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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Eat what you kill -- but at City Hall?

The Portland building permit bureau -- whatever Orwellian name it goes by these days -- is broker than broke, and that means it may have to lay off even more employees than it's already pink-slipped. It seems that the department's budget comes from the fees it charges builders, and since the builders aren't building anything these days, there's no money to operate the bureau. It appears as though we're going to have fewer inspections, more undetected and unremedied code violations, more neighborhood blight, less safety. Or maybe some new tax will be invented to cover the shortfall.

Meanwhile, funny thing, people are still using water. And so the water bureau has tons of dough. Read our blog! Try our Caesar salad recipe! Bus rides! Look -- a photo of our bumper sticker in outer Mongolia!

It seems crazy to us that that city bureaus' budgets depend so heavily on the levels of revenue that they raise. Here is one of the most left-wing city governments in the world, and it seems to be implementing a misguided version of the right-wing platform of "running government like a business."

Then again, the whole Portland commission form of government, with its revolving cast of Sim City bureau assignments among politicians with little relevant expertise, is straight out of Mayberry RFD. As is the practice of electing all the council members at large, with no districting. If the Arlington Club crowd weren't making a mint off the current system, they could probably get the public to change it in a New York minute. But they like it just the way it is, apparently, and so we have no choice but to go by streetcar, as it were.

Comments (16)

It seems crazy to us that that city bureaus' budgets depend so heavily on the levels of revenue that they raise.

Maybe City Council could institute a government-run gambling system, and use the proceeds to pay for health care? I mean, BDS?

And you can bet the folks at the Arlington Club are quite familiar with a New York minute.

The water bureau is a separate enterprise. It is not permitted to use tax revenues to subsidize its operations. By the same token, its revenues cannot be used to fund other city services. I'm not saying its right, that's just how it is (and has been for a long, long time).

If the Water Bureau has sufficient resources to engage in goofiness, I take it as evidence that water rates are too high.

The planning dept has been twiddling their thumbs for over a year. Layoffs are happening now only because they can't continue in 'make-busy' mode without drawing a lot more attention.
When can we expect to drop some dead weight over at the water bureau?

Maybe City Council could institute a government-run gambling system, and use the proceeds to pay for health care? I mean, BDS?

ECO, Creepy already runs city hall like a casino. Pay to play. Perks for the 'whales' and comp land for all the regulars.

Garage Wine -

The Water Bureau revenues are segregated solely because of the City Charter and a City ordinance, AIUI. The City can change
its Charter and ordinances.

Its not written in stone in state law or the risable state constitution/

Uh-oh . . . I better get that tree-removal permit in before they jack up the rates from the already-too-high $35 . . .

But we have to keep in mind that it is Portland voters who have the power to amend the charter to upgrade us from Mayberry to a real "big" city, and they have turned down multiple opportunities to vote to do so, including a chance just a couple of years ago.

"I take it as evidence that water rates are too high."

Plus the water went up 18% this year and sewer rates 5% a year for the foreseeable future.

Of course, they are awash in money if they can hire a no talent to make up blog posts about water and people holding "Drink Tap Water" stickers up all over the world.

"The City can change its Charter and ordinances."

Why would they do that? Then they couldn't use the excuse about money being dedicated for something and not usable for anything else at all - a la the streetcars?

Just keep in mind folks that San Francisco changed from Citywide election of Supervisors to District election of Supervisors years ago; and the cast of clowns at City Hall became even worse than it was in the past. Portland seems to be doing a first class job of copying all the goofy, financially bankrupt policies of San Francisco from what I can see.

While it is true that Mr Leonard has nothing about which to boast in his oversight of the two most prominent bureaus in his portfolio, surely it is our alleged mayor who deserves continued reproach for his abuse of the citizens of Portland via PBOT:

Our alleged mayor, clad in orange, plugged a single hole:

Perhaps someone living nearby will keep tabs on the longevity of our alleged mayor's patch?

It is my understanding that they would not have to layoff so many people in planning had they not have so much of their revenue siphoned off to pay for the sustainability department and a bevy of unproductive managers.

The commission form of Government emerged in Galveston, Texas at the turn of the century. Galveston abandoned it in 1960.

Portland is the lone big city hold-out for commission government in the entire country. Small towns still use it. And guess what! It's really popular in towns in Southern Florida! Croak, gasp, I need my oxygen, is there a network of connections between these facts?

Non-sequitor here, guess what I heard last night. Weirdest, wierdest, recall experience comment ever. We're at a trailer park at dusk. People are signing, their pit bulls are wagging their tails, etc. We see a slightly dishevelled man walking out of the driveway as we are leaving, I wonder...is he a tramp, or does he live here? Hm. Maybe both things are possible..Anyway, we ask if he'd like to sign, he says "no thanks, it's not his fault that he's"... and he adds a word in a low voice I can't hear. "It's not his fault he's what now?" I ask, curious. (Thinking of course, he must have said "it's not his fault he's gay", just to add to my memory trove already acquired of such comments, to which I always snap a similar response-"Hey, I voted for the schmuck, so I'm not a gay-basher, I can assure you.")

But no.

"It's not his fault he's a pedophile", he replies.

OK then. Hey, it's utopia in Portland.

I wonder if the pothole Sam filled was the pothole he promised to fill in front of Brigadier General Michael Caldwell's house if the good general would serve as a "historian" in Sam's Chavez street renaming "process."

And, yes, Sam the Tram really did quid-pro-quo a the general's pothole in exchange for serving on the "Historian" panel. Sam and the good general joked about it in a Council meeting: "Ha, ha! We sold out our citizens over a pothole. See you in the men's room!"

MW, you're exactly right. Also, BDS funds were used to pay non-BDS expenses such as building leases and such. The work is there--inspections need to be made. But thanks to mismanagement, they just don't have the funds to keep paying the inspectors.

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