The technical glitch that snarled last week's arts tax payment deadline has been fixed, the city just reported, and the deadline for paying the arts tax (remember, $35 for most income earners) has now been extended to June 10.
That's almost two months, let's note, after the original April 15 deadline.
It's been a long couple of days, so I'll be pasting in the press release that everyone else will mostly just be rewriting anyway. Just remember two things: Monday, June 10. And www.PortlandOregon.gov/artstax.
Oh, and the city told me last week that it's unclear how all this is affecting the cap on how much revenue can be devoted to administrative costs.
On May 15, 2013, the City’s website experienced a problem related to the overwhelming response of Portlanders paying their Arts Tax on the deadline. As a result, people were not able to pay their tax late that afternoon and evening.
To prevent the online payment system from overloading, City technical personnel implemented measures to limit the number of concurrent filers on the site at any one time.
These new measures will monitor payment processing capacity. If higher than manageable capacity is reached, then users will get a message asking them to submit their payment in a few minutes. This message will come up when the user selects the button to submit the payment. Users have the option to wait a few minutes and try again or send in their payment by mail. Having this system in place will ensure that usage does not exceed the system capacity and allow payments to continue to be processed online.
Technical staff are also working on increasing the overall capacity of the payment site.
City staff are validating payments that happened on Wednesday, May 15 when the system became overloaded. If there are discrepancies, filers will be contacted and adjustments made as necessary.
A few weeks back, Disjecta announced its lineup of curators for the 2013/2014 season— Curator-in-Residence Summer Guthery and Portland2014 Biennial Curator Amanda Hunt— and tonight you'll have a chance to meet the ladies themselves and learn more about their Portland plans (6 pm, 929 NW Flanders, right by PDX Contemporary).
While this evening's event will feature a presentation and Q&A from the new-to-town curators, here are some quick highlights to get the introduction rolling: Both Guthery and Hunt have ties to Los Angeles' LAXART, an independent nonprofit art space where Hunt acts as curator and Guthery organizes one-off events. When I think of Hunt, I think of shows like Meg Cranston's Emerald City, a recent exhibition at LAXART that explored the construction of trends by examining Pantone's color of 2013, emerald green. Guthery has made splashes with The Canal Series (and its precursor, The Chrysler Series), a monthly series of "single evening readings, screenings, and performances," and she was recently announced as a contributing curator to this November's performance art biennial, Performa, in New York.
Though the above introduction doesn't do justice to the careers of these very busy curators (I've included bios from the official PR after the jump so you can check out their credentials), it does set me up to say one thing: Disjecta appears to be solidifying a focus shift with the announcement of this recent crop of curators. In the Cris Moss-curated Portland2010 and the Prudence Roberts-curated Portland2012, we saw Disjecta looking within city limits for a curatorial angle, bringing on the aforementioned local educator/curators to make the big calls. But when Disjecta imported Oakland's Josephine Zarkovich as curator-in-residence of the current 2012/2013 season, they set the tone for what now seems like an investment in outsider perspectives. It's probably a good move: Portland's stock of curators can feel insulated at times— a lot of the same people focusing on, if not the same artists, the same types of art— and I'm excited to see what folks outside this city are wowed by, and what they'll decide to include in Disjecta's future programming.
Anyway, more details on tonight's event can be found right here.
Earlier today, we told you about lingering problems with city's overloaded arts tax website (the $35 tax was supposed to be due yesterday) and the still-uncertain deadline for procrastinators who have yet to square up.
The city just sent out another update confirming that payment will now be accepted into next week, in person or online, but that the website won't be ready for another couple of days. Read it here:
Wednesday night, the City’s website experienced a problem related to the overwhelming response of Portlanders paying their Arts Tax. As a result, people were not able to pay their tax that afternoon and evening. Wednesday was the original deadline for payment.
The City has extended the Arts Tax deadline.
The online payment option will be brought back next week, as will an announcement of the new deadline. Currently, the Arts Tax cannot be paid over the Internet, but can be paid in person or by mailing in a check or money order. Forms can be found here.
The City has also extended the deadline to pay in person or by mail, simply to keep the deadlines together and to create simplicity for taxpayers.
