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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 20, 2005 1:24 PM. The previous post in this blog was Time out. The next post in this blog is Arrest made in Lars crank call case. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I have changed my mind

Last week I announced that I was signing the petition to force the City of Portland to put its proposed takeover of Portland General Electric (PGE) up for a public vote. But today I read this in the Willamette Week:

The public-relations firm Gard & Gerber -- which has long represented PGE and orchestrated a ballot campaign against a proposed Portland public utility district in 2003 -- announced that prominent local businessmen had formed the Committee to Support PGE. The committee includes Tom Walsh, the local frontman for Texas Pacific's failed effort to buy PGE, and former PGE president Dick Reiten.

Well, that's the end of that. My copy of the petition goes into the shredder. If it comes down to a battle between Sten and Goldschmidt, I'll take Sten. Not a happy choice, but that's life.

UPDATE, 7/21, 3:40 p.m.: Deal's off!

Comments (19)

Sten or Goldschmidt... what a choice.

Jack,
The thing that rankles me most about Portland's effort to purchase PGE is that it illustrates an oft repeated position of the City Council.

"You elected us to make these decisions for you".

Sten verbalizes this with regard to PGE, Potter verbalized this with regard to public campaign financing, Slatzman verbalized this with regard to reservoir burying, etc. etc. etc.

If the council does not think they need to consider the voters on fundamental changes to the city's political process or putting the citizens on the hook for 3 billion of debt, at what point do they think they need to consider the will of the citizens?

The fact is, they don't.

This is a recurrent them in Portland, Multnomah County and the State. (Probably the other counties as well but I don't keep track). The arrogance and elitism is overwhelming.

"Don't bother us with your opinions, little people, we know what is best for you".

oops.. typo.. make that "recurrent theme"...

But Jack, if you want to change your mind again on this, see today's article on how well the city is running things at the water bureau: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1121853555105650.xml&coll=7&thispage=1

Jack,

Are you really going to judge whether this issue is worth supporting by trying to figure out who else might see it the same way?

I imagine Tre Arrow supports the City's plan to condemn PGE through eminent domain and allow political ideologies of City Commissioners to shape how it is operated.

Do you want to start trying to figure out who wins in a battle of Tre vs. Neil? the math is daunting.

I'm signing the petition simply because the City ought to put something like this up for a public vote.

I wouldn't change my mind if I suddenly discovered a skinhead gang also agrees with me on this point.

Erik could always just redo whatever a petition (and vote) undid to begin with. Groundhog day.

How about a court action that states the clear state of the law -- that Portland's reach is no further than its' geographic boundary. Silly.

The TPG folks were the pawns of the public employee trust funds, of which the OIC was just one investor. The OIC wanted the big gains from the RESALE to someone with a "strategic" interest . . . like some bigger utility monopoly that can benefit from repealing certain federal restrictions. Silly. Then they wanted kickbacks in the form of like investment opportunities where some other state trustee greased the skids.

You can support stopping Erik and the OIC bad guys at the same time. Whack all the moles.

G&G didn't just orchestrate the anti-PUD thing, they impersonated a "grassroots" and "citizens" campaign to do it, until someone on Portland Indymedia outed them on it.

Are you really going to judge whether this issue is worth supporting by trying to figure out who else might see it the same way?

In this case, and with this particular group of "civic-minded business leaders," absolutely yes. If the Goldschmidt Clan wants something, it means there's money in it for them. And they've already taken enough out of my pocket, thanks. I'd rather give it to Sten and watch him waste it.

Is the court system inadequate to the task, Jack? This would sound like a greater problem in my book. Suppose I (or anyone) stopped Erik in the court rather than through an unnecessary petition vote. Would the court system be looked at in the same way as you now look at the Neil G. team?

Given the eagerness of folks to get their hands on PGE is it unrealistic to believe that in July/August 2003 that this influenced the then-proposed deal on issuing Pension Obligation Bonds (Measure 29)? Shouldn't there be even the slightest bit of caution by the various parties? If they are just flying by the seat of their pants without a care in the world does this mean that the AG and a DA are failing their duty to the public?

