Call the Tony Awards people. The OHSU Medical Group aerial tram tragicomedy gets better every day. Today's scapegoat is Vic Rhodes, head of PATI, the goofball nonprofit corporation that gets to spend all the tram money while taxpayers get to pay it. Commissioner Sam "the Tram" Adams, who was the economic development brains behind then-Mayor Vera Katz when the city committed to build the tram (not knowing a thing about what it would cost), told a bunch of people yesterday that Rhodes has resigned. But Rhodes, a former city transportation director much heralded for his involvement with the Portland streetcar system, told The O last night that he hadn't quit -- and then he appears to have hung up the phone rather abruptly.
Adams also reportedly said that p.r. flack John Mangan had left the tram dole, but Mangan says that's not true, either.
Speaking of phone rage, developer Homer Williams, Terminator of Portland's livability and main beneficiary of the SoWhat district, was reported to be cursing and swearing about Adams within earshot of a reporter. "This whole thing disgusts me," he declared.
Me, too, Homer.
And Homer, in case you haven't noticed: Neil doesn't live here any more. Vera's out. Kohler's bags are packed. You're a major liability to Sten and Saltzman. I think it may be over, buddy.
Meanwhile, the O now characterizes the tram project as "foundering," and "the butt of City Hall jokes." All together now, readers: RIM SHOT!
There's more talk in this morning's article about how the City Council may have been misled in 2003, when a ludicrous $15.5 million budget was still being touted:
Before the council vote, tram architect Sarah Graham traded e-mails with Rhodes.
"I would interpret that you will have to get the players to come up with more funding for the tram BEFORE the agreement is signed or we are collectively out of luck. Yes?"
Rhodes: "I think we go with $15.5 and fix it later," once the design is fleshed out to give cost estimators something real to work from.
Months later, Matt Brown, yesterday's scapegoat, was still calling it a "$15.5 million tram" before the council.
But don't forget, folks, the commissioners all voted for it again in 2004, when the cat was out of the bag and the budget was looking more like $30 million. The council can fire and badmouth all the bureaucrats it wants, but in the end, it is the commissioners who will be held accountable. Two of them will be explaining this all to you very soon, since their jobs are on the line come May 16.