The West Hills Money interests in Portland, formerly presided over by The Neil, are still alive and well despite Humpty Dumpty's great fall. They run the Port, they run Metro, they run Tri-Met, and they're pretty cushy with, if they don't outright run, the medical school. Thus, it was hardly news last week when Brian Newman, a member of the elected Metro commission, suddenly quit that position and took a job as a "planning and development" (fundraising) guru at OHSU.
One would think that not only will Newman be stepping down from his Metro post, but he'll also be leaving the big planning and construction firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, where he works as a planner. "PB," as it now likes to be known, is no stranger to government pork in these parts -- it feeds at the tax trough with regularity and gusto.
I don't have much use for Metro. Don't get me wrong -- unlike some of my readers, I don't think we should abandon the land use planning that Metro does. I support creation of new parks and other nature preserves. And if we're going to have a convention center and a zoo, of course somebody needs to run them. But with city and county governments all over the region, we don't need yet another layer of local government to do that work. There may have been a time when it served a purpose, but that time is gone. Besides, like Tri-Met, the Port, OHSU, and many other semi-accountable agencies in these parts, Metro is a pot of public money that's largely unsupervised. Nobody (except a few) understands it, or even bothers to try. That's a big part of why it can do things like build a huge convention hotel with taxpayer dollars on demonstrably phony premises.
As for my opinion of the management of the med school, of course, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Anyway, a vocal anti-Metro reader who subscribes to the scorched earth school of political commentary sent an amusing "analysis" of the Newman move the other day. It brought a smile to my lips, and so I thought I'd pass it along:
Big surprise. After years of conflict of interests and official misrepresentation, Newman moves to a fat cat lobbyist job, as scheduled.I wouldn't be surprised if the reader turns out to have gotten most of that right.
Reliable sources tell me that Newman is on board OHSU to lobby and propagandize for new public money to pay private biotech research companies to come to SoWa, and to scheme up ways to expand OHSU's mission into the private sector in hopes of generating desperately needed capital. This is part of the bailout OHSU needs having spent their $200 million Oregon Opportunity gift from the State and taking on new debt without new income. Liquidating the [Oregon Graduate Institute campus] and various millions from various SoWa schemes delay the worsening fiscal instability, but the writing is on the wall.
Seems the Tram and 100s of millions in urban renewal subsidies weren't quite the "linchpin" Katz, Kohler and the Oregonian promised.
Look for Newman to concoct various rationales for public funding bailouts cast as additional "investments" while OHSU revives plans for a OHSU hotel in SoWa, OHSU-run parking garages, OHSU-run housing and other subsidized ventures.