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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 8, 2008 6:28 AM. The previous post in this blog was Up next at Gitmo: TVs, air-conditioning, soccer, volleyball.... The next post in this blog is The gal who brought Portland the aerial tram.... Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

If there's one thing we don't need right now...

The economy is coming completely unglued -- investors are panicking, we're careening into a depression -- and we have the namesake son of the U.S. Treasury Secretary out here in Portland, Oregon trying to con the city's taxpayers out of at least $85 million for baseball and soccer stadiums for his little teams. And you'll notice the price tag is up from the $75 million that it was just a month ago. That's a 13.3 percent increase in the same month that most folks' retirements and college funds went about 25 percent in the other direction.

This is the most ridiculous thing I have seen in my 30 years as a Portlander -- and that's saying a lot. Mr. Paulson, your timing is even worse than your dad's. If you can't make do with the stadium that you already have -- which the city's taxpayers still owe close to $30 million on -- you need to go back to New York and live the high life there. You can tell them how small-minded we all were.

If the City Council is foolish enough to authorize bonds for this harebrained stunt, people should collect signatures to put it on the ballot. That's usually hard to do -- you have to get umpteen thousand signatures in a month, as I recall -- but it will be easier this time, since we'll already be standing together killing time in line at the run on the bank and the soup kitchen.

Anyway, if you'd like to let Mr. Paulson know what you think, you might want to shoot him an informative e-mail. His personal e-mail address is a secret, of course, but the address for both of the teams is given as info@pgepark.com. I think he's suffering from reality detachment; maybe we can help him out.

And while you're at it, you might want to give City Commissioners Nick Fish (503-823-3589), Dan Saltzman (503-823-4151), and Sam the Tram (503-823-3008) an earful about it as well. (Forget Fireman Randy -- he's all for this and isn't worth wasting your breath on.)

Finally, what would a Don Mazziotti scam be without unintentionally hilarious reporting by the O? The city's daily reports this insanity in stately tones as business as usual, without any perspective at all. No mention of the fact that most Portlanders are losing their shirts in the stock market; losing their jobs; being kicked out of their houses; or heading for the poor farm! Unbelievable. Ryan Frank, do you live in a cave?

Comments (26)

I'm kind of surprised this is even being seriously considered.

And now that I know it's sponsored by Hank Paulson's son, I would say "No" on that principle alone.

C'mon, this is Sam Adams we're talking about - Not exactly the sharpest tack in the board and easy to manipulate.

All Paulsen has to do is mention the streetcar, prospects for condos and then the potential of honoring Vera's legacy of luxury suites.

The same thing can be said about the the Convention Center Hotel and the Milwaukie Light rail and that new bridge pictured in todays O.

It's insane.
The city and county are soon to be in dire straights as revenue plumets,
Ted K is looking for a couple billion for roads,
the decaying Sellwood bridge is closed to truck and bus traffic
and the Legislature is still going to send $250 million from the lottery for the new light rail extension?
That should be halted immediately and every bureaucrat working on those drawings and planning light rail and Hotel should be laid off.

For once, I wholeheartedly agree with Ben. Let's fill a few potholes and postpone the shiny toys.

His rich fat cat Pop has 557 MILLION in Goldman alone! Total $$$$$ adds up to over a billion for Paulsons daddy. Why doesnt he just build it. Taxpayers will not foot the bill now. Shows you how dis-connected these people are from Main Street.

If we build it, he will come.

And here I was naively thinking that maybe the one bright spot in this economic melt-down would be that Hank's spoiled rich kid would have the humility (hah!) to quietly put his tail between his legs and slink back to wherever he came from, giving this boondoggle a rest in light of what's going on in the world and the fact that we're all worried about heating our homes this winter. Any normal person with a sense of decency (and shame)would. Guess the air is different up there.

Bark: this is a family blog.

We can cling to the notion that taxpayers shouldn't subsidize sports venues, but let's join the real world for a minute. The fact is municipalities routinely spend far more than the proposal here. Just drive up to Seattle.

You can gripe about the price tag going up already, but doesn't that also reflect a level of transparency dramatically missing from the UO basketball arena deal?

"The fact is municipalities routinely spend far more than the proposal here."

