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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 10, 2009 10:51 AM. The previous post in this blog was Paulson stadiums fiasco is a done deal. The next post in this blog is Two words that don't go well together. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What it would take to stop the Paulson stadiums caper

As we slide from a recession into a depression, readers who share our outrage at the fact that the City of Portland is about to spend $89 million to build a new minor league baseball stadium and radically change PGE Park for "major league" (in name only) soccer are asking what can be done to stop the boondoggle.

We wish we could be more encouraging. Portland ran former Mayor Tom Potter out of office for Creepy Sam, and this is just the beginning of what it is going to get as a result. Potter was criticized for "doing nothing," but compared to this, nothing looks pretty good.

The state legislature could stop the stadiums deal in its tracks, but any law it passed would have to get the governor's signature. This is Governor Ted we're talking about, who's so tight with the people who stand to profit from the thing that he's not even worth talking about in this context. You might as well ask "the Don" Mazziotti, consultant to the Paulson boys and longtime Ted ally, to stop them himself. Won't happen.

Can the voters of Portland overrule the City Council? In theory, yes, but the deck is stacked extremely heavily against them. According to the city's web page on the subject, in order to force a council ordinance onto the ballot, one needs to submit 19,335 valid signatures of legal voters from within the city limits within 30 days after the ordinance is passed. That's roughly one out of every 17 registered voters in town -- a daunting number.

One would think there will be at least a couple of ordinances passed on the Paulson stadiums deal -- the ordinance authorizing the sale of bonds would be a crucial one, but there would seemingly be others -- and a signature effort could spring up after any one of them. But it would take an enormous effort, and there would need to be both big-time money and substantial luck involved. The "business leaders" downtown tried to challenge "voter-owed elections" -- the wonderful taxpayer financing of city-level political campaigns -- this way in 2005, and they came up short on signatures.

That's not to say it's impossible. If the Multnomah County leadership had any pulse whatsoever, it would immediately declare its opposition to Paulson and work, officially or unofficially, to get the voters a crack at this. The dudes who want a Convention Center hotel should chip in, because with this deal the financing for their shangri-la is dead. Throw in the public schools people who will lose lots of money under the Paulson property tax grab, and you might have a shot. But it would have to be one heck of a historic month.

Contrast this with what it would take to put a recall of the mayor or a city commissioner on the ballot. That one takes 32,183 signatures, but you get 90 days to collect them. If you're going to be out there in the rain, why not go after the root of the problem, rather than the latest symptom? Think of all the fun you could have collecting signatures against Fireman Randy from the duct tape people at the Rose Parade -- if it isn't cancelled for streetcar construction, that is. That guy gets you coming and going.

Another possible roadblock could be thrown up by the pending legal action that has the city's Pearl District and "satellite" urban renewal shenanigans on hold. At some point, a judge in that case may decide to make Portland actually live up to the letter and spirit of the state laws on urban renewal -- as opposed to laughing out loud while it freely disregards them. Perhaps such a ruling would put a damper on the Paulson plan.

Last but not least, it might be a good move for concerned Portlanders to start a letter-writing campaign to the "commissioner" of the "major" soccer league, letting him know that the opposition in Portland is bitter, organized, and prepared to make a lot of trouble for any franchise that is brought here. "We will fight you in the legislature, we will fight you with referendum petitions, we will fight you in the courthouse, we will boycott your games," etc. Maybe they'll give the team to some other city. And after all, if Paulson doesn't get his soccer franchise, this whole deal goes away, and probably he does too.

Comments (43)

Everybody in Portland, please just get off of Bojack's lawn.

Adams being forced to resign prior to his being recalled would also hinder the momentum of this very, very bad idea.

Throw out Sam Adams and all of his sweaty, sporty buddies. Conflict solved.

A massive demonstration in Waterfront Park might help, especially since recall petitions could be passed around at the same time. We just have to wait to see who the third vote is.

Anyone out there with the experience and willingness to organize a counter-MLS event? PPS Spring Break is March 21-29, which could boost the crowd count.

Not only the leadership of PPS and MultCo should be up in arms about this, but their unions should as well. After all, less money for schools and social services means fewer jobs and reduced benefits.

