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Monday, January 16, 2006

You talk about your conflicts of interest

An alert reader writes:

seems rather interesting that the editor of the editorial page at the oregonian, bob caldwell, is married to the flack, lora cuykendall, who is making up all that crap for OHSU now.
It would certainly seem so. It might explain lines like these: "But the city must go forward. The city has promised to do so."

Comments (21)

I hope Bill McDonald is right that all tram [rimshot] brouhaha is simply comedy. If this were New Jersey, I'd swear the mob was involved. Vera and Sam the Tram were in bed with Dike and Homer. OHSU sold the rest of the council on the biotech hogwash. Homer bought off the staff. Don the Don had some meals and junkets. And Cheryl Twete is left to twist in the wind. (Who's Cheryl Twete you ask? Just wait, she'll be the next bureaucrat to be eviserated/fall on her sword as a way to save Saltzman and/or Sten's seat.) Wait, maybe this is just a west coast version of The Sopranos--we both have an money-waster Esplanade, don't we?

why does everyone typr "rim shot" after the word tram? Am I missing something funny?

I'm pretty sure the owner of this blog requires that you type it every time you type aerial tram [rim shot].

Check out the archive.

The [rimshot] is getting a little old if you ask me. Hey... wait... is this thing on? [rimshot]

Once again I am reminded of why I read this BLOG. I used to think Bob Caldwell played it pretty straight. Now I'm not so sure. It seems a disclaimer is called for at minimum.

I still don't get it?

I bet Bob Caldwell never discussed the Tram with his wife just like Neil Goldschmidt never discussed Texas Pacific with his wife.

The Oregonian may be too smelly to line the litter box with.

They have no shame.

So no one bothers to tell the public about the conflict?

This reminds me of the discussion following your post regarding Schulberg. b!x implored the local press to pick a side, and an alert reader suggested it's all the same side in Portland. This is just another example.

And the beat goes on...

Last summer, Jack had a post about a 4.7 million-dollar water unit that was supposed to chlorinate Portland drinking water, but did not work. The unit sits at the base of the Bull Run Watershed dam. That led to the following exchange: I think we got off cheaply here. The backup plan was to sprinkle chlorine into Bull Run from an aerial tram. Posted by bill mcdonald at August 2, 2005 02:28 PM
From now on, whenever you post the phrase "aerial tram" please follow it with "[rim shot]." Thank you.
Posted by Jack Bog at August 2, 2005 02:31 PM
Other than being the 500,000 visitor to Jack's site, (albeit in a tie), this was my proudest blogging moment to date. Eliminate it? I think we should hire a rim-shot drummer for city council meetings.

^ As I noted in an earlier post, Bill, the appropriate instrument to facilitate citizen control over the criminal commissioners is truly the gong. A nice big one, with Vera's fun-house face on it. Give the jokers a time limit to perform, not the citizens.

The O never ceases to crack me up. Today they had their big editorial and cartoon tut-tutting nepotism in the Legislature. They go on and on about it. Then you look just below it to the masthead where you see "Fred Stickel - Publisher" and "Patrick Stickel - President."

You couldn't make this stuff up.

In the interest of "equal time," the O gives Steve Stadum of OHSU some unrebutted ink (not on OregonLive yet, so no clicky). As part of a familiar refrain, he too blames the community. What did the community do to deserve this?

- the community desired a "compelling" design, that would go a "step beyond the simple but rapid and dependable;"
- the community determined that the growth of OHSU is "vital" to the future growth of Oregon's economy;

In the Water is Wet department, Mr. Stadum observes that "cost overruns are the plague of most large public infrastructure development projects the world over." So what did this conversation look like at PATI or the Portland Building:

Matt Brown: It's going to cost $15.5 million.

PATI: That sounds like a lot of money. Didn't Steve Stadum say they do these things in Europe all the time for $3-5 million.

Brown: Yeah he did, but steel, labor, [mumble, mumble], brings it to $15 million.

PATI: OK, fifteen it is!

[One year later]

Matt Brown: It's going to cost--ta-dah--$29 million.

PATI: What happened?

Matt Brown: Don't you know that the sad truth is that cost overruns are the plague of most large public infrastructure projects? We just got plagued!

PATI: OK. $29 million it is. But no more plagues.

Matt Brown: You've got my promise! [crosses fingers behind back]

Lather, rinse, repeat, wipe hands on pants ...

Stadum also notes that [boo hoo] OHSU is "on the hook" for 70% of the construction costs. Sounds like a bargain if OHSU is going to generate 90-95% of the ridership and pay only a fraction of the operating costs.

Too late, the Tribune on Tuesday has the following quote re: the Tram (did not want to waste a rim shot):

"This is going to be built" - Homer Williams

Nice to know who is calling the shots in this city.

This is far more simple than OHSU or the developers are making it.
If they think the Tram is a "linchpin" they should pay for all of it including it's operation and maintenanc.

