This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 15, 2006 7:03 AM. The previous post in this blog was To Steve Stadum -- Love, Fireman Randy. The next post in this blog is True love never dies. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Tram Show: 200 thumbs down

The folks who went down to Portland Commissioner Sam Adams's "town hall" meeting on the OHSU Medical Group aerial tram [rim shot] last night got an earful of cider, but not much satisfaction. In comments to my post of last night on the Stadum-Leonard Flame War, a couple of them wrote:

I just returned from the tram meeting. I felt they were stalling for time with endless presentations. Who really cares about the long process they went through to arrive at their decision? It doesn't make the tram any less dumb. I did get to flame at the end, after they dodged my question on security. End result: they said it would cost 15 to 20 mil to shut her down.


Yeah, I was there, too.

Process: Take questions on tram, write them down and post them, have panel of specialists do dog and pony shows (complete with slide show) on various aspects of the tram, check the posted questions to see if they've been answered, say, "I'll have to get back to you on that," if it can't be answered, thank everybody for coming.

Notice anything missing?

Like an opportunity to question the information provided by the panel members or expand upon the nuances of the issues.

They are still saying that they can deliver 900 people per hour on a 200 second ride. If we round that to 240 seconds (4 minutes), that's 15 trips per hour, coming to a projected 60 riders per tram car. Given the scaling of the figures on the illustrations, the tram car would be lucky to fit a dozen people comfortably.

The also state that only 140 people per hour can be moved in the 15 minute bus ride up or down the hill. Hmmm... Lessee, a standard city bus can carry 44 seated passengers. If you have one run every five minutes, that's 12 rides per hour. That's 528 passenger per hour. That's only one bus every five minutes, and it's still a helluva lot more than the 140 people per hour they projected. And it's doable. For a hell of a lot less than $50+ million.

Now, they noted that the operator would have to provide alternate surface transportation during maintenance down time. Why just "maintenance" down time? Why not ALL down time. Like high wind downtime. Or thunderstorm downtime. Or equipment failure downtime. Or computer malfunction downtime. There's got to be surface transportation linking the two portions of the campus, anyway. If it's needed for downtime, why not run it all the time? Does the tram operator require a fleet of buses and a storage facility for them all? Perhaps that's what those three floors of underground parking under the "temporary park" are for - the tram operator's alternate bus fleet?

Then... The made the point that this whole development, which pointedly and carefully was defined to run "south from the Ross Island Bridge to where the waterfront meets John's Landing", was "not to provide a 'park and ride' for OHSU employees."


What about the Schnitzer land, just to the NORTH of the Ross Island Bridge? That whole vast expans of partially paved (and toxic) land. It sure has the look of a parking lot to me.

Anyway... I wasn't too impressed. I'd like to see a set of questions developed by those a little more...critical and frank...than those typical turnout at a meeting that's already been delayed once.


Adams left 20 minutes after his hurried and rather flippant answers to the posted questions to take additional questions and comments, after we listened to a lot of artful horse manure from the usual suspects who have driven this project from the beginning. The capsule history of the project was particularly deceitful. The only one I thought had any integrity at that presentation was the city attorney and, to a lesser degree, the finance guy. This was a public-relations exercise, nothing more.

There were a couple of bits of news, though -- Adams said they expect a deal on the $15 million gap "within a couple of days," they have two proposers for their tram operator's RFP who price the operations cost at $1.2 million per year, and as noted previously, they're spending like drunken sailors, full-tilt-ahead whether they have the money or not.

I can comment for days on this, but I've already said too much, I'm sure. It was a complete joke.

The funniest part wil be when they announce the fake financing deal tomorrow. They'll say stuff like "we had a Town Hall meeting where everyone had a chance to clear the air" about five times.

By the time the fine print on the deal is known, the tram will be 50% complete (or so they'll say), and so even though it's a rotten transaction for the city taxpayers, "it's really, really too late to turn back." That's been the game plan since day one, and nothing new was shown last night.

