Amanda Fritz's blog

Have you done anything for Jefferson High School yet?

  • Posted on: 31 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

It would be more than sad if the only result of Mayor Potter moving his office to Jefferson High School for a week in January 2008 is that Mayor Potter moved his office to Jefferson High School for a week in January 2008.

From the GetInvolvedWithJeffSchools listserve, here's something for those "only" able to donate money, not time:

"A Jefferson High School teacher is seeking donations, through, to purchase 45 new copies of The Stranger by Camus for his senior English class.

He says,

"My seniors are a group of lovable, hard working young men and women in an urban setting who have dealt with old, beaten copies of books their whole high school career. Like everything, they make the most of this, often repairing the books themselves with tape, staples and rubber bands. These kids feel ignored by the greater community. When someone steps up and supports them in unexpected ways they really "get it." They need the book because it is important, but they need the donation because it would touch them deeply."

I thought you'd be interested in "Don't Be a Stranger!" which can be examined and purchased for the Jefferson seniors here

This and all other proposals at have been submitted by public school teachers who seek resources that will help their students learn. The New York Times has profiled as "the future of philanthropy." Please help students in need by clicking on the link above!

Contributions are tax-deductible, and the donors receive photographs, student thank-you notes, and a teacher letter for the project they choose to sponsor."

Next Up at City Council, January 30-31, 2008

  • Posted on: 26 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

The Portland City Council Agenda for this coming week features an exciting announcement:

146 TIME CERTAIN: 9:30 AM - Authorize an agreement between Portland Parks & Recreation and the Oregon Department of Transportation to accept a grant of $460,000 to develop a portion of the Columbia Slough Trail between Portland International Raceway and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. (Ordinance introduced by Commissioner Saltzman)

More information here, in the ordinance.

Later, on the Regular Agenda, another Parks gain:

*181 Approve agreement for acquisition of a parcel of real property in northwest Portland for park purposes from Raymond Hoy (Ordinance; Contract No. 52922)

The details on this purchase are interesting. Plus side: 13.75 acres being subdivided off a property on Skyline and sold to the City for $250,000, including high quality habitat which already has a public trail access easement. Of concern: The original appraisal came in at $150,000; the seller disputed that figure and later agreed with Parks for the $250,000 price tag. $250,000 seems a good deal for 13.75 acres of land, even if most of it is unbuildable.... but why have the first appraisal done if it was going to be passed over by a deal between buyer and seller?

The second Time Certain on Wednesday is a disappointment:

147 TIME CERTAIN: 9:45 AM - Address pay and benefit inequity among janitors cleaning city facilities (Resolution introduced by Commissioner Adams)


This, I think, is intended to address the Justice for Janitors issue I covered periodically throughout last year. I know Commissioner Adams and his staff have been working on the problems. Not fast enough for the workers living day to day, week to week. Sigh. Hopefully coming back to the Agenda soon.

I wish I had time to look into the Wednesday afternoon land use case:

Excellent Letter to the Editor

  • Posted on: 25 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

In today's Oregonian:


"In his Jan. 24, letter, "Question antidepressants," William Todd Schultz writes with all the smug certainty of a man who has never suffered a serious serotonin deficiency. If he had, I can assure you that he would not be sneering about "negative feelings" and "wip[ing] them out with medicines."

Rather, he would be talking about suicidal depression, which is an entirely different thing.

I can't speak for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration antidepressant trials, but I can tell you that antidepressants save lives every single day. I know, because mine is one of them."



What a great line - "with all the smug certainty of a man who has never suffered". After opening with the reference to the previous letter being challenged, the author then ends the sentence with an accurate fact. She follows with another, and ends with her personal experience spoken from the heart. Ninety-five words, when the limit is 150.

A classic Letter to the Editor, making an important point. Nicely done, Ms. Harper.

The flames of Women's Rights

  • Posted on: 24 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

Eternal, or going down?

I went to the annual Planned Parenthood/ProChoiceOregon Roe v. Wade anniversary event on Tuesday. In previous years it's been a fancy dinner with a high ticket price, for a fundraiser. This year, 35 years after the Supreme Court decision was announced, legalizing a woman's right to make medical decisions with her health care providers, organizers chose a more casual approach and a $10 entrance "suggested donation". The happy result was that many more young people participated. It was good to see information tables about worthy organizations, including Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls (and women), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, as well as the sponsoring groups. One young volunteer filled out her Voter Registration card while sitting behind the table. So encouraging to older women like me who have been working for equality for decades.