Is there any question the overwhelming majority of the public does not want their money spent on this? Especailly when the district willbe devouring 1/2 billion in tax dollars.

Despite not a single community group supporting this boondoggle there seems to be this perpetual desire to ignore the obvious public opinion.

The city should pull the public dollars and let the Tram continue under OHSU's management.

City council can easily spend money later to reimburse OHSU or take over operation and maintenance. Should that ever make sense.

The city and OHSU continue to avoid and hide the life cycle cost estimate.
Further demonstrating the shady process this project has followed.

Damn, I must be sick...I'm feeling a bit warm on my forehead, oh no, I actually might agree with Steve Schopp.

Steve said:
"The city should pull the public dollars and let the Tram continue under OHSU's management."

Since the Portland City Council's contribution is 3.5mil, which is less than the current cost overrun, they should find a way to tack on those costs to the current overrun, finance it, and get on with it.

At least then it will get everyone here to shut the hell up about it and get on to more interesting issues...I mean 3.5mil and a promise that our largest employer will continue to grow here, bioscience or elsewise, SoWhat? Intel just got a $579 million tax break and I don't hear you responsible taxpayers lambasting Washington County, SoWhats up?

It's not about the MONEY it's about the FUNNY. It's a tragic/comic political morality play that is so weird you couldn't make it up. A giant Rube Goldberg like contraption built for millions of bucks and still no one even knows who if anyone will actually use it enough to justify it's very existance. It's city planning by people who have had one bong hit too many. The saddest thing though is it will be obsolete in only a few years when we all get our personal jet packs to zip around town in.

The lines between reporters and PR types are blurred all the time. Lora came from the Tribune before she went over to OHSU, as did their new PR person who's handling tram issues -- Harry Lenhard, I believe. There are a billion potential conflicts of interest between the two sides all the time. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

Did anybody notice that Steve Stadum blamed the cost overruns in part on the weakening dollar against the euro? Last time I checked the dollar was up about 15% compared with a year ago.

MarkDaMan: Lets assume your "I mean $3.5 mil...." publics cost for the tram is true (which is far off if you're a true economist). This amount is assuming only the "hard costs"

You must also attach to this the operating and maintenance costs. At todays NM URAC meeting PDC staff handed out a 2 year old estimate of the trams hard cost plus O&M costs. The O&M (get this) costs had a range from $1M to $2M per year.
Talk about fexibility in costs-wow! This is our PDC even today after all the controversy. That was our so-called life-cycle costing analysis that left out about six other important items. Our URAC asked for the life-cycle costs last meeting.

Now assume OHSU assumes 75% of the O&M costs, that leaves $250T to $500T/ year for the taxpayers to pay. Now, add appreciation to that amount for 30 years-plus all the PERS, health insurance, etc inflation beyond normal inflation.

Now add in the 60' x 300' vacated SW Gibbs east terminal site; which at todays value could easily approach $3M lost to the taxpayers. It was given to the PATI-OHSU owners-free of charge). Gee it could of been sold to the adjacent "doctor building" so they could add onto their building to the north. Don't forget the appreciation on that $3M over 30 years(assumed). I'm mot including the center tower land costs or west terminal land costs. Add them in if you want.

Then add in the financing cost on $3.5M for the taxpayer's portion at say, 8% interest. Compound it. And financing costs isn't even in the PDC's budget on the $60M tram cost-they say there isn't any financing cost-huh?

Add in depreciation costs because trams don't last very long. I'll let you make an assumption on this one.

We're not done, add in the taxpayers loss due to the fact that the Local Improvement District money to be paid by the "stakeholders" to help pay for the tram is a tax deductible item, off of their taxes (profit) that reduces fed, state, co., city, school taxes.

Then, what PDC, PATI, City Council, staff, etc. don't fairly analyse is that tax dollars have been used to clean up the tram site, that staff, architectural, engineering, design competition, etc. is not in the budget. They are stuck in the black hole called "some other agency budget line item".

And then there is the fact that OHSU is not a totally free enterprise institution and that YOU are liable for a recently passed $200M public bond to help OHSU out, like the tram. But that is budget playing, you know, like you do with your home budget. Just hid it. Don't forget all the other public dollars OHSU gets that can be played with.

Now assume a 30 year time span on the above items.

Tell me, is this now a "PALTRY AMOUNT," please?

I know this is a "poor economist analysis" of the tram, but I hope some economisc brains will look at this without PDC, etc. influence and give a reply. I know I'll be lamblasted by some, but thats just how us common folk look in our billfolds.

This kind of thinking is what is lacking in our local government-heh, state too.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference You talk about your conflicts of interest:

» The tram: no mas for NoMa from Isaac Laquedem
Two lively debates (here and here) are raging on Jack Bog's Blog about the tram that's being built to connect OHSU with the South Waterfront (or, if you're an old-timer, the North Macadam) area that's being turned from an industrial [Read More]


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