In 1959, in Martin v. Reynolds Metals, the Oregon Supreme Court held that the owner of an aluminum factory that cast invisible fluoride ions onto its neighbor's property had trespassed on the neighbor and had to pay damages. The court held that even the invisible could trespass.
The case comes to mind today because after many more years of operations and fluoride emissions (averaging 800 pounds a day at the time of the Martin case) the Reynolds Aluminum (do you remember the "Reynolds Wrap" brand of aluminum foil?) site passed into the hands of Alcoa, a multi-national producer of aluminum. Alcoa closed the plant in 1999, though it still owns the property. The federal government recognized its years of operation, but not in a way that anyone would crow about: it awarded the site a "Superfund" designation in 1994. The cleanup is still going on.
The Port of Portland wants to build an intermodal rail yard (rail-to-truck transfer and vice versa) on the site. Fairview and Troutdale are opposed: those two cities (the two closest to the site) want to see the site redeveloped by and for private industry.
Nobody's talking (at least, not to me) about what Alcoa prefers. Alcoa's going to finish the Superfund cleanup, which is only fair: it and its predecessor made the mess. But the Knower of All Things did mention the story he heard: that if Alcoa sells to the Port, it's going to insist that the Port indemnify Alcoa against the cost of cleaning up any remaining contamination outside the Superfund cleanup.
Thinking about Captain Travaillot's ship, parked beneath the Willamette for at least half our city's history, brought to mind Import Plaza, the store that the Naito family operated on NW First Avenue until a few years ago, a few hundred feet from the resting place of the Duc d'Lorges. In turn that called to mind the family's three largest real estate projects (so far): the Galleria renovation of the mid-1970s, the McCormick Pier apartments, and the Montgomery Park office center. The Montgomery Park center is on Northwest Vaughn Street and has big neon letters spelling out "Montgomery Park," visible from miles away.
Whence the name "Montgomery Park" for a project that's nowhere near Montgomery Street or anything else named Montgomery? The building was for years the regional distribution center for the Montgomery Ward stores. (An adjacent street, NW Wardway, connecting Vaughn to St. Helens Road, is named after the store chain.) On the roof was a sign spelling out, in big neon letters, "Montgomery Ward." When the Naitos bought the building, they couldn't continue to call it "Montgomery Ward." It occurred to Bill Naito that he could change the "W" and "d" to be "P" and "k" to spell "Montgomery Park," a name with no trademark implications, and the cost of buying two letters was a lot less than removing or replacing the entire sign.
While stuck in traffic west of Portland on US 26, which I sometimes think of affectionately as the Sunset Walkway, another reason to limit SUVs occurred to me that has nothing to do with their poor gas mileage.
A freeway can hold only so many cars in each lane-mile. The upper limit can be calculated based on the average car length and the distance between cars. If cars get shorter, then the freeway could hold more cars. Let's tax cars the same way we tax boats: the longer the car, the more we pay for the license plates. And why not? If you're using 17 feet of the road and I'm using only 12 feet, then you're taking up more space than I am, and you should pay more for the privilege. And if the SUV drivers switch to shorter cars, then the freeway capacity goes up substantially, without capital investment. Make shorter cheaper.
"Watson," Sherlock Holmes asked me, "A Mr. Thaddeus Sholto wrote me yesterday to ask if he might consult me on a matter which he says is of grave importance. He should arrive presently. Would you be able to join us?"
"Nothing would please me more, Holmes," I said. "What did he say in his letter to you?"
"He didn't give me any facts, Watson, but I'm sure he will be sharing them with us presently." I heard the sound of a car rolling to a stop outside 221B Baker Street. "That must be him now," Holmes said. He crossed to the window and looked down at Baker Street, where a tall bronzed man was alighting from a taxicab. "Hm. Beyond the obvious points that he is fifty-six years old, holds a degree from Oxford -- Christchurch College, I should think --, is expert in Near Eastern languages, has recently spent a considerable time in the Arctic, owns a country house in Dorset, and has three children, nothing out of the ordinary comes to mind as I look at him."
"Holmes!" I cried. "That is remarkable! You are able to deduce all that from a few seconds' observation?"
"Not at all, Watson," Holmes replied, drawing on his pipe. "I Googled him this morning."
A little more information on my previous post: apparently the 13-year-old didn't register to vote; he received a card in the mail indicating that he had registered to vote, which was the first he had heard of it. Here's the story.
