Portland Utility Board and Testimony, July 2017

My name is Dr Joe Meyer and I love ping pong. The doctor is in Physics and I understand something of the natural world and of complex systems. I speak as a Portland citizen and rate payer. I am also a citizen reporter and covered the Portland Water Bureau for KBOO News five plus years ago when our open reservoirs were condemned.

The similarities between the events five years ago and the events of today caused me to put down my ball and give up this testimony.

Five years ago every one involved, from the Portland Water Bureau, the Portland City Council, Friends of Reservoirs, and the County Health Doctor agreed that there was no public health benefit in the LT2 motivated projects. Likewise, the proposals at issue today have no public health benefit. In fact, considering the addition of known harmful materials into our drinking water system, the overall public health benefit must be considered a gross negative.

The simple truth is that 125 years ago the citizens of Portland constructed a simple and elegant drinking water system. In 125 years of use, no one has ever gotten sick from Crypto in our drinking water – the far greater dangers of Crypto are at swimming pools and daycare centers. For 125 years our drinking water has been inexpensive, safe, and delicious – the envy of other cities. Back 125 years ago, the citizens of Portland had the ingenuity and political will to control their own water supply – no multinational consultants required.

This time around, the Portland Water Bureau points to hypothetical future health benefits of infrastructure project at Bull Run. And, as per the minutes of your July 18th meeting, Commissioner Fish entered into the record that the number one common thread he got in feedback is ‘How should the City protect public health’. This is a wholly unscientific contribution to the discussion which insinuates a public health issue where there is none, like a little pee.

A hurried time-line is another consistent theme for Portland Water Bureau projects. Last time around, when I interviewed Commission Amanda Fritz for KBOO News, for example, she told me that she felt steam rollered by Commissioners Leonard and Fish on Water Bureau issues.

Five years ago citizen activist advocated for an extended delay in the LT2 compliance timeline. Citizens argued that rate payers were already burdened by rate increases and that alone was sufficient grounds for a delay in compliance. David Schaff, then director of the Portland Water Bureau stated on the KBOO Evening News that a delay on financial grounds was not even worth pursuing – and in fact Portland did not pursue this simple option. When, a few months later, Rochester New York received a delay until 2034 based on economic hardship, it was clear that the activists were correct and that the Portland Water Bureau had misdirected and misadvised City Council. Portland lost our open reservoirs and suffered another round of rate increases, all for no good reason. To this day, Rochester citizens still enjoy healthful water from their open reservoirs and reasonable water rates. Why this difference?

This time around the hurried time frame seemed to emerge with the Portland Water Bureau requesting that the Oregon Health Authority find them out of compliance seven months before the reporting deadline. Why would they do that? A citizen activist suggested to me that the Portland Water Bureau loves to move things through quickly in the summer to minimize public engagement and due consideration. At this point, that is hard to doubt. The hurry-up-don’t-think is again revealed in last weeks meeting minutes with commissioner Fish’s warning that if this body doesn’t quickly select either A or B than they will lose their voice altogether.

The third similarity between the campaign five years ago and the current effort is a lack of honest effort at seeking regulatory relief. Rochester New York worked with their senator, Chuck Schumer, to push back on LT2. Five years ago, when I asked Senator Merkely why Portland was spending a half a billion dollars to bury our reservoirs while Rochester was not, he replied that local leadership was required and that he had not heard from Portland City Hall. This time around, I again see no evidence of honest effort at seeking regulatory relief.

My first request is that this body takes due time to understand all available options and offer a well considered recommendation. Even a null result is much better than an ill-considered rubber stamp.

My second request is that you please study, and adapt as needed, a Rochester-style solution. A delay until 2034 will give rate payers a break and allow the science of LT2 mature. If everyone agrees that there is no public health benefit then what is the hurry?

My third request is that this body actively reach out to Oregon Senators Merkley and Wyden and New York Senator Schumer (who helped save Rochester’s open reservoirs), as well as Governor Brown who oversees the Oregon Health Authority, and even theRealDonaldTrump in updating LT2 based on the best available science.

As the saying goes, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Portland deserves better.

Please enter into the record this 10 minute radio piece documenting David Schaff, then director of Portland Water Bureau incorrectly asserting that a Rochester style reprieve was impossible:
http://kboo.fm/media/14970-open-reservoirs-rochester-receives-reprieve-while-portland-plows-ahead

An Incident at Oaks Bottom

Ever since spinning myself dizzy at two years old, I’ve been interested in states of the mind. Why would the room keep spinning after I stop? The strangest thing I ever consumed in that regard, much later, is called salvia divinorum. I got it off the internet for twenty dollars. I smoked it up under a high temperature flame and saw Charles G. Waldman swimming backwards in time. I protested, “Hey, you can’t do that.” He just kept grinning like a smart ass ape. Getting hit by a moose on a skateboard was kind of an interesting mental experience, too.

Nothing better than a five-mile bike ride to the river on a still warm Sunday evening. I love to dive in and give strong dolphin kicks before emerging face up. I love to float in boat-pose: arched back; hands grasping ankles; face bobbing like a bobber in the sun. A quick deep breath in just before I submerge. A long breath out, cetaceously spouting as I slowly surface. Ten breaths and enough! Much better than last year and I felt good.

I wave to the folks back on the pier, “I’m OK!” I never did ten breaths before and can image that it might look alarming. Concentrating on breath is good, too. Next time out, I’ll give them a heads-up before I dive in.

I swim back in strong like in Camus’ Stranger. I pull out and step on the pier in one motion. Daily yoga and my summer weight have me feeling good. “Well I keep getting younger,” I sing out to no one and everyone, “my life’s been funny that way.” I start my yoga routine chilly-wet in warm late-evening early-summer sun. “Before I could talk, I forgot what to say…”

A young person stood before me, ‘Don’t you teach table tennis at Reed?’ It took me a while to recognize them, without glasses and out of context. When they told me their name, I did remember them. They were a great student: they had fun and got really good at table tennis. They are studying philosophy, so I even got to talk about K. Popper. I was happy.