Unions have a lot of clout in these parts, and can mobilize people and dollars when they get fired up. Get AFSCME, the OEA, and the ONA (which represents County nurses) on the case and signatures for an anti-stadium ordinance will be gathered in a heartbeat.

'Course the contstruction unions will be all for it . . .

PDX still needs to be given the greenlight for the franchise... If that does not happen, this is all for naught.

There is also the referendum or initiative route to modify the URD process. It would take too long to block the assistance package for the blighted Paulson family, but the governor would be out of the picture.

Roger, the details of the "new" deal are unavailable, but at least some, if not all, of the "private money" mentioned in the PR piece in the O is the same taxpayer money they were after all along.

Fonzi - Miami was rejected in part because the proposed team owner tried to haggle the $40 million franchise fee down; Vancouver BC is also trying to get the fee lowered. If the Paulsons have a stadium deal and are willing to pay full fare, the MLS Commissioner will gladly accept the bid.

The MLS needs that money. Seattle and Toronto ticket sales are anomalies in the league; most MLS teams are underperforming at the box office.

Another avenue of pressure is the Multnomah County Commission. Jeff Cogen has pointed out that COP urban renewal is taking twenty million a year out of the county's budget. That kind of dough could open the Wapato jail or go a long way to the Sellwood bridge. It should be easy to bring Wheeler on board considering he has to fight the budget problems and have those guys go after the PDX council.

Is everyone aware that the proposed average ticket price for this "major league" soccer is $33.65?? That means that if I want to take my wife and two kids to a game I need to be prepared to fork over $130? Um, no thanks. That's a week's worth of food. So, all those rosy revenue projections are based on the assumption that thousands of Portlanders, in the midst of the worst economy in generations, are going to be willing to pay $33 per ticket to see "major league" soccer. Ugh.

Dave,

That is the average ticket price. I am sure Randy Leonard and Samadams will happily point out that, besides your $$$ in tax dollars to pay for the stadium, you only have to chip in $10 to $15 for cheap bleacher seats and a couple bags of peanuts. Well, check on the peanuts. What, did you think your tax money would actually get YOU something of value in this city?

Man I wish we could get started on the recall..........

What usually stops development in Portland? Issues about transportation and land use. So I hear there are people in Lents perturbed by the idea of a big new baseball stadium in their park, which could cause traffic problems and who knows what else. And if the MLS stadium downtown is supposed to draw a lot more people than the Beavers, maybe the residents of NW Portland and Goose Hollow have a transportation and parking complaint.

It would be great if there was some way to stall the council's vote until, say, July, thereby giving people a chance to dovetail the recall with the petition to overturn the ordinance.

What usually stops development in Portland?

Um, can we claim that this project has something to do with Wal-Mart? That's generally the best way to stop any major development here.

No, all of the attendees of the MLS games will Go By Streetcar, so parking for 20,000 people won't be a problem in the 23rd District and Goose Hollow, I'm sure.

Wal Mart understands that the current economic conditions are not conducive to development of anything at this time, unlike the present city 'council of dunces'.
We could just send over 5 old fashinoned dunce caps for them all to wear on Wednesday; or how about soccer balls with dunce caps on them, with name tags of course.

What do you suppose the City will do with all of the transients hanging out on upper West Burnside and in the little triangle park between 18th and 19th Avenues which is a memorial to fallen firefighters and has become a waystation for increasing numbers of homeless people? The other day I was driving down Burnside and saw a transient pissing on the sidewalk around 21st Avenue. He had his back to street but otherwise made no effort to hide what he was doing, in broad daylight, mind you. And what about the prostitution and drugs in that area? A trip to Stadium Freddie's used to be like going to the old downtown Spaceway. It's a lot better now, I think, but don't know for sure.

Jack - Several members of the Board of County Commissioners, including myself, are strongly opposed to the use of tax increment financing for this purpose and will make our voices heard at City Council tomorrow.

We have long taken a position that the County and schools should have a seat at the table when decisions are made by the COP to create or expand urban renewal areas. This is because TIF funded projects come at the tradeoff of County and school services, especially if TIF dollars are used in areas that are not truly blighted.

