The “Grim Reaper” Is Traveling Portland’s Streets

In June 2015, the Portland City Council passed a resolution adopting Vision Zero, a plan to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on our city streets. Since the launch of Vision Zero, Portland Department of Transportation (PDOT) has spent over $100 million on crosswalks, flex bike lane wands, flashing beacons, lower speed limit signs, etc. to improve safety on our city streets.

Sadly, traffic related fatalities have been steadily climbing since the Portland City Council implemented Vision Zero. Two deaths on the morning of December 27th, raised the total number of traffic related deaths in Portland in 2019 to 50, the most since 1997[1]!

The obvious question is why isn’t Vision Zero working? A major reason is Portland’s drivers! In October 2019, Quote Wizard[2] released their annual ranking of cities that have the worst drivers in America. The study analyzed data from the 75 largest cities across our country.

Quote Wizard’s study showed that Portland, the 25th largest city in America, had the worst drivers of the 75 largest cities. Allstate Insurance conducted a similar study, which ranked Portland 190th out of 200 cities on their list of “Best Driving Cities.”

What can be done to improve the safety for the pedestrians, cyclists and drivers on Portland’s streets? Portland City Council’s plan was to reduce automobiles traveling at excessive speeds by posting new signs with lower speed limits across the city. The assumption was new speed limit signs would cause drivers to slow down and drive safely.

The growing number of deaths on our city streets clearly shows that simply posting signs is not working. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) is significantly understaffed and are unable to patrol all the streets and highways across the entire city, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

The solution? Provide PPB the resources to install traffic enforcement cameras. Worldwide studies have shown that traffic enforcement cameras result in a reduction of “11% to 44% for fatal and serious injury crashes.”[3]

If elected Portland City Commissioner, I will support the PPB installing traffic enforcement cameras to make Portland’s city streets safer.

Jack

[1] “With Two Deaths in One Morning, Portland Hits 50 Traffic Fatalities in 2019” by Sophie Peel, Willamette Weekly

[2] https://quotewizard.com/news/posts/the-best-and-worst-drivers-by-city

[3] Wilson, C; Willis, Hendrikz; Le Brocque, Bellamy (2010). “Speed cameras for the prevention of road traffic injuries and deaths”

Closing Oregon’s Environmental Loopholes

In Oregon, you can count on the rain and environmentalists blocking any new fossil fuel (coal, oil or natural gas) project. However, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) recently reported on a new breed of companies that are taking advantage of city and state regulations[1]

Companies are now looking to acquire existing facilities, which require minimal permits under city and/or state law to export fossil fuels. Case in point is Zenith Energy’s acquisition of Arc-Logistics Partners LP on December 21, 2017[2].

Arc-Logistics owned and operated petroleum facilities, including a rail/marine terminal located a few hundred feet from the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon. Following the acquisition of Arc-Logistics, Zenith Energy transformed the facility located on Front Avenue in Northwest Portland into an oil import/export terminal.

Zenith Energy is now importing thick, viscous crude oil by rail from tar sands operations in Alberta, Canada. The viscous oil must be diluted by chemicals, such as benzene, toluene or hydrogen sulfide before it can be pump it into oil tank cars and transported by rail. The oil is shipped over 1,000 miles from tar sands operations in Canada to the Zenith Oil Terminal in Portland .

The viscous oil is then pumped from the railroad oil tank cars into large oil storage tanks at the Zenith Oil Terminal. The large oil storage tanks can hold over 63 million gallons (1.5 million barrels) of oil. The oil in the storage tanks is eventually pumped into oil tankers on the Willamette River and shipped to refineries around the world.

The environmental risks of the Zenith Oil Terminal include:

  1. Transporting bitumen by rail from Canada to Portland crosses majestic mountains, pristine rivers and bountiful farmlands. A railroad accident could cause the oil tank cars to overturn, creating a devastating oil spill.
  2. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has cited the Zenith Oil Terminal for a lack of oil tank inspections and poor preparation for potential oil spills.
  3. The Zenith Oil Terminal is located on an earthquake liquification zone. The soil in a liquification zone can temporarily lose strength during an earthquake, which could cause the large oil storage tanks to rupture, spilling millions of gallons of viscous, toxic oil into our Willamette River.

Recently, the Portland City Council re-approved a ban on creating or expanding large fossil fuel terminals in the city[3]. Under the ordinance, existing terminals can replace or reconfigure their existing storage capacity. The city code changes will not apply to gas stations or fossil fuel storage facilities for airports, rail yards or marine terminals.