The top West Hill fir balanced the giant setting sun, and it was time to ride home. I still didn’t quite love my new-old Raleigh ten-speed single-gear. After I got the gearing right, new peddles and toe-straps though, it isn’t so bad. Not yet beloved like my ex-Clubman, still, kind of a fast bike.

The Spring Water Corridor is a jewel of the Portland area and my path to Sellwood pier. When I’m in a little better shape, I’m going to take it all the way out to the Sandy River, about 24 miles each way. A place called Oaks Bottom is the lowest point on my ride home. There is a foot path there that goes in East towards the river. I love to bike there for toe-shoe running on the dirt paths. Opposite the foot path, and also perpendicular to the Spring Water Corridor, is a paved path up the hill to the Oaks Bottom parking lot on Southeast 13th Avenue. I’m sorry to say that folks sometimes like to start at that parking lot and skateboard down.

A cyclist with a blue and white helmet came downhill from the North towards Oaks Bottom. I came downhill from the South. My shorts were still a little wet an I had neglected my helmet for the sweet breeze. Sometimes three things happen at once. This time a moose on a skateboard came downhill from the West: Out from the tunnel under the tracks; Out onto the Spring Water Corridor tucked low into the turn; Right shoulder right into my right ribs. A better hit than any sports reply I ever cheered.

Right around then the laws of physics and my mind took different paths.

In my mind, things were simple. There was no time, only sequence. There was no control, only observation. Undistracted by thoughts of past or future, the brain sees things in the present, each sparkling one at a time, just as they are, without responsibility: I’m going to collide; I’m going to fall off my bike; I’m going to land on my left elbow; I’m going to land on my left upper back and that will hurt; I’m going to have to breathe.

The physical movement of my body I can only guess at using forensics and my mid-air mid-conscious remembrances. That my left elbow has a small circular scab jibes well with my recollection of landing first on my left elbow. That there was no road burn indicates that the moose and I had roughly equal linear momentum. My bike and I must have been going at least 15 miles per hour and thus the moose around that speed as well.

Probably the right side of the face hit the moose’s back as the body folded under the blow. The right hip likely continued forward, meeting the handlebars to receive that elongated bruise. Probably the body had considerable angular momentum. After landing almost lightly on the left elbow, the body likely continued to spin and fall, eventually meeting the path hard with the left upper back, where the pain can still flair most acute. Finally, the legs probably swung around to receive the slight bruising to the outer right foot and shin. The hands were untouched. The body ended in a right-sided fetal position, with face facing roughly North.

Why wait? reasoned the conscious mind and I drew my first sip of breath. White lightning shot from my spine out my left foot and then two bolts through the top of my head.

“Time to call 9-1-1?” asked the cyclist with the blue and white helmet. I sipped a little more air and replied, “iiim eeee aaaaa ineeet.” I took a breath low and worked up to child’s-pose, exhaled and cried out like the first man. I took a slightly deeper low breath and pushed out into downward-facing puppy. As I exhaled and pushed my chest forward and down something popped and the white lightning again shot down and out of my left foot. After a few more breaths I was able to stand up.

The moose was friendly and came over to say, “Sorry about your bike dude, but I’m poor as shit and don’t have insurance.” I mumbled that he was good. “Really?”, he was surprised. “What else could you do?”, I wondered. “Oh, yeah,” and, as he skated off, “Next time I’ll stop at that stop sign, for sure.”

Eastside democratic Club Minutes, April

1208 Our new President was a little too polite to get the meeting to order.
1209 The Treasurer, with a voice as clear as a school bell on a crisp autumn morning, got us about 58 small-d democrats started.

Herschel mentions that we have to cover our rent and pay for food.
Then, Celeste mentions we will move to a credit union.
This was greeted with approval.

There was a motion to have the small d appear on our new checks.
This was seconded.
And the discussion was:
Will the checks have our SS#?
No, a different ID.
Discussion was ended, the vote called, and this passed 40-something to 0.

Announcements included:

Paul told us that war resisters are meeting at the Peace House to talk about redirection. Redirection is when you want to redirect tax dollars away from war and into something you do want to pay for.
Paul told us that Vets for Peace will give a reenactment 4PM today at the masonic temple (art museum).
Herschel reminded us to be at city hall tomorrow 2PM for socially responsible investing. Caterpillar and Wells Fargo and others are bad actors and we don’t want to support them.
David continued on this theme and reminded us of the proposal to dissolve the citizen committee on socially responsible investing and to have these decisions made by the treasurer.
Tom used the word sh-word in his exhortation, and Joe moved that we do not use that word here.
Somewhat surprisingly, this was seconded.
Discussion was ‘because it abdicates responsibility’.
General grumbling caused the motion to be quickly withdrawn.

12:20 Maxine introduced Jessica Vega Pederson, our new County Commissioner district 3.
She was a state representative before that and ran with a 18 month old because there were no sidewalks for her stroller. We still have these same issues today and that kid is 6 and riding a bike.
Her district incorporates everything good: thriving business, diversity. Many new residents, 3 languages at the playground. Comes from an immigrant family, grandfather came over and was a farmer and then steel worker.
Crises: mental health issues, housing, addictions.
Getting into budget cycle. First will get Kafoury’s budget with everything from Sun Schools to bridges. Gives a chance to show priorities.
Issues: how can young people continue to afford Portland? Likes PDX laws on no cost evictions and supports the vote at the state today.
Local priorities include: racial Justice, public safety, and not spending money locking people up.
Federally: met with federal delegation and felt bad about the sexism Clinton faced. And now we have to work to maintain gains in health care etc.
Proud that we are a sanctuary county. We are part of the West Coast Wall (WCW) protecting people’s rights, the environment, and our energy choices.
Regarding the repeal of ACA, thanks for your calls and we have to keep it up. First resolution as commissioner was documenting the good effects locally of the ACA. Working to create space safe from ICE. Sheriff Reese stated that he will not cooperate. County librarys are currently not safe spaces and we are working to change that. Someone in Troutdale came home to find graffiti all over his house and the community came together. Then, something else bad happened and the community came together.
Multnomah is the economic engine of the state. In East Portland we have the highest density of poverty in the state. Go figure.

