This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 30, 2008 5:02 PM. The previous post in this blog was The only way to save America. The next post in this blog is Penetrating a new sector. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


We've noted here that Sam the Tram plays rough. Well, here's a counter-blow that no one saw coming.

The collective nervous breakdown of the City of Portland has officially begun. What a hysterical ride it is going to be.

Comments (43)

Where do we go to sign?

I hope they hire some more competent freaks to collect signatures than the ones who were supposed to put "voter-owed elections" on the ballot. What a fiasco that turned out to be.

To bad, so many people really worked together for this. The business community and the port really got behind it. And a plan was crafted it represent the interests of the people of Portland. That is democracy at work, democracy is more than just elections. It is working together with our elected officials.

This looks like a power play by Romain, We will all pay for in it, now and in the future.

Pay for what? The aerial tram, or the citywide network of streetcars? I hope and pray we'll all get to vote on the hideously unfair new "fee," at the same time we get to vote on the clown who's pimping it. Sho Time, baby!

Sho qualifies for public funds...Multnomah County puts a vehicle tax on the May, 2008 ballot...
Adams paints himself into a corner by pledging to not spend in the election any more than the public funding amount...andnow the CoP water bill oad tax may be on the May 2008 ballot as well...

Sounds like Excedrin headaches 1, 2, 3, and 4 all at on time for Sam the Scam...it couldn't happen to a more deserving guy...

As Homer Simpson would say, "Whooo Hooo!"

Can I remind everyone that Sam Adams voted for a city school tax before and that he wanted to rename SW 4th Ave, which runs through the heart of Chinatown, "Cesar Chavez Ave."

The last thing this town needs is another ego-first, play dirty politician, who's never really worked an honest, non-political day's work in his life.

Adams earlier told WWire that he was dividing the measure into three to avoid a possible legal challenge based on the "single subject" rule which has been used before to invalidate statewide ballot measures. (That rule requires that measures only address a single policy change, although it has historically only applied to constitutional changes).

Romain argues, however, that Adams only split the measures in order to make referral more difficult for opponents. "It was a pure bait and switch tactic," he says. "The single subject objection was always bogus and went away. But it showed us we'd have to use Sam's tactics."

Wow. Counterpunches don't get much clearer than that.

I knew Sam was capable of great deceipt when he came up with his "Shake up City Hall" slogan, AS IF he wasn't the consummate CoP Insider.

Payback's a B!*^h!

Heh heh, Sammy...

WTF you expect, Sammy?

Just be glad the mob isn't carrying pitchforks and torches.


Sam's move to propose one, then three, then pass one measure proves that he wasn't concerned about the Oregon Constitution. He was playing a big political game and Romain and the rest of us peons should make sure it is on the ballot.

One's sentiment about Adam's misuse of politics should also determine how the electoral votes on the disguised tax. About time we get to vote on something to do with our tax dollars. I know what the answer will be-"NO".

Apparently "breeze" never examined the 89 member stacked, partisan committee that Sam put together that determined a tax was needed.

We can only hope (and pray) that Sam's tax gets voted down as does he. To have him out of power as both a commissioner and a mayor; it's a dream.

Of course some schmuck would just hire him for his staff, but at least he'd be back in the background doing his dirty deeds instead of flipping the bird to everyone in public.

I'm praying for you to lose Sam, more candles being lit in the church weekly.

Is breeze passing wind?

Must be a visitor from suck-up-central at commissionersam.com or even portlandtransport.com
where the wind really does blow.

Sho Time, baby!

Definitely. Question is, will the devout communists of Multnomah County actually elect an openly pro-business candidate ? I sincerely doubt it, but we can all hope...

The man owned a taxi company for a bit, albeit a terribly run one...that's enough to get my vote right there, in addition, of course, to the whole booting Commissar Sam out thing.

So, If VeraSam loses the race, is he totally off the council or does he keep his existing seat?

