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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another priceless comedy moment from the O

Reporter Ryan Frank swallows hook, line, and sinker with this one. About the Poodle Poop Park in Portland's SoWhat District:

In South Waterfront, work has started on a new park that will create 39 jobs.
Now that's too funny. Hey, Ryan! Did you ask them what these 39 people are going to be doing for a living -- scooping droppings from Fluffy the Shih Tzu?

Time out while I get the glass cleaner for my computer screen.

Only slightly less hysterical is his description of why the city has an urban renewal agency:

The Portland Development Commission offers grants, low-interest loans and discounted land to encourage developers to build projects they wouldn't otherwise. The theory is the subsidies benefit the public with more affordable housing or taller buildings than the market alone would support.
"Mommy, what is a PDC?"

"They make the buildings taller, honey. It's for the public good."

I'm going to miss the O when it's gone. Even without Randy Gragg, it manages to be mildly pornographic.

Comments (27)

Do those 39 jobs pay a wage?

Recall that last fall, they were looking for for unpaid volunteers to lock and unlock the tables and chairs daily.

Starting the blog with the word reporter, insults those who actually source, research and write for a living...... My bad. You were referencing those who get paychecks from the Big O.

39 jobs? What: one guy to shovel dog crap and 38 of Mayor Creepy's close personal financiers, er, I mean friends to "supervise" him?

taller buildings than the market alone would support.

Now I understand what government is for!

Hey, I am sure that's the new metric from Sam, any money spent gets translated into X new jobs and propagated / tweeted / published / blogged /shouted at news conferences / told to reporters / used as justification not to get recalled.

Of course, X is an order of magnitude larger than actual jobs. Please tell me we are running out of people stupid enough to believe this drivel.

Finally, the bioscience jobs start rolling in.

I'm guessing they're talking about jobs to construct the park. Of course, they aren't "creating" these jobs, they're just giving work to a local firm. Nice enough, but let's stop kissing our own butts and claiming that we're "creating" these jobs.

Come on Ryan.

Did it ever occur to you that the PDC is upside down on most of their activities and hasn't the money to debt service their current boondoggle quagmire?

It doesn't serve readers very well for you to simply repeat whatever the PDC offers to tell you.

For once why don't you peel open SoWa or any other PDC flop and report the story.
PDC paid OHSU $3.5 million for parking spaces that aren't coming.
PDC paid Homer Williams $6.5 million for 100 parking spaces that are not generating enough revenue.
The Greenway, ped/bike bridge and street improvements are not funded and Mayor Creepy is about to divert $15 million from SoWa TIF money to Milwaukie MAX.
etc etc etc etc on and on.

It's called investigative journalism.

I'm just going to throw an economic hunch out there:

One reason why Oregon is consistently near the worst unemployment levels during a recession, is that all this make believe, central-planning jive amplifies the effects of downturns.

If the economy is totally realistic in a free market way it never gets out of kilter this badly. It never constructs buildings higher than the market would otherwise call for, and when the "let's pretend" phase collapses - as it's doing now - it doesn't get these giant unemployment spikes that put us at the top of that list.

Just a theory. Maybe it's wrong, but if so, what is the reason why Oregon is always so high on the unemployment list during a recession? Assuming I'm remembering that part accurately too.

What is so sad is that Ryan Frank knows better and knows more than what he wrote. What's the deal, Ryan? Editors? Or did the PDC write some of this for you?

In South Waterfront, work has started on a new park that will create 39 jobs.

Thirty-nine people might work on the design and construction of the park, but that ain't "39 jobs".

However, my grandmother from the low country of South Carolina used to call a bowel movement a "job". Before a car trip as kids, for example, she might say, "Do you need to do a job?"

(Her euphemism for Number 1 was "make watuh".)

In that context, if this park ever gets built, it will generate a helluva lot more than 39 jobs.

"I'm going to miss the O when it's gone."

Seriously! The Tuesday edition had the front page, Metro and Business sections all rolled into one small section.

I'm wondering when we're going to hear that the O is going to be an online-only "paper".

No mention of how it cost $5 million and took 5 years to plan this park.

So, why can't we roll some of these boondoggles into one? Consolidation would produce lots of efficiencies! Start by putting the baseball stadium on the poodle park site! It will be on MAX. It has lots of unused nearby parking which can be made multi-story for only a few tens of millions more to Mayor Creepy's buddies. It is already a dead zone after hours and on weekends like the stadium will otherwise make Lents! Millionaires will be motivated to purchase those unsold condos that will look down on it so they can see the games and watch the underclass come and go 35 times a years.

Sounds like a PDC multi-win strategy with lots of linch pins and knock-on effects to me.

If the economy is totally realistic in a free market way it never gets out of kilter this badly

Wouldn't it be nice to think so? We're seeing, though, how easily the free market system can go off the rails: trading long-term stability for short-term gain, or converting externalized costs into private profits, to say nothing of "socializing" losses when they inevitably turn up. I'm no big fan of subsidized development (beyond providing the necessary infrastructure), but I wouldn't pretend that market forces keep everything just so. If they did, we might have a solvent car company or two in the U.S.