Questions & Answers Included

Q) what are resources for me to help someone on the street?
A) joint office on homeless services
Q) Plan regarding defunding because of sanctuary city
A) still waiting
Q) what about Wapato as a shelter?
A) It is remote, would take a lot of work, plus we are still paying off the bonds
Q) In there rental assistance in Mult. Co.
A) yes
Q) Is the sanctuary system just a smoke screen?
A) yes, these do get attention and we do have to talk about real change
Q) little houses in backyard is a terrible idea.
A) this is a pilot project and it will be just 4-6 units. Homeowners would not even be landlords
Q) Lots of Multnomah Co. Sheriff evictions of illegally foreclosed homes.
A) we foreclose because of taxes, not mortgages.
Q) What is tough issue?
A) 2% budget cuts
Q) What about the JTTF?
A) We just do social services. Is that the sheriff?
Q) Open meetings?
A) 9:30 Thursdays
Q) Would you support resolution for single payer in state?
A) Id be interested in talking about that

Our next guest was Tom Sincic a retired family nurse practitioner.
Supporter of health care for all.
10 years ago he got into Dem. party and quickly saw that things were not run fairly.
Mult Dem. taking lead from State and that is not right. He read the by-laws and still couldn’t find fair.
Luckily Bernie Sanders came along and we got an influx of young people. Core principles: transparency, accountability, inclusion, messaging about facts. Not: spin, not just give us money and vote Democrat.
First master the process, the issues will follow.
The the question and answers included the following.

Q) I’m from Texas, what about hold your nose and vote? Jill Stein cost us the White House.
A) Central committee is not all Bernie.
Q) How thick is the Dem. rule book?
A) Only a quarter inch. It is the unwritten rules that are thick.
Q) Before Brown was Gov, we reelected Kitz. after 2 mo. he was forced out and not protected by the Dems.
A) Never liked Kitz for another term.

Eastside democratic Club Minutes, March 7th, 2017

12:10 David calls to order and reminds us that for $5 you get a yellow card. And with a yellow card you can vote and join committees. (There are about 52 of us.) This is our annual meeting and we get to deal with reports and electing officers.

Celeste gave the treasury report and the new coffee pot was warmly applauded. They reminded us that the coffee basket is for food and the pass-the-basket at halftime is for the space. We are $273.95 in the black.
Harriet gave a peanut butter update. They had collected about 68 pounds and then used cash donations along with favorable coupons to bring the total over 100 pounds.

Speculatively, the biggest challenge for the nominating committee this year was the term limit exclusion of the president. They handily switched the top to for a slate of Herschel Soles for Pres., David Delk for VP, Joe Meyer for secretary, Celeste for treasury and Steve for volunteer coordinator.
This slate was put forward and seconded.
Discussion included who was going to keep time, and the answer was VP David.
Tom said he was all for the slate and that he would like some meeting time for discussion within the group.
Jim wanted to know why there were no challengers and the answer was do you want to run?
The slate passed by a voice vote and I heard no nay.

We heard from Rob Wallace about Big Farms make Big Flu. Mr Wallace is trained as an evolutionary biologist and dense husbandry and long distance transport makes for exciting times. In nature, with less intensive husbandry and small range, the dominant pathogens are typically those that act slowly on the host. In high density conditions a pathogen can rip right through a host and the next one is right there! By some combination of The Second and Murphy’s Law, this is exactly what happens. Simply put: factory farms are factories for fast acting and all consuming pathogens.

Mr Wallace discussed alternatives such as eat less meat, and on-site breeding, and don’t pack them in.

For the second half, we heard from Bill Dan Robinson about Native Plant of Oregon. They told us the big energy want to use Boardman to burn bio fuel. The likely fuel-tree is a fast growing hard to eradicate nasty thing which is likely to harm native plants There are two bills at the state level regarding this called 789 and 790.

A Cop Named Sue

I volunteered for over a year at the Portland Police Department, and I can well imagine that life ain’t easy for a cop named Sue. I worked in the forensic lab on a method for getting fingerprints off of fired cartridges shells. The theory was that the heat of firing would cause differential corrosion based on fingerprint residue. Since I had studied nano-scale oxidation of metals as part of my PhD thesis, I was asked to help with a feasibility study. I thought that it might indeed be good to also know who loaded the weapon. It was also fun for me to collaborate on the project with fellow physicists at Portland State. In any case, the technique never proved reliable and the scientist must be satisfied with a measured negative.

For the later part of my time in forensics, I was also reporting from the Occupy Camps in downtown Portland. It was often invigorating to wear both Portland Police and KBOO Radio Reporter badges. I do remember the hair on my neck at the station the day after I stepped between a large occupier and an angry blond cop with a stick. In my year plus at Central Precinct, I didn’t notice racism, and there was a clear and present sexism. I sure didn’t step up when a colleague suggested that then Chief Sizer must be on her period. Shucks, they had guns.

The Sue of this story is White Portland Police Officer Susan Billard. I met her at the disorderly conduct trial of “Don’t Shoot Portland” and “Black Lives Matter” activist Teressa Raiford. Ms Raiford had helped organized a one-year-out remembrance of police-slain-Black-Youth Michael Brown. As part of the event, one hundred people of all Shades occupied the intersection of southeast 82nd and Division on August 9th, 2015 and shouted things like, “What’s his name? Michael Brown! What do we do? Shut stuff down!”

The activists observed four and a half minutes in the street to remember the four and a half hours when Mr. Brown died. Counting getting in and out, activists were in the street a total of about 7 minutes. Ms Raiford was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in connection with blocking traffic on a public way. Officer Susan Billard was the arresting officer and star witness.

I arrived at Multnomah County Courthouse from KBOO News to cover the trial not too sure what the story was. Heck, when I march without a permit I feel that I am taking my chances, that I probably am breaking some law. I soon found out that it was more important than that.

