06-27-2017  6:59 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Multnomah County Library Hosts ‘We Refuse to Be Enemies’

Library will hold a series of social justice workshops this summer ...

The Skanner Wins NNPA Award for Best Layout and Design

Our graphic designer Patricia Irvin wins for July 2016 issues ...

Cooling Centers to open in Multnomah County Saturday, Sunday

Temperatures expected to climb into the upper 90s this weekend ...

Multnomah County Leaders Release Statement on Safety at Summer Events

Officials advise public to check in, have a plan and be aware at public events ...

Portland Musician, Educator Thara Memory Dies

Grammy-winning Trumpeter, composer, teacher died Saturday at the age of 68 ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Ask Ernie the Attorney

Ernest Warren's primary practice is personal injury, real property, corporate and criminal practice in Ore. and Wash. ...

Our Children Deserve High Quality Teachers

It’s critical that parents engage with educational leaders and demand equal access to high quality teachers ...

Civil Rights Groups Ask for Broad Access to Affordable Lending

Charlene Crowell writes that today’s public policy housing debate is also an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and...

Criminal Justice Disparities Present Barriers to Re-entry

Congressional Black Caucus Member Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) writes about the fight to reduce disparities in our criminal justice...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Manhattan kids are a sophisticated lot. Two boys in the apartment building next door are picked up for school every morning by a limo. Parents talk to their kids as if they're little adults. Five-year-olds dress like they just stepped out of a clothing catalog. And then there's the blue seal. These little Manhattan sophisticates still delight in rocking back and forth atop this old-timey coin operated critter chained to the front of our corner drugstore. Pure un-jaded kid!

I put out my second Mayor's Management Report last week. Two hundred and twenty pages of performance statistics! After working my tail off to make the thing more interesting, I was gratified to see we got two good size stories in the New York Times and a bunch of other press. Every imaginable political sensitivity rears its ugly head in the final stages of putting out the MMR. This time it was the head of a large department phoning City Hall the night before we published insisting that we remove a graph because it showed an undesirable trend that this commissioner deemed misleading. We lost the graph but the press picked up on the issue nonetheless. Ha!

When I took this job I decided that I would try to maintain an arm's length relationship with it. No more taking losses personally. And it has worked. I had no trouble sleeping the night I lost that little battle.  It's a funny business. Our ironclad policy is information transparency and yet, by their very nature, people close to even the most committed politician see it as their business to put a positive spin on anything that might negatively impact the boss.

NYC government has re-immersed itself in the business of changing people's behaviors to improve their health. For a long time, the focus was on cigarette smoking, now it's obesity. So, in anticipation of the now famous partial ban on large, sugary drinks, my observation team (SCOUT) was tasked with the job of spot checking city government vending machine to insure they were in compliance with "Beverage Vending Machine Standards." Those would be: 1) a maximum of two slots for beverages above 25 calories, regardless of the number of slots; 2) at least two slots must contain zero calorie water; 3) only water and seltzer may be displayed at eye level; 4) all high calorie beverages must be 12 oz.; 5) no advertizing for high calorie drinks on the machine; and 6) caloric information must appear on all containers. Oh, and anyone buying more than one high calorie drink receives a mild electric shock when reaching in the machine for the second container. (Kidding.) One might wonder why we're pushing bottled water given the enormous waste associated with packaging water but that's the yin and yang of attempting to legislate behavior.

Last month, Pat and I went to a production of "Richard III" in Riverside Park. The "stage" was a large terrace adjoining a long set of stairs leading up to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Very cool setting and a stellar production. Just one small problem - the front of the "stage" was, in real life, a walkway to and from Lower Riverside Park. So in the middle of a particularly dramatic scene a woman with pooch walks right between the audience and the performance. I'm thinking, "Man, I'll bet she was embarrassed!" Fifteen minutes later, she walks back through the play from the other direction, totally oblivious.

What's that funny structure that suddenly appeared in the desolate enclosed courtyard of our building? Why a sukkah, of course. Also known as the "holiday hut," a sukkot is a temporary structure where some of our neighbors are taking their meals during the sukkah thanksgiving observance acknowledging the hardships that Jewish people experienced after their exodus from Egypt. During this week-long holiday, one sees little huts wheeled around town by Hassidic boys to allow people to take a moment out of their busy lives to contemplate their good fortune. All meals are shared in the sukkah, come rain or shine. It's a lovely tradition.

Well, that's all for now. Pat and I leave for China today. I'm speaking about NYC performance management at Lanzhou University and then we're off to the Tibetan region of Gansu province for horse trekking and monastery circumambulating.

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