The City's general fund was supposedly protected by the MLS task force, but they were never asked to take into account the impact of using TIF on other jurisdictions like Multnomah County or the school districts. We are concerned that the new urban renewal district could impact our general fund and thus important community services.

Tax increment financing should not be used for this project, and no vote should be taken to create an urban renewal district on Wednesday, conceptually or otherwise, until a planning document is released.

Ted Wheeler
Multnomah County Chair
Pulse still strong, but thanks for asking.

Congrats, Portland...our minor-league City Council wants to throw away money on minor-league baseball stadiums and minor-league sports (I don't care what they call the soccer league...there's probably Major League Tiddlywinks out there somewhere but that doesn't make it a major-league sport). What a bunch of morons.

Have you seen this?

http://wweek.com/wwire/?p=23396

Ted Wheeler to Testify Against MLS Proposal

Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler is set to testify at tomorrow's City Council meeting on the proposal to bring Major League Soccer to Portland.

And with three of the five city commissioners still saying they're undecided, it's clear Wheeler's not siding with Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Randy Leonard in favor of the deal.

Instead, Wheeler tells WW he'll testify that the proposal to renovate PGE Park and build a new stadium at Memorial Coliseum would be a poor use of "tax-increment financing," or urban renewal. The scheme would siphon off future property-tax dollars, some of which would otherwise would go to pay for schools and county social services.

"I think it's an inappropriate use of tax-increment financing, in that PGE Park is not subject to urban blight," Wheeler says. "I'm not saying a ballpark is a bad idea. (But) I'm not sure the trade-off is a good one."

Wheeler says the citizen task force that approved the proposal never considered its impact on schools and the county. Now he's concerned the City Council is rushing into approving a deal that comes with no specifics on what a new urban-renewal district would look like — either how big it would be, or how far into debt it would go.

"That's a dangerous business, voting on a concept to create something (without knowing the details)," Wheeler says. "My concern is this: They're obviously fast-tracking the vote on this soccer and baseball deal. And as best as I can tell, the task force was charged with a priority of not impacting the city's general fund. But there is no such commitment to the county or the school districts."

Wheeler says he met with Adams at noon today, and among other issues, they discussed the MLS deal after Wheeler brought up the topic. Wheeler says Adams didn't try to sway his opinion or offer any deals — such as helping fund repairs to the Sellwood Bridge in return for Wheeler's support on MLS.

"I think [Mayor] Adams would be very interested in having our support around urban renewal issues generally. [Mayor] Adams is the kind of leader who likes to package transactions," Wheeler says. "He has offered me a broad package of issues that include urban renewal, (but) he has never asked me for a specific quid-pro-quo, nor would I accept one for MLS."

Please Mr. Wheeler would you stand for Mayor ?

Looking at the work you have done (and are doing) you seem to be one of the few politicians near "City Hall" that has any idea what is needed and the why and wherefores of how to do it

Brav freakin oh

I hate to be cynical here but I get the feeling the whole Lents thing was a hoax to keep the realization from taking hold that Memorial Coliseum could be demolished.

Who will be the deciding vote ??

Will it be Fritz who appears to be on psychtropic narcotics ???

Or milquetoast Saltzman ???

Bravo, Mr. Wheeler.

I doubt if the Historical Commission, the Veterans, the AIA, or other historical/neighborhood groups have been consulted on the demolition of Memorial Coliseum for a baseball stadium. The Veterans four years ago said "No" for another proposal. AIA might say "yes" because it would mean jobs for some members, and heck with the Memorial Coliseums award winning design, Historical Designation, and one the finest examples of mid-century architecture. Seems hypocritical to me.

Dare we say, "yay", for the Mult. Co. Commission?
I suppose the city council dunces will just vote for the MLS anyway, and if that doesn't work for them there is always the new football 'league' with 4 teams.
Give 'em hell Ted; this money should be used for services, infrastructure and schools.

DON'T write to the commissioners individually. They are unlikely to see your e-mail before the meeting.

Instead, if would like your comments shared with all Council members, please address them to Council Clerk Karla Moore-Love (kmoore-love@ci.portland.or.us)

It is my understanding that these will be either read aloud or included in any in-person feedback offered at the meeting just as they are at a hearing.

Thank you, Chairman Wheeler, for stepping up.

