A couple of items in the papers yesterday shed some new light on just how much we taxpayers have spent so far on the infernal OHSU aerial tram [rim shot]. According to yesterday's Trib, actual cash outlays for construction have nearly reached the $40 million mark:
Unless the Portland Office of Transportation comes up with $13.4 million soon, the controversial aerial tram project will run out of money and grind to a halt in six weeks.
The department, which is managing the tram project, is expected to spend the $40 million pledged to the project by the end of April. Unless the Portland City Council authorizes more funds for the project by then, the transportation office will not have the money to continue buying materials or to pay the workers building the tram, which will connect Oregon Health & Science University’s new building in the South Waterfront area with its facilities on Marquam Hill.
Meanwhile, in its incredibly wrong-headed and inaccurate editorial yesterday arguing that the city simply has to pay more to build the Kohler-Coaster, the OHSUregonian revealed that the city has already borrowed $20 million of the construction costs to date:
Already, the city has borrowed $20 million to pay contractors to build the tram. Without a completed tram, the city could not collect from the other players to cover this advance, but would almost certainly have to repay it from the city's general fund.
And that's not counting the cost of the ensuing court battle.
If true, this illustrates how our city government misleads us. They strut around insisting that the city's paying only $3.5 million toward the tram, but they allow the city to run out and borrow $20 million toward building it, with no way to get it back from OHSU and the developers. Great work, guys! You deserve to be re-elected.
As for the main thrust of the O editorial, I won't even bother to argue with it here. Part of its error has been capably critiqued elsewhere. But at last report, the guy who runs the O editorial page is married to the chief p.r. flack at OHSU. Given that conflict of interest, the O's repetition of the latest threats and bullying from OHSU and Homer Williams isn't worth discussing in any detail.
Still, I can't resist noting that the O thinks the city now has a "legal and moral obligation" to build the tram. When you're lied to, cheated and manhandled, as the city surely has been, does morality require you to submit to the further demands of the people who are doing it to you? How sad that that's the Oregonian value system.
Some days part of me thinks that those folks deserve everything Craigslist is doing to them.