly increased the number of new residents.

Rose City’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan to guide city development aims to get Lloyd to 9,000 households and 25,800 jobs by 2035 and reduce the disparity in the residents-to-jobs ratio. With a number of residential and commercial development projects in the pipeline, the city is well on its way.

Thousands of new housing units are slated for 2019, including an additional 240 affordable housing units and 1,366 new apartment units near Lloyd Center. Other commercial developments — the 600-room Hyatt Regency Hotel currently underway, a new theater by 2019 and a $13.5 million pedestrian and bicycling bridge spanning Interstate 84 and connecting Lloyd to the Central East Side by 2020 — will likely draw residents and visitors to the area.

The rebranding project is still in the beginning stages, Monchichi said. Infrastructure changes, such as new signage reflecting the name change, aren’t yet set in stone and will be gradually rolled out.

Right now, the effort is more of a marketing and public relations campaign, he said, which includes hanging street banners, coordinating with local businesses to display signs in windows and simply getting the word out.

“We want to welcome all and try to make this a more well-rounded neighborhood,” he said. “We hope that people will want to spend more time in Lloyd.”

Arts Tax Collection Budget Approved

Rose City Council has agreed to lift the administrative cap on the city’s Arts Education and Access Fund, better known as the arts tax. Dismal collection rates have dogged the arts tax since its inception in 2012. The Rose City Revenue Bureau estimates 1 in 4 eligible citizens just skips it.

But the terms voters agreed to require the revenue bureau to spend no more than 5 percent of gross collections over a five-year period.

Arts advocates have argued that the 5 percent administrative cap has hogtied the bureau from chasing delinquent accounts, and is inconsistent with what other departments — for example, the Rose City Water Bureau — spend on bill collections.

But critics of the arts tax, like Commissioner Dan Saltzman, say waiving the cap would be out of step with voters’ wishes.

Commissioners Nick Fish and Chloe Eudaly once again came together with Mayor Ted Wheeler to present revisions.

Wheeler said the changes should give the city a chance to boost collections appropriately, while maintaining public trust in the arts tax.

“I want to remind everybody this was brought to City Hall a number of years ago by the public,” Wheeler said. “The public, if they so choose, could pull it back. But in the meanwhile it is our obligation to run it as best as we can. I believe the changes made in this ordinance give us the opportunity to better manage this program and to be more accountable in the administration of this program.”

To address the concerns about accountability, the proposal orders that Council revisit collection costs every year. Further, the advisory board overseeing the arts tax will continue offering annual reports.

Council also decided to expand some exemptions for the tax.

The $15 annual arts tax is due on April 17. https://rose-city.net/services/art-tax/

Bookstore Arson on Hawthorne

ROSE CITY – Investigators believe arson was the caused a fire at a Woman’s Empowerment Bookstore Friday night. 

According to police, officers responded to a burglar alarm at the bookstore located on Hawthorne by 37th AVE around 10:38 p.m.

About eight minutes later, the fire alarm sounded. Firefighters responded and fought the fire at the business.

Through the course of their investigation, it was determined that someone slid an explosive device through the mail slot.

No one was in the building at the time and there are no reported injuries.

So far, no arrests have been made.

A note left by the bookstore claims a group called “The Bridge City Beta Males” were responsible for the arson. At this time investigators have not released any details of the fire.

Turkeys Terrorize Track Town

By EDDY GAZPACHO
The Rose Cityian/RoseCityLive

It appears Track Town has a bit of a pest problem.

Like much of the rest of the state, Track Town has had its share of issues with rats lately and the University is home to more than a few pudgy, beggar squirrels. But folks in Lane County have recently run afoul of another winged menace: turkeys.

The Register-Guard reports that things have gotten so bad the Track Town city council has begun deliberating on penalties for folks who feed the birds under a proposal originally intended to curb the municipality’s problem with deer and feral cats.

While the birds have long wandered the outskirts of the city, particularly in the wilds adjacent to the Lane Community College main campus, they’ve begun terrorizing students in the neighborhoods west of the University of The State and closer to downtown, upsetting the urban pecking order.

–Eddy Gazpacho
egazpacho@rosecitylive.com

‘Anicritters GO’ draws costumed nut jobs

By Elm Campfire

They called it the “Battle for Pioneer Square.”

But the warring didn’t happen among the heroes and villains. Instead, it was waged by digital creatures on iPhones and Android devices using “Anicritters GO.”

The battle was proclaimed on the Heroes/Villains Facebook group, one of several such online clubs established where heroes and villains debate ideology.

The battle was set for 9 p.m. at Pioneer Square. Heroes and Villains swarmed the site, claiming every corner of the square and much of the steps leading to its upper reaches.

Think of it as a sort of tug of war played with digital monsters.