Comments (34)

I was at the meeting last night, as well, through the question period. We had to leave for Cirque du Soleil during Cheryl's comments, though.

Did anyone make any comments or give any info on:

(1) the underground people-mover option
(2) the job projections (initial claim by OHSU was that 10,000 biotech jobs would be created and now the number of jobs has been revised down to 5000, of which an unspecified number are the temprary construction jobs)
(3) why the city is managing the construction and operating the tram once built

Thanks. I was hoping to see some in-depth stuff in the O this morning, but I guess that was silly of me.

Oh, and Randy, I've got a truck with some heavy chains you can borrow....

I attended the meeting as well, and I've posted a pretty long list of questions for Sam over at his blog if you're interested....

"Oh, and Randy, I've got a truck with some heavy chains you can borrow...."

What's your address?

,i/Did anyone make any comments or give any info on:

(1) the underground people-mover option
(2) the job projections (initial claim by OHSU was that 10,000 biotech jobs would be created and now the number of jobs has been revised down to 5000, of which an unspecified number are the temprary construction jobs)
(3) why the city is managing the construction and operating the tram once built.

1 - Yes. Too expensive. They were talking in terms of $100 million +. The whole Max Zoo stop was used as the example, but nobody had a construction/operation cost on that.

2 - Yes. Stadum was called to the front to answer the question on how many jobs. He stated that OHSU had already committed to 4500-5000 jobs at SoWhat...but I noticed he didn't say "created", jobs moved from somewhere else in the city really doesn't count, and to a certain extent, that's what they are doing. As for "biotech", that seemed to get lost in the discussion, Stadum was talking "health-care" jobs, some of which were "biotech" jobs. Then, he stated that they had envisoned private biotech firms locating there, creating additional biotech jobs....y'know, blue sky or "pipe dreams". Short version: They hope.

3 - The city is NOT operating the tram. OHSU is in the process of hiring the tram operator. They have two bids currently in the hopper and hoped to have it decided soon.

As for why the city is involved at all, all I can figure is that it's because "the tram is envisioned as part of an overall transportation system in the city." It seems to me I heard somebody say that the original percentage of the costs (where the $3.5 million figure comes in) was based upon the percentage of non-OHSU users were expected to actually utilize the tram (~ 15%). The city sees it's role as construction manager and regulator of the operator.

Oh... And I heard that phrase about it being "iconic", or what they used to call a "signature project". It will be an "attraction" in Portland. Quaint, y'know. Quirky. Weird. ...all I keep seeing is the dreadful possibility it will be a target.

Only time will tell whether it will become the laughing stock of redevelopment or not, but it is fabricated and on it's way to Portland.

All that's left is "Some Assembly Required".

And, of course, deciding who pays for the rest. I'd bet the cost of health care just went up here in Portland.

There is a mechanism in the law to make a government official personally liable for an unlawful expenditure of tax dollars.

Any continuing work in the absence of resolution of a clear assignment of the obligation to pay just increases the dollar value that would be in dispute. If an increase in the CoP is NOT authorized by the city council then the KiwiWit folks would be confined to trying to collect personally from city leaders whom they might try to characterize as leading them to believe that payment would subsequently be authorized. In such case the KiwiWit folks would not have any claim, for their own actions, and even if they did the defendants would not have sufficient personal resources to cover. If the KiwiWit folks persist in proceeding with construction, without assurance of future payment, then such persistence would NOT itself generate any obligation upon the city council itself, or the CoP, to cover either. They are on their own, flying by the seat of their pants.

Any lawyer representing the city should not characterize the above persistence as creating a legal obligation upon the city and should affirmatively put a halt to the continuing construction pending resolution of the issue of who is going to pay. The date of the city attorney letter disclaiming liability for compulsory completion of the tram should at least definitively cap the dollar value in dispute as of the date of the letter. It should be viewed as the functional equivalent of a "stop work" order.

