To the Point TV Show: February 2010

After a year on hiatus, the political talk show To the point! is back. These are the topics we discussed on the last show. I just checked the website and the shows haven’t been uploaded, but check back in about a week or so at http://www.tothepointtv.org.

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In this photo from left to right: Richard Donin, Matt Wingard, Kelly Jo Horton, Courtney Clarke, Mike Riley.

Panelists for these two shows were:

Richard Donin, Energy and Educational Consultant
Al Young, former Oregon State Legislator
and guest panelists Courtney Clarke, a local business owner
and Jack Ohman, Editorial Cartoonist for the Oregonian

Show 1:
First: International

On January 12th, the worst earthquake in 200 years struck less than 10 miles from the city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, turning an already impoverished nation into a pile of rubble. Many have compared the disaster in Haiti to the devastation of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, but you can’t really compare a regional disaster to an entire country in pieces, or can you? When the cameras stop rolling and the celebrities stop raising money for Haiti, will they be able to recover and how long will it take?

Second: National
Toyota Motor Corporation has been criticized for its initial response to the consumer complaints of unintended acceleration in some of its vehicles. In a recent hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee California State Representative Henry A. Waxman, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said Toyota had three responses to the consumer complaints: First, blame the driver. Second, blame the floor mat. Third, blame a sticky gas pedal. Toyota has now recalled more than eight million vehicles world-wide for unintended acceleration, brake problems and other issues. Is it too little too late, and have they damaged the brand loyalty?

Third: Statewide
Oregon voters recently passed Measures 66 and 67, which were supposed to prevent further layoffs in the public school system and fund public services. Since the measures became law some local businesses have closed due to the retroactive taxes owed, and schools are still being asked to make cuts. Did the voters really know what they were voting for, and where did all of the money go?

Fourth: Local
As we sit here and tape this show, the Metro Council is discussing the urban growth boundary, and voting on agreements with the three Portland-area counties to designate which land will be developed and which will remain rural for the next 40 to 50 years. Should Metro be picking the winners and losers, and will these property owners have any recourse if they want to but can’t develop their land?

Show 2:

First: International
U.N. Climate Chief Yvo de Boer recently resigned after four years of leading international climate change negotiations. Some say it was due to the chaos of the Copenhagen summit last year, and the fact that the summit quickly became known as Climate-gate after 1,000 suspicious emails between climate scientists were leaked to the public. Will these scientists ever be able to regain the trust of the global community, and will the world’s largest polluters be motivated to change now?

Second: National
President Obama’s healthcare bill seems to be losing steam, with the recent departure of some supporters on the Democratic side of the aisle. Does President Obama have what it takes to convince the House and Senate to pass some sort of healthcare reform, or has his window of opportunity passed?

Third: Statewide
(I had to write this topic five minutes before the show because the previous topic was outdated by the time I drove to the studio!) We discussed the future of the newspaper industry, given the fact that the Oregonian had laid off 37 people the week we taped the show, and the fact that we had Jack Ohman on the show to discuss the topic.

Fourth: Local
The City of Portland is taking unspent money from the Big Pipe waste-water project, to use for other purposes, such as bike paths. The Willamette Week newspaper has documented other cases where the City of Portland is taking money collected for one purpose and using it for other purposes. Are these the kind of decisions Portland officials were elected to make?

One of the Most Popular Writers You've Never Heard Of

Verve, ‘weird perspective’ makes blogger’s site a hit

Thursday, January 05, 2006 The Oregonian

Kelly Jo Horton is one of the most popular writers you’ve never heard of.

She’s always written; she says she’s “driven to write.” Poems. Essays. Notes. Journal entries.

But last August something changed. Oh, Kelly Jo is still writing. But now people all over the world are reading about her best dates and favorite bands, the day she met Billy Bob Thornton, her frustrations and joys as a parent, even the conversation she had with a college student she met in an aisle at Target.