Officer Billard’s court testimony was remarkable in how it changed and in how it changed the charging orders against Ms Raiford. The first day of court was a pre-jury hearing to decide if The State (that is, We) had probably cause to arrest Ms Raiford in the first place. On direct examination Officer Billard testified that after the 100 demonstrators left the street Ms Raiford alone blocked several cars for 3 to 5 additional minutes. And that when Ms Raiford refused to obey police orders to get on the sidewalk, she was arrested.

On cross examination the defense archedly asked, “So, if there were a video it would show everyone else out of the street and cars backed up for 3 to 5 minutes?” This was objected to by The State (that is, Us) as speculative, and sustained by the Right White Judge Greenlick. The punchline was that there was indeed a citizen-video of that event, which was introduced as evidence for the defense. This video showed the activists taking the intersection, holding up signs, shouting, dancing, singing, chanting, showing their art and stopping traffic for about 7 minutes before returning to the sidewalk.

The video then shows that during the next 3 to 5 minutes Ms Raiford was indeed in the street with most other activists on the sidewalk, however, with traffic proceeding normally and no cars blocked. There were other activists in the street doing the same thing as Ms Raiford. A White police officer was discussing options with a White activist, both standing in the street. The video then shows Sargent Clark marching Officers Billard and Miller with two other White Officers across the street to arrest Ms Raiford.

After reviewing the video and dismissing the witnesses, the Judge called the lawyers to his bench. Since the video clearly shows cars proceeding normally the State (that is, We) had two problems: Officer Billard’s testimony was unreliable, and there didn’t seem to be a crime committed there. Indeed the defense attorney pointed out that: The testimony of the arresting officer was refuted by the video; The State did not have probable cause at the time of the arrest; The State has no evidence now; And, let’s all go home. Judge Greenlick agreed that Officer Billard’s testimony was unreliable, and that there was indeed no probable cause for arrest. Yet they didn’t seem to want to waste all this effort. Or maybe they has some kind of a point system, too.

In any case, We decided that the defense’s video showing traffic blocked in the intersection, 5 plus minutes prior to the original-and-now-refuted charge, could be used as evidence of disorderly conduct. So, and I didn’t even know that this was allowed, the crime Ms Raiford was charged with was changed. We now asserted the Ms Raiford was guilty of disorderly conduct because she ordered those 100 people to go into the street and block traffic in the first place.

With those changes in the charging orders the jury was selected. They looked like Portland, Oregon. In keeping with the new charging orders, Our opening statement focused on Ms Raiford as an organizer. We claimed that it was her preconceived intent on that August 9th to get 100 people in the street with the intent of obstructing traffic on a public way. In their opening statement the defense countered that it was Portland Police’s preconceived intent to arrest Ms Raiford that day. At the time, I thought that counter-assertion likely a stretch.

Our first witness was Sargent Jacob Clark. Sargent Clark was the officer in charge that day and gave the order to arrest Ms Raiford. He first testified that he arrived at southeast 82nd and Division at around 3:05 or 3:10, after receiving the call from Officer Billard regarding protesters blocking the intersection. On cross examination, Sargent Clark admitted that he had been staking out the activists since noon. He further testified that: he received the call from Officer Billard about 3 minutes after he left his stake out; that the intersection was clear when he got back; that Ms Raiford was then the only one left in the street; and that when she disobeyed his order to get out of the street, he had her arrested. And, yes, he took classes in psychology and how to testify before a jury.

The prosecutor next called Officer Susan Billard to the stand. After the usual preliminaries, We asked her to describe what happened on that August 9th. Officer Billard testified that, although her beat is East of Interstate 205, she just happened to be driving North on 82nd when she came across a group of protesters blocking the intersection at Division. So, she called it in. She further testified that: Sergeant Clark was the Officer in Charge and had them assemble on the North side of the street; that she volunteered to go across the street; and that when Ms Raiford wouldn’t get out of the street Sargent Clark gave the order and she, along with Officer Miller executed the arrest. She though it was nice that two female officers made the arrest.

On cross examination the defense attorney asked Officer Billard if she saw Ms Raiford blocking traffic in the minutes leading up to her arrest. She evaded for a few and eventually testified that, no, she did not see any blocked traffic. When the defense attorney asked if she remembered testifying differently the day before, Officer Billard accused him of tricking her. And, yes, she did start a conversation with Ms Raiford during the arrest by saying that 90% of violence against Black people is by other Black people.

When I say that I met Officer Billard I mean that our eyes met during a lawyer-break with her stuck on the witness stand and me in the press box. I guess I had a gap-mouthed look of confusion on my face at her duplicitous testimony. Her body language replied tersely with a ‘What!’ On the other hand, who am I? And she returned my sad-ass smile.

The only other testimony important for this story is that of Officer Miller, the second White Female arresting officer. Officer Miller swore that Sargent Clark gave the order to arrest Ms Raiford while still on the North side of the street. This pointedly contradicted Officer Billard and Sargent Clark, both of whom testified that the arrest order was given on the South side of the street, and only after Ms Raiford was warned up to several times.

The new charging orders, that Ms Raiford planned and orchestrated the intentional obstruction of a public way, proved hard to prove beyond the reasonable doubt. Perhaps it was difficult to connect the alleged crime in the middle of the intersection with the arrest several minutes later under different circumstances. Perhaps it was also hard to see what Ms Raiford was doing that was different from many other activists. It was also unusual that the only evidence for the prosecution was the video admitted by the defense. In any case, it took only a few hours for the almost all White jury to return a not guilty verdict.

Both Judge and Jury were in disbelief of the police testimony. What then is a more likely scenario for the events of August 9, 2015? I do not claim that the following fictionalized account is true in any detail. I do maintain that it is a lot more believable than the police version.

Sue and Jake were friends, and he only want to help her get ahead. They met at the new Federal classes on Arrest, Incite and Obfuscate.

Jake was her Capo for the 4 on 1 arrest drills. He always encouraged her to mix it up a little, to get physical, to make sure the person knew that they were getting arrested. That was the first time he touched her. Just a little push from behind, with a hushed, “you go girl.” He wanted her to know that he was there for her. Sometimes his touch moved around a little. Sue knew that you are not a real cop unless you do make some arrests, and mix it up a little.

