Detail, east Portland photo, courtesy Miles Hochstein / Portland Ground.



For old times' sake
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!

To order, click here.







Excellent tunes -- free! And on your browser right now. Just click on Radio Bojack!






E-mail us here.

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 19, 2005 12:17 AM. The previous post in this blog was Jackpot. The next post in this blog is Buzz kill. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Archives

Links

Law and Taxation
How Appealing
TaxProf Blog
Mauled Again
Tax Appellate Blog
A Taxing Matter
TaxVox
Tax.com
Josh Marquis
Native America, Discovered and Conquered
The Yin Blog
Ernie the Attorney
Conglomerate
Above the Law
The Volokh Conspiracy
Going Concern
Bag and Baggage
Wealth Strategies Journal
Jim Hamilton's World of Securities Regulation
myCorporateResource.com
World of Work
The Faculty Lounge
Lowering the Bar
OrCon Law

Hap'nin' Guys
Tony Pierce
Parkway Rest Stop
Utterly Boring.com
Along the Gradyent
Dwight Jaynes
Bob Borden
Dingleberry Gazette
The Red Electric
Iced Borscht
Jeremy Blachman
Dean's Rhetorical Flourish
Straight White Guy
HinesSight
Onfocus
Jalpuna
Beerdrinker.org
As Time Goes By
Dave Wagner
Jeff Selis
Alas, a Blog
Scott Hendison
Sansego
The View Through the Windshield
Appliance Blog
The Bleat

Hap'nin' Gals
My Whim is Law
Lelo in Nopo
Attorney at Large
Linda Kruschke
The Non-Consumer Advocate
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place
A Pig of Success
Attorney at Large
Margaret and Helen
Kimberlee Jaynes
Cornelia Seigneur
Mireio
And Sew It Goes
Mile 73
Rainy Day Thoughts
That Black Girl
Posie Gets Cozy
{AE}
Cat Eyes
Rhi in Pink
Althouse
GirlHacker
Ragwaters, Bitters, and Blue Ruin
Frytopia
Rose City Journal
Type Like the Wind

Portland and Oregon
Isaac Laquedem
StumptownBlogger
Rantings of a [Censored] Bus Driver
Jeff Mapes
Vintage Portland
The Portlander
South Waterfront
Amanda Fritz
O City Hall Reporters
Guilty Carnivore
Old Town by Larry Norton
The Alaunt
Bend Blogs
Lost Oregon
Cafe Unknown
Tin Zeroes
David's Oregon Picayune
Mark Nelsen's Weather Blog
Travel Oregon Blog
Portland Daily Photo
Portland Building Ads
Portland Food and Drink.com
Dave Knows Portland
Idaho's Portugal
Alameda Old House History
MLK in Motion
LoveSalem

Retired from Blogging
Various Observations...
The Daily E-Mail
Saving James
Portland Freelancer
Furious Nads (b!X)
Izzle Pfaff
The Grich
Kevin Allman
AboutItAll - Oregon
Lost in the Details
Worldwide Pablo
Tales from the Stump
Whitman Boys
Misterblue
Two Pennies
This Stony Planet
1221 SW 4th
Twisty
I am a Fish
Here Today
What If...?
Superinky Fixations
Pinktalk
Mellow-Drama
The Rural Bus Route
Another Blogger
Mikeyman's Computer Treehouse
Rosenblog
Portland Housing Blog

Wonderfully Wacky
Dave Barry
Borowitz Report
Blort
Stuff White People Like
Worst of the Web

Valuable Time-Wasters
My Gallery of Jacks
Litterbox, On the Prowl
Litterbox, Bag of Bones
Litterbox, Scratch
Maukie
Ride That Donkey
Singin' Horses
Rally Monkey
Simon Swears
Strong Bad's E-mail

