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/

‘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

Too Much Rain in Rose City

The Pacific Northwest is known for its beautiful green landscapes, but at what cost? Rain. Rain is the price Rose City residents pay for all the trees. The area is under the direct path of a jet stream that encircles the northern hemisphere around the Canadian-U.S. border. The jet stream creates a low-pressure system that produces heavy rains, nay, chubby rains. Although Rose City’s average inches of rain is less than that of New York City, New York or Mobile, Alabama, the rain falls for a longer period of time

“This is terrible! It’s just wet everywhere! I wish our government would do something about it!” proclaimed Jolie Turtlesloth, of Grease Ham. Rose City citizen Meegan Shearshoot, on the other hand, loves the rain. “It’s soothing. I like the color of the sky when it rains. It’s this beautiful green. I like being out there,” said the retired 77-year-old.

To the whiners, Shearshoot said: “I don’t have a lot of patience. If they don’t like it, move.”

The Rose City council declined to comment on any plans to stop the torrent of water from above.

Rose City in Gas Crisis

Just the thought of pumping their own gas has sent some Rose Cityians into panic mode.

Here’s what happened: Residents in some rural counties will soon be allowed to pump their own gas thanks to a new law.

The Legislature passed it in May and it was signed into law in June. The law affects counties with 40,000 residents or less.

Rose City is currently residing in one of two states that does not allow customers to pump their gas (the other is New Jersey).

Some gas station managers said that their attendants would continue servicing patron’s cars just as it has been done since 1951.

“Our regular, longtime customers love coming here and talking to us while we pump their gas,” said Shelby Perkins, a cashier at a 76 gas station in Prineville.

She added that wasn’t sure regular customers even knew how to operate the pumps.

Darlene Forseth, manager at Main Station Express in Prineville and Justin Bidiman, owner of the Metolius Market in Metolius, said they will continue relying on attendants since their stations are not equipped for self-service.

“My equipment is not set up for credit cards,” he said, “so we don’t have any way of recording the gallons.”

The Culver Shell & Feed in Prineville is part of the handful of gas stations that are ready for self-service, said owner Jeffrey Honeywell.

“We are going to take advantage of it,” he said.

His gas station had changed to “sundown to sun-up” self-serve gas when the state legalized it in 2015.

There will be someone available to assist customers, Honeywell said.

No More Freeways in Rose City

By Humble Twiliger

Many people on Twitter were intrigued by the Rose City Council conversation Nov. 30, about adding variable-priced tolls to area roadways. Some wondered why Mayor Ted Wheeler would say the City will not build any new freeways. Others wondered specifically about the statement by Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson that affluent people drive more than people living on low incomes.

Mayor Ted Wheeler:

“It’s obvious to everybody that we live in a region that’s abundant with natural beauty and resources. We’re seeing that our economy is vibrant and continues to grow. One of the side effects of that good news is that we’re also seeing significant growth in congestion on our roadways. These same factors make Rose City such a wonderful place to live, work and recreate but they also attract new residents. That, of course, includes increased housing and increased pressure on our roadways.

While I am mayor, I want to be clear, we’re not building any more freeways in the City of Rose City. Congestion pricing not only funds and maintains our transportation system, but also is a very effective tool for managing the traffic that will continue as Rose City grows and changes. We also can’t lose sight of the impact traffic emissions have on our public health and our overall environment. Air quality has been and will continue to be a key issue for me as mayor. We can’t deny that vehicles continue to be a source of pollution in the air we breathe. Today’s resolution is not only a statement of our values – advancing our community’s health, protecting our environment and achieving our equity goals – it is also a path forward to better achieve these goals.”

Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson:

“Congestion pricing can have benefits for both people who drive and people who use transit. And most importantly for me, it can have benefits for low-income residents as well. While tolls could be regressive, not all low-income people drive. Many low-income people don’t own cars, so tolls may not hurt the most vulnerable and may even help if reduced traffic congestion lets buses travel faster, improve frequency and expands bus lines – all of which should be part of a successful congestion pricing plan.

For the many low-income people who do drive, tolls may burden them, but tolls can generate revenue that we can use to offset costs for those low-income drivers.

What we don’t want to do is to assume that the current system of free roads benefits everyone equally. It doesn’t. Driving is expensive. It requires a car, gas, insurance, maintenance, registration fees, the list goes on. That’s why the affluent drive much more than the poor and take more advantage of our current road system.

We have the opportunity now to build a congestion pricing system that’s right for all of our community.”

Existing Conditions, Findings and Opportunities Report for the Regional Active Transportation Plan is based on the state Household Activity Survey. It shows the people in lower-income households (with incomes below $50,000) represent 46.4% of the overall population but represent only 34.8% of all driving. On the other hand, people in households with more than $75,000 annual income represent 35.2% of the population and 46.8% of all driving. Thus, it is people from the higher income brackets that seem more dependent on automobiles than those at lower wages.

Outlaw sworn in as police chief

ROSE CITY – Danielle Outlaw has been sworn in as chief of the Rose City Police Bureau.

Outlaw is the third woman, and first black woman, to become chief of police in Rose City.

Rose City Mayor Ted Wheeler hired Outlaw this summer following a national search. Wheeler said he and Outlaw are both dedicated to increasing diversity and embracing equality.

Outlaw was sworn in Monday by city auditor Mary Hull Caballero during a private ceremony at the Justice Center in downtown Rose City.

Outlaw was most recently a deputy chief for the Oakland Police Department.