Although the new city ordinance will ban the expansion of the Zenith Oil Terminal, it will not stop the import and export of hundreds of millions of gallons of viscous, toxic oil. Is there anything that our city government can do to stop what is a potential environmental disaster waiting to happen? Absolutely!

Portland city government could levy a fee on every gallon of viscous, toxic oil imported and a separate fee on every gallon of exported by ship from the terminal. The rationale behind this type of city fees, include:

  1. A significant percentage of the fees would be put in escrow, which would only be used if there was an oil spill or environmental disaster at the Zenith Oil Terminal. The funds would be returned to Zenith Oil once the facility closes and there is no environmental remediation. Currently, Zenith Oil could declare bankruptcy if there was an environmental disaster and the city and state would be responsible for the environmental remediation.
  2. The city and the state have no process to determine how much oil is imported or exported from the Zenith Oil Terminal. An oil import and export fee would provide the city with a relatively accurate estimate of how much oil is at the oil facility at any point in time. It is essential for first to know how much oil is on site, if there is an oil spill, explosion, etc.
  3. An import fee of $0.25 per gallon and export fee of $0.50 per gallon would prompt Zenith Energy to find alternative, less costly export terminals to ship the viscous, toxic oil overseas.

In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before the current operations at the Zenith Oil Terminal will result in an environmental catastrophe.

I am running for Portland City Commissioner 4, because we need someone on the city council that is an energy expert and will fight against global warming and climate change.

Jack

[1] “Opponents Struggle To Stop A New Breed of Oregon Fuel Terminals” by Cassandra Profits, OPB – December 11, 2019.

[2] www.zenithterminals.com/news/2017/12/21/zenith-energy-us-completes-acquisitrion-of-arc-logistics-partners

[3] “City, Oks, Again, Limits on Fossil Fuel Terminals by ebailey@orefgonian.com

Homeless In Oregon Is Dramatically Increasing – Why?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released a data[1]on the status of the homeless in America. On a single night in January 2019, state and local planning agencies reported the following:

  • 567,715 people were homeless, an increase of 2.7% from 2018, but an almost 11% decline since 2010.
  • 37,085 Veterans were homeless, a decline of 2.1% from 2018 and a 50% decline since 2010.
  • 53,692 families with children were homeless, a decline of almost 5% and a 32% decline since 2010.

The shocking fact is that the unsheltered and chronically homeless in California, Oregon and Washington have significantly increased in 2019. California and Oregon have seen a 16.4% and 9.7% increase in homelessness, respectively since 2018.

Why is Oregon, particularly the Portland metropolitan area experiencing a dramatic increase in homelessness? In my campaign for Portland City Commissioner, I have reached out to nonprofits and faith-based groups across our city to gain a better understanding of our homeless crisis.

The reasons men, women and children are living on our streets are as diverse as the people themselves. The reality is no one aspires to live on the streets.

Some of Portland’s homeless are drawn from states with severe winters, while others find California and Oregon more tolerant and supportive of the homeless. Drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness are major factors in our homeless crisis. The steady escalation in the cost of living and housing are also forcing people onto our streets.

Cities across America have implemented a diverse range of programs to help the homeless. Portland has literally hundreds of nonprofits and faith-based groups each attempting to help our homeless[2].

If Portland is to reverse the dramatic increase in our homeless, then we must dramatically increase the collaboration and coordination between all the groups working to address our homeless crisis. Portland city government must also ask, what programs across America have consistently shown to significantly help the homeless.

Haven for Hope in San Antonio, Texas is recognized as one of, if not the best program for the homeless. A testament to the program’s success is that people must now live in San Antonio for nine months before they can even get on the Haven for Hope waiting list.

The city of San Antonio brought the private sector and charities together to develop Haven for Hope. If we truly want to help our homeless, why can’t Portland develop a program that has proven to be successful?

Jack

[1] HUD No. 19-177 “Secretary Carson Certifies Annual Data: Homelessness Ticked Up In 2019, Driven By Major Increases in California,” December 20, 2019.

[2] Oregon Nonprofit Sector Report 2011, Portland State University.

Is Portland Really Committed To Clean, Green Energy?

In June 2017, Portland City Council and Multnomah County Commissioners voted unanimously to commit to use 100% of the community’s electricity from renewable energy by 2035 and generate zero carbon emissions by 2050. Portland’s plan also included commitments for energy efficiency, community-based renewable energy, job training, transit expansion and electric buses.

Today, over 150 cities across the United States have committed to clean energy goals[1]. Six cities in Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Texas and Vermont now generate 100% of their electricity from renewable energy. How is Portland doing? The results to date have been disappointing at best.