As I was pondering the battle in Oregon over the Ralph Nader petition signatures, a friend from my bright college days told me of a different battle going on in New Mexico, where the secretary of state told county clerks not to ask for identification from first-time voters who had registered by mail. A multi-party group of plaintiffs challenged the secretary of state's order as being contrary to state law. One of the plaintiffs is the father of a 13-year-old who had successfully registered to vote. I couldn't find a link, so here is the gist of the story, from the Associated Press:
August 27, 2004
Judge Orders IDs For Some First-Time Voters
The Associated Press
New Mexicans who registered to vote through a third party without showing identification will have to prove their identity when they vote, a state district judge ruled Friday.
State District Judge Robert L. Thompson issued a temporary restraining order challenging the way the secretary of state interpreted a law requiring identification for certain people registering to vote for the first time.
"We're all finding that every vote counts," Thompson said.
* * *
Albuquerque attorney Pat Rogers, who filed the lawsuit along with attorneys David Garcia and Joe Thompson, a Republican state representative, said the order primarily affects people registered to vote for the first time by third-party groups.
* * *
The restraining order is the first step in a lawsuit filed Aug. 20 seeking to force the secretary of state to require such first-time voters to present identification either when registering or when voting.
Those suing contend the Legislature mandated that procedure.
Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron disagreed. She had instructed the Bernalillo County clerk not to ask for identification from such newly registered voters.
She has contended the requirement applies only to mail-in registrations and a postpaid mail-in format.
* * *
State law says that if a voter registering for the first time does not apply in person, "the applicant must submit with the form a copy of a current and valid photo identification, utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows the name and address of the applicant. If the applicant does not submit the required identification, he will be required to do so when he votes in person or absentee."
Attached to the court filing are memos from Bureau of Elections director Denise Lamb advising clerks the identification requirements affect only first-time voters who register by mail.
Chaves County Clerk Dave Kunko of Roswell, a Republican, wrote other county clerks this month that all first-time voters in that county who did not register in his office must prove their identity at their polling places or beforehand.
Lamb advised him that was illegal and told county clerks it also was contrary to the federal Help America Vote Act.
Bernalillo County Clerk Mary Herrera said Friday her office has received 78,000 new voter registrations this year, and 3,000 have problems which make them invalid — faulty addresses, no addresses, bad signatures or no Social Security numbers. Some 400 cards were returned by the Postal Service as undeliverable.
She has said many registrations were being turned in for voters who already registered. People were being told, falsely, that the county lost part of its database and they had to register again, she said.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Republican Rep. Larry Larranaga of Albuquerque; Green Party candidate for Bernalillo County clerk Steve Cabiedes; Deborah Torza, Republican candidate for House District 16; Carla Gonzales, a Santa Fe County Democrat; Toby Gutierrez, identified as a newly registered voter; and Juan Paul Atencio Jr., not otherwise identified. They later were joined by the father of an Albuquerque 13-year-old who was registered to vote.
"K" Line announced two weeks ago that it's halting container service to Portland. In July, Hyundai Merchant Marine announced that it was withdrawing from Portland. "K" Line's withdrawal will leave our port with only one shipper, Hanjin, providing container service.
Portland's competitive disadvantage in the shipping business, compared to Seattle and Tacoma, is that it's not a deepwater port and it's 100 miles upstream from the ocean, meaning that ships can have deeper drafts (and carry more cargo) going to Seattle and Tacoma than to Portland, and can get in and out of port faster.
The Knower of All Things reminded me that the Port of Portland has its eye on the Alcoa aluminum plant in Troutdale, where it wants to put a railyard and intermodal container transfer station. Troutdale wants to see the site redeveloped but wants something -- an industrial and office park, maybe -- that will produce more jobs and more property taxes than the Port's proposal would.
The container lines aren't leaving because our ship-to-train facilities are inadequate. They're leaving because we don't generate enough business.
The Grand Army of the Republic was the association of Union Civil War veterans. Forty years after the Civil War ended, one of the G.A.R. groups in New York said that it wanted to build a new, larger clubhouse. Observers pointed out that the G.A.R. didn't need a larger clubhouse, because its membership was steadily declining as veterans died. If we can't generate more container business, then we shouldn't be spending money on a larger clubhouse for the one remaining container line. Let's invest our money instead in attracting replacement shippers.
Follow-up interviews with people who survived jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge reveal that few of them tried suicide again. One survivor volunteered this epiphany after jumping: "I realized that all the problems I had in life were solvable -- except one: I'm in midair."
. . . then check out this post from the blog maintained by "Anonymous Lawyer," who claims to be a partner in the California office of a large law firm. But it's worse at the place where one of his friends works: read this.