If the CoP does authorize more dollars for the tram then the Tax Supervising and Conservation Commission should be presented with a demand to disallow any expenditure for work between the date of the CoP attorney letter disclaiming prospective liability and the date of the later city council action. In which case the KiwiWit folks would have to try to get such money directly, and exclusively, from certain city council members, or other public officials, personally. The facts and the dollar value are in dispute are accumulating as construction continues, but the procedural posture of the subsequent action is yet to be determined. The mechanism for disallowing an expenditure is critical to properly forcing construction to stop pending resolution of the obligation to make additional payments for continuing work.

The CoP letter disclaiming prospective liability WAS the stopwork order. This is of course just a procedural matter that only a process freak could embrace in the interest of the Rule of Law, while leaving the public policy choices to others.

Randy, you too could be one of the ten signors for a petition to the TSCC. You don't need the consent of the other council members to sign your name to that petition, even if Sam can stand in the way of an affirmative halt via official council action. Leave a paper trail.

It's Kiewit. They're a decent firm, as contractors go. Remember, it is not their fault. They're just trying to do the work that somebody hired them to do.


In all seriousness, why can the city not halt construction until this is worked out? Every day of work (feverish, I'm sure) gets us closer to the point of no return.

If it costs the city $20MM to back out of the deal, then by my math, it's $9MM more than what is directly proposed ($3.5 + $5 + 2.5). Given it will be at least $1.2MM per year to run, it's only 7 years before the city breaks even. That doesn't consider what the city's going to spend in the design competition ($1MM?) and further cost overruns ($XMM?).

We haven't considered the cost of the TIF of the project, either, in any of these calculations.

Are we really this "pot committed" that we can't consider things like the underground elevator? My primary (though not only) objection to the tram project isn't the money. It's the impact on the area. There's a reason all the neighbors don't want the tram. It will add a huge amount of traffic to an area that's not well suited now. Nothing in the tram plan mitigates the problem. There's only one way in and out of SoWa, and now we're going to have all these staffers at OHSU driving down there, parking and riding up the tram.

If we're going to create a park-n-ride, then it should be a park-n-ride.

The project appears to be not as advertised from the start.

Oh, I'll meet you at the waterfront with the chains... :)

Personally, I'm just waiting for the orgy of non-stop news coverage when the tram gets stuck over I-5 some day.

"We now return you to Fox-12's uninterrupted coverage of "Terror on the Tram." David Freitas is live at OHSU...David?"

I want to second the comment on Kiewit, when I had to manage them on a large multi-million project, they were colaborative, and the public project actually did finish on the Full Funding Grant Agreement $$ on the original (not amended) documents submitted before the project broke ground. Also if you have competent engineers running the projects, they actually can finish under budget. That same project finished $55,000 underbudget in design fees, having the manager a public employee and not a consultant. Randy Leonard's points in trying to make the water bureau more technically competent inside rather than having to depend on consultants in this budget cycle is on target. The key is competent management, and technical competency. Most good engineers get cherry picked by the consulting firms, if you do get one that stays for the committment to public service, they tend to speak out, and get in trouble for telling the truth and having ethics, so they are either RIF'd or get so discouraged they leave.

It would be fair to say that Kiewit is no fool, they have different types of teams, it is the nature of the beast, if they don't have colaborative partners in goverment that understand they are a business and need to make a profit, they have the B team that will go in and make sure they do. Luckily they recognized what my experience (mostly from the private sector) were and gave me the A team, and we had a lot of fun building the project. A Retired Kiewit exec also just donated a bunch of bucks to help build the new Kelly Electrical Engineering Building at OSU, this investment in higher education will probably do alot more for the economy than the TRAM.


It is KiwiWit that is continuing work. It is their own lawyer's fault for any failure to properly interpret the legal effect of the earlier letter disclaiming the obligation of compulsory completion.

The city council members, just as with Diane Linn on the issuance of marriage certificates to same-sex couples, can seek legal advice either in house or via private outside counsel to give themselves a "good faith" subjective belief in the lawfulness of their actions and expenditures. It is my point to direct Sam to obtain such outside advice of counsel, as the city of Portland attorney has already affirmatively denied him the cover of "good faith" belief.

