Fireman Randy took the gloves off yesterday and let OHSU and the developer folks have it over the aerial tram [rim shot]. In voting against additional city funding for the Kohler-Coaster, he issued this statement, which includes some serious fightin' words:
But let's be honest about the public financing of the tram. The total $8.5 million of TIF money we are discussing is just over one half of all the money taxpayers are contributing to the Tram.
Portlanders are also on the hook to reimburse OHSU an additional $3.4 million as a result of OHSU being granted $11 million from Wash DC.
Can someone... anyone, explain where that kind of deal comes from? Who on our side makes such agreements? If for no other reason, this scheme alone has earned my no vote.
But that's not it -- and this one is my favorite.
A cut in what Ken Rust just characterized as mortgage insurance on the LID moneys paid by OHSU from 1.25% to .25%... saves another $2.25 million for OHSU.
Never mind that every poor working Joe and Jane in Portland has up until now paid the current 1.25% every time a sidewalk, street or sewer is laid in their neighborhood. We just heard that our financial staff are relying on a 1989 report to reduce what is described as similar to a "mortgage insurance fee." However, in the intervening 17 years, the city of Portland has undertaken one of the largest public works projects ever -- the mid county sewer project, that included the 1.25% charge on each of the modest homes east of 82nd Ave. But now comes OHSU that will participate in a LID -- and somehow, someway, we now think that 1.25% is too much.
If we leave the rate at 1.25%, we might end up with resources that could be used to pave streets out in the Cully Neighborhood or, heaven forbid, Lents. By all means, let's change that interest rate now before we have to pave pothole-plagued streets in working class neighborhoods throughout Portland.
These various financial sweetheart deals with OHSU amount to a MINIMUM of a $14.15 million total direct taxpayer subsidy of OHSU and its tram.
Lay on, Macduff! And don't forget to vote no again when the next $43 million for the rest of the SoWhat condo tower wasteland comes before you shortly. (Opie says, "Me, too -- I'm all grown up now.")