Oregon News
KGW-TV
The Oregonian
Portland Tribune
KOIN
Willamette Week
KATU
The Sentinel
Southeast Examiner
Northwest Examiner
Sellwood Bee
Mid-County Memo
Vancouver Voice
Eugene Register-Guard
OPB
Topix.net - Portland
Salem Statesman-Journal
Oregon Capitol News
Portland Business Journal
Daily Journal of Commerce
Oregon Business
KPTV
Portland Info Net
McMinnville News Register
Lake Oswego Review
The Daily Astorian
Bend Bulletin
Corvallis Gazette-Times
Roseburg News-Review
Medford Mail-Tribune
Ashland Daily Tidings
Newport News-Times
Albany Democrat-Herald
The Eugene Weekly
Portland IndyMedia
The Columbian

Music-Related
The Beatles
Bruce Springsteen
Seal
Sting
Joni Mitchell
Ella Fitzgerald
Steve Earle
Joe Ely
Stevie Wonder
Lou Rawls

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Monday, September 19, 2005

Of sweeps and rugs

The old boys of Portland sure do seem anxious to get back to business over at the Portland Development Commission. Last week, John Russell and Bob Walsh, two developers who have previously served as chairmen of the PDC, published an op-ed piece in The 0 loudly announcing that, with a new sheriff in town, it's time to hurry up and resume covering the city with tax-subsidized high-rise junk:

The recent election of Eric Parsons, chief executive at Standard Insurance Co., as chairman of the Portland Development Commission completes a clean sweep of the three positions most important to its success: We now have a new mayor and the PDC has a new chairman and new executive director.
Now I'll admit there's been a "sweep" of sorts over there, but I think the jury is still out on the "clean" part. Parsons, the new PDC chair, has been on the PDC board since November 2003, when he was appointed by then-Mayor Vera Katz. He has been a board member throughout all of the PDC hijinks of the last year and a half, and he's been in the majority on every wrong-headed vote that came down the PDC pike during that time under former chair Matt Hennessee. The new board secretary, Doug Blomgren, is in an even more intriguing position, having been appointed to the board by Katz (reportedly at the behest of City Commissioner Erik Sten and then-City Commissioner Jim Francesconi) in September 1997!

What concerns some of us is that the "sweep" to which Russell and Walsh referred may be just another under the very large PDC rug. Until the new crew shows tangible signs of improvement, I think it would behoove that agency and the City Council to do the exact opposite of what Russell and Walsh want. They're urging the city to throw caution to the wind now that the bad old days are over. Not so fast, fellows.

One of their arguments for having the PDC crank up an ambitious and accelerated agenda really cracked me up:

However, with a payroll of more than 200 talented employees, the development commission needs to constantly "do deals" to show a return on the staff investment. So caution and timidity need to be mixed with a healthy dose of impatience.
Since we've got such a bloated staff, we need to do more deals! That's interesting. There's another option, guys: fewer deals and some pink slips.

If the PDC wanted to show us that a new era of openness and accountability has suddenly dawned, the latest on the Convention Center hotel project is an interesting way to do it. Never mind the fact that the public has never been asked -- and never will -- whether it thinks spending a couple of hundred million tax dollars to build the hotel is worth it. (And I hear there's going to be a 30-year property tax abatement, and so in present-value terms, it's like a permanent 77 percent tax cut for the hotel.) If that's good money after bad, we all just have to shut up and like it.

But now let's talk about who the developer is going to be. According to a preliminary PDC committee recommendation, it's Ashforth Pacific, a local firm whose CEO, Hank Ashforth, is, among other things, on the board of directors of the Portland Family of Funds. PFF is the investment bank that the PDC created and then simply handed off to private owners. The same PFF that's into the PDC for around $1 million in loans, with no idea when it will be able to pay them back. The same PFF that could very well be bestowing federal tax credits on the hotel development.

"Development can be a small, small world," chuckled the headline on the 0 article about this on Thursday -- the same day that the Russell-Walsh rah-rah opinion piece ran. Oh yes, so humorous.

Meanwhile, the audit that was forced after some truly scandalous PDC doings were uncovered earlier this year has produced some startling findings. According to the audit, employees at the PDC don't bother to follow the agency's contracting policies fully one third of the time, including (according to The 0) "contracts for everything from studies to construction."

Of course, the spin machine at The 0 buried the significance of this. The headline was "Audits say PDC rules OK, follow-through lacking." Sure. And naturally, as is their wont, the folks at The 0 resumed their eternal game of "Who Had the Pickle?" Somebody bought beer, some employees booked rooms at the Benson for themselves one night, some forms weren't signed, blah blah blah.