In April 2019, Portland’s transit agency, TriMet announced the arrival of the city’s first all-electric buses. However, this news was followed by the Tri-Met transit board approving a contract to purchase 31 diesel buses! The transit board further approved a plan to buy as many as 129 diesel buses in the future!

On December 13, 2019, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Portland General Electric CEO Maria Pope and TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey announced new proposals and policies that will allow Portland to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 50% over the next ten years[2] Does Portland finally have a real plan to achieve to use 100% of the community’s electricity from renewable energy by 2035 and generate zero carbon emissions by 2050? The answer is not really!

Let’s blow away the smoke and remove the mirrors and thoroughly evaluate the announcement.

  • Why has it taken our city government over two years to announce any proposals and policies to achieve the clean, green energy for our city? Are the upcoming city elections the driving force for these announcements?
  • Will the proposed plans actually measure our city’s annual GHG emissions and if so, will the results be reported to the citizens of Portland? Plans and polices are worthless unless reliable data is acquired to determine whether or not the targets are being met. This critical question is a detail that was not addressed in the December 13, 2019 announcement.
  • Does Oregon have the renewable energy resources to generate 100% renewable energy for our city and our state with current technology? The answer is a resounding, YES! Oregon is rich in wind, solar, hydropower and geothermal resources that could generate 100% of our city’s power from clean, green energy.
  • Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to Portland General Electric’s (PGE) Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). PGE’s plan is designed to defer capital expenditures for renewable energy as far out into the future as possible. Why? Deferring major capital expenditures will maximize the utilities profits.
  • PGE’s IRP has made several questionable assumptions, including an unlimited supply of cheap natural gas. PGE’s plan also doesn’t account for the new technology continuing to drive down the cost of wind and solar.
  • TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey has stated that the transit organization will not buy any new diesel buses after 2025. No commitment was made to cancel the option to buy 129 new diesel buses, prior to 2025.
  • TriMet has committed to convert the Max light rail transit (LRT) system to 100% wind energy 2020. However, this commitment first requires PGE and/or Pacific Power (PacifiCorp) to provide access to energy from utility scale wind farms.

The sad reality is the only tangible renewable energy commitment our city government has made is to commit to get rid of gasoline powered leaf blowers by 2021. Although this is a positive step, stopping the use of gasoline powered leaf blowers is not a significant milestone in slowing global warming and climate change.

Jack

 

[1] www.sierraclub.com

[2] “Portland Leaders Announce New Climate Action Proposals” by Monica Samyoa, OPB, December 13, 2019.

Paul Knauls Sr. – A Voice of Wisdom and Reason

In my campaign for Portland City Commissioner 4, I have actively reached out to small business owners, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, unions, neighborhood associations, firefighters, police, educators, etc. to understand the issues facing our city. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Paul Knauls Sr., a well-known figure in the African American community in Portland.

I met Mr. Knauls at Geneva’s Shear Perfection, a business he owns with his wife, Geneva. Mr. Knauls grew-up in rural Arkansas, served in the U.S. Air Force and then moved to Portland to begin a fascinating career as an entrepreneur and businessman.

In my business career, I have met and worked with tycoons, sheikhs and prime ministers around the world. However, I was nervous meeting a man who is a living legend in our city and has shared friendships with boxing great Joe Lewis and renowned celebrities like Sami Davis Jr.

Mr. Knauls told me, that he saw Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Sara Boone grow-up in this neighborhood. He thought she would be a role model to young women and African Americans that there is a future for them in the fire and rescue departments across our nation.

I asked Mr. Knauls his thoughts on community policing. He explained that many African Americans fear or distrust of the police. Mr. Knauls believes that community policing can build trust between the police and the community they serve.

Mr. Knauls shared a story of a young student who skipped school and took his mother’s car for a drive while she was at work. He was stopped by the police for speeding. The young man didn’t have a driver’s license. The officer told the young man to park the car and walk home and have his mother pick up the car later. Mr. Knauls told me the word got out that this police officer was a good guy. It was clear that compassion was important to Mr. Knauls.

Over the next hour, Mr. Knauls and I discussed topics like the gentrification of northeast Portland, our homeless crisis, affordable housing, increasing traffic congestion and the difficulty of running a small business. Although he and his wife own the building for Geneva’s Shear Perfection, Portland’s property taxes continue to increase, relentlessly. He shared with me that the ever increasing cost to do business in Portland is making it very difficult for the barbershop to remain profitable.