If I were the DA I would be looking at the present relationship between KiwiWit and Sam as the target of criminal action, particularly in regard to any outside contacts where Sam promises "ratification" so as to escape the risk of being held personally liable for all the new costs subsequent to the city attorney's letter.

The credibility of KiwiWit is declining very, very rapidly. A cartoon name is quite appropriate here. It should apply too to the DA to whom the TSCC can compel to take action, displacing his freedom to exercise prosecutorial discretion to sit on his tail. The DA's hand can be forced and the subjective belief of decision makers is a key issue in any charges he could/should bring. Sam is building potential personal liability each day that KiwiWit fails to abide by the earlier city attorney "stop work" order. It is in Sam's personal self-interest, his pecuniary self-interest, to tell KiwiWit to stop. If Sam wants to get outside counsel to place their own legal credibility on the line, so as to obtain a good faith belief in lawfulness, he is free to do so. I do wish him luck in finding one willing to go down in flames too.

Also, I wouldn't say there were 200 people there, is that an official number?

That might include all the city and cable TV crew members, too.

Then, there was Homer and his crew. Yeah, Homer was there. I don't know how many OHSU folks were there, but PGE Chairman wannabe Kohler was. Stonefaced at the back of the crowd. Sort of a counterweight to the stoneface of Gramps Potter at the front of the room.

And Homer's buyer was priceless. An older gent with some kind of physical disability that requires that he have walking assistance. Nice guy.

Who needs the Cirque, when you've got free ballroom theater?


There was a rep from the City Attorney's Office there last night. There was no mention of any "stop order".

Could you please enlighten further?

2-10-2006 bojack: Read It Yourself.

Where our host opines "A beautiful document."

Having just ended a long phone conversation with a SoWa Urban Renewal Advisory Committee member regarding the Tram & SoWa I can say that the entire Tram/SoWa endeavor is a multifaceted unmitigated fiscal and planning calamity. One which will ultimately devour far more than the $1/2 Billion in property taxes previously discussed on the blogs.

Which makes this comment I just read over at Sam's blog incredibly ignorant, dishonest and insulting.

Sam, missed the party, but here again are some thoughts.
City's share of Tram costs represent about 1% of annual PDC budget...lots of TIF dollars are being spent on all kinds of projects that don't approach the Tram's payback. But that's another discussion.
Clearly opposition to the Tram is fueled by Lair Hill residents whom it will pass over as well as the usual suspects who opposed all kind of pubic enterprises. The poor budget estimates have played into their hands on this item and left some basic facts in the smoke.
OSHU is the largest employer in the City; it is the only research institution of any consequence in the region; as one of the key drivers of the regional economy, its growth needs to be faciliated. Failure to do so will be a black mark on this City Council. Let's get the job done and celebrate a great new transportation option.
Posted by: Lenny Anderson | Mar 15, 2006 9:26:58 AM""""""""""""""""""""

Tommy Potter has thrown in the towel regarding the Tram (rimshot):


Great leadership from Tom. I think he's been taking lessons from our Governor.

Okay, Ron...

There's no stop order in that at all. It's the City Attorney's opinion as to the City's liability in the event there is a change in the cost (which must be approved by the City Council). If construction continues beyond what funds are available to do so, to that extent, the City is liable.

You are saying, as I see it, that that point has already been reached. Are you saying that Sam Adams has already committed the City to pay beyond the stipulated $3.5 million? (Of course, we know they already have on other smelly deals in relation to the SoWhat, the whole park out of a sow's ear [toxic storage facility] bit comes to mind.)

Now, I'm not sure how the constractor is paid on this whole gig, but I'm assuming since the City is the contract manager, that payments would be funneled through them. I'm assuming that the contract with Kiewit and the subs has appropriate language regarding services rendered without recompense.