So why the photograph and title above? The right to choose when and if to become a parent in the United States is a flickering flame. Speakers in the program talked about the US Supreme Court, where women's rights hang by a slender 5-4 majority. One of the five is Justice John Paul Stevens, who is 87 years old. Millions of women in the United States still lack access to health care and family planning services. And outside the courts and the issue of freedom of individuals to make health care choices with medical practitioners, women still face unequal challenges in our society. Many examples were given; the one that stuck in my mind is that only 12 of the Fortune 500 companies' Chief Executive Officers are women. Twelve, in five hundred.

The program described how women's hopes and even lives have been extinguished by Federal and local laws and practices... then called for us all to get fired up about the struggle for justice. Illustrating the point: a fire-spinning performance by a smiling young woman, twirling first balls of fire on chains, then a hula-hoop encircled with flaming pots. I've attended outdoor fire-spinning jams with Steve, my husband, here in Portland - even outside, it brings out the nurse and mother in me as I watch with fascination while pondering actions for an emergency. Indoors, I was even more anxious, and focused on the woman's face instead of the flames - in part, thinking to myself, "I bet Steve has a photograph of this performer I can post on my blog. I'll make sure I recognize her from the hundreds of fire-spinning photos in his archives."

Next Up at City Council, January 23- 24, 2008

  • Posted on: 19 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

The Agenda for Portland City Council this coming week says that two Commissioners will be absent on Wednesday, so the Consent Agenda will be passed on Thursday afternoon. There is no Wednesday afternoon session, and the Wednesday morning list is unusually brief. The vote on the Safe, Sound, and Green Streets fee is the most important item on Wednesday. No public testimony will be taken, unless there are more changes.

On Thursday afternoon, it doesn't get much more exciting. The two Time Certain items are:

120 TIME CERTAIN: 2:00 PM - Safety Recognition Day Awards (Presentation introduced by Mayor Potter)

*121 TIME CERTAIN: 3:00 PM - Authorize agreement with The Trust for Public Land for acquisition of 26.85 acres of land in southeast Portland for park purposes (Ordinance introduced by Commissioners Adams and Saltzman)

The Safety Recognition Day Awards are mostly internal accolades for City staff, highlighting effective risk-management practices.

The Trust for Public Land is "a national, nonprofit, land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, community gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. ... Since 1972, TPL has worked with willing landowners, community groups, and national, state, and local agencies to complete more than 3,500 land conservation projects in 47 states, protecting more than 2 million acres. Since 1994, TPL has helped states and communities craft and pass over 330 ballot measures, generating almost $25 billion in new conservation-related funding."

The park land acquisition sounds terrific. In my experience, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) has provided crucial intermediary services between governments, private landowners, and citizens. When Metro purchased the forest at the headwaters of Arnold Creek (the project that changed my life), TPL gave advice, and as a neutral third party helped with shuttle diplomacy. And in the sale of the land for the Holly Farm Park, TPL held the option to buy from the landowners, until the City and Parks Foundation patched together the funding for the purchase. I am very glad to see the City working with TPL to save almost 27 acres of land in Southeast Portland for a park. The ordinance says it's on Clatsop Butte, near SE Foster Road and SE 162nd Avenue. Yay!

Steve Fritz photo up for auction

  • Posted on: 18 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

Steve and I have donated a framed, 16" x 20" print of this photograph, taken at Cape Kiwanda, to the Columbia Slough Watershed Council's annual Silent Auction. The image captured the actual colors of the sunset, without filters. Lovely, huh?

To bid, come to the CSWC's fundraising dinner on February 1 at the Acadian Ballroom. There will be many other delightful items in the Silent Auction, a delicious dinner, good company, and a very entertaining program. Details and ticket purchase here. The event is always well-attended, and very fun. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, to see the names of the worthy winners of this year's Achievement Awards.

Water Bureau Director responds

  • Posted on: 17 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

Water Bureau Director David Shaff send me the following by e-mail, in response to the questions in my post a couple of days ago. Posted with permission, of course. Jack Bog's blog carries a further post with more comments, too.

