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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 6, 2008 12:15 AM. The previous post in this blog was You go back, Jack, do it again. The next post in this blog is Oopsie. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

How to drive yourself insane

No wonder the Portland City Council is certifiably crazy. I have had cable access on the tube tonight, watching playbacks of yesterday's council meeting along with police and "sustainable development" budget confabs. What a bunch of bureaucratic drivel. Anyone who would give their lives to the pursuit of this stuff either is nuts to begin with, or will soon become so. The blogosphere is quite sane and sensible by comparison. Add the slight nausea caused by watching Opie Sten pontificate, and I was truly relieved to hit the power button after a couple of hours. I may have to call Dr. Laura to recover.

Comments (26)

Jack,
If you think thats bad try going in person. When I finally left, I felt lucky to still have my wallet.

It's just deadly. About 90% of what was being discussed was bad policy, and money down various rat holes. Nobody seemed to have a life outside the little city government world they were occupying.

It's time to bring in some new people whose common sense has not been laid waste by daily exposure to this junk.

You can imagine what it does to the psyche of some one with integrity and dedication to public service who does go to work there. It is particularly painful to see the public's investment not being protected, money and concessions made that will permanently effect the affordablity and livability of the City, and be the outsider who is talking crazy wanting to do what is in the best public interest.

Jack,
I had a similar experience about six months after my failed run for city council. I stumbled across a COP budget hearing on cable access. I listened to it for about a half an hour and realized I was glad I didn't have the job. I'd like to think new blood could change the process, but I have my doubts.

"the psyche of some one with integrity and dedication to public service"

Since when has someone like that been in elected office?

This guys see themselves building kingdoms and usually end up tilting at windmills like sustainability, creative jobs, no WalMart and streetcars galore.

Meanwhile, the potholes deepen and we are going to p!ss away another $30M+ revenue surplus on everythign but fixing streets.

It's actually a very dangerous medical syndrome known as "meeting brain."
But I don't see calling Dr. Laura for anything. She's phonier than the city council.

"the psyche of some one with integrity and dedication to public service"

Since when has someone like that been in elected office?

&&&&&&&&&&&&

Methinks the writer was referring to those working for the municipal government, not the elected officials...

I once heard it said that local politics was "Hollywood for ugly people".

Not to point any fingers, but a certain state Senator in the (bad) news recently, and most of the PDX city electeds would fit that shoe.

The Hollywood part is particularly bothersome. They think that since they are elected (many who first ran unopposed or were appointed) that their $&i# don't stink, and that somehow they have been magically transformed into somebody very smart.

The longer in office, the more they start believing the bull$&i# about how great they really are. Most are not great, or even good.

When you say: "What a bunch of bureaucratic drivel. Anyone who would give their lives to the pursuit of this stuff either is nuts to begin with, or will soon become so.", I think it is a good argument for term limits. If a great one somehow slips through the cracks, their greatness will soon leave them if they stay very long.

Jack,
You are discovering and confirming the reality that these public officials you observe are of a very low caliber.

That's not to say they aren't nice people or swell to have a beer with, but they are simply inept at their jobs.

Yes people can be nice and inept at what they do at the same time.
Unfortunately too many voters are equally inept at voting as they fail to recognize these elected jobs demand talent and skills besides enamor over their agenda.

The CoP council is made up of 5 guys who have very low analytical and deducing skills when it comes to municipal policy making and governance in general.
Leonard is hopelessly knee jerk, never adequately studies an issue and clings to his intitial knee jerk forever.
Sten just fails to understand the gravity of the decisions he makes. He has no business sitting in any decision making position.
Potter is lost in a flurry of visions, good intentions and a blinding ego. Saltzman is on a secret mission and needs to be doing so in the private nonprofit sector.
And Sam Adams is just plain delusional. Making him by far the most dangerous scoundrel around.

All together it's the perfect recipe for that stuff you watched.



Take a look at one of the weekly Metro Council meetings on your local cable access channel. The Metro sessions make the Portland Council meetings look exciting by comparison. All the real decision-making at Metro takes place behind closed doors and over 90% of the Metro Council votes are 7-0. The Councilors' friendly discussions about changing arcane parts of their land use planning policies are absolutely stultifying.

The Metro council make up, of course, sets the lowest bar for ineptness pssible.

It's an astounding phenomenom to witness. Their being lost in the world of make believe reality leaves them unable to recognize anything but what they imagine and the stuff "staff" feeds them.

"Two things that the public should not see being made are ..... sausage and their laws." - Anon

Greg C

Of course the basic problem is that they have gotten away from the real function of government:

Basic services that only government can provide.