Please note that the City does not need to provide any additional funds for the tram,*rimshot*, and that the City is liable if there are sufficient funds and they pull out....then the LID disappears and that portion of the funding disappears, as well. Considering that Zidell is, as I understand, suing because they don't think they should have to pay any portion of the tram *rimshot*... Thus putting Zidell in the position of pushing for the City's withdrawal. (But my bet is Zidell properties want the tram *rimshot*, they just don't want to pay for it *cymbal crash*.)

Heh... It sounds like there must be some dissension amongst the landowner/developer ranks.

So... I must be missing something that you're seeing. Am I dense on this?

It still sounds to me like CoP is on the hook on this thing as long as somebody else comes up with the cost disparity bucks. Not enough bucks, the city's off the hook.

Well, Jack, I hate to admit it, but you are right about the tram. Maybe for the wrong reasons (in part), but right nonetheless.

I supported the tram in its less expensive incarnation. I didn't buy the whining from the people who lived on Gibbs Street. I don't mind the subsidies for development in the South Waterfront, because I agree with what the city is trying to do there and I think the South Waterfront will have positive consequences for the Portland Metro Area and the City. Health care is one of the economic growth sectors in the U.S., and this proposal tied into making Portland a center for such growth. And an aerial tram is, admittedly, and exciting thought. I was looking forward to putting my bike on it and avoiding the ride up Terwilliger from downtown.

But the lies or incompetence (or both) of the City are just too much. Even I wouldn't have agreed to the tram if the true cost had been disclosed from the start. At this point, if the costs of completing the tram are greater than the combined cost of junking it and substituting an alternative bus shuttle system, then go ahead and junk it. And if the city "leaders" manage to keep working on the tram until the economic tipping point is reached ... it's recall time.

Guess what, Gordo?

The tipping point has been reached and passed. There is only one door out - if OHSU can't come up with the bucks to finish it.

I expect one of two things: Either there will be a big donor, who wants this to go forward and won't mind having his/her name attached to the tram, or...big lawsuit(s).

I'm betting on the latter.

Gordo said,
"""But the lies or incompetence (or both) of the City are just too much"""

Why do you still support SoWa.

The SoWa "lies or incompetence (or both) of the City" make the Tram look like chump change.

You trumpet that you """"agree with what the city is trying to do there""".

You must have some inside information.

What is it they are trying to do?

Last night Cheryl Tweedy, seemingly in a time warp, lectured the crowd about all these biotech jobs coming to SoWa.

Better call back that biotech czar for another reality check.

""""""I think the South Waterfront will have positive consequences for the Portland Metro Area and the City""""""

How's that? When? The massive public cost promises to devour basic services millions for decades.
Are you sure you've thought this through?
Does cost matter?
Why the massive subsidies for private development?

Are you still convinced nothing could happen in SoWa without huge public assistance?

""""Health care is one of the economic growth sectors in the U.S., and this proposal tied into making Portland a center for such growth""""""

How's that? Economic growth requires increased revenue to be generated.
What are you looking at that indicates revenue generation?

Really Gordo, the situation in SoWa is much worse, (reckless and illegitimate) than you realize.

In 6 months to a year you will be changing your tune just as you finally have with the Tram.

Steve, actually, let's talk in ten years. That's when we'll know whether the South Waterfront project has been a good idea or not.

Of course, I think the Pearl has turned into a success so far, while you and Jack undoubtedly disagree. So maybe we won't have resolved this in ten years anyway!

Every Urban Renewal District creation freezes the valuation of the property within the district. Once the project is complete, the difference in the valuation of the property prior as versus afterwards is paid back into the URD for at least 20 years.

Note: It removes property from the general tax rolls, places in a special fund where the increases in property valuation, and thus property tax revenues are earmarked ONLY for paying off the URD indebtedness.

Every URD created removes revenues from the city coffers and from use by the city to maintain and replace the public assets already accrued by the City. Net result: Tax revenues fall, for all taxing districts which have the URD within the boundaries. That means schools, fire service, police service, roads, sewers, water...you name it, anything the city provides.