Jake was also ahead of Sue in giving testimony. He never says anything definite. He looks the jurors in the eye. He is polite, and knows exactly when he just can’t remember. He comes off as a regular guy. She was taught to make the defense attorney look like a bully. Sue was taught to play woman-as-victim. The Feds have something for everyone.

The one class Sue was better in was Incite. The two components were mental and physical pressure. The art was in the mixing. The goal is to get the target to lose control. Getting them to yell and scream is level one. Getting them to spit is pretty good. The highest level is when you get the target to physically assault an officer. Sue led with a piercing mental game.

Jake and Sue were two friends in a larger culture. The first rule of that culture is called “dominate and control.” Some members of the outside community have been showing disrespect. Some members of the outside community were talking about their rights. Some members of the outside community didn’t obey. Some members of the outside community needed to be reminded that “serve and protect” is not for them.

Jake and Sue only had to use Facebook to find their opportunity. They found out that a Black Lives Matter demonstration was planned at southeast 82nd and Division for August 9th. Raiford was going to be there. Protesters would surely take their message into the street. How could they make sure Sue got first-on-scene credit? How could they make sure Sue was in on the arrest? This could be a good chance to mix it up, maybe collect the Incite Bonus.

The plan was simple. Jake would stake out the intersection at southeast 82nd and Division. As soon as he saw the protesters head into the street he would call Sue on her private cell phone, and leave the scene to the North. Sue would be waiting for his call a few blocks to the South. This way she would be sure to discover the protesters, and Raiford, still in the street. It was Jake’s beat and he would likely be the Officer in Charge. The only slight problem was that Sue’s patrol area was a mile or so to the East. You have to mix it up a little to get ahead.

And it all worked according to plan. Sue was the one to discover the protesters and called it in. Jake got the official call from Sue. He put out an official call for all available units. He was careful to take his time getting back to the scene. Jake was indeed the Officer in Charge. He organized his force of about a dozen officers on the North side of Division. When he called for volunteers, Sue was right there to step up.

The defense’s video tells the rest of the story. At 20:30 traffic is light and proceeding normally. Crowds are on the sidewalk chanting, “Black Lives Matter.” A few organizers, including Ms Raiford are off the curb. At 20:38, Sargent Clark starts across the street with his team of 4 Officers: three White Females and one other White male. Just like in practice, they are in mini-kettle formation with Billard and Miller at the hands-on corners. At 20:55 the arrest team has crossed the street and is just behind Ms Raiford when a protester shouts out ‘Teressa!’ Ms Raiford turns around, sees the 5 Police Officers, and puts her hands up. At 20:58 Our team of blue has her on three sides. At 20:59 Officers Billard and Miller have their hands on Ms Raiford, and Ms Raiford doesn’t resist. At 20:01 Sargent Clark puts his hand on Officer Billard and gives her an encouraging little push, just like in practice.

One of the reasons I claim that my imagined version is more believable than the police version is a question of timing. The police claim that two independent events happened within a three minute window of the activists taking the street: Sargent Clark left his three hour stake out and Officer Billard arrived at southeast 82nd and Division, which is out of her patrol area. What are the chances of that? The laws of probability tell us that to get the overall probability of independent events, you multiply together the probability of the individual events.

Sargent Clark was on stake out for 3 hours, or 180 minutes, and left within a 3 minute window of the activists taking the street. This has a rough probability of 3 in 180, or 1 in 60. What are the chances that Officer Billard happened to be driving past the intersection, out of her patrol district in this same time period? That seems harder to estimate. Assuming she averages 30 mile per hour, she covers 1.5 miles in 3 minutes. There are about 40 street miles in a patrol district and 750 street miles in the entire East Precinct. For a rough estimate, let’s assume that she could be anywhere in 150 street miles. That she was in a specific 1.5 miles then, gets a probability of 1.5 in 150, or 1 in 100.

The chances that Sargent Clark happened to leave a few minutes before the activists took to the street is very low. The probability that Officer Billard arrived on the scene a few minutes after the activists took the street is even lower. The probability that these two events occurred independently or each other is very very low, roughly 1 in 6,000. The other 5,999 in 6,000 times he called her just as the activists took to the street and then split to the North.

Another important indication that the police likely conspired to deprive Ms Raiford of her liberty comes from the contradiction in the police testimony. Both Sargent Clark and Officer Billard testified that the arrest order was given on the South side of the street, and only after fair warnings to get back on the sidewalk were issued. Officer Miller testified that the order to arrest Ms Raiford came while the police were still on the North side of the street. This indicates that the police did not cross over to confront who ever remained in the street. They singled out Ms Raiford from the North side and crossed over specifically to arrest her. Why would Sargent Clark and Officer Billard make up that story unless it were part of a larger fabrication?

Finally, I believe, as the defense attorney asserted in his opening statement, that Portland Police conspired to deprive Ms Raiford of her civil rights because of who she is. She is a Black Women asserting her rights. And this is Portland, Oregon under White Mayor Hales.

Comments on The Neuroscience of Prejudice

I accidentally got a press pass to the Science on Tap production called “You and Your Racist Brain: The Neuroscience of Prejudice” held at Portland’s Revolution Hall on October 3, 2016. Now I’d better write something. They had the lights down in the audience so I could take no notes. This is how I remember it after eleven days with travel to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and State College, PA for a sweet silver re-walk, no cake.

One of the first slides was of a Black man holding a White baby, and that baby wasn’t crying at all. The first conclusion was that we humans have no inherent preference for skin color, nose size, eye shape or any other physical attribute. We like faces that care for us.

Is that obvious? Humans, like other animals, are strange products of nature and nurture. Rabbits are famous for being instinctively afraid of a hawk’s shadow. And humans too seem to have instinctive or “non-associative” fears like that of loud noises. Personally, I feel that my discomfort at heights is instinctive, and yet how would I know? It had been commonly thought that humans instinctively fear snakes, and one could bloviate the usual evolutionary benefits. More recent studies show that fear of snakes is a learned response, and that this is also true of other primates. All of us apes effectively associate snakes with danger, and no kids need to get bit. Ooo Ooo Ooo!