Businesses, like Geneva’s Shear Perfection, provide jobs and pay taxes to keep our city government running. When I hear of the struggles of small businesses like Mr. Knauls, I wonder if our Portland City Council has lost touch with what makes our community thrive.

If elected as a commissioner, I give my commitment to work with small business to ensure they continue to grow.

Jack

PORTLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS NEED CHAMPIONS

Oregon’s public-school system has long struggled to gain support from state and city governments. Oregon Territorial Legislature approved a public-school system in 1849 and Portland’s first “free school” opened its doors on December 15, 1851.[1]

However, it took a decade for Portland to develop a viable public-school system. Why? As we hear today, many people without children didn’t want to pay for public schools they wouldn’t use. In the days prior to statehood, many government leaders questioned the value of a free public education.

Today, Portland Public Schools is a Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 urban school district with over 49,000 students in 81 schools. Since 2010, Oregon’s population has increased by over 400,000 people[2] since 2010, resulting in steady enrollment in Portland Public Schools.

The challenges facing teachers and students today are far more serious, than when I was in public-school. Gun violence in American schools has become an all to frequent occurrence. In Oregon, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 to 24. Violent attacks by students on teachers is also an alarming trend in schools across America.

The Portland Association of Teachers (PAC), represents more than 4000 professional educators in the Portland Public School system. Recently, Suzanne Cohen, PAC President and Elizabeth Thiel, PAC Vice Chair were kind enough to take time from her busy schedules to explain the union’s mission. Simply put, the PAC’s mission is to create the best possible learning environment for our students, by protecting their profession and advocating for front line educators.

Oregon state, county and city legislators have been slow to provide funding to provide our teachers with adequate compensation, training, equipment and classrooms. The city of Portland has also failed to collaborate or communicate with the Portland School Board on new housing developments that resulted in unexpected increases in class sizes.

Ms. Cohen emphasized that Portland’s schools and teachers need champions in city government to champion their causes and to improve collaboration and communication. I pledge to be that outspoken advocate for our schools, teachers and students, if elected to be Portland City Commissioner.

Jack

[1] Historical Sketch of the Public Schools of Portland, Oregon by T.H. Crawford in 1888.

[2] Portland State University Population Research Center, November 15, 2019.

League of Women Voters – Promoting Active Participation In Government For 99 Years

Women in America began the fight for the right to vote in the 1840s. In 1920, the US Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, finally giving women the right to vote.

In 1920, the National American Woman Suffrage Association formed the National League of Women Voters. The purpose of the National League of Women Voters was to foster education in citizenship and to support improved legislation.

Oregon women were well represented, when the National League of Women Voters was formed. One of the delegates, Mrs. C.B. Simmons formed the Oregon Branch of the National League of Women Voters in Portland in 1920.

Recently, Ms. Debbi Aiona, Action Chair of the Oregon League of Women Voters was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule to explain the organization’s goals and policies. The League of Women Voters of Portland promotes inclusive, active, and informed participation in government. The Portland organization has undertaken comprehensive studies and developed positions on Civic Engagement/Neighborhood Associations, Police Oversight, Housing, Portland Harbor Superfund Site, Joint Terrorism Task Force, Climate Change and Portland Campaign Finance – Open and Accountable Elections.

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly recently advocated changing City Code Chapter 3.96 to effectively eviscerate Portland’s Neighborhood Associations. Commissioner Eudaly’s heavy handed approach to changing this city code galvanized  support across the city for the Neighborhood Associations.

On November 19, 2019, the League of Women Voters of Portland issued the following statement on City of Portland Civic Engagement: Code Chapter 3.96 – “We support the goals of greater inclusivity and improvements to the City’s civic engagement programs and acknowledge that City Code Chapter 3.96 would benefit from an overhaul that recognizes the broad responsibilities assigned to the Office of Community and Civic Life. However, it is premature to replace the existing Code Chapter 3.96 language describing the current structure without offering a suitable alternative for consideration. In the absence of a thoroughly articulated replacement, the City will be left with an unacceptable vacuum in its civic engagement structure.

On November 19, 2019, I too gave testimony to Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioners Eudaly, Fish, Fritz and Hardest City Code Chapter 3.96. In my testimony, I stated “I firmly support increasing civic participation of all residents, including those who identify with historically marginalized communities. However, I strongly disagree that civic participation will be increased by eviscerating Neighborhood Associations as was proposed by the original 3.96 draft ordinance. As you consider convening a new committee to assess the place of Neighborhood Associations in code, you should make sure those very neighborhood associations have a seat at the table, unlike the last committee. The members must be genuinely representative of the city’s neighborhoods, not hand-selected advocates whose views align with one commissioner’s.”