The net result of that is what is called "deferred maintenance"...which is no more than putting off maintenance and upkeep on City assets...meaning that we are depleting public assets at an alarming rate to provide incentives for private developers to guarantee their desired rate of return on their investment.

It's begger the schools and public services so that Homer and his buddies can belly up to the porkbarrel trough.

When your local park looks like hell and the restrooms and drinking fountains don't work, the playground equipment is unsafe and dogs roam freely in packs attacking whomever they will...look to the URDs.

When your water and sewer costs spiral out of control...look to the URDs.

When the police can't make it to your private tragedy in less than 30 minutes....look to the URDs.

When a public building heating system fails and it cost hideous amounts of money to fix it (because it hasn't been adequately maintained)...look to the URDs.

Those URDs aren't going to start paying for public services they use until at least 20 years down the line.

Damn, I'm glad I didn't have any kids.

Gordo said,
"""""Steve, actually, let's talk in ten years. That's when we'll know whether the South Waterfront project has been a good idea or not"""""

This is perfect. You obviously haven't seen the SoWa budget and know nothing about it's worsening folly.
Why don't you click your way to the PDC website and take a look around Urban Renewal.

In ten years the city will be paying millions in debt service alone from the property taxes meant for basic services. It will be an additional 25 years, at least before ANY, revenue returns to those services including schools.

Why are you making these declarations when you haven't the slightest idea what you are talking about.

Someone help me!!!

Where does this stuff come from?


Perhaps you can explain what the "idea" is?

You must know since you are confident it is a good one.

Godfry, while Urban Renewal Districts freeze property tax assessments, the counter-argument is that those assessments weren't going very much anywhere without the urban renewal to begin with. Your argument ignores that possibility.

Your argument also ignores the possibility that the burden of the new residents and businesses upon the city as a whole will be at least in part mitigated because much of what the city is spending to serve land within the urban renewal district is in fact paid for out of the tax increment, not the general city revenues.

And, of course, after twenty years, if the area turns out to be a success, the city will benefit.

Also, you aren't taking into account the possibility that development within the urban renewal district will spur new development and increased property values on lands outside of, and surrounding, the urban renewal district. These tax dollars will go toward general city services.

Your argument has much more traction regarding property tax reductions for properties within an urban renewal diatrict. Such reductions are just plain stupid, because then the whole purpose of tax increment financing is lost.

Also, if I'm not mistaken, OHSU doesn't pay property taxes. So an alternative revenue source from them is necessary to make up for the tax increment.

""""" the counter-argument is that those assessments weren't going very much anywhere without the urban renewal to begin with"""""

Wrong again and that's a snow job.

""""the city a whole will be at least in part mitigated because much of what the city is spending to serve land within the urban renewal district is in fact paid for out of the tax increment, not the general city revenues""""""

What are you talking about. "serve"?
Come on Gordo get off the coolaid.
The Tax Increment does NOT pay for ANY services at all. Anywhere.

The Increment by law must go to repay the debt created by the free infrastructure for the private developers. And in no way does the break even happen within 20 years.

The Increment is also General Fund revenue diverted from basic services just prior to it arriving there.

Just like the PDC you are misrepresenting Urban Renewal and TIF.

Many OHSU employees have nicknamed the tram the Kohler-Coaster.

He he!

"""Many OHSU employees have nicknamed the tram the Kohler-Coaster""""

Very good!

Forget the coaster....I wanted a waterslide!

As long as we're spending $55 million on a tram, how about another $2 million for snow making equipment and a couple of snow cats?

Talk about a tourist attraction. URBAN SKIING! Zipping in between houses, under Terwilliger, then Barbur, and the freeway. The temporary sewer pipes will be like moguls, and the raw sewage bubbling out of 80 year old sewers will look like the La Brea tar pits surrounded by man made snow. Cool!

Given where Pill Hill is, I've been recommending that OHSU employees there learn to dirt surf. It is, after all, on the some of the most instable land in the state in the event of a major earthquake. You can build buildings that are "shake proof", but I've yet to see too many buildings stand up to the shear weight of accumulated earth, trees, buildings and water sliding downhill to the angle of repose. It's possible that everything on Pill Hill could be flushed down the gully to end up at the west end of the Ross Island Bridge.

