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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 4, 2008 4:04 PM. The previous post in this blog was Your rights as a pedestrian. The next post in this blog is Where women glow and men plunder. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

I want a Planning Bureau removable tattoo

Why does a city need to buy and hand out "promotional items"? The City of Portland has just posted a bid request for someone to supply it with "promotional items," which we civilians refer to as swag (short for "stuff we all get," I think). The solicitation explains:

The City of Portland (City) is seeking proposals from qualified firms with demonstrated experience in providing Promotional Items. The City proposes to award one or more Price Agreements for Promotional items which the Contractor can provide. Examples of the types of items which have been ordered in the past include: tote bags, carrying bags, note pads, pencils, pens, bandanas (with imprinted maps or messages), leg bands, bumper stickers, umbrellas, buttons (with message), bike bells, flashlights, compass/rulers, key-chains, whistle/lights, Energy Star light bulbs, wristbands, badge-holders, reflectors, carabiners, Frisbees, yoyos, removable tattoos, mouse-pads, notebooks, water bottles, kid’s hard hats, mini-tools, stress balls, seed packets, aprons, magnets, pins (with message), coffee mugs, jar openers, T-shirts for non-City employee wear, and bookmark seed paper. Almost all of these items include some type of message or City of Portland bureau name.
I can see the city's taxpayers needing "stress balls," but what the heck is a "carabiner"? And "bookmark seed paper"?

And how much is the city spending on this junk? More work for the garbage haulers, I guess.

Comments (19)

A carabiner is, of course, an aluminum gate, once used by climbers to you, know, hold on to rope and stuff, and now used to fasten Sigg aluminum water bottles or bike-lock keys to backpacks. See this link:
http://tinyurl.com/6mg7ta

And "bookmark seed paper" is just an easily-biodegraded bookmark that is impregnated with wildflower seeds. E.g., "when I'm done with this planning course I'm going to
plant this bookmark and grow myself a bouquet."

Hey, when BDS charges 10% of improvements for just looking at your plans, they can afford tschokes (sp?)

This is getting to be like plate glass insurance in NJ.

You're evidently not a climber. Carabiners are those spring-loaded, gate-locked clips used to hold things to ropes when you're climbing, sailing, caving, etc.

They're especially useful when your sewer bill has you at the end of our rope (haw!).

Oh hey. CoPo gives out "free stuff" all the time.

Just a few weeks ago, I got a printed cloth tote bag, a pedometer, a specially printed-up pack of gum that "shows that you can walk and chew gum at the same time", several maps, a specially-imprinted reflective velcro leg thingie that you can wrap around your right pant-leg to prevent it from getting greased up by your bike chain (It reads: BEST BIKE CITY IN THE USA! Thanks, Portland). Oh, and a bunch of dead trees promoting walking and biking. We also got a "free" hose-end sprayer and a nifty plastic measuring cup that sticks into your lawn so you can see how long it takes to apply one inch of water.

All told, probably $100 worth of "free" custom-labeled stuff - plus all of the staff time and printing costs associated with coming up with cute dead tree stuff telling you all about the benefits of the "ten-toe express" and other junk that goes straight into the recycling bin.

CoPo may be perpetually broke, but that doesn't stop them from finding "creative" ways to spend your money.

"Why does a city need to buy and hand out "promotional items"?

Because a firm who deals in that junk has a friend in the City business.

So they put out the call for proposals knowing full well the connected chap will get the biz.

Probably some guy Randy had a beer with or Sam dated.

Portland, The City That's Fixed.

Portland has the highest water and sewer rates on the West Coast, and all I got was THIS LOUSY B.E.S. T-SHIRT!

Why does the City of Portland need promotional stuff-who's their competition?

Dammit, I want a CoPo light bulb. I'd love to see how they could fit a message onto one of those curly compact flourescents...

Were I able to issue a dictat, the first things to go would be all government public relations employees.

"Just a few weeks ago, I got a printed cloth tote bag, a pedometer, a specially printed-up pack of gum that "shows that you can walk and chew gum at the same time", several maps, a specially-imprinted reflective velcro leg thingie that you can wrap around your right pant-leg to prevent it from getting greased up by your bike chain (It reads: BEST BIKE CITY IN THE USA! Thanks, Portland). Oh, and a bunch of dead trees promoting walking and biking. We also got a "free" hose-end sprayer and a nifty plastic measuring cup that sticks into your lawn so you can see how long it takes to apply one inch of water. All told, probably $100 worth of "free" custom-labeled stuff..."

