Thursday, September 03, 2009

Eyeing the news from afar

I’m here at the beach where I made the mistake of buying The Oregonian this morning. It doesn't help that the paper costs an outlandish $1.25 here in Manzanita.

Even free, on-line, today’s news is not making me a happy camper.

Your R/x dollars at work

First Pfizer has been fined a mere $2.3 billion (that’s a “B” but it’s small change for Big Pharma) for its latest role in the Great American Healthcare Charade. This particular song-and-dance has the drug giant bribing doctors with vacations, golf dates and massages to get them to prescribe Pfizer drugs. What’s a billion or so to an outfit like Pfizer? We are about to find out.

Worse, than jollying the docs with our insurance premiums, Pfizer is telling them it’s fine to use its pills for purposes unapproved by the FDA. All the better to run up those profits and to stuff those executive millionaires.

Yet the Oregonian reports all this in a vacuum.

Is the major event of these dwindling summer months not healthcare? And are the drug companies not a major player in sabotaging healthcare reform? And could it be that some of the payoff for the bribing of the medical profession is a few hundred million to lobby Congress and spread lies?

And just what are our health insurance premiums being used for. Golf at Pebble Beach? Back rubs?

And why, dear Oregonian editors, is this story on the business page, while valuable front page real estate is turned over Boise’s frenzy about the home team’s butt-heading with the Oregon Ducks tonight?

Priorities, priorities.

I suppose we should be grateful. At least the story made the paper.

Caling Nick Fish!

So did another, barely. This one was tucked away at the bottom of page C5, also in the business section, just before the classified ads.

The headline, miniscule as it is, reads, “Affordable housing plan put aside again.” The story should be read in the context of the Housing Authority of Portland’s proposing to spend $44.5 million to build 115 units (roughly $370,000 per unit) as it teas down and rebuilds the Hillsdale Terrace public housing project in its existing site. It’s an isolated, demeaning drainage gulch at the headwaters of Hillsdale’s Stephens Creek.

Meanwhile, (ALERT, ALERT!) apartments in South Waterfront high-rises will be auctioned off starting at $175,000 each later this month. They should be worth a bid from HAP.

But this little, buried story tells us that affordable housing in South Waterfront is being “pushed back” because the Portland Development Commission has determined that having affordable housing in South Waterfront is “too risky.”

Attention City Commissioner Nick Fish, a former member of the HAP board and now the councils’ housing guy.

Where’s the risk when HAP is ready to spend $370,000 per unit in a market where, at auction, South Waterfront apartments may fetch a mere $200,000, if that?

If Portland’s public housing's left hand, the development commission, had any idea what the right hand, the housing authority, was up to, the two agencies would rush to redirect the Hillsdale Terrace money to South Waterfront.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Positive and Negative

Monday, August 31, 2009

Silent Light

Some visitors will immediately recognize this place. Others will find it a mystery.

To me, it is like life itself — known yet mysterious.

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