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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 18, 2007 2:45 PM. The previous post in this blog was Juiced up?. The next post in this blog is Help the guy out. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Thursday, January 18, 2007

While you were out

At 5:30 last Friday afternoon, an e-mail message went out from the City of Portland notifying the public about a pending review of the Parks Bureau's corporate sponsorship policy -- a policy that includes naming parks facilities after corporations who give the city money for parks activities.

Five-thirty. On a Friday afternoon. Before a three-day holiday weekend. "Your comments are welcome." Sure.

Ironically, by Parks Bureau standards, this is a shining triumph for public involvement. According to Amanda Fritz, who's patient enough to follow such things closely, this policy has already been in place for quite some time, and it's only because there's a new "good guy" mid-level manager nominally in charge of the ongoing privatization of the parks that there's going to be any chance for public input at all.

What progress.

Anyway, if you'd like to let the city know what you think of the prospect of the Doritos Wildwood Trail, you should read the policy here and leave your comment here. There's no place on the form to leave your name or to say in which part of town you live -- all the easier to dismiss you as a kook, I guess. I suggest that you voluntarily sign the comment and give your neighborhood, in hopes of making your point carry a bit more weight.

It's become clear that the Portland City Council thinks we spend too much money on our park system, and that we need to run it more cheaply by going to contract labor and corporate advertising. Selling off park land was also on the list, at least until recently, but that one was shouted down by the public, as well it should have been. We'll have to see about the other two, I guess.

Comments (16)

Parks and city council I say to you: let parks be parks ...

Citizens ... why not just fork over the dough so we can maintain the parks and pick up the trash.

And .. while we're at it ... The amount of advertizing on Max and the buses is a zaney.

I respect Portland's downtown restrictions on the size of signs on store fronts.

How about applying something similar to Max and the buses!

The bus poetry is OK. Let's keep that.

The bus poetry is OK. Let's keep that.

Well...It would be nice if they'd change it more than once every three or four years.

And...What's the deal with all the "If you see something suspicious..." posters? They look like the warnings on Israeli buses. Are we expecting bombs on Tri-Met?

I don't understand your gripe about the e-mail going out at 5:30 p.m. before a holiday weekend. The public meeting it announces isn't until the third week in February. Agreed the time after that is too short for follow-up comments, but by sending out the notice on January 12 they allowed over four weeks for review and input. Not the best public process, for sure, but better than the complete absence of public review of this policy thus far.

And actually, the review is not only due to the "good guy", but also to Margot Barnett and me holding his feet to the fire. And it will take more citizens doing likewise to change the policy statement, which says Portland expects its parks to be underfunded and thus has a policy of relying on corporate sponsorship. I hope people who care about public ownership of parks are planning to comment and/or attend the Citywide Parks Team meeting (run by citizens) on Feb 15 at 7 p.m. in the Rose Room of City Hall.

So Portland is going the way of Reiser Stadium eh..... This city will remain pseudo-green as long as it pumps money into South Waterfront condo's at the expense of maintaining it's surface streets and parks.

Mountains need trees, trees need water, and trees clean the air the is being polluted by Trimet buses.

Take a drive east on Clinton, Belmont, or Divsion and you'll find pothole city.

I predict that in the public hearing the citizens will learn that...there isn't enough money! The alternatives are to cozy up to the corporate teat or extract more dough from the tax payers. Then, after really listening hard, a coalition of "community leaders" will come up with a creative solution that involves a little of both and the physical signs of corporate funding will be kept discrete and tasteful. No one will risk asking for a prioritization of existing funds because it's all too complicated.

Jack, they waited until you left to announce a new 35 story skyscraper! ;)

Jack, they waited until you left to announce a new 35 story skyscraper!

Which likely will raze Virginia Cafe. And I thought Charter reform was enough to get me riled up. Moyer guns for the VC? They have a fight on their hands.

Anything with any character or history is very much at risk in Portland these days.

I don't understand your gripe about the e-mail going out at 5:30 p.m. before a holiday weekend.