Kelly Jo has become a blogger, and in the world of Web logs, she’s becoming a star. Her blog is published on MySpace.com (http://blog.myspace.com/kellyjo2), the wildly popular networking Web site with 41 million users, more page views than Google and more members than America Online.

In the few months since she started uploading onto her blog a daily tossed salad of opinions, photos and observations, the number of people reading and responding to her blog has skyrocketed.

She can’t compete with rock bands and celebrities, who collect “friends” on the site that can number in the hundreds of thousands. But “when you divide the bloggers into categories,” she says, “I’m in the top five almost every day” in categories such as “poetry and writing,” “life, work and careers,” “romance and relationships.”

Kelly Jo talks about it all on her blog: facing a cancer diagnosis, kids cheating at Uno, giving pot roasts as Christmas gifts, how to control sibling rivalry (she keeps her videocamera in the kitchen and records her kids’ fights), rock concert etiquette, grammatical errors and the gross birthday cake she made for her delighted teenage son. (He has a blog, too. Kelly Jo reads it regularly. She wishes more parents kept track of what their teens are writing online.)

She also writes about her acting jobs. In fact, her blog already has led to parts in independent films and a hosting job on a cable-access show called “To the Point.”

“The producer of the show found me on MySpace and hired me,” Kelly Jo says. She gets no pay. “It’s cable. But I get exposure. I get experience.”

The 42-year-old divorced mother of three, who lives in the Portland area, has a day job as a software support engineer. “But in every other spare moment I have, I’m acting or writing or doing improv” or being Mom. “I have one job that pays the bills and one that feeds my soul, is basically what it is.” (Full disclosure: Kelly Jo and I do improv at ComedySportz in Portland.)

Kelly avoids politics, but anything else is fair game. “The thing I enjoy most is posting subjects that get people wound up . . . when I post my perspective and I get other people’s perspectives.” She also poses questions: What should she get her father for his birthday? Why is marriage so hard?

She says she hasn’t received much hate mail. “I’ve got people who like to stir things up sometimes.” But Kelly Jo gets to edit the comments that are shown on her blog site. “If they’re personally attacking anyone else, I won’t publish it. I make them play fair.

“The worst things I get are e-mails from tons of young guys. It’s all about, ‘I like older women. Do you like younger guys?’ ”

She doesn’t respond, and she makes it clear on her MySpace home page that she’s not blogging to meet men or collect “friends” on the site. She’s selective: She’ll only let you be a “friend” if you e-mail her (“I prefer e-mails that contain complete sentences”). She then checks out your own blog to see if you have things in common. “I’m not on there to collect strangers,” she says. “I’m there to meet interesting people, and I have.”

Half her readers are men and half women, which shows both sexes appreciate Kelly Jo’s eclectic subjects and her candor. Sometimes her blog is raw. Sometimes it’s utterly sentimental.

“People tell me sometimes, ‘Your blogs are so interesting. Nothing ever happens in my life.’ I say, ‘You know, I could go to Starbucks for 10 minutes and find something to write about. It’s not that my life is interesting — it’s that I pay attention to what’s going on around me. Plenty of my blogs are about absolutely nothing, just my weird perspective on life.”

That perspective has attracted celebrity fans (they use fake names and pictures on MySpace, but they tell Kelly Jo who they really are) and new personal friends from all over the world who e-mail Kelly Jo regularly.

“One of my friends calls it the ‘coffee shop of the millennium,’ ” she says. “It’s like the old water cooler.” It’s addictive, writing and reading responses and responding to those.

In five months. her blog entries have prompted readers to get checked for cancer, listen to new bands, volunteer at the Oregon Food Bank, worry that she’s lonely.

She’s not lonely. She has a large circle of friends outside the Internet, she says. “This just allows me to have a social life on the nights or days when I have my kids and I can’t go out.”

Whether she’s discussing physics, almost missing a plane flight or smelling Ken dolls in Toys R Us, Kelly Jo Horton, single Portland mom, is sharing her sparking brain on the Internet every day, and the world is reading.

“I just love taking the most mundane things and making them interesting,” she says. “I feel better when I’m done.”

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