Yes, Virginia, blogs can make a difference.

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

It's the 60th comment on a long-running post about Major League Baseball in Portland, so I thought we'd bring it right up to the top here.

From Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard...

The string of thoughtful and informed comments here on the subject of MLB blows me away. ...
I have also refined my concerns based on the comments here. I have learned more about the nuances of placing a stadium in this discussion than in any other I have had on this subject dating back to when I was a proponent of bringing MLB to Portland while serving in the legislature.

So, to all the lurking skeptics out there: Yes, blogs can make a difference in "real life." Remember that if and when we do actually site a stadium in Portland.

Now get in there and read those 'thoughtful and informed' comments on baseball in Portland.


  • (Show?)

    Since we've become informal advisors to Randy, does that mean we get to debate this issue about taxing cell phone companies? Err, assessing "franchise fees."

    (I'm all for it!)

  • The Prof (unverified)

    Virginia, Blogs are a fascinating phenomenon, probably far less influential than their most ardent advocates want to claim, but certainly more influential than media critics charge.

    I think Portland is somewhat unique, in being a relatively homogeneous, well-off, and highly wired city with a reputation for innovation. We have a highly wired City Council as well. It should be interesting to see if Portland is an anomaly or a harbinger.

    There are papers on Blogs from the most recent American Political Science conference here

  • The Prof (unverified)

    sorry, you need to enter "blog" in the search field and six papers will pop up.

  • Randy Leonard (unverified)

    Jeff- I'm all ears...errr...eyes.

  • Chris B. (unverified)

    Franchise fees on cell phones? Great, another line item on a utility bill that gets passed directly to consumers.

    Not that I'd be against it, but I wish someone would call it what it is -- a consumer tax, not a corporate tax.

  • Steve (unverified)

    I think blogs are OK, but as far as influential goes, I don't know. I think someone like Mr Leonard focuses on the ones that support his opinions and [probably not a good choice of term, but] pipe dreams like what pretty locales to site the stadium in.

    However, the hard issues like who pays for this if it goes south like PGE Park, he gives cursory responses like "I think we can make it work" and not much else since he really does not have an answer to the ongoing issue of plenty of money to spend on sexy projects, but surprise, no money for schools or police.

    This is pretty obvious based on his energy spent finding new taxes or collecting on marginal ones, but not a lot of energy spent on saving money or cutting spending. But then again, you really don't have to have any business experience to run for office.

    This is pretty disingenuous on the part of someone who fancies himself as helping the common man who pays a lot of taxes and his salary. Then again, maybe Randy likes to live in his personal dream world rather than the ugly realities.

  • (Show?)

    Well, the problem of "plenty of money to spend on sexy projects, but surprise, no money for schools or police" is an obvious one.

    It's also obvious why that it exists: The many anti-tax measures of the last 15 years have restricted dramatically the funding for operational expenses (schools, police) but not restricted capital expenses paid through bonding authority (convention centers, stadiums, airports, etc.)

    So, our public leaders are forced to try and find ways to improve the economy through projects that "pay for themselves" in operating expenses.

    Oh, and wasn't that just the point of the conservative movement - force government to focus on tasks that produce revenue, not taxes? Seems to me that if the city and state can help build a baseball stadium with one-time construction money, but the ongoing operating budget is a net plus, well, that's a good thing, right?

    And I can't stand baseball as a "sport".

  • (Show?)

    I'm still waiting for someone to provide documentation showing that any publicly financed sports franchise provides a net profit to the city and its taxpayers. All the evidence that I've seen shows that you get a bump while the thing is ramping up, through paying wages to construction workers etcetera, and then it goes flat or negative from there.

  • (Show?)

    Steve, aside from having obviously failed to read Leonard's post (which discusses in detail the costs of a stadium), you're making an odd point. You're blaming a politician for having a political view. That he's discussing it transparently in public is something we should all appreciate--including antitaxers like you who want to know where he really stands.

  • Steve (unverified)

    OK, I re-read Mr Leonard's post and the detail he mentions is no public investment outside of $10M is needed. That is, if everything runs perfect. Again, PGE Park was supposed to be a lock-soldi guarantee could not fail project. Slight problem, the mayor sold her sould to a couple of people who had no idea what they are doing and now we have a white elephant, that, voila, may be scrapped for a major league park, so write off that $35M.