The online payment option will remain offline for the next few days as city technical personnel implement measures to limit the number of concurrent filers on the site at any one time. This will ensure that usage does not exceed the system capacity and allow people to pay their Arts Tax online. Once implemented, when the site reaches capacity, the user will receive notification that the site is currently unavailable and to try back later. Technical staff will also be working on increasing the overall capacity of the payment site.
I've also asked, under admonishing from commenters, how this latest snafu affects collection and administrative costs that are supposed to be kept under 5 percent of collections. I'll update if and when I hear back.
Last night, you'll recall, enough people tried to pay Portland's $35-an-income-earner arts tax just before the midnight deadline that the city's payment website apparently collapsed under the strain.
The Office of Management and Finance and Mayor Charlie Hales' office both sent out statements last night saying the deadline would be extended indefinitely while the problem with the website was fixed.
Hales' spokesman, Dana Haynes (probably tired of writing releases and statements about the arts tax), has sent word this morning that the problem with the website has not yet been fixed.
Wednesday night, the city’s website experienced a problem related to the overwhelming response of Portlanders paying their Arts Tax. The computer problem is being addressed this morning. The city has extended the Arts Tax deadline, and will maintain that extension until this problem is resolved. We appreciate everyone’s patience and hope to have further details later today.
Keep your debit cards handy. And we'll holler when we hear something.
They already had dibs on the sweetest lil' parade in town, the cutest bookstore, the homiest theater, AND a fun old-fashioned camera shop: what could make St. Johns quainter? How 'bout the most delightful piece of public art in town. Last Saturday St. Johns unveiled a new mural by Portland-based illustrator Carson Ellis.
Even if you don’t recognize the name, you probably still recognize her work. Ellis's art has been featured in boatloads of publications, from the lesser-known to the better-known, INCLUDING the cover of this publication. In addition, Ellis is married to and a frequent collaborater with Colin Meloy of the Decemberists, often doing their album art.
Located on the side of the Grocery Outlet at 7741 N. Lombard, the mural was painted by Whitney Anderson and designed by Ellis. It's one amongst several pieces of public art that the Regional Arts and Culture Council has been busy with. It’s part one of the mural; the other part will be done via community participation this summer.
At 50 feet by 10 feet, there's lots of room for Ellis's signature whimsy: mythic creatures, sprightly mushrooms, old-timey technology, AND, wait for it…a hidden R2-D2!! It’s wonderful. Check out more pics, after the jump.
The arts tax originally due April 15 was supposed to due by 7 pm tonight, if you were paying in person, or midnight if you went online to the city's website. That deadline has been now been extended. Again. Because the city's website wasn't equipped to handle the onslaught of last-minute payers.
Says the city's Office of Management Finance, which oversees the Bureau of Revenue, which oversees the arts tax:
Due to the overwhelming response of Portlanders paying their Arts Tax, the City's website is experiencing a capacity issue.
We are working on the situation. At this point the deadline to pay the Arts Tax will be extended until the problem is resolved. We appreciate everyone's patience with this situation.
On a high usage day the website will see about 230 concurrent users. Throughout the day we have been experiencing approximately double that number just on the Arts Tax website alone.
It's a fitting turn on the would-be last day for legal payment of the tax.
Previously, city officials announced the arts tax, as of noon today, had only collected $6 million out of the $8.6 million expected by the end of the fiscal year. Then there was the problem with the public pension and Social Security collections. And the new $1,000 income minimum, which forced the initial deadline extension. Oh, and besides all of that, the $35-per-income-earner tax is the subject of lawsuits claiming it's really an unconstitutional head tax, forcing an awkward workaround with schools counting on their share of proceeds.
Two other points are worth noting. The arts tax passed with 62 percent support from voters (and, yes, we endorsed it; it's still a worthy idea in principle). And Commissioner Dan Saltzman has made the Revenue staff promise not to send bill collectors after scofflaws until they miss at least two years of payments. (But pay anyway, because it's the law.)
Rebecca Jacobson over at the Willamette Week interviewed Mike Daisey in advance of his Tuesday show Journalism, and she did a nice job with it. I've interviewed Daisey a few times and he definitely tends to run a conversation; Jacobson sticks to her guns. I thought you guys might particularly enjoy this part:
You weighed in on The Portland Mercury’s recent blog post about you? Why?