These include as courts and police. I would argue that government should also do streets and water/sewer. What else is there that could not be done, at least as well, by private enterprise?

Would the companies still be wasteful? Sure, but as long as there is genuine competition (another basic government function) the less wasteful will provide the service cheaper.

We can argue about a few other functions, but there is absolutely no way the city should be:
Encouraging any particular style of building.
Involved in gasolene formulation.
Involved in development.
Involved in sports stadiums.
Involved in public transportation.
Providing welfare for the well off.
Providing welfare for people with average income.

Sustainable is a complete waste, because no one seems to know what it is. Further to presume to know what future generations will need is simply not possible. For instance, it is good that the government of the late 1800s didn’t require preserving millions of acres of pasture land for all those horses the rapidly expanding next generation would need.

To plan 40 years out is:
To plan for the first freeway before Ford sold his first mass market car.
To plan for the internet when the worldwide sales of computers were in the single digits.
To plan for TV tower locations before radio became practical.
Just another reason most planners are fools and idiots.

Planners consider it an improvement in livability when:
The neighborhood gets another skinny house.
The neighborhood gets another condo tower.
You are stuck in traffic.

Given enough planning they will guarantee that all progress stops, just as they have already prevented new jobs coming to the area by creating an artificial shortage of land for industry. Just as their artificial land shortage has filled our neighborhoods with crappy apartments and skinny houses. Their artificial land shortage has also driven people out of their homes by raising their taxes or rent.

Portland (area?) has about 200 planers, that is about 198 too many.

Charter revision anyone?

Thanks
JK

"Anyone who would give their lives to the pursuit of this stuff either is nuts to begin with, or will soon become so."

For a minute, I thought you were talking about people who study the federal tax code :o)

Well, now, where would you be going with all that City Council watching ... ? ?

If that would be seating ring-side where one's hat may be thrown into ... I say, you go, guy. Ain't nothing like showing how it's done to discover it's not done like it's shown. Or something like that. Commish'ner Bogdanski, kinda has a nice iambic to it, same number of syllaballic beats both ways from the middle.

The margin-voices (here) sound churlish, envious, carping on the 'inepts' who in fact put it on the line and are doing it. Those who can, do. Those who can't, consult.

And their ad hominems are ad nauseums, not even original, always another parrot wanta crack a LIARS lie. Speaking of the birthday butthead, where is that LIARS loser lately? For old times' sake I took a look again at his planets (I'd forgotten) ... you might ask your own astrologer for a second opinion on this, (3/6/1959, oh, say 13:15 Taiwan time = 03:00 +/- UT ... call it Cancer rising), but the fishy Pisces Sun (and amoral Capricorn Moon) squaring duplicitous Gemini Mars is most readily the LIAR, right there, then toss on opposition Sagittarian Jupiter and the fish stories are whoppers, 'ya' shoulda seen the life that got away,' he coulda been a contenda ... like a squid he coulda. Aries Venus in a male chart is barren, embittered; and Mercury doing loopy-loo retrograde in Aries is all-time mouth engaged and cliches for brains. Just a hunch some divorce is in the wind ... a business tip for some barrister of bridegroom balderdash -- you know who you are ... timid Tina's had about all the abysmal acrimony a gal can take, and timeout Hotel Hospital was nature's way of saying get a life, while the gettin's good; don't wait 'til the fans hit the snit.

But on topic or not far from it, I still say there oughta be a law that everyone has to be civil servant for a day. Bring back the draft, universal, and conscript everyone at some time into public employment, (military service as the least of it). Like jury duty. For everything. Draft our supply of Commissioners, Mayors, Representatives, Governors, heck draft to fill the Presidency, cops, firemen, teachers, road construction workers, staffers, bureaucrats ... everywhere there is a public employment, fill it with an inductee. Universal conscription, Jack, is the only way you'll ever get the sour-grapes'ers to cut the criticism, ditch the drudgery of civil c.y.a. in (Bill McDonald's) "meeting brain," and actually get a streamlined process that can process metropolitan malaise.

When everyone has to take a two-year turn at making it to meetings -- the opposite of 'term limits:' term requirements -- then democracy can be its best. (And you'd lose that Rube-Goldberg public-funded campaigns work-around you'd like to trash.) I noticed recently that today's population of Oregon is equal to the entire population of the original Thirteen Colonies qua States that fostered the talent to draft a Declaration of Independence and invent a Constitution -- and those were some pretty potent proses. Just, if everyone had to lend a hand and do a stint in government, this State could be a Nation of itself, as could 49 other Nationstates. We got what it takes: people -- self-government game on.

