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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 8, 2006 12:42 AM. The previous post in this blog was He promised to exalt us, but low is the way. The next post in this blog is All in the family. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Thursday, June 8, 2006

You can't take a sharp picture of a fuzzy object

Does the Portland Development Commission do a good job? Is urban renewal working in Portland? City Auditor Gary Blackmer (right) sent out a crew to start asking these questions, and they came back with few answers but many additional questions.

The Blackmer report was written up by Oregonian reporter Ryan Frank the other day, and he offered readers his rose-colored glasses, to be sure. "Portland renewal zones flourish," proclaimed the headline. But a careful reading of Blackmer's report paints a much different picture -- an assessment that would better be described as lukewarm. It finds the PDC's job creation strategies only "somewhat effective," and concludes that the jobs picture didn't differ much in several of the city's urban renewal areas from what it was in comparable areas of town that didn't receive PDC subsidies. Employment in two key urban renewal areas was about the same as in the rest of the city -- down around 9 percent. And what additional jobs the PDC creates, the people who live in the urban renewal districts typically don't get.

The O article did own up to the fact that the report criticizes the PDC's data collection and performance measurement systems. But the O summary -- "the city needs to do a better job measuring the success of its business recruitment work" -- is putting it rather mildly. The Blackmer report found that "on an organizational level,... PDC lacks clear goals, measures and data it needs to continually improve its decision-making processes and better link its investments to community results." Indeed, in two key areas, the report finds, the PDC publishes misleading data -- showing projected economic development results for projects that are already completed, and leaving the impression that these are actual, observed results. And the scope of the auditor's investigation was limited by the fact that there isn't enough information readily at hand to evaluate the PDC's performance.

Indeed, a fairer summation of the Blackmer report is that there's no way to tell whether the PDC is doing a good job, because the agency has poorly defined goals and doesn't keep the information necessary to determine whether it's succeeding at whatever it's supposed to be doing. What data the auditor's office dug up on its own reveals mixed results, and some of the records that the PDC shows around are less than candid.

There's enough interesting material in the report that concerned readers ought to read the original document and see for themselves. It's here. Don't let the number of pages scare you -- there's a lot of white space in there. I'm going to post some more entries on various aspects of the report over the next week or so, and I invite readers to help me steer the additional discussion.

Before leaving the study for now, however, just one additional observation is in order. The Blackmer report spills most of its ink on the end results of urban renewal, but it never mentions the opportunity costs of the many hundreds of millions of dollars that ordinary Portland taxpayers have been forced to throw at urban renewal over the years. Remember, more than 19 cents of every property tax dollar the City of Portland collects, from every taxpayer in town, goes to pay for "urban renewal." If the PDC weren't blowing that money by way of its $200 million annual budget (estimated spending for this fiscal year was actually $248 million -- a 167 percent increase over just four years), what else would the money be available for? Expressed another way, how badly does "urban renewal" drain needed funds away from core government functions?

Oregon state law requires cities to estimate the financial impact of urban renewal activities (such as tax abatements) on tax collections, but as has been mentioned in this space before, Portland refuses to comply with that law. Other cities can do it (Lake Oswego, for example), but Portland says it's impossible.

There have been several calls by urban renewal critics for the city to start complying with this law in earnest, but so far they have fallen on deaf ears. You would have thought that the city auditor, while he's busy talking about unavailable data and missing performance measures, might have said something about that. But there's not a word in the report about it.

Comments (15)

I still like your earlier suggestion, $250M (05-06 Budget) = 1666 $150K houses given away and have the owners pay prop taxes. At least with property taxes you get a 1.5% rough ROI.

You especially can't take a sharp picture of a fuzzy object with a Kodak Instamatic.

"""doesn't keep the information necessary to determine"""

I'm shocked!

What is it with auditors in the Portland area? I mean Multnomah Co. auditor says he was pressured to "rosey" the numbers by defated Co. Chair Linn. The Metro auditor is defeated because of percieved ilregularities. Portland School District auditors are quitting one after another. And now the city auditor is releasing a report that if I'm understanding Jack correctly, leaves some very important questions unanswered or ignored, but are crucial to examining whether URD is worth it.

