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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 14, 2006 9:03 PM. The previous post in this blog was Do re meme. The next post in this blog is The Tram Show: 200 thumbs down. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

To Steve Stadum -- Love, Fireman Randy

That letter that OHSU honcho and aerial tram-meister Steve Stadum was showing his employees this afternoon -- you know, the one where he tells off City Commissioner Randy Leonard -- apparently was circulated around Pill Hill long before it was delivered to City Hall. Despite the "hand delivered" notation on the letter, Fireman Randy, the addressee, tells me he still doesn't have it -- he read it on this blog.

Anyway, he's drafted up a brief response, which he sent me a little while ago. I've posted a copy here. (Executive summary: Pants on fire!)

Comments (25)

Easy on the cannon fire gents, its so noisy that some folks can't hear their voice mail.

If we're going to get taken to the cleaners by the OHSU gang, we might as well get some entertaining professional wrestling action out of it.

Fireman Randy wins this round. When "I don't remember that voice mail" is the best you've got, you're in serious trouble.

What's up with the caps?

The first mention of the tram is in lower case but later mentions are in caps.

Not to be mean, but the letter looks unprofessional in several respects. Perhaps its intentional - maybe the caps are the equivalent of the rim shot and the rest just demonstrates that he doesn't respect the recipient enough to even edit.

He can edit in the morning.

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.

Pony Express History : "From the days of ancient Persia to dawn of modern industry, horse and rider served to bind together the provinces of monarchy, empire and republic. No state long survived its inability to promote the dissemination of knowledge and information among its people . . . "

Does your horse have name? Lightning, perhaps? Or 39-Cent?

they said it would cost 15 to 20 mil to shut her down.

As compared to another $40 mil to finish it, another $3 mil a year to run it, and it probably won't work anyway, and even if it does, in 10-15 years we can re-do the whole thing for probably $120 mil?

Pull the plug.

Mmmmmm. Fireman Randy says he didn't receive his copy, maybe it's a fake? If it's for real, then Steve Stadum didn't read the 11th commandment:

MThou shalt not back-stab a sitting politician in writing, or on OHSU letterhead.

Maybe he's a already got a new job working for Homer?

The Steve and Randy exchange reminds me of two monkeys humping a football.

"...but the letter looks unprofessional in several respects."

I plead guilty.

I was in my office working until a meeting that started at 7 this evening out in Lents.

I checked Jack's site about 5:30 PM and saw Steve Stadum's letter. I noted the "Hand Delivered" on the letter.

We received no such letter in my office today...hand delivered or otherwise.

I realized that I had better get a response out quick because I assumed Steve was trying to get his misleading version of what actually happened out before I got a chance to respond.

I very, very quickly pounded out the response posted here on Jack's site. I do always write my own letters but I usually have someone edit them for...well, exactly the kinds of things Ellie pointed out.

I really should have listened to my parents about my lack of academic focus at Irvington and
Grant Hi.

As far as writing "TRAM" vs "tram"...that was unintentional...I typed it as I was hearing it in my head.

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.

Go get 'em, Randy! With $20 million still in play, Stadum is hoping that hardball public relations will force the City Council into funding the gap.

Truth in advertising would look something like this: y'all knew they were lying to you when they said $15 million, and WE knew they were lying to you when they said $35 million, so WE agreed to pay the difference. Now it's your turn to step up to the plate.

Hell, if you can't write the check, then just let the PDC give us some free land or something.

I was at the dog-and-pony show too, and Godfrey captures it exactly. 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.

Randy, when I see the word "tram" it sounds like "TRAM" too. ;)

Who knew a single word could inspire such a headache?

"Stadum is hoping that hardball public relations will force the City Council into funding the gap."

Mr. Stadum's latest negotiating strategy is, in my experience, "unique".

As a result of his effort today I am beginning to rethink my original commitment to OHSU for the construction of the, um, I mean... tram.

Randy Leonard at March 14, 2006 11:41 PM: As a result of his effort today I am beginning to rethink my original commitment to OHSU for the construction of the, um, I mean... tram.
Posted by

JK: While we are on the subject, lets keep the city's commitment (before you rethink) to the original, lowest case promise. ($3.5 mil??) MAX. No loans from other URs, no extra help for OHSU, no shifting of expenses, nothing except the original promise. Then reduce it from there if we can.


I have been asked if I would support lowering the permit fees for OHSU in the south waterfront project (no), lowering the Bond/debt ratio, a scheme that would save OHSU $2.5 million (no) and a number of other ideas that have the indirect effect of giving OHSU up to another $4 million in addition to the $3.5 we had previously committed to in 2003 to construct the tram.

I have said no to all the proposed methods of giving more money to help cover the increased costs of the tram.

As I have said here in previous discussions here and other places, I will stick to my original commitment (after a good nights sleep).

However, because OHSU intentionally participated in misleading the council on what they knew were much higher costs to build the tram than what we were being told in 2003, they can go out and fund raise, sell cookies, turn in bottles for their deposit or, if they really want to win me over, eliminate one high level executive position in order to come up with the money needed to complete their tram.

So on this one, Jim, I have no problem agreeing with your comment.

RL: "I have been asked if I would support lowering the permit fees for OHSU in the south waterfront project (no), lowering the Bond/debt ratio, a scheme that would save OHSU $2.5 million (no) and a number of other ideas that have the indirect effect of giving OHSU up to another $4 million in addition to the $3.5 we had previously committed to in 2003 to construct the tram."

Thank you, Randy, that is the question that has been burning a hole in my skull. And we're even in agreement for once.

Now, do you have any idea where the other commissioners stand on that same question?

There is too much nonsense in the Stadum letter to go over but let's get real.