Someone of the ilk here obviously on speaking terms with LIARS, oughta get an on-air explanation of the difference between supporting our public employee troops in the Green Zone and supporting our public employee troops in the Legislature.

And for our vespers 'round the hearth this evening, before it's lost in daylight savings time, I've chosen a selection of a certain inspiration, if we'll all turn to the website in our browser hymnals and read along: Open Letter to Three Iraqi Women from an Oregon Mother, From a Marine Mom, March 3rd, 2008
The steam has long since dissipated from my coffee cup as I strain to write this letter to the three of you. You don’t know me, and one of you will never have an opportunity to read this letter, but you have each left your mark upon my soul. Though I do not know your names you will recognize who you are and I speak to you woman to woman and mother to mother and mother to child. ...
As one American woman to you three Iraqi women, I am sure you cannot welcome this connection but I feel it nonetheless. Taking your families from each of you has also lost my son to me, for he will never be the same. In this way we are forever deeply connected. To each of you, Assalamu alaikum, peace be upon you.

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."

— Winston Churchill

Hey Castro said the same thing!

Jack, I feel for your couple of hours watching City Council. Now think of how I feel after 40 years of testifying, appealing, listening to Council hears. I still vividly remember my first time before Council with a variance request, and since then the common sense just keeps fading away.

you're right "Harry" when it comes to the
fact that local politics was like they're acting
in a "Hollywood for ugly people".

just one example, take the City's Auditor
...Blackmer...who has been a bad actor in
this drama about citizen's trying to force
officialdom to take on PPB/PPA and make
these turkeys do their jobs with a sense
of accountability and he turns out to be
the one behind the stage that is playing
the copsters main protector and foiling
the dear old public's efforts.

talk about being a BAD ACTOR and you
can add the "ugly" if it so fits.

I swear these guys are as dense as they
come, as they don't "get it"!

What swimmer said.

Interesting you should post on this. I surfed in here looking for an excuse to whinge about the PDC annual budget report acceptance meeting I caught on cable. What a festival of deluded self-congratulation! If you drank their cool-aid, you'd believe they lead the state and region, if not world, in transparency and financial reporting excellence. Beyond belief.

What cracks me up is how these folks strut around acting as if the budget were the Ultimate Financial Reporting Document. Sheesh! It's just a budget. We have a budget at our house, too -- but when it comes right down to it, the checking account statement matters more.

At the city, their budget is their legal authority to spend money. No budget - can't spend, it's illegal! A lot more people should pay a lot more attention to the city budget process.

All they ever provide are budgets and summary reports.

They rarely document where the money goes.

Aye. It is where the $$ go that makes for transparency.

Budget categories are too broad to tell you anything, and they have been so creative about reallocating that who knows where it went. Show me the Homer Williams line item, for instance. The SoWhat parking lot scam illustrates some mighty creative brainwork going into passing money to that guy. It would take some pretty serious forensic accounting to find all of it, I'd wager.

Then, too, it only matters if the elected are willing to do something with the information. For instance, how many noticed that in the most recently adopted PDC budget, we, the good citizens of Portland joined in the subprime home lending racket? The self-congratulations on that one were another great moment in cable access television. "There's a secondary market for these loans!" sayeth the PDC staff person, with lights in his eyes.

I am waiting for the cablecast of the Council session when the first of those loans goes bad and the about-to-be-foreclosed-upon granny brings in all her friends and neighbors to petition the Council against the foreclosure. The loan will have been sold four times by then, and be owned by some phony corporation in Martinique, who could care less if granny is in the street or our elected officials who wrote the loan in the first place get indignant about being cast as the bad guys.

I am beginning to think you can't find 100 IQ points in the lot of them.

"I am beginning to think you can't find 100 IQ points in the lot of them"

I don't think these guys are dumb, I just don't think they understand economics and finance. Saltzman is the only one with a strong quantitative background, but like Blackmer, he never speaks up.

What cracks me up is how these folks strut around acting as if the budget were the Ultimate Financial Reporting Document.

Budgets are all fine and good, but those numbers don't mean anything if you don't understand where they came from and what the assumptions are behind them. That's what these guys should really be discussing and disclosing in a public forum if they really want to create transparency.

Hey, I misspoke, (let's say a typo); LIARS was all Happy Birthday on 3/7, not 3/6.

Too bad for him the planets stayed the same -- deplorable, except the Moon in Capricorn got one day deeper, worser.


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