    The real issue is trusting the politicians in this town to know what they are doing. I would be exquisitely happy if they had a slight clue of how to make a profit on a project. I would be ecstatic if they could break even.

    Anti-tax is not a fair statement. I pay every tax I owe. My issue again, is how these taxes are levied and used. Again, a $1M house in the Pearl pays $150/yr for 15 years in property tax. How can you go up to one of my friends who is working two jobs to make his mortgage that he should pay his $3500/yr on a $150K house or a grandmother on fixed income to pay a full load of taxes with a smile.

    Yet not once do we stop the largesse on projects. If Mr Sten wants to waste $30M on a computer and screws it up we do not fire him, but merely re-assign him. If Mr Saltzman wants to spend $200M on reservoir lids, OK, unless there is a righteous stink.

    If we want to subsidize $30M on a gondola to ferry rich people to hig-paying jobs, great.

    I only ask for fairness for those of us who don't live in the Pearl district or one of the city-sanctioned districts.

    BTW, I am not a conservative, but I don't think the focus was on revenue (i.e. tax) generating schemes. I think their focus is to keep government to a minimum, but maybe I am wrong.

  • Kent (unverified)

    Again, PGE Park was supposed to be a lock-soldi guarantee could not fail project. Slight problem, the mayor sold her sould to a couple of people who had no idea what they are doing and now we have a white elephant, that, voila, may be scrapped for a major league park, so write off that $35M.

    I can't defend in any way the remodel of PGE park because I don't know the details, however it is completely wrong to suggest that PGE park would be abandoned or scrapped to build a major league baseball stadium. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    PGE Park currently hosts the Portland Timbers, PSU Football, and High School football in addition to the Triple-A Beavers. If a major league baseball team relocates to Portland the Beavers would obviously be moved to some other city. But that would still leave the Timbers and PSU Vikings as needing a venue as well as High School football.

    If PGE Park was expanded and upgraded for MLB that would most likely result in the eviction of PSU football, the timbers, and most certainly HS football because those uses are not very compatable with major league baseball. In the past decade, MLB has shifted almost entirely in favor of natural grass. No new baseball stadiums are being built with artificial turf and any MLB team relocating to Portland would certainly want to play on grass. However natural grass is not compatable with heavy multiple uses of the sort that PGE park currently sees, especially not in Oregon's rainy fall climate. That might work in Southern California, but in the fall in Oregon, multiple football and soccer games each weekend would turn grass into mud. So you can pretty much count on any new MLB stadium in the Portland area being dedicated principally to baseball from May through October.

    Consequently, if the city converted PGE park to MLB baseball it would end up needing to build a new venue somewhere else for soccer and football. That would make no sense at all because the city would be effectively constructing two new stadiums. Expanding PGE park to MLB standards it tantamount to building a brand new stadium. Better to keep PGE park as it is and use it for football and soccer and find some other site for a MLB stadium. PGE park might make a fairly expensive and posh venue for minor league soccer and Division II college football, but it would still get plenty of use.

  • Justin (unverified)


    PGE is park is only listed as a possible location, in order to ensure that the baseball park is built in the best possible location. The two most popular locations are the USPS and the Blanchard/PPS site. Let me assure you, the stadium will not be built on PGE park. It's not gonna happen. The city wanted to look at the possibility just to be sure.

    As for the rest of your questions, I would direct you to the website.

    To be sure, you are not the first to raise these questions. They were all addressed two years ago, when the stadium bill passed through the legislature. Senator Lenn Hannon asked most of your questions, and ensured that the bill included safe gaurds for the city and state.