The Oregon League of Women Voters’ position on Code Chapter 3.96 is one of many examples organization’s efforts to promote inclusive, active, and informed participation in government. The League of Women Voters is 99 years young and still going strong in Portland and across America.

Jack

Renewable Energy Development In Portland – Vigor Shipyard

Did you know that Portland is home to a leading developer of wave energy? Recently, a team of 55 workers at the Swann Island Shipyard in Portland[1]completed a clean, green energy generating buoy. The innovative, mechanical wave energy buoy weighs 826 tons.

As a renewable energy advocate, I wanted to learn as much as I could about a prototype, that could deliver clean, green energy to Portland.  Last week, Alan Sprott, a Vice President at Vigor Industrial was kind enough to explain the potential of the company’s mechanical wave energy buoy project.

Oh Boy, did I learn a lot about this brilliant engineering project! The “OE Buoy” is over 100 feet tall and was commissioned by Ocean Energy, a company in headquartered in Cork, Republic of Ireland. The buoy is currently being field tested in Hawaii, and generates up to 1.25 megawatts of clean, green energy. A few hundred of these type of buoys off Oregon’s coast could generate enough power for every home in Portland![2]

Employing more than 1,000 people at its shipyard, Vigor is a very important part of Portland’s economy. However, I was disappointed—although not that surprised—to learn that Vigor’s perspectives have in the past been ignored by our city and state governments. Alan was able to point to multiple wave power projects over the years that haven’t gotten little to no interest from our elected leaders in Portland or Salem.

Wave, wind, solar and geothermal energy systems can all be used to move Portland from fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) to 100% clean, green renewable energy. It is time we elected a Portland City Council that will not just pay lip service to our environment but will develop a plan to achieve 100% renewable energy, and measure and communicate our progress annually.

Jack.

[1] You can find a press release about the project on Vigor’s website, here: https://vigor.net/news-press/wave-energy-conversion-buoy-nears-completion.

[2] You can find these and other details about the prototype buoy at Ocean Energy’s website, here: https://oceanenergy.ie/oe-usa-press-release/

JACK KERFOOT 2020 – COMMISSIONER CANDIDATE CHALLENGES CITY OF PORTLAND TO OPPOSE THE JORDAN COVE NATURAL GAS PROJECT

Portland, OR (DECEMBER 2019)— Jack Kerfoot, a candidate for Commissioner 4 in 2020, has gone on record opposing the Jordan Cover Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Project. He is also challenging the City of Portland to show leadership and also oppose this project. Jack says, “it is time Portland City Council took action to address climate action.”

Pembina Pipeline Corporation is a Canadian oil and gas infrastructure company that is aggressively seeking approval to build a new natural gas liquification and export facility, pipeline, and power plant in Coos Bay, Oregon. The pipeline would be 234 miles, connecting the Williams Pipeline in Malin, Oregon to the proposed facility at Jordan Cove in Coos Bay.

The proposed natural gas power plant would be used to generate power to super cool natural gas to a liquid form, to be shipped in specialized massive tankers from the port at Coos Bay to destinations around the world.

The problem is, the tax revenue only occurs if the facility turns a profit–and liquid natural gas prices are down 50 percent from last year, and still falling, as the world has already built more LNG export capacity than there is demand, creating a glut of natural gas and meaning new natural gas export facilities, like Jordan Cove will have no markets to sell LNG.

Worse, those numbers only make sense if you ignore the risk of a catastrophic accident at the facility, particularly in the event an earthquake were to cause an LNG leak and explosion. “Where the economic numbers can be painted to appear as a shiny object, the risk reality is frightening”, says, Jack. “We’re being told that LNG explosions are rare, but the results can be catastrophic. According to the U. S. Energy Information Agency, an explosion has an incineration zone diameter of 7,417 feet. Nothing will survive within this incineration zone of over one and a quarter mile.”

Jack’s position is that Portland should be advocating for renewable energy projects, such as offshore wind, on the coast at Coos Bay–not for outdated fossil fuel projects. “We know we need to build energy projects for the 21st century, and I’m all for getting investments made in Oregon where they create jobs for Oregonians and bring tax revenue to our cities, but we need to think about our legacy, and make investments that really make sense.”

Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of “Fueling America. An Insider’s Journey.” Jack is running for Portland city council to ensure we have a legacy Portlanders can be proud. Jack asks anyone concerned about the best way for Oregon to invest in energy in the future to view the facts on LNG and renewable energy at https://www.jackkerfoot2020.com.

 

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