Thursday, September 03, 2009

PDX, Paul Bunyon and politics

Some interesting Oregon updates I just ran across. When I worked in TV news, I lived in Portland for a couple years as I made my way back up the I-5 corridor from Medford, Oregon home to Seattle. I started out in an apartment and eventually bought my first home in the Kenton neighborhood in North Portland.

Some folks know it as the place with the towering statue of mythological lumberjack Paul Bunyan (photo courtesy of A fitting icon in a state built inlarge part on logging in decades past.

Others know it as the neighborhood that's also home to the Dancin' Bear Bare strip club (and yes, that's how it's written on the sign).

Whichever memory aid works for you, it was my 'hood in Portland: working class, a little rough around the edges, but I felt, on the upswing. Apparently, I was right, just a bit early back in 2001.

According to the Oregonian newspaper, the neighborhood's getting some revitalization money: Amid face-lift, Kenton values small-town feel.

In other Oregon news, former governor John Kitzhaber is back on the scene and planning to run for governor again. Although he served two terms as governor from 1995-2003, Oregon’s constitution only prohibits governors from serving more than two consecutive terms or more than eight years within a 12-year time frame.

I met Mr. Kitzhaber when I was a reporter in southern Oregon and he always struck me as a reluctant politician who eschewed partisanship and served for the right reasons: because he had good, innovative, progressive ideas, and wanted to work with others to make things better for as many people as possible, not just a select few.

He's a former emergency room doctor who helped write the Oregon Health Plan . After he left office, one of his projects was (from Wikipedia) launching the Archimedes Movement, an organization seeking to maximize the health of the population by creating a sustainable system which uses the public resources spent on health care to ensure that everyone has access to a defined set of effective health services.

When he was in office, one of the criticisms of his tenure was that he didn't work well with the Republican-controlled legislature during his term. Not sure how he'll approach that this time around, but he seems like just the kind of politician we need in the fray these days.

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