So what? How 'bout we spend that kind of money on roads, schools and infrastructure. If all the cities finally stopped rolling over we would have this non-sense.

This is like one of those arguments that you should pay more taxes because you can afford it. I can see paying taxes because they are needed or due, but not just 'cause you can afford it.

Wow! If he was bidding for an Major League Baseball team, you would all be chomping at the bit for the prospect. This is just a bid for an MLS team. The league put a deadline of October 15th for bids for 2 expansion teams for 2011. We will find out in the spring whether the bid is successful and then if we are successful, Merritt puts down $40 million franchise fee. This is still up in the air as the city council will still have to vote for the bonds for the stadiums. They have signed a letter of intent to vote yes for the bonds, but they haven't done that yet.

Heaven forbid we put any money into the Lents neighborhood. The plan not only brings a AAA ballpark to the area, but is working on a multi-use parking area which will be the site of a farmer's market. Not to mention the new MAX stop right there as well.

Is the timing ideal? No, not in the least. But the timeline is forcing his hand and if we don't go for another major sports team now, I don't foresee Portland getting a major sports team in the next 20 years.

We have a perfectly good AAA stadium right where it is. If Lents is going to be so cool with a farmer's market and light rail, why not build the major league soccer stadium there? It also is the hub of several immigrant populations, people who come from countries where soccer, er football, is a bigger deal than it is here.

By the way, I am an unmitigated baseball fan, but I definitely am not "chomping at the bit" to subsidize any of the plutocrats who own major league baseball teams. Several outfits have tried to extort funding for a major league park for the past decade, at the least, and they've gotten nowhere.

"I don't foresee Portland getting a major sports team in the next 20 years."

Again, so what? We have crappy schools and roads yet we have money to build a playground for millionaire ball-players? Priorities, indeed. If the fan demand is there, I am sure an enterprising owner will be dying to build something. Right now, it's feeding at the public trough. We've been pushing MSL for what 20 years and it is still about 5% as sucessful as the NFL.

You know, Jack, this is a dumb idea because a) cities routinely spend public dollars on facilities and the the benefits are almost always way oversold, and b) Portland's weather makes it hard for me to comprehend how anyone thinks we can have a profitable and popular baseball team here without a domed stadium (no one wants to go watch a baseball game when it is 60 and rainy in June).

BUT your doom and gloom is really amazing. You write: most Portlanders are losing their shirts in the stock market; losing their jobs; being kicked out of their houses; or heading for the poor farm!

Wow. "Most"? Really? Can you say overstatement? If a journalist wrote something like that, you'd be all over them.

I would contend that a majority of Portland residents actually do fall into one of those four categories. How many people do you think (a) haven't lost money in the stock market, (b) have jobs that are secure, (c) aren't having trouble with mortgage payments, and (d) aren't seeing their finances deteriorate substantially? I'd say that's a minority of Portland residents.

Paul G....you are so out of touch! I am a single parent of a disabled child. She is over 18 and I can't get her medical coverage. I have lost 5000.00 in the stock market...(on a 300.00 investment made 12 years ago...I cant afford to buy stock now)
I will probably be laid off next spring and I don't have the money for my property taxes due next month. Seriously....doom and gloom is exactly what my life and a lot of other people's lives are like right now.

News Flash for Paul G! I'm probably better off financially than 95% of the population and have lost over $12,000 in retirement funds in just the current week. I don't know where you come from, but for most people a loss of 12K is real money. Especially at a time when almost any type of investment is under water or paying absurdly low interest rates; that 12k isn't likely to come back anytime real soon.

Mr. Paulson and his big ideas need to take a hike given the current economic climate.

Love ya Jack, but for a law prof, you're being just a bit imprecise in your language

You originally wrote "most" now you write a "majority". You wrote"lost their shirt" now you write "lost some money." You used a colon which clearly indicated "most" fell into all categories; now you say you meant "one of the four."

Angry, I feel for you (although if you had your life savings in the stock market, given your financial situation, that was pretty foolish--you should have had that money in cash or a CD). But I don't agree that a majority of Portlanders have taken a bath.

