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Monday, December 8, 2008

Keep on usin' me, until you use me up

Remember the neighbors of Mount Tabor Park in southeast Portland, who busted the city parks brass for secretly arranging a selloff of park property to Warner Pacific College in a deal brokered by former city commissioner Jim Francesconi? Those neighbors should have gotten medals. Instead they got an offer to go into "mediation" with the parks people, and to blow many hours of their time sitting in meetings and fighting to keep the condo developer weasels' hands off the land.

Well, they did all that. And now they say the city has been sandbagging them -- they're quite unhappy with the way things came out. What? A citizens' advisory group feeling that their good names have been co-opted by bureaucrats who are going to do what they want anyway?

Wouldn't be the first time.

Comments (5)

Per the article: In a May 12 report commissioned by the city to analyze land-use issues for the project, consultant Tom McGuire wrote that the Bureau of Development Services “feels that they are not an accessory use,” because the nursery and maintenance facilities serve all city parks.

An hour after the report was released, Bureau of Development Services planner Kathleen Stokes circulated an e-mail saying she “just received word that the Commissioner’s office had decided that they wish to consider that the Mt. Tabor Yard maintenance facility IS an accessory use to the park.”

Didn't someone get word out to McGuire what his independent consultant's report was supposed to conclude?

He sounds like a brave, honest man who unfortunately will not receive any more contracts from Leonard's office.

The "mediation meeting" scenario is used all the time by different bureaus of the city and PDC.

Several times in the continuing SoWhat saga when major controversial issues arose in the ten years of planning, neighborhood groups were asked to "sit down, let's talk about it, let's mediate". Every time the citizen's viewpoints were disregarded, maybe a little bone was tossed, but the real substance of the difference was contrived to benefit the developer and/or cities point of view.

If a citizen group made a decision to not attend the "mediation", then at city council the bureau staff would eminently point out the unforgivable absence of the group, and of course a council member or three would declare "we'll show them" and do what they were going to do all along.

Mediate all you want, but know the likely outcome before you spend the time and money, and you might want to save yourself the hassle.

I told you then, I'll tell you now.

The entire administration of the Parks Bureau needs to be removed and replaced with staffers who care about the population they reputedly 'serve'.

This kind of shuck and jive will continue as long as layers of political appointees and cronies fill the spaces in the Bureau where they have the inside information to dish to friends and family on the private sector side that will profit.

Zari and her cadre in the bureau need to be excised and replaced with honorable public employees.

The entire City Council set up needs to be changed. Along with how the city government is run. I was on a committee with a neighborhood Asc in the 1990s and to say we got sandbagged by the city would be polite.

Maybe Sam Adams will bring a new level of openness and transparency to the way city government works? I city is only as green as the amount of cared for open space it has. I've been to Mt. Tabor Park and it needs much more care from the City of Portland. Resilient communities care for their parks and grow most of their food locally.

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