The problems are bigger than Neil and he was already tossed overboard for the greater good of the collective.

he was already tossed overboard

Perhaps, but methinks he's just below the surface.

I guess I don't see this as a zero-sum game - that if Sten loses then Neil wins.

I don't think that Neil (or cronies) are in much of a position to win here.

Just as likely the "civic minded business leaders" (as you term them) are worried that if Sten wins, we all lose (and them especially).

However, one likely scenario where Neil doesn't win is if PGE just re-issues stock and use proceeds to pay off the Enron creditors.

Either way, I want the chance to vote. If this really boils down to Neil v. Erik, then let's at least bring the argument out into the open.

So be it. But I think I'll go back to being an agnostic on this one.

I still can't figure out why we need a vote to decide whether we want to control our own power destiny and save money at the same time...

TorridJoe,

A vote is warranted because they want the taxpayers in the city of Portland to back 3 billion in additional debt. Remember WPPS in Washington? If the city gets ahold of PGE, and bungles it, the taxpayers will be holding the bag.

he was already tossed overboard.
Perhaps, but methinks he's just below the surface.

Neil's special cachet was always just that he was Neil. Who he was is what carried the day for him in whatever he did. But being Neil is no longer special, at least not in any positive sense. In fact, it's a liability. And actually, now, anybody known to be consorting with him on any level loses points. I don't think Neil is a factor anymore. If you are going to scotch anything of a political nature in Oregon, good idea or not, merely because it has former Goldschmidt toadies attached to it, well, that covers a vast expanse.

If you are going to scotch anything of a political nature in Oregon, good idea or not, merely because it has former Goldschmidt toadies attached to it, well, that covers a vast expanse.

For a few years, at least, that's the way it ought to be. If you don't think that fellow is still very much in the game, you are naive.

Jack, I've read your posts opposing municipal control over PGE for what, over a year now? You usually end up with a swipe at Commissioner Sten, and some a comment or two expressing doubt as to the City's ability to effectively run a public power company.

Is your opposition to the idea of publicly owned utilities in general, or just the idea of Portland (specifically with our current leaders) running it's own power company?

If it's the former I guess I just don't disagree, but if it's the latter then is there any set of circumstances or provisions (mandatory citizen input for example) that would actually get you onboard with public power?

What I have against public power, Portland-style, is (1) the public here has consistently voted down PUDs whenever presented with them, (2) the rate savings being promised by the city are far from a sure thing, (3) the city's conveniently overlooking the huge profit that's going to be made by the private operator that it's going to hire to run the utility, (4) the city will take all the risk while "the region" will wind up governing the company, (5) there will be years of litigation, (6) see Dave Lister's posts, (7) Water Bureau... really, there are a myriad of reasons. But I'm willing to give them all up in order to stick another big loss in the Goldschmidtters' ears.

For me it is another demonstration of uncontrolled spending of public funds with no public mandate. If you belong to any kind of club or organization, before it spends a huge portion of the budget, or goes into debt, don't they always have the members vote on it?

As with other major expenses the city council goofies come up with, we seem to be hell bent on making P town the most expensive place on earth to live, and only the mayor and his bobble heads will control how much we each pay. We have roads we can just barely drive on safely, bridges that are near collapse, and a dying retail downtown. I know, we voted them in - maybe its time for a change in the way we run the city...

Just heard on the radio that Enron said "no thanks" to Portland on buying PGE. The city can still exercise condemnation, but only, as I understand it, on the PGE assets WITHIN the city limits. Since the generation facilities are outside of the city limits, a city owned power distribution company would be buying their power from, guess who, PGE.

I think it will be interesting to add up all the costs that were associated with this effort, and contrast it to the four million dollars of tax relief that Sam Adams was attempting to provide local businesses, an effort which was vigorously opposed by Erik Sten.

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