Guest Post by David Shaff, City of Portland Water Bureau Director

We offer a program that we call "Budget Billing" free of charge for our customers who bill quarterly. Budget Billing takes a customer's average consumption over the past 12 months and calculates an estimated monthly dollar amount that the customer will be responsible for paying for 11 months. On the twelfth month the customer will receive a true up bill which will either result in a final amount due or a credit depending on how consistent their water usage was to the prior year. The benefit of this program is a more manageable amount due by receiving a monthly statement. Since we read quarterly for our residential customers, in order to create a bill without having a read, the other two months consumption is an estimated amount. In answer to your question about the base charge, they pay the daily rate billed for quarterly accounts. I recently signed up for the program to see how it works. My base charge on my first bill last month was $6.25 for a 29 day period (29 days x $.2155 = $6.25). It is the same daily rate that you paid on your quarterly bill.

Monthly billing is very different. Monthly billing means that we would get a meter reading each month and generate a bill each month for the water consumed. In addition to getting a monthly bill that reflects actual consumption (and is more manageable from a household budget perspective), customers will know sooner that they have a leak or an increase in consumption that they may want to investigate, rather than waiting for two more months to discover they have a problem. Moving to monthly billing will come with a cost however. Instead of sending out 4 bills a year to over 180,000 accounts, we will have to read and bill those accounts 12 times. That will require an increase in personnel or move to technology such as AMR (Automatic Meter Reading), something that many utilities are using nationally and beginning to use here locally. We are just at the initial stages of exploring what the options are, the costs, benefits and drawbacks of those options, and the interests of our ratepayers.

Beyond incredible

  • Posted on: 16 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

After spending quality time at Jefferson High School this morning, I went to the first of two TriMet public hearings scheduled for today. A lifelong bus user, I wanted to give input on Fred Hansen's proposal to limit Fareless Square to the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., allegedly because only people who don't pay fares commit crimes on MAX. I was very impressed that dozens of Portlanders took time out of their day to participate.

The TriMet Board did not attend.

Only a hired consultant and a stenographer sat on the stage listening to testimony. Most TriMet staff, even, seemed to be out in the lobby. The "hearing" ran almost the full two hours, with each citizen taking only a few minutes at the microphone - but the only people "hearing" were the rest of the audience, and the two non-decision-makers on the stage.


After the "hearing", I asked staff in the lobby if the TriMet Board would attend this evening's second hearing. After all, they are volunteers with full time jobs, perhaps someone scheduled the lunchtime event when the Board members were busy. Here's what I was told:

"The Board does not attend public hearings".

Good grief. Why, then, do they invite citizens to come to them? The moderator said the Board reads the transcripts of testimony. Had I but known, I would have returned home and written my comments myself, rather than using public money to pay a stenographer to transcribe my testimony.

Imagine if the Portland Planning Commission didn't show up to hearings, but relied on notes transcribed by a third party. Imagine if the School Boards followed the same practice. The TriMet Board rules on an annual budget of around $350 million. That is more than the total budget of the Portland Development Commission. How did I not know that the TriMet Board doesn't attend public hearings on their issues? And how come there is no outrage about this? Put me down in the "outraged" column.

The only reason to attend tonight's "hearing" is if you like hearing yourself speak, and/or if you are interested in listening to what informed citizens say. Otherwise, send in your comments, and read the transcripts.

That's all the TriMet Board will be doing, anyway. Maybe.

At this point, I wonder why they ask for public input at all.

Why is this so hard?

  • Posted on: 15 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

Jack Bog's blog links to an ordinance (pdf) setting different rates for water use depending on whether the account is billed monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. The ordinance states specifically that "optional monthly billing will be at no extra charge". Does that mean that if the account is designated as being billed bi-monthly but the customer opts for monthly payments, the daily rate stays at the bi-monthly level? Interesting information and comments on Jack's site.

It was only in April 2007 that the City joined the 21st Century in offering on-line payments for water/sewer bills - see my post at the time. According to the Water Bureau site, there is already a monthly billing option with estimated/equalized payments. There still isn't an option for automatic electronic bank transfer, however. Comments on this blog by Water Bureau Director David Shaff, promised a 24/7 phone line to take credit card payments, "in a couple of months". That was in June. I don't see even that option listed yet.