    There are good reasons not to bring MLB to Portland, but you haven't hit on any of them yet.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    It's not so sure the blog changes Randy, maybe more like Randy changes the blog. He's the real deal -- like a lot of names here, Lew, Anne -- and that quality here is what draws me, for one. A difference can make a blog. I see it going that way -- FehYOUchur World, as AlF says (Al Franken). Where every public employee has required web presence, whether or not that's blogs as we know them. A future where every red light camera, traffic cam, police patrol cam, fire truck cam, transit bus cam, private cams seeing right-of-ways are ALL linkable. (Where I can buy a ticket to the Bolshoi in St. Petersburg tonight, put a cam in my seat, and receive that feed anywhere on the planet.) Where all public-financed satellite feeds are on the net -- national security? fffffbbt! as BtC says, (Bill the Cat), we don't need no national security, we'll keep watch. IF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES SUCH AS THE CIA WOULD COME OUT TO JOIN US. And be required to appear in a daily web presence, posting their thinking, making chronicles by which to grade them (instead of teleglamour) and elect them and keep oversight, which is our responsibility. (It's not so sure we become informal advisors to Randy, maybe more like Randy's position's pragmatics become responsibilities to us to carry into our really local communities, represent! peeps, because we were in the meeting, we got the memo, we invested our time and attention in that issue (stadium) and that position (Commissioner Randy) and others didn't, we are the ones up to speed -- the privilege of learning has the responsibility of teaching. The thought-through position of a public officer is part the person's own and part gathered inputs, and the formulation process is a two-way synthesis around an equals sign. We tell him, he tells us, ultimately it reaches balance. Item by item is open to all but of interest to a few. [What's the status of rewriting the state constitution? I like that one.] The interested ones get informed, have a say, and should have a say -- self-accredited. Open peer review spots the phonys on each iteration. Studies of the 'forecast method' where the juried sum is fed-back to each juror who each adjusts (or not) their reasoning and vote, and all those are summed, and fed-back, and re-voted, etc., have found that (and depending on other things) a consensus or convergence is generated in only three or four iterations. Sometimes it's just two heads are better than one. Sometimes it's more like there is a universal idea, one mind, a general or absolute truth, and each contributor carries a part to it.)

    There's no secret that's too secret to know. I pick on the CIA because they are terrible at FINDING secrets and heavy-handed at MAKING secrets -- thinking of their sixty year record of deposing leaders and installing puppets: Kai-shek, Mussadeq, Batista, Guzman, Pahlavi, Diem, Allende, von Santos, Fujimori, and on and on, being an abbreviated list of only the ones that came to light. But they didn't know Sputnik was going up, didn't know the Cuban army was waiting at the Bay of Pigs, didn't know where their agent Lee Harvey Oswald was, didn't know North Vietnam's logistics, didn't know lined-up Israeli tanks were blitzkrieging into Jordan and Egypt, or Soviets were set to invade Afghanistan, or African nations were being supplied into civil wars, or missiles were sold to Iran and the money was buying Contra mercenaries, or Saddam was set to invade Kuwait, or Milosevic was slaughtering Bosnians, or the Saudis getting CIA-stamped passports in Jeddeh were enrolling in CIA-staffed flight schools in the Florida and Arizona. None of which power struggles and massive dying were ever a territorial threat to America, and all of which were sticking agents and rifles up noses into other countries' business. Who knew the Soviet Union could collapse overnight? All of which global turmoil and provocation we taxpayers paid for. We paid for the information, it belongs to be available for whoever's interested to invest their time at it constructively. Central intelligence is the coordination of all the participants in the information, that common idea mentioned above, to which each party carries a piece to add and sees its fit in the whole -- and 200 million ordinary citizens jigsawing their pieces together could not have done worse by the world for the last sixty years than the secret groups keeping secret councils of secrets have, trading spoils and backslapping, from our City Commissioners to our U.N. delegation's dealing with world health and world climatology. The 'govern-by-secrecy' attitude saturates the range of civics organizations from locality to district to nationality to planetary. The secrets are the problem. From City Hall to the moon and everywhere in between. ('You know the moon landing was faked,' some can tell you, for twenty bucks a ticket.) Massive parallel processing systems, (IT jargon for 'all of us pull together, on three ...'), did not have to wait for personal computers to join our civics together, (POT equipment was sufficient -- Plain Old Telephone), but now that there're ten CPUs for every human alive the refinements of combined thinking are just that much more evident and doable. (I sent my first email in 1973 from Cambridge to Pasadena and the reply, three hours later, started by saying 'who are you and what are your thoughts on this...,' plus ce change, NOT.)

