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Thursday, February 17, 2005

It never stops

Ah, spring is in the air. The time of year when Portland bureaucrats' thoughts inevitably turn to screwing the neighborhoods on the east side.

The latest? Close Buckman Pool, and maybe Pier Pool too.

I guess the idea is that if the kids from those neighborhoods want to learn how to swim, they can hitchhike over to Gabriel Park.

Comments (12)

On the upside, it looks like Council members are scoffing at the suggestions.

So far, I kind of like the way the Portland City Council is headed.

"I'm seeing too many proposals that call for cutting programs rather than cutting management," Randy Leonard said. "That's not acceptable."

And at least Mr. Leonard is thinking in the right direction.

Last Tribune talked about turning off all the fountains in Portland too.


How about we stop expanding the streetcar, which already costs the taxpayers around $1 million a year? Heaven forbid.

Wow Jack... I love the punch that comes with a focused statement like that.

Oh, and does everyone know the reason for shutting down the Kenton school?

It seems they are targeting some nice high density housing for that schoolyard on the light rail line.

Apropos of something, people interested in the South Waterfront debate can watch tonight's Council hearing, which got underway at 6 PM.

Both Dan Saltzman and I are on "Team A" that is reviewing the lions share of city general fund budgets. Those include Fire, Police, Parks, Planning and PDC.

In the budget presentations so far, it is clear the bureau directors didn't hear or didn't believe our directive to provide us with recommended 5% budget cuts that minimize reducing front line services.

For an example, the Fire Bureau proposed closing 3 fire stations to meet it's 5% reduction goal. However, in the hearing earlier this week, I identified specific 40 hour, non emergency positions, such as the entire public education office, that would add up to an amount that would require closing only one fire station.

To be polite, the fire chief and assistant chief were not very happy with me. Thank God they can't transfer me any more.

Although Parks has yet to make a presentation, my office in working with Commission Saltzman's office, has identified enough cuts (for an example parks planners) to not only keep all of the community centers open, but also to put garbage cans back in all of Portland's parks.

This effort on the part of the council is only possible because Tom Potter agreed to try this new budgeting process that is based on the legislatures Ways and Means Committee model. Team A and Team B (Adams and Sten) are analogous to sub committees of Ways and Means.

This process allows us to divide the bureaus up and have twice the time with each bureau to "bore" deep within their budgets. For this to work as proposed, both the Mayor and other two council members need to accept our work, generally speaking, as recommended by the two teams.

In the past, prior Mayor's have literally developed these budgets within the Mayor's office and then presented the final product to the council. Attempts to discuss various particulars were met with varying degrees of disdain.

There is a more subtle but important phenomena that this process is addressing.

Under prior Mayor's, bureau directors were given the authority to decide on their own how to manage their bureau's. The council acted more as a board of directors and treated the bureau directors as CEO's. This process is changing that...and change I whole heartedly support.

We are second guessing decisions made by the bureau directors and refusing to agree to cuts that will harm direct public services. We are going to cut administrative, management and all non-emergency positions possible first before touching front line cops, firefighters and important services such as community centers and pools.

And oh yeah, I warned the Parks director that it is my goal to see garbage cans put back into all city parks by July, 1 using their existing resources.

Stand by.

Good work on the garbage cans. We could also make to have these at every major tri-met stop.

Also on the chopping block- the 30 year old community garden program. We have two in Buckman. It 's an ongoing struggle to maintain livability here in Buckman.

The children at Buckman were told they would have some garden space in the spring.

Well, all community gardens will be closed as of July 1st if all goes as planned. I have had a garden in the Buckman Community Garden for almost 7 years. I grow lots of food each summer, can and freeze stuff and give alot away to neighbours. It's just amazing to me that they would take the most positive programs with the least amount of operating costs and threaten to take them away.

Buckman Pool was closed for a year during 2002-2003 leaving neighbourhood children with absolutely no place to recreate safely here in our hood. You'd think with all of the negative things the city has forced Buckmanites to endure, that they'd pony up the $99,000 per year operating costs. PPR doesn't own the pool, and the school district pays for maintenance costs, so it should be a shoe-in to keep this facility open.

Again, I want to bang my drum. Fully fund core services first... if there's not enough money dump the fluff. If my household income takes a hit, I can't call the mortgage company and tell them I'll be short paying the house payment. You pitch the cable TV, movie night out, etc. The city has a built in inflation factor for admin and overhead in the budget which goes up and up every year... whether it needs to or not. They lump that into the "non-discretionary" section (blue money, orange money). How about we consider whether those line items need to grow every year.

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