Right Allan, wishing doesn't make it so. When developers build for a return they feel they are entitled to because of the weasily term, "market rate", and too many of them are allowed to do it, addressing only one ideal upscale niche market then that market becomes saturated toute de suite.

The term "affordable housing" is also consistently abused and rarely defined in a sensible way.

I think the problem with the O is at the upper levels, although it doesn't help that we don't hear of many reporters questioning "authority". Two editors that I thought seemed to manipulate reporters: Stephen Engleberg and that hypenated public editor guy Marietta-Walden (?). something like that, are gone.

And sometimes i think the editorial page is improving. But then I'll see an outright lie in an opinion piece and remember Bob Caldwell.

I guess it is better to laugh than cry, although I am sure there are many who cry often that would be spared if the Oregonian cared about getting things right. The staff doesn't seem to empathize with humanity, but to care only about their own opinions and families. Mr. Hyphen once told me that the paper looks for those kinds of employees, the kind that, in the final analysis, only care about themselves.

Ryan could have asked questions about what "public good" is supposed to mean in this context, and there are many planners in town who could speak on the process of defining problems and analyizing alternatives. It seems to me we almost never get anything but public relations spin on growth issues. Ironically, all the hype is attracting people to Portland who want more than this.

Regarding "affordable housing": when reading about the 30% "affordable" housing rule the other day,I learned that it was originally a California provision lifted for Portland purposes. Finally, I got some insight into the 80% of median income provision. In California, during the early 2000s, people moving to urban areas (such as the San Francisco Bay Area) for jobs in Silicon Valley (let's say) could not afford to buy homes even though they were making respectable salaries. In 2003, even a house that didn't pass termite inspection in Fremont was going for over $400,000). Friends and relatives of mine in that area knew people making 50 or 60 k who could not find a house to buy. The 80 provision would help to alleviate this problem. It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense in the Portland market, and has nothing to do with housing the poor.


Engleberg and the other guy are no longer listed as managing editors. They may still be lurking around at the O.

I noticed the story didn't dwell on the Nines Hotel disaster very long. How many people do you know that get loans that don't have to be repaid on a schedule?

No mention of how it cost $5 million and took 5 years to plan this park.

The land alone cost $7 million. Additionally there was toxic waste to clean up, and tenants in the self-storage facility who had to be bought out and moved. I'll bet they're pushing $20 million just to get "shovel-ready."

Thirty-nine jobs, half of which will be filled by illegal aliens spreading barkdust and laying sod. Way to step up, PDC!

Cynthia, re Stephen Engelberg, you might peruse these grafs from the 22Jun08 Broadcasting & Cable:

“'Is it true that if you turn on your television today, your odds of hitting something investigative are lower than they were 15 years ago? Yes, I think that's true,' says Stephen Engelberg, the former editor of The Oregonian, who left to become managing editor of ProPublica.

Formed last fall and headed by Engelberg and Paul Steiger, late of the Wall Street Journal, ProPublica is an independent nonprofit newsroom specializing in investigations. It joins a contingent of journalism nonprofits currently operating, including the Center for Public Integrity, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Center for Investigative Reporting. What sets ProPublica apart is its annual $10 million budget, courtesy of California billionaires Herbert and Marion Sandler.

The first 60 Minutes/ProPublica co-production, broadcast June 22, is an investigation into Al Hurra, the U.S. government's taxpayer-supported TV network in the Middle East, which has drawn criticism for broadcasting anti-Israeli commentary, among other things. ProPublica is in discussions with Frontline and ABC News about multiple projects.

'Here we are offering to do fairly expensive basic research for free, and we'll bring it to you when it's right and we know it's real,' Engelberg says. 'That's not a half-bad deal if you've been subjected to massive cutbacks.'"

Very interesting Gardiner.

Thank you.

Jack, thanks for correcting James' $5 Million park cost. You are very close to being correct at the $20 Million figure. It was $7.2 M for land.

Including brownfield cleanup, removal of storage co., attorneys, planners, Parks Bureau administrative costs, PDC administrative costs, design costs, etc.; and then the big cost of the debt service cost that PDC never admits, the $20 million comes close.

Plus, don't forget the numerous items taken out of the park plans to make budget (what budget?)_like no toilets. Plus the completion of the Park is three years past the due date of the few people living there.

Accountability is forgotten in our Puddle Park.

I said plan, not cost. Forgive me. I agree with you, Jerry, ahem, Lee / Ben.

You guys make some great comments, and offer a bunch of useful analysis. But why not post some of it on his article so that less-informed readers won't be misled? Yeah, it probably makes their site look more lively, but that seems a small price to pay.

I already tried to address the half-story listed in item 2 of his piece.


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