I read the Oregonian and it is their that I get my perspective on Portland. It seems difficult to achieve anything good (in the public interest) in Portland, given the negativity, disfunctional politics, and general polarization that one observes. Dare I say the lack of reason and maturity is also at play.
I have no stake in this fight, except that I occasionally visit Portland and use the streets.
Other cities in Oregon and across the nation have adopted "transportation utility fees" that appear to be similar to that proposed for Portland. I live in a city with such a fee and it works very well. I was initially opoosed, but now support the fee. We have seen positive results and the public has adequate input on the expenditures of the funds.
If you don't want to maintain streets, that is fine. You can pay a lot more later when they fall apart.
If you think Romain and the petroleum dealers give a damn about Portland's road system you are crazy.
Reading the comments here tells me that Portland has little chance to serve the bulk of the citizens in a positive fashion.
Too bad that what could have been a beneficial program for Portland motorists appears headed for the garbage can.

Outoftown, Portland already has a transportation fee/tax initiated under Mayor Katz(Sam was her chief of staff) several years ago. That tax was robbed and put into the general fund to be used for many projects not related to transportation and streets. Why doesn't Sam use the existing tax as it was intended?

Outoftown, excuse me, the tax was initiated under Mayor Bud Clark. It was Vera, and is Sam and Council that continues to misuse the tax.


You have to remember that conflict and bad news sells papers (and draws viewers to blogs). And that comments on blogs are not a reliable way to judge public opionion. It's something along the lines of the old marketing maxim that if a person has a bad experience or impression they tell 10 people, and if they have a good experience or impression they tell three people. That, and anonymous comments let cranks spin out their conspiracies and activists grind their axes.

I tend to agree with you, and would vote "yes" if the tax goes on the ballot. And I carry no water for oil companies.

But I am sympathetic to the put-it-on-the-ballot crowd, and would be willing to sign their petition, for a simple reason: shouldn't I and my neighbors have a say in whether and how such a large amount of our money is spent? "No taxation without representation", and all that. I realize not every fee or tax can or should go on the ballot, and in theory our Council represents us and acts in our interests. But we're talking hundreds of millions over many years, a commitment large enough that it should merit a public vote.

"Reading the comments here tells me that Portland has little chance to serve the bulk of the citizens in a positive fashion.
Too bad that what could have been a beneficial program for Portland motorists appears headed for the garbage can."

Try not to draw conclusions from the comments on this blog, "outoftown." Some of us Portlanders think the proposed fee makes sense. Streets are in need of repair, and the gas tax, which doesn't grow with inflation, has long been inadequate to pay for those repairs.

The folks who regularly comment on this blog are for the most part animated by two things: a rabid hatred of Portland government and a rabid hatred of paying taxes. It's very easy to see what and who these people are against but very difficult to discern what they're actually for. Fortunately, those attitudes aren't typical of most Portlanders.

Thank you lw and Eric for the additional background.
There was a potential for the "transportation utility" funds to be diverted here also. Someone had the foresight to included in the legislation a requirment that the funds be deposited to a separate account and be used for maintenance only. We also recieve an annual report on the use of the funds. Of course, Council can always amend the legislation and divert the money. Only the watchful eye of citizens (and their threat of retaliation) prevents the Council from doing so.
I agree a vote on such a signifacnt fee would be attractive to opponents of fees. If the proponents (supporters)want the fee, they should be able to justify and explain it effectively and get a positive vote outcome. However, I worry at times about those that vote and are either poorly informed or simply are opposed to anything that has a cost. The democratic process can be messy and unfortunately sometimes produces outcomes I don't support. Ah, there is my problem.....like others, I like it my way.
How is it that the Portland Council can divert transportation funds to other uses without being held responsible?


Regarding Sam the Scam and the cuncil seat he occupies, if he loses the Mayor's race, he is on the council until midnight 31 December 2008.

Sam the Scam's council term expires at that tme, and he did not file for re election to that council seat.

Outoftown, you obviously didn't read the responses before you posted. Otherwize, you wouldn't have entered such a misinformed post.

The CoP has betrayed taxpayers multiple times; from the diversion of transportation funds to subsidizing trolley cars and trams.

Whether the posters on this blog reflect the attitude of majority of the city is a discussion worth having. But for the most part, Portlanders realize they've been burned too many times with proposals like Sam's.