The city is about to cut in half the interest OHSU pays for their LID Tram share. Along with fee wavers and other trickery the city will pay millions more while city slickmeisters call the current $3.5 million the "out of pocket" cost.

Remember too that when the price jumped from $15 million to $28 million, up popped a $5 million check to OHSU for "bioscience development" in the SoWa phase 1 budget.

There are other costs that outsiders continue to raise only to be ignored by city officials.

The city should come clean with the genuine public costs of the Tram.
Before it becomes a $75 million Tram.

Additionally, SoWa (& all Urban Renewal Districts) should get a full budget plan update.
The 20 year budget plans compiled when a district is created quickly becomes outdated and unreliable as demonstrated in the SoWa /North Macadam plan.
The Tram budget is not the only figure which has swayed far from the adopted plan. The park, streets, intersections, ped/bike I-5 bridge, PGE tower and other line items are grossly over budget and under funded.

Meaning the 20 year plan and budget in worthless, many more years will be needed to repay this even more massive spending and it no longer pencils out as it once may have seemed. Despite whatever Homer says.

This ongoing pretense that the city need only get beyond the Tram problem is as disingenuous as the $15 million Tram was.

We'll soon be hearing that "the city needs to come up 10's of millions more for other SoWa improvements, the entire SoWa adventure is too far along to alter anything and agreements were made.

This is true chaos.

On Urban Renewal's Tax Increment Financing. (Municipal credit card abuse)
How is it that SoWa borrows from other Urban Renewal districts?

How does this transpire?

How can a district have a surplus to be borrowed?

Is the borrowing from bond dollars not yet spent in that other district?

Is the borrowing from the increment of that other district?

The increment is supposed to go to retiring the debt and it's district and return the taxes to the local taxing jurisdictions.

Any scenario I can imagine results in the lending district having additional costs and a longer duration of the increment not going to basic services.

The entire "borrowing" arrangement should be fully vetted and publicized.

And at the same time, the PDC should be required to provide the yearly basic services impact reports as State Law requires.

The Facts:

OHSU Stadum contends in his letter to Randy that the PATI Bd. and OHSU felt that the tram budget of "15.5M to be a reasonable, all inclusive working budget".

He follows with; "When the Development Agreement was signed in Aug 2003 I and others at OHSU, the City and the PATI Bd. believed that tram could and would be designed and built for $15.5M.

But, on Dec 17, 2003, the PATI Bd. Citizens Advisory Committee sent a three page letter to the City Council with Southwest Neighorhood Inc. endorsement(SWNI-representing 16 neighborhood Assn.s) REQUESTING a postponement to building the tram because of the cost overruns that were accumulating, and for council to address those concerns. (letter will hopefully be posted soon)

OHSU, PDC, PATI certainly knew of the budget problems long before the start of construction and ignored the discussions of it's own CAC and it's PATI Bd. 2003 discussions about the tram budget problems.

Secondly, the North Macadam URAC committee of PDC asked in Dec 05 for a 20 to 50 year true life cycle cost analysis for the tram from the PATI Bd./PDC. No report has been developed. A true life cycle cost of the tram that a economist would develop for a 20 year period would likely approach the $250M price tag. (part of the costs to be included:financing, land, operations, depreciation, maintenance, insurance, etc.)

Third, in Adam's Oregonian commentary several weeks ago, he totaled up $11M in direct tram costs paid by the taxpayers. There are additional direct tram costs that any economist and prudent person would add to the tram cost: financing;land costs; design competition costs;PDC,PDOT, Planning, City staff time/expenditures; etc. You don't buy a car for $30,000 and think that is it's only cost, right Randy?

Then there are the indirect costs that are being horsetraded behind closed doors that directly benefit OHSU so they are "encouraged" to pay for more of the tram: lobbying fees-for every fed/state dollars that OHSU can claim they bring to NM, they get 50% of the amount; $2.5M in reduced permitting/review fees for the tram; OHSU being paid $3M with today's dollars for reserving 100 parking spaces in a parking garage to be completed several years later; $2.5M to OHSU by reducing the interest rate on it's Local Improvement District created to build the PillHill tram terminal-at a cost to the NM Urban Renewal District; etc. How many more of these "gimmies" to benefit OHSU so that Council can still claim "the taxpayers are only out for $3.5M", will we find out about?

Don't forget that the taxpayers hard cost for North Macadam is $288 Million. The debt service at minimum will be over $260 Million. North Macadam UR District alone will be costing the Portland taxpayers well over ONE-HALF BILLION DOLLARS just for a 20 year period. And who knows, like so many other Urban Renewal Districts, it will probably be extended and cost even more.

We're all going to need to get part time jobs to pay more taxes and help pay for this mess. And, if OHSU does have the proposed bake sale, I've got a great recipe for some "TRAM cookies" that I would like to contribute. Randy, will you promise to buy one?

No, they'll need to sell Tram Brownies. Extra special. Keep us giggling about it rather than rioting.


Did anyone else catch what the PDC guy said the operational lifetime of this stuff?

The answer was 50 years. Anybody know the credibility of that claim? I sure would like to see that lifecyle costing and determine who is setting these cost depreciation standards for this kind of stuff. What's that based on, anyway?

Also, I too, look forward to "live, up-to-the-second reporting from the newstruck stuck in traffic on I-5, as the tramcar dangles helplessly with 60 folks stacked like cordwood in the tramcar, trapped for hours over stalled gridlock traffic. 200 seconds of convenient transportation transformed into 200 minutes of a brush with death. "Terror on the Tram" rimshot, indeed.

Say... Who's responsible for the rescue team, anyway?


Either that's us, or the price of healthcare is going up in Portland yet again.

The cleaned-up version of Randy Leonard's letter to Steve Stadum is here.


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Road Work

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