The speaker explained that rather than an instinctive preference for skin color, or any other physical attribute, infants learn to see faces starting with their primary care givers. In our society children tend to first see their parents, then siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and friends. If these faces all share certain features, such as earlobe-attachment, eye shape, or shade, then the growing child will specialize in seeing these features. By age 4 or 5 a human child raised in a relative mono-culture will have measurably different neurological responses to faces to those they have already seen and to those with different features.

Does that make sense? Shoot, early human didn’t even have mirrors so how would an individual ever know what they looked like? What else could evolving humanoids know except what they saw? As Sartre always said, “existence precedes essence.” “The human brain is strong and flexible,” that’s what I always say.

To illustrate the results of the neurological studies, the speaker showed activity in the face-recognition area of the brain of a White guy looking at a White guy compared with that of a White guy looking at a Black guy. The White guy’s brain was lit up while looking at the White guy and just about off when looking at the Black guy. And there were affirmative um hmmm’s thorough the audience. If we assume that the White guy had been trained mostly on White faces, then this is expected within the conditioned response model of facial recognition. Indeed, the speaker mentioned that if the White guy is given a few minutes to study Black faces before being tested, then his brain lights up just fine when viewing the Black guy.

Is that surprising? Well, it reminded me of our trip to Korea last year. When we first arrived in Seoul, I was somehow surprised at the diversity of the Korean people. I guess I thought there were Koreans who kind of look like my mother-in-law and Koreans who kind of look like my father-in-law with a couple of odd uncles-in-law thrown in. Well, there is a lot more variety than that. More to the point is that after a week of traveling around and seeing more and more phenotypes, I lost the sense of Korean-ness altogether. I remember seeing a pedestrian from the bus who looked just like Peter Loben, my childhood neighbor and the only White guy on our high school basketball team. A second later, I couldn’t remember if Peter’s doppel-ganger was Korean or a Westerner or What. There was just something Peter-Lobenish about them.

The next few slides were about how the brain processes visual information. Like I said, I couldn’t take notes because it was so dark in there. It went something like: When a photon hits the eyeball the resulting signal from the optic nerve bounces off the back of the brain and splits into two signals, one for each hemisphere. One of the signals is used for movement and the other for recognizing static objects. There are known brain injury cases where the person could only see a series of static images. The upshot was that healthy humans are very good and fast at responding to visual cues like a 70 mile-per-hour ping pong ball or a human face. The speaker called this the “automatic response” in that it occurs before higher level frontal-lobe stuff kicks in.

Is that somewhat reminiscent of Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow?” Maybe this would be more like “Thinking Very Fast.” In any case, I sure try to turn off the conscious-linguistic part of my brain when playing ping pong. And it makes some sense to call my counter-attack “automatic.” However, as there is likely no ping pong gene, it is only “automatic” in the context of thousands of hours of training. With facial recognition, the training is measured in millions of hours. Because of this, I find the use of the term “automatic response” confusing. The scientific evidence presented showed two things: that humans instinctively respond quickly to faces, and that the response is wholly conditioned. It is only the quickness that can be called “automatic.” The particular neural response, whether positive, negative or indifferent, is a simple reflection of conditioning. I would call that a “fast conditioned response” way before I called it an “automatic response.”

To demonstrate how quickly our brains recognize facial features, the speaker flashed millisecond images of human faces. Most audience members seemed to recognize a Black man with a white beard in the first slide. Somewhat fewer seemed to understand the young Asian woman in the next. In any case, the speaker concluded that we can never be color blind like we thought we were supposed to be in the 60’s, and that we evolved to be so adept and quick at facial recognition, that we will always see the color of the other.

What do we think of that? Well, the press is no use unless it is critical.

“You and Your Racist Brain: The Neuroscience of Prejudice” is worth seeing on two levels: It presents neurological evidence that humans are not at all racist and at the same time demonstrates how difficult it is to escape our racial environment. Is the image of a Black man holding a White baby racist? I don’t know. I’d say that it made a certain impression because of our racial environment.

What about the image of a blank-brained White guy looking at a Black guy? I’d call that one racist. Science shows that recognition of faces has no causal relationship with the skin color of the viewer. I’d call it racist, because the image both does not communicate the science and does play into racial stereotypes.

Our shared racial environment is seen in the language of the speaker and how that language is heard. The speaker called the rapid interpretation of facial features an “automatic response.” When the White guy’s brain didn’t fire for the Black guy, this was because of a lack of “automatic response.” There were affirmative um hmmm’s throughout the audience at this. The problem here is that the “automatic” part only refers to the quickness and not the quality of the response. A few quotes from the advertisement for the talk illustrate how easily this is perverted: “…automatic prejudice that contributes to racism in our society…” and “… preconceived opinions about other people are not based on reason or experience but on instinct.” These statements are both at odds with the science presented and at evens with the prevailing racial winds.

How racially trained our brains are is further revealed in the millisecond images flashed on the screen. I question the conclusion that we can never be color blind like we thought we were supposed to be in the 60’s. There was certainly no scientific evidence presented for this hypothesis. The scientist in the speaker knew this and tried to finesse the proof by using the audience as test subjects. Indeed, we quickly ID-ed a Black man with a white beard. This, however, does not pass the science sniff test. We, the test subjects, were raised in racial times and are neurologically trained to ID a Black man with a white beard. This training disqualifies us as test subjects to project onto tomorrow’s or yesterday’s humans. It seems more likely that such flash-image experiments reveal whatever attributes society tells us are important, whether nose length, forehead angle, eye shape or any of uncountably many other attributes. In other words, the speaker’s flash image demonstration is a snapshot of our collective conditioning. It may be possible to teach a dog to respond to another dog’s color, and this seems like the last thing on the average dog’s mind.