The true test will be if this petition gets completed.

The folks who regularly comment on this blog are for the most part animated by two things: a rabid hatred of Portland government and a rabid hatred of paying taxes.

Rabies has gotten a bad rap because of people like you, Richard. Some of us find it very liberating. It frees us to bite back at the causes of the infection. Not to mention the "foaming at the mouth" part which can be very useful at repelling over-earnest SamDrones.

BTW, time to reapply your Chapstick.

Are you folks referring to utility franchise fees? I believe these have existed since the early part of the 20th century, and were for a specific time period, after which each utility had to renegotiate. The City Charter provision is here:


I *think* Council changed the fee rate in the early 1990s from a negotiated rate contained in each agreement to a standardized rate, embodied in City Code here:


While these fees are a form of rental of the public right-of-way, and proceeds may have once gone for transportation uses, it doesn't look like there are any charter provisions that require that.

To add to what's been written so far...

The revenue from this proposed tax can't be used on anything other than transportation maintenenace - not streetcars, trams, building new roads, etc. However, a lot of people think that the revenues from this tax will give city council breathing room to divert unrestricted revenues - that would otherwise have been spent on transportation maintenance - to controversial capital projects like streetcars, the Burnside-Couch couplet, the convention hotel, SoWa portals, etc. Maybe this wouldn't happen, but city council seems to have a knack at finding colossally expensive and unnecessary projects. You've got to look at the whole budget picture.

Also, Sam has promised much more than he can deliver with this tax. His office gave each neighborhood a long list of potential projects that could be funded with this tax - basically, every neighborhood's wish list. His staff implied to each neighborhood that if they support the plan, they'll be favored, and get a bigger share of their projects approved than other neighborhoods. They go around and tell everyone that, but they refuse to commit to any projects, because they know that even $500 million isn't enough to pay for even 10% of what they've promised.

The bottom line is that this tax is a stinker. City council should at least try to use existing tax revenues to fix the roads.

The bottom line is that this tax is a stinker. City council should at least try to use existing tax revenues to fix the roads.


Just to clarify, my post about the utility franchise fee was in response to the "lw" 11:02am post claiming there is an existing "transportation fee/tax".

The council under Bud Clark passed an ordinance in 1988 allocating 28% of the overall utility franchise revenue to street maintenance. Unfortunately, it was non-binding. They stuck with it for a couple years, then started diverting it. In her second year, Vera killed it all together.


Yep, democracy is messy. And sometimes voters support some stupid things or don't support some necessary or worthy things. Most politicians just float along on the tide of public opinion; the true leaders among them will take a stand for what they believe to be right, even in the face of public opposition. So if nothing else I give Adams props for staking his reputation and political future (in Portland anyway) on this issue. The merits or correctness of that posture is another matter . . .

Portland-area voters aren't always or reflexively against tax increases; witness the three-year I-Tax that passed in Multnomah county, and Clackamas County passed a $200 million school bond recently (despite all the anti-taxers that left Portland to live there). Voters will tax themselves to support worthy and timely causes if their necessity is made clear and fully explained, and the taxes include safeguards to make sure the money is well-spent.

But Adams' fight to keep the tax off the ballot shows that he doesn't think the tax can stand on its own merits; if it's a good idea and Portlanders really do support it (as he claims his advisory panel proved), then he should not be afraid to let it be referred to the people.

I suspect he knows that now is a bad time to ask voters to spend money given the recession we're entering. Voters will soon (if they are not already) in no mood to spend money with their jobs threatened, and Adams is trying to do an end-run and get the tax approved by Council fiat. For a similar reason, I don't see the PPS and PCC bond measures passing . . .

The council under Bud Clark passed an ordinance in 1988 allocating 28% of the overall utility franchise revenue to street maintenance. Unfortunately, it was non-binding. They stuck with it for a couple years, then started diverting it. In her second year, Vera killed it all together.

Thanks, Dave! That's the problem when dedicated fees are embodied in policy rather than (in this case) charter or code. At least the state gas tax can't be shuffled off to non-transportation projects.

PG, you are wrong that "state gas tax can't be shuffled off to non-transportation projects".