Evidently, the good folks at the Water Bureau are working on this issue. There is currently a poll on the Water Bureau site, in the right sidebar of this page, seeking information on "Which of the following billing options do you think the Portland Water Bureau should investigate to best serve your needs?". It isn't clear to me why monthly billing and automatic payments are set as mutually exclusive options - customers may vote for one or the other, but not both.

I would be interested to hear why it is taking so long, and seems so difficult to do what other utility billing systems have been doing routinely for years - both monthly billing, and automatic payments by electronic transfer. There is likely a reason. What is it?

Events at Jefferson High School this week

  • Posted on: 14 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

The schedule of major meetings:

Monday - Portland Public Schools (PPS) Board Meeting at Jefferson, 7 p.m.
Tuesday - PPS School Facilities Plan community meeting at Jefferson, 7 p.m.
Wednesday - 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. City Council meetings at Jefferson
Thursday - Jefferson Parent and Community Open House, 7 p.m.
Friday - Mayor's State of the City Address at Jefferson, 12:30 p.m.


Mayor Tom Potter's press release:

"Mayor Tom Potter is moving City Hall to Jefferson High School for a week to give students, parents and educators a first hand lesson in how government really works - and to showcase the opportunities, successes and challenges facing every school in Portland's six public school districts.

The visit begins at first bell at 7:45 a.m. on Monday, January 14th, and concludes with the annual State of the City address on January 18th in the school auditorium. The regular Wednesday City Council meeting will also be held at Jefferson that week in the auditorium.

Mayor Potter accepted the invitation last fall when students from Jefferson visited the City Council. The Mayor said he would not only visit the school, but bring along his entire staff and invite area political and civic leaders, as well as parents and local business owners to join him.

"By walking through these doors, we can see first hand what is going well and what challenges still exist," said Mayor Potter. "More importantly, we can all ask ourselves: 'How can I help?'"

On Monday, local leaders will attend an assembly showcasing student talents and then participate in a roundtable discussion led by students. In the afternoon, the Mayor will meet one-on-one with students on whatever subject they want to talk about, part of the monthly "Ten Minutes With Tom" sessions he has conducted throughout the city since being elected.

On Tuesday, the Mayor will visit classrooms and meet with students at the Harriet Tubman Young Women's Leadership Academy, one of four academies at Jefferson that give students an opportunity to learn in smaller settings geared toward their specific academic interests. More than 130 City employees, including Jefferson alumni, have volunteered to visit classrooms throughout the week to talk with students about what they do and discuss mentoring and internship opportunities. In the evening, the Mayor will join parents and community members to hear the neighborhood's priorities for improvements to school buildings.

The City Council agenda on Wednesday evening will include consideration of three programs at the core of the Mayor's agenda in the coming year:

* A resolution to create a new Office of Human Relations, which will focus on eliminating discrimination and bigotry, and strengthening relationships between groups in an increasingly diverse city.

* A report by the Immigrant and Refugee Task Force, which will recommend strategies the City can adopt to make government more accessible to immigrants and help groups learn how to participate in decision making.

* The Racial Profiling Committee will present a status report on their work to-date.

Earlier in the day, the Council will hear from student leaders from schools throughout the city, and commissioners have been invited to share lunch with students in the cafeteria.

On Thursday, the Mayor will attend an open house sponsored by Jefferson parents and community members, and be joined by PPS Superintendent Carole Smith and Jefferson Principal Cynthia Harris at a "Ten Minutes With Tom" open to parents and community members.

The Mayor will use his State of the City address on Friday to show how Portlanders can help make their schools - and their children - more successful. City Club members will get on PPS buses and make the trek to Jefferson for the speech."


Want to help?

Volunteers are needed to help with logistics during the events listed above. Show up and ask what needs to be done. Also, the Jefferson Library is in need of volunteers to help students, shelve books, etc. Please contact the school, 503-916-5180, if you are interested in donating an hour or two a week.

Franklin HS grad playing Sunday football

  • Posted on: 13 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

My son Luke just told me that Legadu Naanee, a Franklin High School graduate and Boise State wide receiver, is currently playing for the San Diego Chargers. This is his rookie year, after having been drafted in the fifth round.

Later this afternoon, Kevin Boss from Western Oregon University, will be playing for the New York Giants. As I noted here, he was also a fifth round draft pick. I'm sorry I missed the Portland roots of Legadu Naanee, in writing that post.