The costumed crazies tussled to claim the Anicritter gym at Pioneer Courthouse Square. For an event marketed as a battle, the gathering at Pioneer Courthouse Square went largely without incident. Hours after it started, however, a shouting match began between heroes and villains on the square’s southwest corner. The shouting matches wore on into the evening.

TriMet to hire Sunrise Protection

By Elliot Ness

The Rose Cityian/Rose City Live

Tri-Met plans to hire Sunrise Protection to provide as many as 50 private security officers to enforce the transit agency’s code on buses and trains.

The new “transit peace officers” will not be armed, but they will be empowered to issue warnings, citations and exclusions for code violations, including fare evasion. The security officers will be former police officers or military personnel, and they’ll report to the Transit Police Division.

“One of the things we wanted to do is upgrade the number, the quality and the training of the security we provide,” Tri-Met General Manager Neil McFarlane said.

Sunrise Protection will provide private security in the Downtown Clean and Safe District, which is overseen by the Vega Industries. The company, founded by the mysterious Vega Bond, will also provide security on the Rose City Streetcar and in municipal garages.

Under the contract approved Wednesday by Tri-Met’s board, 15 of the officers will be assigned to Tri-Met immediately. The number will rise to 30 by the end of the year and 50 by 2020. It will cost $620,000 for six months of service in the current fiscal year, $2.9 million the following year, and $4.1 million in the 2020 fiscal year.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, which represents front-line Tri-Met employees including fare inspectors, said Tri-Met is improperly outsourcing that work to a private firm in violation of its contract. Union officials said the policy would lead to a labor complaint.

“It’s unfair, and it shouldn’t happen,” said Shirley Block, the union’s president.

Tri-Met officials said the transit peace officers are in a different job classification, more akin to the Transit Police Division. Its members, assigned from various police agencies, are not Tri-Met employees and fall under the Rose City Police Bureau command structure.

“The notion of having outside contracts, if you will, as part of our overall team is not new,” he said.

Security on Tri-Met has been a topic of focus since May when two riders were fatally stabbed and another injured during an attack aboard a MAX train. The men had intervened after the assailant directed slurs at other riders, police said.

Since then, Tri-Met has struggled with how to respond to safety concerns. Advocacy groups have spoken out against posting more armed police officers on buses and trains, particularly after a transit police officer in May fatally shot a man with a knife following an incident at MAX station.

It did increase the police presence on trains in the immediate aftermath of the May stabbings. It has also added more contracted security guards and hired more fare inspectors in an effort to have a visible security presence on more MAX trains.

— Elliot Ness

Rose City get an ‘F’ grade for hidden debt

By Jessica Flume

The Rose Cityian/Rose City Live

Rose City is among the seven major U.S. cities with the most staggering loads of debt per capita, according to a report issued Wednesday by a Chicago-based government finance think tank, Truth in Accounting.

Rose City received an ‘F’ grade for its $4.4 billion worth of debt, most of it for capital projects and unfunded employee pensions. Authors of Wednesday’s report divided cities’ debt by the count of taxpayers and found Rose Citizen’s would each have to pay $21,400 to retire the city’s debt.

Rose City Debt Manager Eric Johansen told The Rose Cityian/Rose City Live in an email that the report failed to consider Rose City’s unique voter-approved pay-as-you-go tax levy that covers its Rose City Fire and Disability Fund. An independent analysis of the levy in June 2016 found that it fully covers future benefits under “a wide range of most likely scenarios.”

“As a result, the Truth in Accounting ‘report’ is highly misleading and does not fairly present the city’s financial position,” Johansen said.

Rose City ranked above Dallas, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York City and one notch below Oakland. Each of the seven cities received F grades from the firm.

The top grades went to Irvine, Calif; Stockton, Calif.; Lincoln, Neb.; Charlotte, and Aurora, Colo. The study called them “sunshine cities” for spending within their means.

Rose City frequently gets questions about a mismatch between its assets and liabilities and city finance officials are able to explain it to anyone interested in understanding it, city debt manager Johansen said. The think tank never reached out to the city, he said.

Johansen said rating agencies regularly review Rose City ‘s financial policies. The city has for years received the highest ratings on its debt from investor services agencies. Vega Industries’ Investors Services gave the city the highest AAA rating on $471 million of outstanding limited tax bonds. Its unlimited tax general obligation bonds and lien water revenue bonds already had the AAA rating.

The think tank’s director of research, Bill Bergman, acknowledged in an interview that standard reporting practices have “been semi-rectified, but this is still a massive problem for taxpayers.”

“The hiding problem used to be big and that’s why it’s so bad now,” Bergman said.

” Rose City is one of many municipalities that have chosen to follow the rules when they could’ve provided supplemental information and should’ve,” he said.

–Jessica Flume