Damn! One of these days, I'll actually manage the code for italics.

Anyhoo... I like the "Kohler-Coaster". All I could come up with was the "Katzenjammer" or "Katz' Pajamas".

I think if it's going to go ahead, which it looks like it will, I think we should watch for lighted advertising on the sides of the tram cars. If I were Target, Inc., I'd be inquiring now.

Also, since they close down, during closed hours, they could do fundraisers. "Whine and cheez over I-5"...all proceeds to defray the cost of the tram. Think of the possibilities for fundraising. "Unless you pungle up, we're not letting you off." High-wire extortion.

And thennnn... Just wait 'til the next film scout crew hits town. Now, there's a slam-bang exciting shoot 'em up with an emergency ward at the top end. vin Diesel. Ready made. Maybe even Team America!

They can't sell bricks, after all. That would be a real bad idea.

Suppose the city takes absolutely no new tram related action during the next ten years. Call it perpetual stall; as if they all went to Mars.

Would any continuing construction and operation be done in the name of the city?

Suppose KiwiWit comes to the then sitting Mayor, in ten years, and says "pay up."

The dividing line is not 5 weeks nor 5 years nor even 50 years nor 5 minutes. It is any action at all that did not have prior authorization. Requiring pre-authorization defines one very important difference between arbitrary government action and the rule of law.

Much of the laws pertaining to cities, and any government, are designed to constrain the action of government officials. Suppose, at the extreme, that all government action was done without the city saying boo up front and only later ratified earlier actions. When could someone, anyone, assert in court an objection to some "final" government action? Never, really, until payment itself.

The wisdom or folly of the tram is the stuff that is within the realm of public policy choices, given current law. But a choice to stall a decision, while unauthorized construction continues, is not a "policy" choice that is available to the city council. The stall-game itself does not fit within the notion of "any ad hoc and permissible rational public purpose" (my formulation).

The claimed savings from continuing rather than temporarily pausing while folks debate is only a PR explanation, but not law, and it certainly does not trump the need for pre-authorization. If the PR spin is OK then we could just wait ten years for KiwiWit to conclude a bit of legal who ha.

Suppose I create Big-Dog-Construction company and move my equipment and men onto the KiwiWit work site. I could plant my symbolic flag, my Big-Dog sign, on site and say this is my work site . . . KiwiWit folks are hereby ordered to remove themselves and their equipment immediately . . by order of Me -- Mr. Big Dog. My side kick Smith and Wesson is my source of authority, and I want a piece of the City Council dollars for completing the project. Think South Park. Who gets to play Kenny as he falls from the high wire?

Re: "Oversight to anchor tram cost never in picture." Oregonian, Thursday, March 16, 2006

Amazing. So the O agrees that "Current and former City Council members say they're not to blame."

You've got then Commissioner Francesconi serving on the PATI Board presumably reviewing and approving the OHSU/developers decisions while at the same time serving on the City Council presumably looking out for the public interest.

Seems like the principle of interlocking board members becomes a problem in a situation such as the TRAM. A City Commissioner becomes a cheerleader for a project on whose board he serves. Rather than looking out for the public interest, he and other council members conveniently ignore asking the necessary hard questions. And, additionally, they then have the chutzpah to state, "It wasn't my responsibility."

Interlocking commission members also occur with members on the Design Review Commision and the Planning Commission. A "yes" vote on the Design Review Commision becomes a supportive "yes" vote on the Planning Commission. Yet those citizens who may question the validity of a design or developement must spend time before both commissions arguing their case against an already entrenched opinion.

As a result of the TRAM and the NMD development, I've come to the conclusion that City Council believes concerned citizen participation, particularly when it is contrary to the political desires is looked upon as particip[ation by citizen crybabies.

Council's attitude seems to be "Don't believe the citizenry. They can't be trusted. After all, look who they elected."

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