For Adams, photo op becomes knock op
Not to be outdone by the Portland appearance of the Insane Clown Posse, the mayor put on his own buffoon costume and went out on the street for a publicity stunt yesterday, fixing a pothole that had been there so long that geologists had begun studying it. Oh yes, basic street maintenance is in capable hands, folks -- would Sam mislead you?
Even Portland's usually impressionable mainstream media was having no part of it. And Willy Week swung the other way -- calling the mayor out for his repeated raiding of the maintenance budget for high-priced junk that doesn't work well and benefits the few as opposed to the many. Good for them.
Recently, we've been getting an earful ourselves from several city Transportation workers who think the mayor is not a capable bureau director. They say they wouldn't dare speak out publicly by name for fear of reprisal. Their list of criticisms could make a month of blog posts, and anonymous sources are never as good as folks who speak on the record. But since hizzoner has turned the spotlight onto his track record as head of the bureau, here is a highlight reel (if you can call it that) from one frustrated bureau employee:
Transportation was a great place to work before Sam became the commissioner in charge. He started campaigning for mayor from day one. He pushed Transportation's public information officer aside and let it be known that all media contact would be through him. Mary Volm had done an excellent job for years in that role. This last budget totally eliminated her job with the city. Her knowledge of Transportation and mastery of the information led to the media still wanting to contact her rather than go to a posturing politician. This infuriated Sam. She had to go....Unhappy camper there. And that's just part of it -- don't forget the management coach -- but enough for one day. The Nervous Breakdown of Portland continues. Go by streetcar!
The only thing in Paving that changed was a redefinition of the work. They would now pave smaller segments of roadway. That succeeded in making the process more costly. If you have to pay those transport and set-up costs for more frequent smaller jobs, your square foot costs are going to rise. That helped in Adams's effort to show that outside contractors can do the work more cheaply. You have correctly pointed out numerous times that Adams knows where the money resides. He loves contractors and developers....
As part of his new-sheriff gambit, Sam spent about half a million dollars on bringing in Dye Management to analyze the Maintenance Bureau's operations. Note that the money they charged the city does not reflect the wages of our bureau employees that had to attend numerous meetings and interviews with these efficiency experts. Sam had a screaming fit at the Dye personnel that presented him with the final report and recommendations that, aside from some small changes, said that Maintenance was doing its job well. A second management consultant mirrored Dye's conclusions. Sam was not happy....
The one major conclusion that Adams excised from Dye's final report was their statement that Maintenance should be under the direction of an engineer. That would be a tremendous improvement from what we presently have. Our two co-directors (now renamed group managers) are made up of a former site director from Human Resources and a project manager from Environmental Services.... The point is that these two individuals are yes-people for [Transportation Director] Sue Keil and Sam Adams. They do not have sufficient knowledge to push back and explain why Mayor Creepy's ideas are impractical or a waste of taxpayer funds.
Sue Keil is no better equipped for her job. When Tom Potter (no fireball but at least he had integrity) was prompted to ask for bureau directors' resignations at the start of his term, only Dean Marriott survived the Purge. Something in his employment contract prevented Potter from forcing him out. Sue Keil is a friend of Yvonne Deckard, the power-grabbing head of Human Resources who helped suggest the Purge. When Marriott refused to leave BES [the Bureau of Environmental Services], Keil was given the consolation prize of Transportation. With no background in Transportation, she has less ammunition to refute Creepy's ideas.... Sam's desire to repair NW 23rd a foot at a time with hand tools is an indication of the lunacy that is presently unchecked....
I would be really curious to know what truly prompted [former City Auditor] Gary Blackmer to part company with the city. It might just be my suspicious nature, but I am sure that he did not make points with Adams when he questioned the misdirection of paving funds into the procurement of smart meters. It is ironic that our smart meters are apparently losing their mind. The meter system is a major revenue producer for the city and its implosion has led to daily meetings regarding fixing the system. The present Parkeon machines were placed on the streets about six years ago at a cost of about $7,000 per unit. The "fix" is to replace about 275 of them immediately with new Cale machines. The new machines cost about $7,500 apiece, not yet installed. If you go to the Portland Tribune website and type in "Ellis McCoy" [the city's parking director] you will see... McCoy's questionable friendship with George Levey. George Levey used to sell Parkeon machines back when we purchased our meters. He now works for Cale.
I am curious about Adams's involvement. When Channel 8 asked Adams about the proposed sale/leaseback of our meter system, Adams said he didn't know anything about it but would have his staff look into it. The truth was that Adams had come over to Maintenance and met with the meter techs to assure them that the sale/leaseback would not eliminate their jobs. Why did he lie? At least Blackmer and Drummond Kahn killed the proposed idea.