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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Movin' on up

The planning and design gurus at Harvard are really something. First they give a grooviness award to the Portland streetcar (motto: "It only costs the city $1 million a year, and you can get there faster by walking"). Now comes news that they're having Randy Gragg -- the local urban renewal (or whatever that thing is) columnist that we love to hate -- back for a year as a Loeb fellow, to study "the intersection of media, civic participation and planning and urban design."

What's there to study? From his writings, I thought he knew more than anyone else about all that already.

No wonder he felt free to dis the search committee and finalists for the Portland Development Commission CEO post last weekend. Gragg himself's a short-timer, at least temporarily.

I'm going to try to lay off him for a while. It's a nice honor, and I wish him well at Harvard. Maybe Harvard will talk some sense into him. But I doubt it. More likely, he will go to lots of wine and cheese receptions with the rest of the "creative class" types and pick up some new catch phrases to repeat in Portland as if they were the gospel. All the sheep in the city will say, "Baaaa, Harvard, baaaa."

Comments (16)

Ouch, that last bit was harsh, Jack - keep it up!

No really, that was it, I'm laying off. Try the chowdah, Randy.

Perhaps Gragg will explain to the Harvard gurus how poeple become the "anti-Tram extremists" he labeled those opposed to the Tram.

I ponder whether Harvard will elevate Gragg or Will Gragg diminish Harvard. No institution is a monolith,as a friend who has been working there assured me, and some of the jerks here in town are Ivy League.

Afer your comments on his future, the O couldn't have sent him to Gresham.

Jack Ė You seem like a smart guy and youíre a good writer. Iím disappointed when you use your talent to take cheap shots like this one.

I was a Loeb Fellow 10 years ago. The experience made a big difference in my life. The Fellowship means a lot to me because of that. Iím glad that Randy is getting that opportunity. (My only concern is that there won't be anyone at the Oregonian to ride herd on developers (like me) while he's gone.)

I never saw the Ďwine and cheese receptionsĒ while I was there. Iím still involved in the Fellowship so I see what the Fellows accomplish each year. I donít think any of the Fellows have time to go to wine and cheese receptions.

Your comment about Randy having the guts to dis PDC because he was leaving town seems unfounded to me. Randy disses everyone. I donít always agree with him, but I think heís right more often than not. And I value his willingness to take strong and controversial stands in a town that too often is unwilling to disagree in public.

Thatís why I think you would respect Randy. Like you, heís willing to say what isnít always popular. If you disagree with him, I wish you would do so on substantive grounds. With your brains and skill, you could help raise the level of dialogue in Portland.

P.S. I saw that the Bruner Foundation just gave an award to the Streetcar. But I didnít realize Harvard did also. What was it?

"Ride herd on the developers?" Give me a break. Ride with his lips on their posteriors, perhaps. The only people Randy Gragg rides are the neighbors who have built this city and who are trying desperately to save it from turning into a second-rate San Francisco just to make guys like you rich. He deals cheap shots out to real Portlanders on a weekly basis.

I'm sure Randy will have a valuable experience in Cambridge. I just wish he could take a couple of you developers with him and never come back. I'm sure I could raise funds for a one-way ticket for the lot of you in a heartbeat.

Oh, BTW, Mr. Snide, you're right -- I indeed did get my meaningless awards mixed up. The Harvard people I was thinking of gave their award not to the streetcar, but to the Portland Family of Funds, the highly, highly questionable "spinoff" of the disgraced Portland Development Commission. As the kids say, ROTFLMAO!

Anyone who thinks Jack Bogdanski "seems like" a smart guy can't be. And Jack is not a good writer, either -- he's a great writer. Unparalleled locally.


(Love the set-up, though. Pitiful.)

Jack is a great writer, but he also takes a lot of unnecessary shots at Gragg. For a guy who still wears his Stanford T-shirt, I tend to think Jack is just jealous of Gragg.

Sorry, I'm not taking that bait.

Harvard alumni recognize Stanford as being one of the very best of the Southern schools.

that comment wasn't meant as bait. i think you pick on Gragg unnecessarily, and this post smacks of jealousy...

Believe me, I have no envy of a person who's worked as an art critic at The Portland Oregonian for a decade. And in case you haven't noticed, I think urban design, as taught at Harvard or anywhere else, is pretty much a crock. So smack on that.

"that comment wasn't meant as bait. i think you pick on Gragg unnecessarily, and this post smacks of jealousy..."

This post? You mean yours? Exactly what I have been thinking. Little testerone competition going on from Justin toward Jack.

What chaps my hide is the faux opposition types that pretend to fight for the people while fighting for development at all costs, at the expense of the rule of law and the public good; you know, the lawyers representing neighborhoods who miss filing dates, the local government "Insiders" who either control hearings officers and other decision makers or reverse them off the record. It's kind of obvious, Ed. It ain't a real public conversation, nor is it real urban planning. By not playing straight and demanding their way, certain developers are messing up the state big time. More people see this than you may realize. Measure 37 was a reaction to systemic unfairness.

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