"What is it with auditors in the Portland area?"

I think the better question has to do with those who are cutting the package deals for instamatics. Alexis Dow wouldn't bow to David Bragdon, the son of Neil's good friend Paul. Methinks the picture is starting to come into focus. And shame,shame, shame on the electorate.

"...the PDC publishes misleading data -- showing projected economic development results for projects that are already completed, and leaving the impression that these are actual, observed results." Sounds like the PDC stole a page out of an old Enron playbook. Private sector executives are being prosecuted and sent to prison for this type of thing. Maybe it is high time that the FBI begin investigating these people.

The PDC is attempting to walk their self serving fabricated line between what they can easily chartacterize as innocent ommission the what they are indeed doing, defrauding the public.

The Tram life cycle cost estimate was a classic example among many in SoWa.

My rub today is who told PDOT's Rob Barnard to exclude debt service and other fundemental costs?

Someone did.

Who told him to use the 50 year life span?

Who instructs the staff to exclude many numbers from reports and to withold budgets from officials and the publici?

Why do the electeds allow this?

Why did Sam Adams present such a flawed life cycle cost estimate? Many concerns for costs, especailly debt service, where communicated to the commissioner and others many times.

On another interesting note:
Is OHSU paying prevailing wage on it's projects?

There's an ongoing debate between the PDC and the State Labor dept over PDC subsidized projects,
but I have not heard any mention of OHSU.

A couple calls this monring and I am nearly believing that on top of many other generous public funding of the sometimes public sometimes private OHSU may alos be enjoying the luxury of not be required to pay prevailing wages on their construction projects.
Projects which are publiclly funded in one way or another.
Does anyone know?

Perhaps the pill projects are paying but their new SoWa not?

Guilt by association? I thought I understood that there were performance issues with the outgoing Metro auditor. How is it that being the auditor of the son of a friend of Goldschmidt confers heroic status? General Metro issues aside, what's the real story here?

Let's see,

The City Auditor investigated E. Boyles for the return of $150,000 plus fines for her apparent misuse of public election funding. Isn't that just precious?

When is the City Auditor going to investigate the payment of at least $3.5 million by the CoP to OHSU. Taxpayer money that Commissioner Leonard and the Oregonian state may have been paid based on false and material misrepresentations to City Council by OHSU representatives, associated developers and city officials.

How about the City Auditor investigating that?

Alan L., Not guilt by association at all. The issue at Metro is whether Bradgon complained about Dow in retaliation for DOING her job. It's how the machine operates. On the chance you really are interested in these issues, I told a friend who knows the particulars that someone on Jack Bog's Blog is wondering about the situation.

I was wondering -- hence the questions. Answers would be welcome.

Jack: I have a hunch that Ryan Frank did not write the headline for his article. Maybe Bob Caldwell?

The meat of his article doesn't go with its content. At least he tried.

Another point. Notice that only 5 URA's are analysed in the article, and they are generally thought of as being the most successful (Pearl District, Downtown, etc.), if you can consider it that way. When and if the remaining 6 URA's (Lents, NoPo) are added to the equation, I think the prognosis of all Urban Renewal (even using PDC's thrumped up, inflated, guessimates, etc) will be much bleaker.

Okay, that's enough - I demand that all of you who can't see the "wisdom" of the progressivness (is that a word?) that the PDC brings to the table, immediately turn in your "progressive" card. Next thing you know you'll be complaining when our "progressive" government wants that last dollar in your wallet. We all know that government KNOWS how to spend your money better than you - give it here!

Next item on the agenda - wealth re-distribution (from your pocket to those cozy with government).

"scuse me, while I kiss the sky"

Yay !'s the same old song, isn't it?
We just keep watchin' 'em.


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to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
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The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
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Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
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Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
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Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
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Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
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Keith Richards - Life
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Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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