Enjoy the playoffs, lucky people with time to watch them.

Next Up at City Council, 1/16/08

  • Posted on: 12 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

The Portland City Council will hold all sessions of its Agenda this week at Jefferson High School on North Kerby between Alberta and Kilingsworth. Although the vote on the street maintenance and infrastructure improvements fee is scheduled for the Wednesday morning Regular Agenda, and the Wednesday evening session will establish an Office of Human Relations that will staff a new (restored) Human Rights Commission, my guess is the most compelling item will be a presentation by Jefferson High School students on Wednesday morning soon after 9:30. I've heard Jefferson students present to the Portland Public Schools Board on many occasions, and every time the speakers have been excellent examples of why their teachers, families, and all who care about public schools should be proud of today's Jefferson High School students.

Also on the Agenda: establishing the "Vision into Action" committee to work on practical outcomes from the VisionPDX project; the 2007 Report from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, and a bunch of contracts and adminstrative stuff, on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday evening, starting at 6 p.m., in addition to the Human Relations Office item, the report of the Immigrant and Refugee Task Force, and an update on the progress of the Racial Profiling Committee.

There are several other events at Jefferson High School this week, including the Portland Public Schools Board meeting on Monday evening, and the City Club presenting Mayor Tom Potter's State of the City address on Friday lunchtime. Friend-of-this-blog Steve Rawley posts details here. Good discussion in the comments, on what practical changes are needed to support Jefferson High School, in addition to the symbolic support being offered by holding events there this week.

Health care coverage - doing the right thing

  • Posted on: 10 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

I was happy to be in City Council chambers yesterday morning, despite the Council rejecting my request to hold the Special Election in September for the seat being vacated by Erik Sten. Doing so would have allowed for a "robust debate" as Dan Saltzman noted, and also for establishing a process for Public Campaign Financing of candidates seeking it. Commissioner Saltzman could have realized his goal by voting against the motion, since four votes are required to pass an emergency ordinance or resolution. Erik Sten chose to leave before the public testimony and vote. Oh well.

Back to the good stuff. Earlier, the Council voted unanimously to provide health insurance to seasonal workers, in months when they work more than 80 hours. This is a nation-leading step, recognizing that millions of our nation's people without access to health care are employed. The Oregonian covers the agreement yesterday well, in today's article by Andy Dworkin.

It should be noted that the union, Laborers Local 483, bargained for health care benefits for these workers, accepting the coverage in lieu of pay raises. Most seasonal workers make less than $11 per hour, with no benefits. The new contract calls only for cost-of-living adjustments.

A footnote to Charter reform discussions: the ordinance passed yesterday also set 1200 hours as the new limit for how much time seasonal workers may work in a year, before they must be either fired or hired to permanent positions.

Oh, the irony

  • Posted on: 8 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

Sho Dozono is quoted in today's Oregonian saying he will not continue to run for Mayor unless he qualifies for Public Campaign Financing. He must collect 1,500 forms and five dollarses from registered Portland voters by January 31 to do so.

The Oregonian says in an editorial today:

"The newly announced candidacy of progressive businessman Sho Dozono will require the otherwise unstoppable Adams to earn every vote. Though it's unfortunate to see another candidate angle for public financing, it's a relief to have a competitive race at such an important time for the city."

Sho Dozono's attempt to qualify for public money for his campaign creates a dilemma for not only the Oregonian's editors, staunch opponents of Public Campaign Financing, but also the Portland Business Alliance, which funded a failed attempt to refer the program to voters in 2006. Collecting 1500 donations AND FORMS in 24 days is a monumental task. In order to succeed, Sho will need the Oregonian to give him lots of free publicity, reminding potential donors to return their forms. Members of the Portland Business Alliance will have to beg colleagues to contribute.

Delicious irony.

Who wrote this headline.... in 2008?

  • Posted on: 7 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

Title of an Oregonian Editorial today:

"Wanted: a Portland statesman"

It's about former City Commissioner Jim Francesconi's assignment to find a new President for Portland State University.

Seriously, they are only looking for a statesMAN? This from the newspaper that edited a letter I wrote with the word "Councilmen", changing it to "Commissioners" even though I was referring to Erik Sten and Mayor Tom Potter, because "we prefer gender-neutral words".