You really have your work cut out for you though. At least one of the reporters on the 5 o'clock news was parroting the sound bites put out by the city, namely that the money used for the soccer deal won't effect police or schools because it's "different money" which can't be used for those purposes.

I hope you are heard loud and clear tomorrow morning.

Recall Adams, Recall Leonard, Recall _________ (put your name here third vote)

Oops, "affect" not "effect"

How convenient that "details," such as they are, only come out literally hours before a vote is scheduled. No time for us commoners to actually sift through what empty promises are being made or for any opposition to tearing down one of the most recognizable buildings in Portland to organize.

Chairman Wheeler, I encourage you to take a white sketch board down to City Hall and draw a simple diagram with flow charts to show how urban renewal dollars for this deal takes away tax dollars from all of the other governments, besides CoP. I'm beginning to think that most of the O reporters do not understand or their editors have squelched them. Nigel knows and tries to get the facts out. Now it's your turn to educate Randy, Sam and the general public.

Chariman Wheeler is on the right track about speaking up on Wednesday.
The mayor and the city council seem to have gone from comfortable to calcified in their posture of absolute disregard for voices outside their own heads, but it's worth a shot.

Chairman Wheeler, it's not only education suffering from COP cityhall's backward ways of prioritizing budgets, it also includes road and bridge repair and reducing taxes to encourage private sector economic growth. I don't have to tell you we've got the Sellwood bridge in such bad shape Tri-met buses aren't allowed to go over it anymore, nor other freight. You would think cityhall would be more inclined to help with the Sellwood bridge than attempting another sports deal when the bad taste of the last one is still with us. Nope, instead, it's as though Beavis and Butthead are running the borrowing and spending at COP cityhall.

I am growing fond of saying, Portland's a nice place to visit but I sure wouldn't want to live there. Unfortuantely, I do live there.

This sounds like nothing more than musical chairs for privately owned sports teams financed by public funds. Or at least a sweetheart loan at the very least. If Mr. Paulson is so convinced of the profitability of MLS, why does he not finance a NEW stadium at his own expense. This would leave the Beavers at PGE Park......which is why it was renovated in the first place correct??

Another thing, that they are threatening to tear down the Veterans Memorial Coliseum to place a AAA team are fighting words for me! Why is it that every politician, sports team owner, sports writer (are you listening Dwight Jaynes?) are so hellbent on tearing down the MC? If they only put as much effort into modernizing the building as they do in scheming to tear it down the "Glass Palace" would be ready to serve Portland for another 50 years. Once it is gone it cannot be replaced.

Listening to that sound bite today of Mayor Creepy pretending he has crediblity as he lectured us on what a great deal this is was beyond sickening.

The guy is a complete sleazebag.

Recall is the only move for the taxpaying voters.

I heard our mayor say that this deal will put our city "on the international stage" and other PR-speak hype fed to him by the MLS people. What part of deep global economic recession don't they understand?

As long as we're gathering signatures on Sam Adams, we might as well gather signatures for the other commissioners who agree to spend $90 million on new stadiums for the Paulson Family.

Then we can drop another million plus on publicly funded campaigns (multiplied by three), and the losers can all hang out at the day labor center, relieving themselves in solar powered potties, while defining our sleeping quarters with duct tape in radio free Beaverton, buying spray paint that we can use to graffiti the new beisbol park at the Rose Garden.

If they get three votes tomorrow, I'm putting my house up for sale.

I understand there was a poll on this deal on one of the TV station web sites. My friend who saw it reported that it was running 81% against before it magically disappeared. Let the record show that by the time the old-technology media died, there was nothing left worth saving.

The online polls might as well disappear as Merritt Paulson's shills are working hard stuffing the ballot boxes.

http://www.soccercityusa.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?num=1236733969

"Poll on Koin TV
Today at 5:12pm
http://www.koinlocal6.com/default.aspx

We are way behind. You can re vote if you reset your browser."

Jerry - Did you let KOIN TV know that there is a problem with its polling? Perhaps Nigel Jaquiss would be interested, too.

I thought about it, but I did't know who to send an email to.

njaquiss@wweek.com

I sent him an email with a link to the soccercity site.


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Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 280
At this date last year: 129
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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