Probably because I drank some NyQuil. It was a terrible idea. One should never respond to Internet comments. It was the Mercury! Of course I regret it. It was kind of hilarious because they talked themselves into a fascinating corner. They said, “The very fact that you’re here shows how pathetic you are, because we’re pathetic,” which I just thought was the saddest fucking thing I’d ever read, because on some level I thought they might actually want to have a conversation. I have that delusion every once in a while that people want to have a conversation on places like the Mercury blog.
The whole thing is worth a read, though, it's a good little interview.
With or without your approval, they are going with the whole "West End" re-brand of that 10th Ave-centric stretch of downtown, and thus this weekend's events are dubbed the "West End Weekend." If you're okay with that, and/or you're looking to acquire a mother's day/wedding gift/selfish score of the artisanal variety that comes with a free glass of champagne, come hither to MOD for the full exposition.
Everybody knows this is true, but it's good to be reminded —especially by the likes of Cheryl Strayed, who is currently experiencing the kind of literary success most authors only dream of:
Going through a drawer I found the submissions/applications log I've kept off and on over the years. Just in case you think it's all been roses I'd like to report that Yaddo rejected me (as recently as 2011). McDowell rejected me. Hedgebrook rejected me twice. The Georgia Review rejected me and Ploughshares rejected me and Tin House rejected me, as did about twenty other journals and magazines. Both The Sun and The Missouri Review rejected me before I appeared in their pages. Literary Arts declined to give me a fellowship three times before I won one. I've applied for an NEA five times and it's always been a no. Harper's magazine never even bothered to reply. I say it all the time but I'll say it again: keep on writing. Never give up. Rejection is part of a writer's life. Then, now, always.
Your words of encouragement for the day, writer friends.
From PICA's website:
Mike Daisey, hailed by The New York Times as "the master storyteller," returns to Portland with the world premiere of a new work. In a single night, Daisey takes us on a fantastic journey through the sprawling landscape of journalism right now—how it functions, how it fails us, and how it chooses to tell our stories. Using his own scandal as a jumping-off point, he illuminates how the myth of objective journalism weakens us and has made our public discourse easy to manipulate. From CNN to alt-weeklies, this is a true love letter to journalism—an impossible calling caught in a time of transformation, where people struggle every day to tell a story that actually shows us the truth.
I have mixed feelings about this. I think Daisey is a brilliant performer, but I certainly stopped rooting for him after it was revealed that he lied both in his show The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs and to the fact-checkers at This American Life who attempted to verify his claims. I just reread the apology blog post he wrote last year:
I would also like to apologize to the journalists I gave interviews to in which I exaggerated my own experiences.
That's me! And dozens of my colleagues. I guess I haven't decided if I accept that apology or not, or whether he's really who I want to hear from on "the myth of objective journalism."
The show's May 21 at the Tiffany Center; tickets are here.
What do you guys think?
For those keeping score at home, yet another strange problem with Portland's well-intentioned-but-troubled arts tax has come to light. This time, says Mayor Charlie Hales' office, it's that the city has been collecting its $35 from people living off state pension and/or Social Security checks—income sources the city is technically barred from considering for tax purposes.
And that means the city now must figure how out how to pay some of that money back. The snafu affects anyone who relies on entitlements and—crucially—didn't also earn more than $1,000 in eligible income from a part-time job or what have you. That $1,000 income threshold, approved in March, was the first big change for the arts tax. Hales is commissioning a broader review of changes, due this summer.
“This arts tax puts us in a bind,” Hales said in a statement. “We want to be true to voters, who approved it in November. We have to be good stewards of taxpayers’ money. And we want to support the public schools and arts community. These problems – which stem from the way the tax was written – make it difficult to meet all those goals.”
The city's revenue bureau isn't sure how many people qualify for the refund. Revenue Director Thomas Lannom, however, says $4.25 million has been collected so far. With eight days before the new May 15 deadline, that's about half of what officials said they expected to collect for the tax's first fiscal year.
The arts tax was approved by 61 percent of voters and is expected, pending legal challenges, to pay for school arts teachers and also help nonprofits and arts institutions expand access for low-income kids and other free programs.
Manwolfs and fluoride: Two great tastes that taste great together!