Hey, kids. Stop trying to snow us with the trivia. We want to know about the "studies and construction." Which contracting policies were violated in those categories, for how much, and in whose favor?

Anyone who thinks that suddenly the public is going to forget about the many problems at the PDC is making a "high-definition" mistake.

Comments (7)

I went to the PDC site and pulled the PDF (it is 10M if you have a FTP site) for Ashforth's proposal (actually fait accompli) and the assumptions are:
1) Cost of Hotel $180M
2) Bonds issued $177M TaxExempt Series A
3) Hotel will not pay property taxes
4) City has an obligation to pay up to 50% of debt service in event that hotel NOI and occupancy taxes were "insufficient"
5) Asset mgr (180K) and Admin Exp (100K) both growing at 3% are paid before debt service.

If I am wrong, please correct me, but everyone in the Portland Visitor Association is visiting every blog to flog this thing.

This is really going to be a clinker, especially when you look at the StLouis attempt at a CC hotel (Forbes - Feb 05 article.) For some reason, CoP doesn't seem to realize these dont work and it will not magically transform MLK into Disneyland Main Street USA.

So sum/substance Ashforth borrows $180M to build the hotel, keeps the prop taxes and overhead and if they don't make enough profit only pays half of the debt. Can I get CoP and PDC as my bankers?

Oh now people. Not to worry.
We have been told to toss all of the contrarian evidence as the viability of this new adventure is solid because the Hotel will be just the right size at 400 rooms.

As if no other municipality played that ludicrous game with their taxpayers.

It's a full court press to keep the PDC the Portland 'Developers' Commission.

With the two prominent and affluent PDC clients, Russell and Walsh, warning the city council not to rock the boat, (openly in the O), one has to wonder if they and the PDC are nearing desperation.

Of course much of the PDC operations resemble the bogus yet defeated Alexan tax abatement so more of the shenanigans (big cost-low benefit-long term commitments) will be revealed as the fiscal crisis mounts.

When the increased skimming of basic services budgets reaches critical mass perhaps the PPS will finally jump into the vanguard too.

I forgot - said hotel gets to keep the room occupancy taxes also.

I was at least happy to see that the new 21 story Metropolitan building going up in the Pearl at 10th and Lovejoy is getting no tax abatements. Unfortunately the average price of the units is expected to be $800k.

The Metropolitan gets offset by the Sitka which offers 2bd apts (w/ free high-speed internet access) for $650-700/month.

just to clarify, there were actually two audits. One, the city auditor's, is the "find the pickle" audit, and is pretty accurately reported on by the O, imo. Even the incidents raised are directly taken from the only incidents reported on in the audit. The O does take it a step further than the city auditor, and actually snifs out the explanation for the pickle pickle. Whose pocket, and how soggy it got...

The only thing of importance I think their coverage missed was the issue of who the PDC internal auditor reports to, and the lack of specificity in ethics procedures, for employees who see something they question. This came near the "back of the bus" in the report, so the significance in terms of company culture and accountability was perhaps overlooked.

(This, btw, is not something only PDC is weak on. The entire city is vulnerable in this regard. There is an effort to address this at the next CC meetng, but while "thou shalt do notting" in heaped on aplenty on the city staff, it fails to provide clear procedures for staff to follow if they have a concern - how to report, who to report to, or to specify the manager's responsibility to report back to the concerned staff as to the disposition of their concern... Such procedures are critical if you really want staff to report stuff.)

Anyway,

The stats that Jack is interested in, and which I agree get far more to the heart of the issues that citizens wanted explored, are from another audit entirely. One done by a private firm, not by the city auditor.

I'm not sure why the O's reporting was more superficial in regard to this second audit. Certainly it sounds much more interesting and informative in scope than the city auditor's. However, I have not seen it yet, though I've read the City Auditor's rather thin report. (Don't be shy, give it a read, it'll take you all of a good steady 15 minutes.)