As posted before, over $137 Million of (STIP) ODOT gas tax money has been diverted to non-transportation projects in 2007 for Portland alone.

For example:
14442 $2,006,000M Regional Travel Options Program

1443 $557,000 Travel Smart Program, Educate Citizens About Alernative Modes of Transportation

14567 $1,039,000 Programs to Encourage Alternative Modes Not To Drive Alone

14569 $1,875,000 Fed Earmk For Alternative Analysis for Extension of Existing Streetcar System

14272 $4,472,000 SE Powell-SE Holgate, Construct Sidewalks, Bike Lanes, Curb/Drainage, Landscaping, Lighting

14066 $5,573,000 First Phase of 3 Trails in Regional System

14409 $1,075,000 Marine Drive, Complete Segment of Off-Street Trail

14439 $502,000 Milwaukie Towncenter Pedestrian Improvements, Improve Streetscape Facilities in Downtown

This list goes on for 140 similar non-road projects. I am not going to argue that walking, biking, etc are not transportation means. But gas tax money was not intended to be used in this manner. And the people at the pump paying 24 cents/gallon tax should know how their tax dollars are being used.

And I am not "hating Portland government" as Richard claims. Just the facts.

PG -

"At least the state gas tax can't be shuffled off to non-transportation projects."

I agree that that at least is theoretically correct.

But that theory underestimates the mendacity of the single minded anti car crowd. In theory, the federal gas tax "...can't be shuffled off to non-transportation projects", as well.

Notice how much the city got from the feds as road dollars to build the East Bank Esplanade, while Vera was Mayor?

Its far too easy to redifine what is "transportation" .

And, as Mult. Co. routinely demonstrate with library levys, and the CoP does with Parks, it is even easier to pass a "dedicated" tax or levy for funds for "X" in an amount far higher than the traditional spending on from general funds on "X" and thereafter delete all general fund support for "X" and use the then freed up general funds for all sorts of new projects.

In effect, the library and parks levys in Portland and Mult. Co. have been used for years to expand general fund spending on all sorts of new programs which could not stand on their own.

Say, who was Vera's chief of staff when the East Bank Esplanade was built with road funds? Anybody know whatever happenned to that guy? Sam somebody or other?

BTW, Sam Adams lobbied at the State Legislature for most of these 140 projects.

Why didn't he lobby for some/more road improvements from the gas tax since we're in a crisis?

Why didn't Sam prioritize the dollars if the amount was fixed for Portland's share?

Its far too easy to redefine what is "transportation".

I know - for some folks paved parking lanes for autos not in motion are considered "transportation", but bike lanes and sidewalks aren't.

What a great discussion. This is very valuable information (and the opinions are useful, too).

"Other cities in Oregon and across the nation have adopted "transportation utility fees" that appear to be similar to that proposed for Portland."

Outoftown, I don't disagree with you on that. (I am also an outside observer; I live in Salem so I don't have a horse in this race.)

That said, it looks like Mr. Adams fought dirty, and he's getting a dirty response. The two sides are right back to where they would have been had Mr. Adams never proposed to split up the tax to undercut the opposition, except now people know that Adams never had an apolitical reason to split up the tax proposals and was doing that solely to frustrate the opposition.

I hope this means he will decline to try fighting that dirty in the future, but I rather suspect he'll just get better at it. :-)

Try going here to download the petition:


Don't delay. Visit your neighbors. Gather signatures. Time is short.

BTW, don't expend all your disapprobation upon Sham. Randy of the Manypensions embraced Sham's tax more tightly even than our self-described "irrelevant" mayor. He allegedly minds the Water Bureau yet he hasn't bothered to tell us what it's going to cost us to effect a MONTHLY billing system.

We're still paying -- in our base rates for a basic human need -- the $30-40mill that was flushed by the faulty billing system for which Opie has said "sorry." (He didn't even bother to show up yesterday despite still drawing his $95+K salary. Nursing his existential crisis in his $1.3mill house perhaps?)

Randy Manypensions is also running for re-election this year. Although the deadtree journalists in town have assured us that he has "no serious opposition," he should also go down with this tax.