Everyone has already said what can be said about fluoride in the comment section of this week's cover story (I hope!), but did anyone say anything about the cover art? Did you think that yellow-toothed screaming monster had anything to do with the story? It didn't, it's just the Manwolfs' logo.
The Manwolfs have an art show this month in the lobby of the Wieden + Kennedy building all month long. Take a break from all the fluoride yapping and go see it.
More videos from the Manwolfs after the jump.
A "Savage Love" reader with phimosis recently wrote and asked for advice. Dr. King, my guest expert, suggested circumcision as one possible fix. Toby Butterfield also suffered from phimosis and wound up getting circumcised. Butterfield told the story of his circumcision—and his first post-phimosis orgasm—at a recent installment of Portland's Mystery Box Show, a performance series dedicated to stories about sex.
So maybe my excitement led me to get a little out of hand with the subject tags of this post, but that's only because Sword + Fern—the gem of a shop helmed by Emily Baker, who makes jewelry but also stocks local apothecary, art, clothing, vintage nicknacks, books, and more—just keeps becoming a better and more rounded nexus of all these things.
After closing for a few months for renovations, Sword + Fern will be back in the First Friday swing of it this week, debuting the first in their new series of curatorial collaborations/art installations, "DISCOVERe'verer," with Plane/Air, to be followed by a roster of participants that includes Claudia Meza, Anna Korte, Helmy Membreno, Valentine Freeman, and more. Plus they've just announced that S+F will be the pickup spot for produce from Thistle Top Farm, and a forthcoming clothing line collaboration with Portland Garment Factory(!!). Swing by this Friday from 6-9 for a look at the reconfigured space and a high five for Baker's expanded venture.
I've got a pair of tickets to give away to tonight's fundraiser for Action/Adventure Theatre, the fine folks responsible for the popular shows Fall of the Band, Troll 2: The Musical, and Late Night Action with Alex Falcone.
Action/Adventure invited local writers like Chelsea Cain, Ian Karmel, and Live Wire's Courtenay Hameister to create an original piece of flash fiction, and then handed each piece off to a performer or ensemble who was challenged to create an original work inspired by the writing.
Tonight's show will feature readings followed by short performances; performers include Atomic Arts (Trek in the Park), Trip the Dark, Portland Experimental Theater Ensemble, and the duo behind the recently debuted musical Water Man, who've created an original mini-musical just for tonight.
Plus, music from everybody's favorite nerd-pop duo The Doubleclicks! (They're the best.)
To win a a pair of tickets to tonight's show, email me with "Inspired By" in the headline by 2 pm today; I'll contact the winner shortly thereafter. Tickets will also be available at the door, $12-15, and online here.
Inspired by is tonight at the Secret Society Ballroom, 116 NE Russell, 8 pm.
(Full disclosure: I have a gajillion conflicts-of-interest with this show, most notably that my boyfriend organized it.)
On the photo tip: Blue Sky Gallery has a pair of photo shows announced for next month that look rather amazing. San Francisco-based photographer Lucas Foglia's "A Natural Order" is a collection of photos taken over the course of four years spent immersed in a network of communities living off the grid in the South (they were published as a book with the same title last year). A scroll through them reveals a mix of beautifully composed and sometimes disturbing images, including a partially decomposed bear that the caption indicates was "poisoned by neighbors," a steaming pile of possum stew complete with a dramatically protruding tail (nice plating), meat soaking in a bathtub, and a healthy sprinkling of naked-person bits, all set against lush rural backdrops and some rather lovely takes on rustic home decor.
Foglia describes the pictures as an "interpreted narrative" of life off the grid. They serve as an intimate portrayal of people who, motivated by environmental concerns, religious beliefs, and the global economic recession, build their homes using local materials, obtain their water from nearby springs, and hunt, gather, and grow their own food. His series depicts a real joy in the beauty of nature, and yet also the hardships of living in this way. "I wanted to see if I could find the absolute, if there were communities or individuals who lived off the grid and were wholly self-sufficient."
I can only imagine the stories he has to tell, and his artist's talk scheduled for Wednesday, May 1, at 6 pm is probably well worth attending. Joining him is New York artist Tamara Staples, who is a chicken portraitist. (No seriously, she has published not one but two books of chicken photos.) More on her show, "The Magnificent Chicken" beyond.
