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Monday, March 20, 2006

Another SoWhat scam

Buried in last week's Oregonian story about the latest proposed liars' budget for the OHSU aerial tram (a.k.a. the Kohler-Coaster®) [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!

Comments (21)

Looks as you have Neil pegged correctly as "The Fixer" but lets not forget Ronnie Whineden "The Lone Arranger."

It is his work as the "Federal Funds Funnel Filler" that keeps the flow going.


I'd send this thread to Anna and Ryan and Nigel and, um, whoever the Trib person is. See what they do with it. There might be another Pulitzer in it. The Pulitzer people love a good local corruption story.

I'm sure they'll see it.


""""I'm sure they'll see it.""""
So am I.

Hi Nigel!

Ryan and Anna vs. Nigel. Place your bets!

Yeah, but it's the local media. That means they won't print the story for 30 more years.

Today's scripture reading from the Development Agreement:

PDC, NMI, RCI, Block 39 and OHSU, individually or collectively, agree to
diligently pursue reasonable funding from non-local public sources, including federal and state
allocations, private foundations, grant programs, homeland security programs and other
appropriate funds or programs (“External Funds”). PDC, NMI and OHSU will jointly develop
priorities for pursuing these External Funds.

It sounds like all the parties are supposed to pay. So is the $3.2 million just PDC's share?

Must be some sort of side deal that you haven't seen.

I have long wondered what obstacles local reporters who might want to ask these kinds of questions face. It appears that Caldwell controls things on the editorial page of the O where favorites like OHSU and the Oregon Humane Society get kudos even where there are nagging questions. But I am not sure about the newspages. I heard Norman Solomon say once that the reporters at the O are like trained dogs jumping through perceived hoops. But it seems to me that hard questions are discouraged. By the managing editors??? It may just be coincidence, but it seems to me the reign of the public editors ends just when they are starting to sympathize with ,rather than edit, the public. I tried reading media blogs to get some insight, but locally, there seems to be a "circle the wagon" mindset. If some member of the "incrowd" says there is no story, they don't seem to care what the evidence shows.

It's like the City Council races, where people like Sharon Nasset, Lucinda Tate and Dave Lister simply "don't exist."

"what obstacles[?]"
"simply 'don't exist.'"

What about the guy who will soon be circling the court house and city hall sandwiched between two boards proclaiming "put me on the ballot" ?

Signature and 5 bucks accepted. And legal fund donations too, of any size, even if I do not use it to hire outside counsel.

Money for food is OK too, and this category can be anonymous.

I can play the stall game too and target the November election rather than May, as there would be only one, or two names on the ballot. But I have to get the thousand 5's in order to obtain triple damages from the esteemed Auditor, personally, measured relative to the potential speaking fees.

I had the good fortune of passing a kidney stone over the weekend and it seems I need to get up off my [tail] anyway for a little exercise.

Any [off topic] participating public employee, other than a judge, cannot get away with saying the city can issue bonds to invest in private enterprise. The Auditor included, and so too the DA and City Attorney. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Go debt-free with you know who.

--The Wild Economist

And back at the top of the hill, the connector to SoWhat via the KoehlerCoaster, the new building will be named "The Peter O. Koehler Building"! Perfect! You can't make this stuff up.

Featuring the Kitzhaber Commissary.

Oooo. Who gets credit for coining "KoehlerCoaster"? That's nicely done.

That budget gap report is pretty sloppy. Amateur hour all the way.
Even so, one can pick through it and add it to what we know about other budget items and the progress at SoWhat.
Match this report to the Table 6 from this original SoWhat plan.

Note what shows in that plan as being completed by this 05-06 FY.

Also, the original projected expenditures and projected UR taxes are so far off what has happened the plan is obsolete.

Which makes this early claim a sick kind of funny.
Financial Analysis of the Plan with Sufficient Information to Determine Feasibility
Table 6 demonstrates that projected tax increment proceeds are sufficient to cover projected expenditures and that the Plan is financially feasible.
Table 6 also demonstrates that projected urban renewal taxes are sufficient to support the bonded indebtedness necessary to provide project revenues. Additional revenue may be provided by short-term urban renewal notes, repaid on an annual basis from the ending fund balances.

Slacker notes: And back at the top of the hill, the connector to SoWhat via the KoehlerCoaster, the new building will be named "The Peter O. Koehler Building"! Perfect! You can't make this stuff up.

Nope. Not made up. Locals have already started referring to it as the "Peter O. Kohler Extension", because the acronym is so appropriate.

And, I thought the upper lounge was going to be the "Katz Pajama's".

I heard that Governor Kolonoscopi is going to open it and go directly to Gastroenterology.

Kohler-Coaster has been circulating amongst the employees at OHSU for a few days now. I mentioned it here a few days ago.

The "Peter O. Kohler Pavilion" is the official name of the new hospital expansion (formerly the rather nondescript "Patient Care Facility"). We up on Pill Hill have taken to calling that the Peter Pavilion.

The new name was to have been the Willamette Pavilion but many of the docs felt that patients would have gotten confused, thinking that the Willamette Pavilion was the one down by the river.

Note: when Kitz decided not to run for Governor, the rumor spread that there was a secret back-room arrangement for Kulongoski to name Kitz as Kohler's successor (too many K's).

There are more "mystery" to the NM URAC document.

Notice that most of the listed projects "funding gaps" have no values. Some of that is due to the fact that PDC hasn't even defined the scope of the projects, but there surely is a "funding gap.

Also notice that there are several projects
that we know are a part of the Urban Renewal project, but they are not EVEN listed and costs given. For example the North Portal transportation projects are not even listed. ($25M ?) And some of the South Portal transportation projects are not listed (like the extension of SW Moody to the two streets south with connections to Macadam ($20M ?)

There are also several shortcomings in costing. The "neighborhood improvements" list as presented in "Sam's Show" at PSU last week added up to $52M and not the $11M as noted in PDC's funded portion of the neighborhood improvements list. That is a "funding gap" of $41M.

It will certainly be hard for the URAC, the PDC Commission or the City Council to get a straight answer to "what's the funding gap?" The public deserves better accounting from PDC than what is being demonstrated in this "document".

Given that what the SoWhat plan estimated, projected and planned barely resembles what's unfolding the PDC must be playing cover up to buy time.

PDC head Bruce Warner,
"the city's plan is moving precisely the way urban renewal is supposed to"
"A new neighborhood is emerging, just as planned"
"That's the plan. It's on track"

Again, take a look at the plan and compare it to what has taken place.

For Warner to tell the public, in an Oregonian commentary, that things are going "just as planned" is the stuff of Enron tactics.

Some might even call it defrauding the public.

Sounds like the Peter Principle at work.

A couple of million for a Transportation Management Association...what the heck is that?

And no funding sources shown for the park and greenway?

Is there a document, anywhere, that explains what the Transportation Management Association is for...or how the park and greenway will be funded?


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