The main scientific conclusion of the presentation is that human facial recognition is consistent with a blank-slate theory: Infants have no instinctual preferences for facial types; rather, we humans simply learn to recognize whatever facial features we see. This is reinforced by the second conclusion: Even White adults trained for decades on a relative mono-culture of faces can learn to see different faces in a matter of a few minutes. This simple and encouraging message was obscured by the sum of our racially-conscious histories. The image of a blank-brained White man looking at a Black man got affirmative ‘um hmmm’s from the audience and yet hid the interesting science. Finally, the use of the term “automatic response” is too easily misconstrued to “automatic prejudice,” which is wholly unscientific.

Eastside democratic Club Minutes for October 4, 2016

12:12 David welcomes everyone and reminds them that membership is only $5 per year and then you get to vote. David offered the group free lawn signs for the county-wide campaign finance reform measure 97. Due to time constraints that was the only announcement. There were 49 people in attendance.

Tom moved to amend the agenda with no seconds.

12:14 David introduced Chloe Eudaly who is running for City Council against the incumbent Steve Novick.

Ms Eudaly told us how to pronounce her name and that she is a life-long resident of Portland. The owns a runs a misssion-driven bookstore and is a Mom of a child with disabilities. She is an advocate for inclusion. In the last four of years her rent went up 60% and she struggles with housing costs and student loans. She can’t afford vacations. There are ripple effects to the financial squeeze: poor people don’t spend money. Another effect is that our city emergency workers are understaffed: everyone is moving to Clackamas where they can afford to live. Because of all the ripple effects and personal experience, housing is her top issue.

Ms Eudaly reminds us that she would be only the 8th women on City Council in 100 years. She said that Mr Novick is claiming that there is no real difference between them and points out several including: campaign finance reform, superfund cleanup, he supports Terminal 1 as a housing solution, and he supports the in-through-Wiener’s-backdoor Uber.

The first question was about the Police Contract and she said that it was one-sided with no gain for citizens and that there are deeply ingrained problems with Portland Police.

Next question was: Did she pay workers less than minimum? Her bookstore does a lot of not-for-profit work and there are some volunteers. She pays her worker-workers 20% over minimum.

Next: Isn’t is hypocritical to support $15 Now and pay you own workers less than $15/hr? No, she is a micro business and supports a tier-wise implementation starting with the larges firms. By the time is gets around to small businesses they will then be able to afford it.

Next on the agenda was Justin. He told us that zoom care wants to be on every corner in Seattle and Portland. The problem is that they operate on a system of exclusivity, only catering to health young and well-off folks. They do not even accept medicare. Justin is organizing a series of protests outside of Zoom offices with the hopes of bringing them to the table and the next one in October 18th at 2pm on NW 23rd.

There was a motion to endorse his campaign and this easily passed with only a few nos and abstentions.

Jim Hill was the next speaker. Mr Hill served in the Oregon House and Senate and became the first person of color to hold state-wide office when he became treasurer. Now he is a write and spoke about his book: ‘The new N word’. He started with a brief biography.

I’m 69 and grew up under racial segregation. We were second class citizens by law. I served 10 years in the legislator and then 2 terms as treasurer. I ran for governor twice and was then done with politics. When the economic crisis hit in 2008 I realized that we were a plutocracy. Discrimination is different than it was in the south growing up – now it is class based. Whites are getting poorer and poorer and are seen by corporate powers as merely cheap labor. It breaks my heart to see poor whites being treated as we were.

Mr Hill then read some from his book, emphasizing the (underused) power of the vote. He especially admonished women, who make up half the population, to vote for their interests. He finished by suggesting that we don’t vote for any candidate that takes big money. He has been there ‘dialing for dollars’ and can testify that decisions are make through the prism of campaign cash.

Audience question: What has changed since you were Treasurer?
Mr Hill: The rise of corporate power. Banks are now openly elitist.

Q: Wheeler took money from mega-polluter Bulls Eye Glass: does that disqualify him?
A: I don’t know the details of that and political decisions are make through the prism of money.

Q: (From a white women) Does the title of your book diminish Black people?
A: I lived it and Mama worse and her Mama even worse. We are now all in the boat together.

Q: If you were Treasurer now, would you divest from fossil fuel?
A: We did pass an anti-apartheid bill then and, yes, I would divest from fossil fuel now.

The final act of show was pro and con on Portland’s housing bond. This is a $250M deal to provide some low cost housing. The Yes Campaign send Ryan ___ and the No side was represented by Micheal Withey of Micro Community Concepts. (I moderated and so didn’t take notes). There was no disagreement and to the need of more affordable housing in Portland. The Yes side emphasized this and the con side emphasized the high cost per unit and general untrustworthiness and developer-first mentality of this Portland City Council.

Portland Police Contract Testimony

I’ve been feeling writer’s blocked with an essay called ‘A Cop Named Sue.’ Luckily I went to City Hall this morning and signed up to testify. Luckily again I didn’t come up before the lunch break and I had time to write the testimony below. Nothing better for breaking writers block than ‘you are going to speak at city hall in an hour: Go!’

My name is Joe Meyer and I object to the proposed police contract on the theory called, ‘civilian control of law enforcement.’

I have volunteered as a reporter at KBOO radio and as a research scientist with Portland Police Forensics. And I just speak for myself.

My objection to this contract is in a context where I see the whole world increasing ruled by force; with strange fruit dying all over American streets; and where white juries still find white killers innocent and innocent black kids, like Mohamed Mohamed, guilt.

I moved to Portland over 15 years ago and haven’t always had that nice ‘civilian control of police’ – and I don’t just mean the strip searches at the airport.

After Mayor Potter stepped back from the JTTF – because he would not have control or even information about what Portland Police officers did – the FBI orchestrated its famous ‘Real Christmas Tree and Fake Bomb Show’.

And the next day Commissioner Saltzman proposed that we rejoin the JTTF and we did.

The scary thing about that tree lighting ceremony was that the Police chief and select officers were part of the sting operation and yet Mayor Adams didn’t know anything about it.

I have also seen Portland Police officers Humphry and Nice, the brutal murderers of James Chasse, be reinstated with back pay because an arbitrator said so.