I got that bag, too. Looked like less than $10 worth of stuff. Unless you're thinking the bicycle/pedestrian maps of NE/SE/SW Portland are worth $10/apiece. Why don't you itemize your estimates of the values of your SWAG so we can judge the accuracy of your WAGs (Wild Azzed Guess) in the future. :)

Portland has gotten some good buzz for getting that Best Big City for Bikes award and Portland's Planning Bureau gets all kinds of attention from urban planners all over the world for its pedestrian-friendly work. They'd be fools not to capitalize on it with a few gew-gaws and some cheapie advertising.

But if you don't like urban planning and you hate anything that encourages the city to do it... then enjoy your outrage over tote bags and bike maps.

Yes, we need our public agencies to market to us.

How much did we pay to have Prez Bush fly around the country giving "town halls" to convince us that we want to turn our Social Security over to Wall Street firms?

"It's not that the public hates our crappy ideas, it's just that we're not selling them!"

I am astounded that in the very
complete list of critically needed swag , there were no
'planners condoms' U know to stop the incredible increase in how many Brilliant Planners we have , jeez they are like rabbits [but not as cute]

I got that bag, too. Looked like less than $10 worth of stuff. Unless you're thinking the bicycle/pedestrian maps of NE/SE/SW Portland are worth $10/apiece. Why don't you itemize your estimates of the values of your SWAG so we can judge the accuracy of your WAGs (Wild Azzed Guess) in the future. :)

Obviously, we didn't get the same bag. Mine had an adjustable sprinkler ($15 at Freddies), a special water measuring cup with a spike on the end ($5 easy), a pedometer ($20 at Kaiser), a custom-printed bag (reusable, cloth, probably $5 when you count printing), a custom-printed pack of gum (so you can show you can walk and chew gum at the same time. Custom done? How much does that cost?)

Custom-printed reflective velcro leg-wrap: an easy $3. Bike and walking maps: easily $5 each. So let's see, smarta$$: I'm up to a conservative estimate of $68 just for the swag. Now do you believe that they didn't pay somebody to write all the copy for the several dead tree items included with the swag? Do you believe they got the printing for free?

My conservative WAG was $100 per unit - which assumes that some of the stuff was donated. You got better figures? Put 'em up!

Max, Tote Bag Full of Outrage is a city employee. They gotta keep selling. I've always been suspicious of those who have to over-sell themselves. But to have city bureaus selling themselves makes no sense in my book.

Nice Buh-Bye souvenirs of Portland for those forced out of their once-affordable apartments and homes and into the 'burbs of Gresham and Hillsboro.

We're obviously not on the mailing list for the swag bag . . . never seen one and never heard of anyone getting one except for those who posted on this thread.

Max, you don't have much control over your emotions, do you? Someone's a "Smarta$$" because they call you on your "$100 SWAG bag"? I guess nobody's ever disagreed with you in your life before, hunh?

Yes, you did get more SWAG in your bag than I got in mine. And I'll be glad to bet you a beer that, even so, the contents of your bag cost a lot closer to the "less than $10" I guessed without seeing it than the "at least $100" you claimed.

Just for starters, I know for a fact that the "custom printed velcro leg wrap, an easy $3" costs about thirty-five cents apiece wholesale. And your $5 cloth bag, "custom printed", costs a buyer about fifty cents wholesale. And your $20 pedometer is... about a buck... wholesale... "custom printed".

You're talking retail. I'm totting it up wholesale, which is what the city paid.

LW, you think I'm a city employee? Really? How much you betting? I'll bet you a beer... and accept it from you with a smile if you're the kind of guy who can admit that he's wrong with a smile. Or are you one of those "talks a lot but doesn't deliver" blog comment types? :)

Most of the peeps who get those swag bags will be walking billboards for Portland. They're people who like what Portland's doing and hate what's being done in Phoenix, Houston and Los Angeles. They'll brag about their SWAG to their buds all over the country. But I guess you're probably writing this from SoCal, aren't you, so you couldn't be expected to know that. ;)

Better get that SWAG (sweet a**ed goods) bag, or two or three, before the bag tax goes into effect.

This SWAG bonanza is all a plot by the nanny state to force proud plastic-bag patriots to use evil-environmentalist-approved cloth bags.

Max, I don't blame you for being embarrassed about guess-timating your bag was worth $100. All you gotta do is say, "It's the principle of the thing. I don't like the city spending even $10 on promotional material, even if it did get voted the #1 Big City for Biking and a flock of urban planning awards this year."

But you won't. I can see your point. But I'd say a lot of folks who ask for the SWAG bags are early adopters who will talk up alternative transportation/water conservation/reusable-bags/etc... even if the city didn't stroke them. But stroking them with SWAG helps.

LW, why so quiet? All you gotta do is say, "I was talking outta my pie-hole." It's an internet thing. We all do it.


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