    Blogs change people, true. (Great example last night: authored a post, Monday, which affected Wolf Blitzer's television act for the Cheney speech dissection; Blitzer listens to MediaMatters.)
    People change blogs, also a true way of looking at it.

    Applied another way, in the torrent of talk about how 9-11 defined Dumbo's Administration, reflect your view to measure how much Dumbo's group defined 9-11. (No hijacker names came from passenger lists; falling buildings make shards and pieces, (see hurricane results), exploding buildings make dust; and a Boeing 757 still doesn't fit in the hole in the Pentagon, (see

    And, since I wrote and you read this far, take a moment to measure along a different bearing, oh, say, how one-way linkages can make a difference? In a word: hate-talk-radio. Rash Lamebrain and Liars Larson listeners seem to think the vast rest of us are all jealous because the voices talk to them. Broadcasting is not two-way. Writer and reader, voice and ear, are not correspondingly thinking independently; it's not the sum of two combining. Hate-juice-radio is only one thought cloning into two (hundred thousand). Post on that: Yes, Virginia (to Alaska), hate-radiation can make a difference.

    Dear Diary, I've got other things to move today so, final reprise on the theme, blogging here to change Liars Larson can make a difference. He reads our thoughts in mind. Feedback what you think of his programming lies broadcast about Bill Bradbury today. Liars is personna-non-callerID, (working people avoid talking with Liars), so he sent a hidden-wire intern-ette to ambush Bill at work and steal vocal audio, and now plays the tape while inserting his hatetalk within it, like it's a dialogue. Leaving two hundred thousand clones hating a person in office elected by the sum of our votes, cloned haters not correspondents, when there are ballots to count. [Even blindsided, Bill spoke truth that "(Kerry, better than Dumbo) can help coordinate people around the world (cooperatively learning)."] (For balance, Bill's opponent Betsy Close herself got blog time today at

    Randy, to avoid phone talk with Liars you go in studio 'to look the beast in the eye,' you say. Why? Do you go look Ward Weaver in the eye to talk to him? Do you go look O.J. in the eye to converse? Hell no, you got nothing to say to that sort of person and they got nothing to say to you. Lose Liars. He's felony walking, an anti-social secret-horder clutching for someone to blackmail ('you'll never eat lunch in this town again' says the celebrity club), a supremacist bigot looking for a place to happen. Shove his ladder, Randy, stand back, and your band o' bloggers can do the door-to-door deprogramming of the loose Liars clones, debating the issues, discussing matters, sewing the social fabric also known as the fireman's net.

  • Kent (unverified)

    Tenskwatawa, did you forget your meds today?

  • Steve (unverified)


    My main issue is having any government involvemnet at all. Athletic teams are NOT money-makers, look at the Rose Garden declaring bankruptcy after 4 years and they have monopoly position. If all else fails, taxpayers will be the last resort to collect from. We can't run, hide or decelare bankruptcy and we own the stadium (or should I say two if you include PGE Park, another guaranteed money-maker).

    Again, I am not against MLB in Portland, I just think Selig will dump the Expos after trying for 3 years on an unskilled bunch of politicians. I mean why do you think he insists on public funding, becuase he knows if worse comes to worse, the state will pay. Come on, we sound like such a desperate bunch, we must look like simpletons to MLB.

    I went to Oregon Stadium Campaign and they really make a lot of unreasonable assumptions, for example a big boost in hotels and restaurants - tell me what you see when the Blazers are in town as far as increased business. Please let someone in the private sector (the Tribes) pay for this.

    Merely saying we didn't answer serious questions two years ago does not make them go away.

  • (Show?)

    Will a Portland team be properly called "The Taxmen" and will the game in Oregon properly be called "taxball" given that but for new taxes we wouldn't have a team?

    Don't get me wrong...I'm not necessarily against taxes going to baseball, but if they do the team ought to be publicly owned and all Oregonians should have access to affordable tickets. Second, if we are spending tax dollars to make it happen, let's use the occassion to constantly inform Oregonians about how their tax dollars impact their lives by putting "tax" in the team's name and calling the sport "taxball."

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