Perfect timing to get lost in the shuffle. It's when bureaucrats and politicians inevitably try to break bad or controversial news.

Ah, right. I guess I'm so used to it, it doesn't bother me any more. Plus I work swing shift and weekends, an alternate reality. My boss on the psych ward I worked on 25 years ago used to drop the next month's schedule on the staff room table on her way out of the door on Friday afternoons, too.

It's interesting to me in tracking my blog statistics that more readers are checking it during regular work week hours. I don't know whether to try posting really interesting stuff over the weekend in an attempt to boost visits, or go with the trend and wait to post on important issues.

The other thing folks should realize is the Policy many times is not worth the paper it is written on in Parks. We want to believe so much that our government is doing what they should be and protecting the public interest, when it does and the public is being served it fosters high moral among the rank and file, and people can feel that spirit of making the world a better place. I know it is funky, but there are still those of us out here that face the reality that society without government is anarchy and it is needed, but instead of being a necessary evil we always hope it can be an instrument to help society work together and create pleasing place to live work and play.

That is what I found so amusing about Amanda’s hero worship of the mid-level parks employee she thought was going to save parks. There is a great movie people should watch before commenting on the sponsor shop policy, it is a comedy very easy to watch with some of the old Monty Python crew. Strangely enough has a Rupert Murdoch-like Character played by another of my favorites Kevin Cline in a dual, and Jamie Curtis. It is called “Fierce Creatures”, about the commercialization of a nature park. It like all Python is an exaggeration but the underlying soul robbing social cost of only caring about the bottom line and not the nature of the beasts comes through.

For many years now (since the mid 90’s) there has been a City “policy” that agencies post their cost of services. Parks took their first and to this date only publicly published report to council in the Fall of 2004 the same Fall as the “reorganization”. Along with the policy long in place that said we should be subsidizing youth, particularly low income youth, and regular adults should pay the cost of programs and perhaps 10% more so that more to allow for more programs in low income areas. Low-income (including elderly and disabled) adults were also to be subsidized.

In that first Cost of Services Study published in Appendix B-4 The champions of this policy appear to be Adult Softball managed by Amanda’s hero, and new Business Manager for Parks. Adult softball produced revenues of $152,785 for the city and only cost us $12,000 in direct costs. WOW 1188% return on investment. Facility and Maintenance Costs a mere $38,160 for a total ROI of 400%.

The only problem was in the 2005 Auditors report on Softball

showed in reality, for the contract with PMSA cost the City $250,000 in subsidy, and the contracted organization according to State Corporate records was banking $70,000/year. If you look closer Youth Softball is charged $686,532 in maintenance costs so their program is a drain on the economy, but if you look at the participation numbers in softball for that same year, where 19,914 registered youth played games (each game played is a visit) and 168,311 adults played. There appears to be something a little odd with the math there.

But if it seems to fit with the pattern of negative property value appraisals, as the City’s Policy of good Business Management, and so much for the “policy” of subsidizing youth. In the Summer of 2005 while Alpenrose Dairy was hosting the girls softball world championship as they host most of the youth events in their facility, your City Parks were being used for an adult softball tournament co-sponsered by Hooters with PMSA collecting entry fees, spectator admission, etc.

"Hero" is too strong. "Good guy" was the phrase I used. The difference is that Good Guy status is dependent on ongoing performance. We shall see.

So I take it Doritos came in with a higher bid in the 11th hour to 'sponser' the Wildwood Trail over their rival Tostitos?

The Wildwood restaurant in NW Portland won the bid for naming it's now the "Wildwood Wildwood Trail"...

So... Swimmer? Have the Parks' recreational programs for kids, particularly low income kids, been flourishing under the guidance of "good guy" Bob?

If they expanded Parks programs for kids at that same time they expanded the programs for middle-aged (mostly)white males who get a charge out of Hooters? I ask because it seems to me that Parks programs for kids have pretty much gone into the toilet under Santner...and Bob.


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