"Did you mean: Afghanistan’s drug industry"
That's what Google asked me when I plugged in the phrase "Afghanistan’s rug industry." Um, no Google, rugs not drugs. And hugs. Anyhow, it's some kind of dismal indicator that the industry that is second only to agriculture in providing income to people in cities like Kunduz has been overshadowed by those sleep-inducing poppies (which technically counts as agriculture, but still). It's an industry that perhaps makes for less grabby headlines, but the struggles faced by this traditional, and threatened trade (due in part to high tariffs imposed by countries like the US, as well as competing cheap, machine-made versions) are of concern—and hey, if the idea that a rug maker might be forced into a new career in the drug industry gets your attention, so be it. Although perhaps more compelling is that the rug industry is one of the only options for female employment in the country.
God, they're beautiful. I bring this up because next Thursday (April 25), Kush is hosting a talk given by Zubair Ahmadi, a member of a legendary rug making family who relocated to Los Angeles and capitalized on the cultural exposure to expand on traditional designs, landing his company spots in publications like Elle Decor. He'll be lecturing on the history and culture of Afghan rugs, including the current struggles. It's totally free to attend, and will be followed by hors d'oeuvres and refreshments. RSVP here for the 5:30-8:30 affair.
Earlier today, we reminded you about the new deadline for the arts tax: May 15. The post, like every post, has stirred up the usual smattering of promises and warnings and exhortations not to pay it.
Are these naysayers speaking for most of Portland? Or themselves? Let's find out! Here's a very official Blogtown poll—your chance to put your casual and anonymous opinions and/or plans on the line!
As we and nearly every other outlet reported last month, the deadline moved after Portland City Council agreed to add a $1,000 minimum income—a change that took effect only as of May 3. Previously, the tax applied to anyone who earned any income in 2012, provided they lived in a household above the federal poverty threshold.
The arts tax, meanwhile, has also been besieged by legal issues—is it a head tax?—and persistent complaints that it's not progressive enough. Mayor Charlie Hales has directed the city's revenue bureau to come back with suggested changes this summer. Those headaches could mean that millions meant for arts teachers and expanded access for low-income kids at city arts institutions winds up thrown into Portland's version of Free Parking while everything gets sorted out.
Meaning: If you've waited this long to decide whether to ignore the thing, you've got another month to make up your mind.
We're giving away some tickets to tomorrow night's installment of Russian Roulette, a newish show created by Back Fence PDX host Frayn Masters and Write Bloody's Derrick Brown.
I'll let them explain this one:
How it works: each show begins with a full wheel of juicy story prompts. One of the 8 storytellers will be randomly drawn. They spin the wheel to decide the prompt for their story. They can play or pass! If they pass another teller can steal their prompt! Then the risky part…each storyteller has only 5 minutes to come up with a true 5-minute story based on that prompt!!! It’s like we invented a new game called truth AND dare!
At the end of the night, the audience will select a winner who will receive 50 bucks and some other cool prizes, like bragging rights for life. Audience rounds (we ask people to volunteer, don’t worry we won’t pull out of the audience, cuz UGH.) will also be included!
Storytellers for this round of Russian Roulette include Derrick Brown, Audrey Kearns, Brian Bradley, (LA), Arthur Bradford, Adam Arnold, Jessica Rohen, Renee Jenkinson, and Brian Ellis. Read all about 'em here.
The show's tomorrow night at Disjecta, 8 pm; you can email me by 3 pm today with "Russian Roulette" in the subject line for a chance to win (if you don't hear back by 3:15, you did not win), or if you'd rather not chance it, tickets are $12.50 advance, $15 at the door.
After nine years at the helm of radio variety show Live Wire!, Courtenay Hameister is stepping down as host.
"I am simply not a person who is built for getting up in front of 400 people for three hours twice a month," explains Hameister of her decision to step down. "I've always loved being head writer, reading my essays and performing with the sketch comedy troupe, but doing interviews and being the sole conductor of the freight train that is our live show was causing me undue stress that I finally decided was too unhealthy to sustain."
"Those who listen to the show know that I had my gall bladder out New Year's Eve, and my doctor mentioned that stress is often a factor when it comes to gall stones. I only have so many expendable organs left, so I'm quitting while I'm ahead."