OK, well, they made me look. From the Editorial:

"Currently, fewer than 35 percent of Oregon children end up with a college degree. That's the harvest of years of underinvestment in higher education in Oregon. By relying far too much on tuition revenue, we have simply priced young people out of the market. Oregon should be ashamed, too, that fully 75 percent of its disturbingly few college graduates come from families in the top 25 percent of income. This is a textbook case of how public education is not supposed to work."

Good points.

"Most alarming, all this is unfolding against a backdrop in which Portland expects 700,000 new residents in the next 17 years, one quarter of whom will be Hispanic. Though 34 percent of white students currently graduate from college, that figure plummets to 11 percent for Latino students. Unless this changes soon, and significantly, Portland will need a new motto: The City that Works for Minimum Wage."

I am troubled by the way this paragraph is written. I wonder why the disparity between demographic groups is called out (disturbing though it is), rather than the fact (pdf) that Portland State has the lowest six year graduation rate of any of the state institutions in the Oregon University System.

For Linda

  • Posted on: 7 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

My friend and neighbor Linda Robinson has volunteered dozens of hours helping me over the past three months. We are neighbors even though her home is in outer Northeast, mine in deep Southwest - we share the same sense of belonging to the greater Portland community.

I suggested recently I might close down this blog for a while, but Linda told me today that she misses Steve's daily photographs. I can't promise to post one every day, but I will try to keep this blog going, at least intermittently.

Next Up at City Council, 1/9/08

  • Posted on: 6 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

This coming week's Portland City Council's Agenda already carries a Resolution setting Special Election dates to fill Commissioner Erik Sten's seat (Position # 2), just one week after he announced his intent to resign in April.

65 Call Special Elections to fill the unexpired term of Commissioner, Position No. 2, on May 20, 2008 and, if necessary, July 15, 2008 (Resolution)

It is very disappointing that this seat will likely be contested without Public Campaign Financing. I am wondering if the rules for Special Elections timing allow delaying the first ballot until September, which would allow time to set up a process for Public Campaign Financing in all Special Elections.

The biggest issue on the Agenda:


66 TIME CERTAIN: 2:00 PM - Amend City Code to provide funding to address Portland street maintenance and transportation safety needs including at intersections and around schools, reduce traffic congestion, expand the bicycle network and improve freight mobility as companion to Multnomah County efforts to secure funding to replace the Sellwood Bridge (Ordinance introduced by Commissioner Adams; add Code Chapter 17.21)

It is unfortunate a hearing to discuss a fee to be imposed monthly on almost every Portlander is not scheduled in the evening, when more hardworking people could attend. I plan to post comments on the substance of this ordinance later, either here or on my other site.

I pity anyone who wants to testify on an item scheduled later that same afternoon:

TIME CERTAIN: 3:00 PM - Create a joint city-county taskforce to study options to provide animal services in the City (Resolution introduced by Commissioner Leonard)

"Time Certain" means it won't start before 3 p.m. Unless there is much more consensus than I've heard up to now on the transportation fee, scheduling this item at 3 p.m. seems optimistic at best.

The Task Force being formed will discuss whether the City should take over the County function of picking up road-kill, amongst other things. This continues the current Council's disregard for Resolution A, identifying and separating roles and responsibilities of the two jurisdictions. How about allowing old urban renewal districts to expire on schedule? That would return revenue to the County and allow funding of its assigned services, instead of continually patching together give-backs after the take-aways.

Twelfth Night

  • Posted on: 6 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

The end of the Sanctioned Over-Eating season. It's not pouring with rain, so I will take down the outside lights before heading to work today. Maxwell left this morning, Luke drives off this afternoon, Ali starts school again tomorrow.

I hope each one of you enjoyed the holidays.

A Saturday in Wine County

  • Posted on: 5 January 2008
  • By: Amanda Fritz

Guest Post by Mary Huff

Mary sent me this delightful piece in the run-up to the November vote on Measure 49. I am even more grateful that the law passed, because I'd be feeling terrible about delaying the posting of this essay if 49 had failed by five votes and publishing it at the crucial time might have made the difference. I amended some of the tenses, in joyful celebration that some of the problems mentioned are now in the past.

The information is still pertinent, and the virtual journey delightful especially on a stormy day in January.