Dave A., if you are in the top 5% of the population, then $12,000 is probably not a large portion of your total retirement portfolio. The rest of your comment is just incoherent--someone making a lot less money would have a lot less in the market, and would have lost proportionally less.

Unemployment in Portland is under 10%. Housing has lost at most 20% of value after a decade of double digit gains. Inflation remains low. And *MOST* Portlanders won't retire for a decade or longer, meaning that they have a long time to make back those stock losses.

These are surely tough times, and it is not the time to fund a new ball park.

But we are NOWHERE near a depression, and for anyone who thinks we are, they are either historically clueless or just relying on histrionics.

Paul, thanks for your thoughts, which are wrong. I have a rule about engaging in long arguments with with a**hats on the internet, and so I'll leave it at that.

Angry? You put in $300 12 years ago and lost $5,000?

Try this instead: you made a $4,700 gain on a $300 investment and you never took a profit (assuming it went to zero).

or

Your $300 investment peaked in value somewhere near $5,000 and it's still worth more than zero. If you had put $300 in a sock drawer, it would still be worth $300.

Either way, don't be angry at the stock market: it turned your $300 into substantially more money. It isn't the market's fault if you never take a profit.

Every day you don't sell your stock, you're basically buying in again. And over the last year, the stock market is down around 35 percent. One year ago tomorrow, the Dow closed at 14,164. Today it closed at 9258.

Agreed: if you can't afford to lose money, you can't afford to invest in stocks. And "Angry" said she put in a mere $300, but lost $5,000: there's an implicit capital gain in there, even if it completely evaporated in the recent selloff (which is unlikely).

But if you invested at the last market bottom (DJIA 7,200), then you're still sitting on a decent profit.

If you had invested 3 years ago, you're about even, after dividends.

Try saying that about California real estate.

Paul G....Did I at anytime say I had my life savings in the stock market? $300.00 was hardly my life savings. This was an investment that I made and in 6 years it went to 32,000.00 and like an idiot I did not watch the market and when tech stocks crashed it went to 10,000.00....still a great profit but now it is down to 7,00.00 and yes...still a nice profit but not enough to give my child an annual income when I am gone.I figured the tech stock was good once and would be again...it is a strong company..so I let it ride...my mistake.
and Mister T....I am not angry at the stock market....I am angry with the local government and the Federal government for putting all of us further in debt.
I work...I try to save...I pay my taxes and I just keep getting further and further behind. It's just wrong.

and you both make too many assumptions.

Ok, the silly sports issue aside for the moment...

I have to agree with paul g. to some degree about your logic here, Jack. You say:

... most Portlanders are losing their shirts in the stock market; losing their jobs; being kicked out of their houses; or heading for the poor farm!

Yet, just a few postings away, you have this to say:

Nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror

"[T]he only thing we have to fear is fear itself." So said FDR, a great President who pulled this country out of the depths. And the same thing can be said about the current economic gridlock. Much of it defies logic, but people are scared to death right now -- everyone from the small bank depositor to the fattest hedge fund hotshot. As a result, the world financial system is imploding. People with money are stuffing it into mattresses, or their economic equivalents.

Why are Americans so prone to fear about the future?

Sounds a bit like the unjustified terror/fear is coming from you.

I stand by both posts. The stock market has lost 33% in a single year. There is no way to get a loan for anything. We are headed into a long, long recession, which is what a depression is.

A large part of the problem in the credit markets is fear. Bush is the master of mongering fear.

Sorry to be the messenger on both of those, but they're not my fault.

750 car dealers are ready to close their doors, retail has come to a standstill & predictions by the biggest players is a disaster for the holidays, lay offs are mounting in and will look like a mis-print by January, banks are failing including healthy ones like Bank of America (Wall st Journal tuesday)........My father was 8 years old in 1929 and says its a mirror of what happened 79 years ago. The majority of the people in this country have ramped up personal debt to the tune of 28,000 per household, homes are too big for most because they had to compete with the Jones's....
Its all coming down by the day. Open your eyes! IT IS A DAMN JOKE TO READ HEADLINES THAT SAY "RECESSION IS NEAR"....My god, we have been in a major recession for 8 months now!
This will morph into a Depression and it will all begin in January.
smoke while ya got em partners.


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