So it may be the other report doesn't have much to it. Anyone else had a goggle at it? Has it got a bit more meat to it than the O's reporting might suggest? Got a link? I'd be interested in reading it.

I read with interest your comments on PDC and in particular the comment that you wanted to know which contract policies were violated for how much and in whose favor? I am not sure whether or not this is relevant, but when I spoke to the Real Estate Commissioner of our Great State he informed me that contracts are written all the time in someone's favor and because the real estate moguls control the lobby that it wasn't likely to change anytime soon. So, my being outraged at a non-disclosed conflict of interest, in a personal real estate deal was of little interest to him.

But if that is the attitude of the regulators what else can you expect.


Sponsors


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Chloe, Pinot Grigio, Valdadige 2013
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir 2013
Kirkland, Pinot Grigio, Friuli 2013
St. Francis, Red Splash 2011
Rodney Strong, Canernet, Alexander Valley 2011
Erath, Pinot Blanc 2013
Taylor Fladgate, Porto 2007
Portuga, Rose 2013
Domaine Digioia-Royer, Chambolle-Musigny, Vielles Vignes Les Premieres 2008
Locations, F Red Blend
El Perro Verde, Rueda 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red 2
If You See Kay, Red 2011
Turnbull, Old Bull Red 2010
Cherry Tart, Cherry Pie Pinot Noir 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Cabernet, Oakville 2012
Benton Lane, Pinot Gris 2012
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Reserva 2008
Haden Fig, Pinot Noir 2012
Pendulum Red 2011
Vina Real, Plata, Crianza Rioja 2009
Edmunds St. John, Bone/Jolly, Gamay Noir Rose 2013
Bookwalter, Subplot No. 26
Ayna, Tempranillo 2011
Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Haley's Block 2010
Apaltagua, Reserva Camenere 2012
Lugana, San Benedetto 2012
Argyle Brut 2007
Wildewood Pinot Gris 2012
Anciano, Tempranillo Reserva 2007
Santa Rita, Reserva Cabernet 2009
Casone, Toscana 2008
Fonseca Porto, Bin No. 27
Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuissé 2011
Trader Joe's, Grower's Reserve Pinot Noir 2012
Zenato, Lugana San Benedetto 2012
Vintjs, Cabernet 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White 2012
Rainstorm, Oregon Pinot Gris 2012
Silver Palm, North Coast Cabernet 2011
Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer 2008
Rodney Strong, Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Canoe Ridge, Pinot Gris, Expedition 2012
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rose 2012
Dark Horse, Big Red Blend No. 01A
Elk Cove, Pinot Noir Rose 2012
Fletcher, Shiraz 2010
Picollo, Gavi 2011
Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jongieux 2012
Eyrie, Pinot Blanc 2010
Atticus, Pinot Noir 2010
Walter Scott, Pinot Noir, Holstein 2011
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
Coppola, Sofia Rose 2012
Joel Gott, 851 Cabernet 2010
Pol Roget Reserve Sparkling Wine
Mount Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains 2009
Rombauer Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011
Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Reserve 2011
Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Schloss Vollrads, Spaetlese Rheingau 2010
Belle Glos, Pinot Noir, Clark & Telephone 2010
WillaKenzie, Pinot Noir, Estate Cuvee 2010
Blackbird Vineyards, Arise, Red 2010
Chauteau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005
Northstar, Merlot 2008
Feather, Cabernet 2007
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Alexander Valley 2002
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2002
Trader Joe's, Chardonnay, Grower's Reserve 2012
Silver Palm, Cabernet, North Coast 2010
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone 2009
Santa Margherita, Pinot Grigio 2011
Alamos, Cabernet 2011
Cousino Macul, Cabernet, Anitguas Reservas 2009
Dreaming Tree Cabernet 2010
1967, Toscana 2009
Charamba, Douro 2008
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend No. 12
Opula Red Blend 2010
Liberte, Pinot Noir 2010
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red Blend 2010
Woodbridge, Chardonnay 2011
King Estate, Pinot Noir 2011
Famille Perrin, Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010
Columbia Crest, Les Chevaux Red 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White Blend

The Occasional Book

Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 319
At this date last year: 172
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


Clicky Web Analytics