Buried in last week's Oregonian story about the latest proposed liars' budget for the OHSU aerial tram (a.k.a. the Kohler-CoasterÂ®) [double rim shot] was a little paragraph that, if you stop to read it, is a real eye-popper. It was edited out of the web version of the story for some reason (hmmm), but here's how it read in the print version:
Some of OHSU's additional $7.5 million would come thanks to the city. The development commission owes the university about $3.4 million for its lobbying efforts to land federal money for South Waterfront. Under a previous agreement, the development commission already owes that money to the university, but the deal had not been tied to tram costs.
Hold on to your wallets, city taxpayers. The PDC gave away $3.4 million to OHSU for lobbying. Which raises some interesting questions that the O apparently never asked:
1. How much actual lobbying work did we get for $3.4 million? Even at $500 per hour (which seems high by Portland standards), that's 6,800 hours of professional lobbying time. 6,800 hours! At 2,000 hours a year, that's more than three professionals working on it full-time for an entire year. Is that what we got for our money? Where is the accounting?
2. Who were the lobbyists? My bet would be that Neil Goldschmidt, who was the fixer for the whole SoWhat development, had his firm do the work. With his lieutenants Don Mazziotti and Matt Hennessee then in charge of the PDC, and Vera jumping out of her seat every time he called her, it would have been a snap to get the city to pick up the tab. If not Goldschmidt, then who?
3. What results did all the high-priced lobbying achieve, besides making the lobbyists rich?
If I were young and a professional journalist (I'm neither, of course), I'd get right on down to the PDC and get some answers.
UPDATE, 11:30 a.m.: Perhaps some light can be shed on today's mystery by this document, which apparently was circulated last Thursday to the advisory committee on the SoWhat urban renewal boondoggle. There's some discussion on the very last page that makes mention of $3.4 million. Apparently the city must pay half of all federal grants it receives above a certain amount to OHSU!
When you're through with that, take a look at some of the other doozies in the document. Forty million dollars for new I-5 on and off ramps; $2.4 million for a "transportation management association"; $4 million for the neighborhood park (on top of more than $7 million already spent); and lots of items whose costs are presently "unknown." What a mess. Let's re-elect Sten and Saltzman for more of this!