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.

Ban Plastic Straws

By Kathryn Ramen, Northeast Rose City

We all know that Rose City is already one of the most environmentally-conscious cities in America. Rose City is one of the leaders in sustainable living, with the implementation of city-wide composting, the popularity of bike transit and an abundance of organic and locally-sourced food options. However, I think Rose City has both the capacity and community engagement to do more.

Emerald City recently banned the use of plastic straws in restaurants, bars and cafes. According to the National Parks Service, Americans use 500 million plastic straws each day. Most of these straws end up in our oceans, where they injure and kill marine life. As plastic slowly breaks down into smaller pieces it gets ingested by ocean species and accumulates in marine food chains. Like Emerald City, Rose City has an opportunity to be a model city for environmentally-conscious living. A ban on plastic straws would encourage sustainable practices and cut down on unnecessary waste. In their place, biodegradable alternatives such as paper straws could be provided to establishment patrons and customers could be encouraged to bring their own reusable straws.

Some local businesses have already moved away from using plastic straws, and I applaud their choice. Let’s keep Rose City at the vanguard of environmental protection by eliminating plastic straw waste.

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.

Anicritters GO is finally out

By Elm Campfire

Ever since its announcement last September, “Anicritter GO” has been hotly anticipated by fans of the monster-catching video game series.

You don’t necessarily need to walk around to catch Anicritters

Although much of the game’s marketing encourages users to traverse their stomping grounds to discover a variety of pocket monsters, staying put reaps plenty of rewards. For example, here are a couple of ‘Critters yours truly caught in the restroom, both at home and at work.

(There are few things more awkward than standing in a bathroom stall at work and trying to catch an incredibly common Anicritters.)

Looking for a wide array of creatures? Don’t count on finding them downtown

As with its video game counterpart, critters in “Anicritters GO” are typically found in specific habitats. Ice types dwell in the mountains, Ground-types in caves, etc.

The mobile game keeps up with the concept fairly well — the only Anicritters I found in downtown Rose City bore striking resemblances to animals you’d usually find in the city.

I should note that the servers were down while I was strolling through Pettygrove City Park, so critters such as Bug- and Grass-types may well be hiding in the city’s many greenways.

Still, if you want to catch a wide assortment of Anicritters maybe a nice drive to the beach or Mt. Hood is in order this weekend.

But if you’re running low on Aniballs, there’s no better place to be

Habitats aren’t the only thing dictated by geolocation in “Anicritters GO.” Landmarks, such as bus stops and art installations, provide players with helpful items like Aniballs and Potions upon each visit. Heck, sometimes they’ll contain a stray Anicritter egg you can hatch as you play.

The game calls these landmarks AniStops and, as you can imagine, there are quite a few more in downtown Rose City than there are in, say, the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood.

One of the best places to stock up on essentials is undoubtedly Rose City State University — practically every art installation on campus has its own AniStop. Stand on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Hall Street to hit three of them at once.

Want to catch a lot of Anicritters really fast? Ride the bus.

Catching and collecting Anicritters is fun and all, but spend a few minutes traversing the streets of Rose City on foot and you’ll see how excruciatingly slow it is to get to landmarks, much less catch a wide assortment of monsters.

That’s where Trimet comes in. Over the course of a 20-minute bus ride, I hit more AniStops and caught more Anicritters than I would have in more than an hour of trying to do the same on foot.

Of course, the toughest thing about playing on the bus is that it’s difficult to look composed when you’re holding a phone at arm’s length, swiping madly at the screen as an Anicritter evades every Aniball you toss at it.

On the plus side, it’s a great way to bond with strangers. Despite my unhinged appearance, three fellow commuters struck up a conversation about the game after catching a glimpse of the Anicritters on my phone screen.

Expect to wait for servers, at least for now

Approximately half of my time playing “Anicritters GO” has been spent staring at the server crash screen.

It seems developer Titanic didn’t do much stress-testing in the U.S. during the beta period. Several folks in the Rose City area are also having the same problem.

As time goes on, Titanic will probably smooth out the experience. In the meantime, I had the most luck getting online between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. There’s also a site that tells you whether or not the server is up, which saves you the headache of waiting for the game to load and logging in before finding out.

Long waits aside, the game is plenty fun once you actually get to play. It also features a battle system and a network of gyms, neither of which I’ve yet been able to test because of in-game prerequisites I’ve only recently met.

We’ll have more impressions and tips as time goes on. In the meantime, what’s your “Anicritters GO” experience been like in and around Rose City?

– Elm Campfire

Men are weaker than women, study finds

Women are flu powerhouses.  

Kyle Sue, a family-medicine professor for Memorial University, evaluated peer-reviewed research on immune system differences between men and women. According to his findings, men have “a less robust immune system.”

Tired of being teased for being a big baby, Sue conducted a study on the “Man-Flu.” The Canadian researcher found that “Cells cultured from premenopausal women had a stronger immune response to rhinovirus than those from men of the same age.”

Another study conducted in Hong Kong found that men are more likely to end up in the hospital than women. “This was true regardless of underlying heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory system disease, and renal disease,” Sue writes.

Reference:

Sue, Kyle. “The Science behind ‘Man Flu.’” The BMJ, British Medical Journal Publishing Group, 11 Dec. 2017, www.bmj.com/content/359/bmj.j5560.

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.