Live Wire! has gotten steadily better over the years: Their guest booking is the most interesting in town at this point (who else is gonna put Kristen Schaal and Lisa Hanawalt on a bill?), and Courtenay's a great interviewer with a relatable, self-deprecating demeanor. For the sake of her organs, though, it sounds like stepping down is the right thing to do.
She'll continue to co-produce the show and serve as head writer; Seattle's Luke Burbank will step in as interim host for the remainder of the spring season, as Live Wire! searches for a new permanent host.
Here's an important side effect of Mayor Charlie Hales' push to clean up the strangeness in Portland's new $35 arts tax by adding a $1,000 income minimum: The deadline to pay the thing is being pushed back a month, out to May 15.
How come? The ordinance adding the minimum hasn't been fast-tracked as an "emergency" law that would have let it take effect immediately. Instead, it's being shuffled along like a regular law. The Portland City Council took it up for the first time this morning, with a vote scheduled for next week, on April 3. After since regular laws need 30 days before becoming official, you can see how the old April 15 tax deadline was pretty much blown out of the water. The change also delays, by a year, the city's ability to include the tax in programs like TurboTax.
That Very Important Detail wasn't the only one to come out of today's meeting—which featured a theatrical lineup of foes and fans and well-meaning city bureaucrats struggling to make good on running a tax that, despite winning 61 percent approval last fall, remains dogged by flaws and legal questions. And they suggest an inconvenient road for a tax sold as a boon for arts teaching jobs and arts organizations working with poor kids.
In another surprise, thanks to a lawsuit in tax court filed by blogger Jack "Bojack" Bogdanski (first reported by WW), Commissioner Nick Fish said it wasn't rather uncertain whether the city would decide to distribute the money to schools and arts groups while that suit remains unsettled. Bogdanski is arguing the the tax, which applies to most every Portland income earner, is an unconstitutional head tax.
"The city may not have the luxury of distributing these funds," Fish said. "My own sense of the coucnil is that if we are liable for returning 100 percent of proceeds in the unlikely event we lose the constitutional case, it's highly unlikely we'll allow any distribution until that issue has been resolved."
The $1,000 minimum is just the first change Hales wants in place and the most immediate one. A resolution adopted by the council this morning directs the city's revenue bureau to return by July with recommendations that could lead to a dramatic overhaul of the tax.
Those changes could even negate a suit like Bojack's if the tax winds up more progressive and less regressive. They'll also likely spell out a threshold before the city decides to send a credit collector after scofflaws who don't pay. The idea that council might make changes was one reason why the measure was sent to voters as an ordinance, not a charter amendment.
For now, the added money the city must spend offering refunds to anyone who paid before the minimum and doing other work, along with a slightly reduced mark for revenue ($277,000), puts officials at risk of exceeding the 5 percent cap on administrative costs approved by voters.
"We believe we'll remain under the cap on a going-forward basis," said Revenue Bureau director Thomas Lannom. "However, any contingency space we had is being impacted by today's vote."
Oh, and there was one other thing worth mentioning: Lannom, noting complaints from citizens and city commissioners about the city's arts tax website, said his staff is making fixes and, gloriously, will "soon" accept debit cards for payment.
Continuing my day's theme of things you can hang on a wall: I've been cultivating an obsession with the art of Wesley Younie for the past couple years (full disclosure: we are friends, but I am also friends with other, more mediocre artists (you know who you are!) who I never blog about). Anyhow, one of the handful of poor decision that I, and maybe you, made this weekend was to be too tired/scared of downtown to go out to the opening of his new show, with Amy Ruppel, on Saturday at the Mark Woolley gallery space in Pioneer Place.
One of my most prized possessions is the giant Younie painting hanging in my living room, and I've been known to give some of his smaller pieces as gifts. But after seeing photos of the work (I had a mole), which will remain up until May 12, it's clear that I'm far from having satisfied the urge to look at these expansive nature motifs, in all their blue-skied psychedelia and alternating darkness, every goddamn day.
It feels like a home decor kind of day over on MOD, where between the new collection from Pigeon Toe Ceramics and a revamped online Sword + Fern, we're overloading on the potential of a blank wall. Click over to see what we're getting into.
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