Even thought I already sent what I could afford to the Yes on 49 campaign, when the offer of a wine tour with all proceeds going to the effort popped up it was too much to resist. Like most people who drive to work with a radio on, the sound bites and slogans are all ring familiar. Who could forget the relentless crackling voice of Dorothy English being denied the ability to build a home for her family members so she could stay on her land during the last Measure 37 campaign? Measure 49 takes care of Dorothy’s issue or at least the sympathetic plight that was portrayed endlessly over the air waves, it allows an original owner to build as explained on the Measure 49 website.

So on a beautiful morning in mid-September, our guide from Grape Escape Winery tours and a cohort he was training, both donating their time and van to the Measure 49 cause, picked us up at the Sunset Transit Center and we started our journey.

Our first stop was Ponzi Vineyards, one of the 1970’s originals where on the walls of their tasting room were the pictures of the little girls helping Dad in the fields of grapes. Those two little girls have now grown up to be the winemaker and marketing guru of the family vineyard while their brother manages operations, and the next generation of children are following their parents around the cellar and fields learning about how grapes grow, when to harvest, tricks to tease the most flavor out of the grapes to make the family’s signature wines. Also on the walls of the tasting room are White House Dinner menus where Ponzi wines are featured on the four star meals meant to impress the world of dignitaries entertained there.

Thanks to Measure 37 there was literally trouble looming on the horizon. A large garbage dump (pdf) was looming on the borders of the historic Ponzi vineyard.

Our next stop was another family operation, Winters Hill Winery. There are also three generations on this farm as well but the grandparents traditional root crops have been replaced with vineyards. A modest tasting room sits at the top of the hill, where the family helps other small local businesses by displaying their wares, everything from Honey to Art along the walls. That is the beauty of many of these small restaurants and tasting rooms, instead of Musac and Art Print Reproductions carefully selected by interior decorators that my artist neighbor tells me he gets less than fifty cents for, there is a mind teasing display original art work where the artist can benefit.

While we were there enjoying the lunch wine tours traveling by tour bus and on horseback joined us on this scenic hilltop, where the family has worked with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to set aside an environmental easement to preserve habitat for birds of prey and a corridor for them to travel along between natural areas .

Thanks to Measure 37 danger to this wonderful place and family dream loomed here as well. See this proposal. It was not only the traffic concerns, but the water and other utility demands that a development this size would have put on the area, that threatened the resources.

On the way down the hill from Winters Hill we passed Domaine. In that same watershed, the vineyards of Papa Pinot, rolled down the hillside. Supporting his family as a textbook salesman by day, while his wine vines culled form the UC Davis viticulture test farm in the 60’s and hauled to Oregon in a horse trailer grew and matured. In 1975 he shocked the French vintners with a bottle of Pinot Noir that finished second by fractions of a point in a competition that featured the best Europe could offer. His wine so impressed one French winery they bought land adjacent to his in Yamhill County and fueled the $1.4 Billion in economic activity attributed to the industry in Oregon last year.

Papa Pinot has become Grandpa Pinot, as the young daughter of Eyrie’s current manager Jason, is nurturing her very first barrel this year in her grandfathers old cellar in an unobtrusive recycled Turkey processing building on a side street in McMinnville.

Grape Escape Winery Tours donated the van and two wonderful guides that took us round and told so many stories about the places we saw. The stories and insight made it a trip well worth the price.

My late husband and I over the 20 years we have lived in Oregon have really enjoyed watching our favorite wineries and vintners grow, and pass on, to the next generation the winemaking skills. Two of our favorites, Chateau Bianca on the way to the coast, and St. Josephs in Canby, are passing on to sons and daughters from families that came here from Europe. We watched them grow from tasting rooms on a vineyard like Winter Hill is now, to places with facilities for festivals and entertainment, and a wide variety of wine. I remember our kids playing on the swings at Kramer Vineyards when we toured and tasted there.

I asked on our tour how much of the sales of these small wineries are from tours like ours, and it was as much as 50%. The closeness to where we live, for those of us who can’t afford to fly to France or Napa Valley when we want to taste, but can spend an afternoon and take a picnic lunch, buy a bottle of wine with kids in tow.

This is what livability in our Oregon is all about. Art, good wine, family friendly spaces, good salmon safe economic industry, places close enough to home where we can escape and interact with interesting dedicated people who take pride in their craft and innovate to take it to new levels.