The folks who regularly comment on this blog are for the most part animated by two things: a rabid hatred of Portland government and a rabid hatred of paying taxes.

Maybe true, maybe not. But one thing's for sure -- you are gone.

Referral petitions for those who seek to put the Portland gas taxes on the ballot
are available by sending a request to:


Ask for a petition by mail, give them your snail mail address.

I have no affiliation with the group doing the petition process.

The two sides are right back to where they would have been had Mr. Adams never proposed to split up the tax to undercut the opposition

That's not quite true, as Romain was able to get reduced fees for gas stations and convenience stores into the final package. Frankly, if I were Sam I would ask Council to repeal the tax they just passed, and reintroduce the original one with the higher fees for Romain's friends. If facing the referendum regardless, might as well screw the group that's referring it to the ballot.

Whether the tax passes or not is hard to know -- on the one hand, it has a lot of good things that Portlanders support and are willing to pay for; on the other, with a recession and high gas prices, the opponents may be able to build a majority coalition.

One thing's for sure, though, Dozono will not be our next Mayor. The guy is Portland's Bob Dole -- old, likable, and about to get his butt kicked.

Did anyone else notice this ephemeral posting (Jan24) by JMayer on the O's City Hall blog, reproduced here to spare you the arduous click. What's a half-mill when you're after a half-bill mortgage?

City goofs fee deal price tag. Nobody blinks
Posted by jmayer January 24, 2008 14:35PM

City officials gave out the wrong information yesterday on the revenue impact of an amendment to the city's street maintenance fee ordinance. John Rist, the transportation department's financial officer, told reporters following the council meeting that a rate cut for convenience stores and small groceries would cost the city $500,000 over 15 years.

Commissioner Sam Adams repeated the figure a few minutes later when, having missed it the first time, I asked the question again.

Rist called this afternoon to say the real number is $75,000.

He explained that he had a "bunch of numbers swirling around in his head," and the wrong one just popped out.

The sad part about this is that no one present, not Adams, not other PDOT managers, not reporters, blinked an eye at the half-million dollar tax break for convenience stores, only off by $425,000.

Miles, your advice has been heeded -- by the Randyman, working hand-in-hand in the ol' flim-flam with scammy Sham:


3-Pension Randy is a very perverse individual, as unwilling as Sham to allow democratic process to function. Hard to believe this guy ever thought twice about the net outflow of tax revenue from humble SE Portland to the subsidized Pearl. Time for him to go, too. Oh, I said that last night. Too bad Portland doesn't have the very democratic option, "None of the Above," on its ballots.

We all know City Council places of our community projects in various levels of priority. Because of aging, many are in need of major repair and maintenance.

However, I’d feel much more comfortable about Council’s funding priorities if I believed Council performed their fiduciary obligations on behalf of the city’s taxpayers in a prudently fiscal manner.

No efforts were made to recover a project’s (the tram) funding that was later revealed to be based on concealment, false and material misrepresentations (The Oregonian: 1/12/2006 & 4/2/2006). Furthermore, no one in city governement disputed the accuracy of the articles. It leads one to the conclusion that our city council will allow our tax monies to fund projects based on fraud.

Commissioner Leonard reported these fraudulant actions and further stated,

"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." (City Council remarks, Commissioner Leonard, 4/12/2006).

Now, council wants to deny us, the taxpayers, the right to vote if, and how, we wish to be taxed (or fee'd). Before we allow Council to tax us any further, how about we demand they make efforts to recover our taxes allocated to projects based on fraud.

We can not afford, nor should we be governed by this lackadaisical, and cavalier, type of policy making. Our city’s fiscal policy making must not, should not, be based on fraud supported by our local, state or federal taxes.

The review Mayor Potter promised back in 2006, to prevent such a debacle from happening in the future, must begin immediately.

It is about time we took action. Demand Council and the city auditor initiate measures to recover our taxpayer funds that were allocated based on the reported fraud to begin with. If our city government refuses to act, go to state agencies, then federal.

Public funds – our taxpayer dollars – should not be committed to ANY projects based on fraud.

So let's put up - or shut up.

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