Probably many of use have seen Jason Renaud’s Alien Boy and would agree that Chasse didn’t have to die.

And that a shocking combination of callousness and brutality by the police caused his death.

In that context Police union president Daryl Turner is quoted by the Oregonian as saying:
“Sergeant Nice and Officer Humphreys were trained to police. They are not paramedics or nurses”

And likewise was Ron Frashour reinstated arbitratorly after he shot in the back and killed an an unarmed Black man named Arron Campbell. Say his name.

None of this is adding up to a warm, ‘civilian control of police’ feeling for me.

I covered the Mohamed Mohamed Federal Trial here in Portland and was surprised and saddened at the way law enforcement skillfully prevaricated and outright lied on the witness stand.

And they got their all white conviction.

I also covered the disorderly conduct trial of Teressa Raiford and was alarmed at how similarly Portland Police prevaricated and outright lied on the witness stand.

That is not the kind of police training I would like to see with my tax dollar.

By the end of the trial I agreed with the defense attorney’s claim in his opening statement: Portland Police Sargent Jacob Clark and Portland Police Officer Susan Billard colluded to deprived Teressa Raiford of her civil liberties.

Let’s save some money and stop doing that.

Regarding the issue before us today, I recommend along with Portland Cop Watch, Don’t Shoot Portland, the ACLU and many fine citizens, that you table this contract for the new city council. And to use the time to have a real discussion of what civilian control of police looks like.

Transcendental PE@Reed

It was the beginning of the second week so I asked one of the students to pick the attendance question. S, who is already a strong player, said ‘Favorite breakfast cereal’. I started with, ‘O equals K….. my name is Joe and I like Honey Crunches of Oats’. And I do like Honey Crunches of Oats and all that good-for-you-looking sweetness. Anyway, it comes around to S-who-is-a-strong-player and they say,’My name is S, and I like coffee and a bagel’. Shoot, I would have said ‘coffee and a bagel’ in a second.

After attendance I asked if there were any philosophy majors in the class. When no one raised their hand, I reminded them about K Popper’s theory of knowledge. Popper considered human knowledge as a separate organ shaped by conjecture and refutation. Popper calls induction an illusion and deprecates conjecture to guess, leaving refutation to do the work. His theory is attractive not in the least because of its fine homologonimity with Darwinian evolution. In any case, this is just how you learn ping-pong: Every shot a conjecture; The net the benignly-indifferent critic. Within K Popper’s theory of knowledge then, the role of the instructor, c’est moi, is to provide realms in which students can fruitiously err. Part of that realm is called: Forehand equals forearm to forehead, like this!

Pair Up!

Couple of simple ones and then try to step back from the table. That’s the ticket, couple of good ones there. Don’t forget your giant fish bowl: don’t break through the middle, polish the whole thing, like this! Good, good, good. Put the lid on it! Like this! Try and see how slowly you can hit it: large momentum plus small velocity equals good shot. Nice! Get your luggage. Like this! Good equals shot! Don’t forget: they bounce space craft off Jupiter not Mercury!

We rotated partners every five minutes counter clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, skipped coaches, and continued our practice in a like manner until special-treat game time at 6. It was easy to split the class into two teams since there were 8 of them and still at table. I never liked that thing about lining them up against the wall and having two captains pick them to the last drop.

Okay! This game is called ‘Round About’. You have 4 players to a team and you start with a player at each of the 4 sides of the table. Like bridge, we will call these North, South, East and West. Play starts with South serving to North and continues with North hitting to West who has taken South’s place, West hitting to East who has replaced North, East to North, North to West who hits to South, starting the cycle again. The goal is to get consecutive hits. To start the game I will say the word ‘Start’. Start.

Luckily, my assistant coach asked me to maybe pick up a couple of balls and they got started rotating the table while keeping the ball in play in no time. After ten minutes I rang the ding-ding-ding bell and found out that the score was 14-7 with just 4 minutes left. Luckily, said I, the second round is double scoring. Each team selects a Vogel-im-Baum and the other three rotate the table. To start the game, I name a category and each time the ball is struck the Vogel-im-Baum has to say something in that category. If Vogel-im-Baum can’t think of anything or repeats then that is the same as a miss: I equals E start equals over. Ready: ‘Animals of North America!’

My assistant coach admitted that they didn’t really remember this version themselves. And I suggested, ‘Bear’, ‘Deer’, ‘Salmon’. After some further elucidation we were ready to try again. Ready: ‘transcendental numbers’.

Luckily, the bell rang, with a: Ding-ding-ding thanks for a fun class, if you have a few minutes please help put the equipment away. And I think I saw D-who-knows-pi-to-200-digits smile.

Eastside democratic Club Minutes 20160705

EsdC 20160705

12:12 David Welcomes and asks for announcements.

Harriet announced that Sisters of the Road is doing a money match right now for donations. Since we usually donate to them at the end of the year, how about we donate while the money match is happening. It was moved and seconded that EdC donate $75.00. Passed 35ish – 0.

David announced a petition for county-wide campaign finance reform.

Our first guest was David Rodgers of the Oregon ALCU. David spoke about DAs as the most powerful elected official you rarely vote for. 80% of DA elections in Oregon are uncontested and this gives them a free pass. The DA association actively and effectively lobby lawmakers and block reform. Since 90% of cases are settled by plea bargain and mandatory minimums are daunting, the DA has become the most powerful player in the justice system. DA’s have the habit or retiring mid-term so that their appointed successor can glide in as an incumbent.

After the break, Jason Renuad spoke about the DOJ settlement with the Portland Police. Jason introduced himself as someone who works at the intersection of law inforcement and people with mental illness. Following up on Mr Rodgers’ talk, he mentioned that DA’s are notoriously lax in filing charges against police officers. Mr Renaud is collecting stats about death in custody and keeps fields like ‘experiencing mental illness’. The DOJ settlement has 186 items and addresses training, accountability, and the mental health system. The settlement is so complex that it is a diversion. What is needed is the ability to hold individual officers accountable and what is prescribed is aimed at everyone. That is, we need the ability to fire individual cops more than we need another level of training for everyone.