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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 31, 2005 4:45 PM. The previous post in this blog was Score one for The O. The next post in this blog is Trick or treat. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Monday, October 31, 2005

Two faces have I

One of the raps this blog gets is that it's too negative. Trust me, I really try to keep on the sunny side, but I've always had an angry, cynical streak -- I was "snarky" before that word even existed. And when you live in a place with, ahem, shall we say, an eccentric local government, it doesn't always bring out the best.

Let me give you an example. When I read one news story last week, I started off penning some nice, innocent, light-as-a-feather commentary:

Congratulations to the beleaguered Buckman neighborhood in southeast Portland. The city has committed to repair the community pool in the Buckman School, at a $400,000 price tag. I wish the city hadn't hemmed and hawed about it all summer long, but it's nice to know that the pool will be fixed, and it is expected to be reopened this coming spring.
I could have hit the "save" button and left it there, but that little voice in my bad ear said, "Parks? This is about parks? Come on, man, what are you waiting for? This isn't a press release. Let 'em have it." Whereupon, the following flowed out:
Gee, whaddya know, that will be right around the time that a certain parks commissioner will be in the heat of a serious re-election battle. I'm sure he'll be glad to show up and cut the ribbon. Maybe he can even dodge questions about whatever happened to the community center that was supposed to be built in the old Washington High School. That place can be turned into a refugee center (er, I mean "displaced-citizen-who's-just-as-good-as-you-and-me-and-deserves-our-respect center") in a matter of a few days. But finding money to make good on an old, old promise to the neighbors seems to take decades.
Whoa. At that point, I'm thinking, it's time to cut this post and run. Get thee gone, Satan! But the little voice keeps going:
They have $3.3 million an acre for contaminated parkland in the SoWhat district, but they don't have money for the Buckman community center. Maybe they ought to have the PDC start building condo towers in Buckman -- then you'd see some quick action. Opie would dash off an application to the Kroc Foundation, and next thing you know there'd be a swell workout joint for the condo dwellers fresh in from Marin County -- complete with city-subsidized botox injections and free wine and cheese.
I dunno, folks. As anyone can plainly see, I have issues.

Comments (16)

Don’t sweat it, Jack. I’ve learned more from your blog about the way Portland city planning really operates, than from years of reading the print media. Now where do I go to get my quality of life back?

Keep it up. This town needs more people looking at their waste and screwups.

The big O just cheer leads the city destroyers at city hall and PDC.


"eccentric local government"

Are you the odd man out?

The $25 Trillion Land Grab

Vast quantities of cheap, prime greenfield surrounding Seattle, Portland, and Eugene give the Northwest megapolitan explosive growth potential. By 2030 the three metro regions will be intertwined.

Not snarky enough. Not yet.

Row House Hell (special for your readers from recent pics):

near this wonderful little house.

Condos . . . . or sliver-in-fill . . . or give up all the farmland. It is like a sort of developer punishment.

Sometimes development actually REDUCES the value of the tax base, with sick eye sores that last a few generations.

Neil's retirement plan involves what . . . winery conversions.

And when you live in a place with, ahem, shall we say, an eccentric local government, it doesn't always bring out the best.
It may or may not be eccentric --I don't know, I'll take your word for the fact that it is-- but it's liberal is what it is. What we have here is what you have when you have liberals running everything, which they do here. I know you self-identify yourself as a liberal, so that causes you a big disconnect, hence your angst about it.

But I will agree with the original poster Bill McDonald, hereinabove. Reading what you write as you sort through your disconnect is indeed hugely informative.

Your wit and snarking is a welcome addition to the local print media. I do think your recent critiques of public election financing misses the mark. Due to the rapidly escalating cost of elections, only incumbents and the wealthy have a shot at paying for the air time to get elected. Potter election was an outlier. Even for incumbents we benefit because without public financing they lose productivity as they are out passing the hat instead of focusing on the work of the city. Look at what happens when public financing has been implemented elsewhere. It may be scary to the folks at PBA and Stoel Reeves to have a playing field where a Deborah Simpson, a waitress at TJ's can get public financing and get elected, but that's what happened in Maine see:
and I hope it will go statewide here.

Sorry, as long as our cops are riding around writing notes on index cards, we don't have the public money to sponsor the waitpersons' runs at public office. If it were financed by a special tax on paid lobbyists and public relations firms, I might support it. But it isn't. It's paid for out of pots of dough that belong to the parks, the streets and the schools.

BTW, if you think that the downtrodden of society are going to be able to scrape together 1,000 $5 checks that clear, you're dreaming. The new faces you'll see are likely to be soccer moms in Volvos from Alameda and Gabriel Park.

Tunnel of Love was Springsteen's last decent album.

Good show.

He stole the title from a guy named Lou Christie. I am not sure what his last decent album was. 8c)

There are neighborhoods like Buckman that have practically nothing. And the shell game is played with tax money. Keep up the good work and maybe the tide will turn. The way you link the issues, keeps things consistent. The capital investment is only half the story, again as you have pointed out. When we build these very expensive parks in trendy upscale neighborhoods, they are also very expensive to maintian.

It would be interesting for example to look at demographic equity. There have been two very expensive parks with water features built in the Pearl, I think the cost of them was somewhere between $6-8 million, it would be interesting to find out exactly how much was spent on these compared to the new Park at New Columbia where there are tons of low income kids that need it, and what the ongoing operating costs are for Jamison and Tanner vs McCoy. I think this would tell a story of who benefits.

soccer moms in Volvos...

What is it with everyone pickin' on Volvos? In 1972 I packed my '70 wagon with my life's stuff to make the trek from NY to Oregon...and am on my fifth Volvo wagon (a 1998, thank you very much).

They carry a ton of stuff, take a lickin' (an ex of mine rolled one of 'em with nary a scratch), are glorified boxes --so you avoid that "mine is bigger, sexier, faster than yours schtick". They're...practical and as safe as anything on the road can be.

Sheesh.'s basketball, not soccer, these days.

If it were financed by a special tax on paid lobbyists and public relations firms, I might support it.

Exactly. Another thought: Since the recipients of most city contracts make political contributions anyway --I'm not saying that's HOW they get the contracts, mind you-- why not slap on a surcharge to fund the "Voter Owned" election fund from that pot of money?

Hey, what's this piling onto Marin County? That went out about 20 years ago, Jack. Place is now full of VERY SERIOUS noses-to-the-grindstone investment bankers and lawyers (you know the breed, right?). Older residents tend to be liberal and watchful. Nothing but good government types, all over the place.

WE have local government so tightly scrutinized here that candidates all do penance at local organic farms and farmers markets before even attempting to gain ID and make any promises. In addition, NOTHING gets built now -- the ultimate response to what people perceive as "overdevelopment".

We might contribute a few cashin-the-equity and move out older folks to Portland's condos, but I suspect our part is miniscule compared to that great equity engine, southern California. Pile on to Orange County, next time. The Marin County refugees are more likely in your corner right from the get-go.

But these are issues that need airing and sometimes a little slippage is allowed. And congrats on the nice article in today's Tribune. Do you ever sleep?

Jack- You will always be an honorary Buckmanite no matter where you live in P-town. Thanks for never forgetting us!

Looks like there is another $34 million for Homer and John's Condo landscaping project.

Basically people who view this blog as to cynical
are people who don't want to believe that their tax dollars are being abused in such an obvious fashion in this city. When these truths are presented it stuns them into disbelief.

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