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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Paulson stadium deal -- on the sneak?

The wheeling and dealing continues behind closed doors between the City of Portland and Little Lord Paulson for the ghastly expensive re-renovation of PGE Park (which he'll probably get the right to rename) for soccer. The City Council is scheduled to pass some zoning amendments relating to the stadium first thing next Wednesday. And in a recent letter to the Fish from Paulson himself, he points out that he and the city are currently hard at work to "finalize the final terms" of the financial deal, in which he'll get full control over the selection of the contractor and many other aspects of the project, and his father's buddies will get to lend the city the eight figures to pay the city's share of the construction costs.

Check out the letter. "Finalize the final terms" -- you've got to love language like that. "Finalize" is there to pressure the lambs on the city side into thinking that they now have to agree to something with the Paulson family -- if they don't, they'll be sued. And the "final terms" is there to signal that the Paulson pirates will be enforcing their contract rights in the future to their fullest extent.

There's something about the way this fellow talks and thinks that gives one the strong impression that large mistakes are about to be made, and that a major dispute with him -- probably in court -- is about two or three years away. Even if the "major" soccer league (by U.S. standards) survives that long, my intuition tells me that there is going to be some serious financial carnage on the Portland stadium deal. Normally one would think that if there's a screwup, the contract would leave the city holding the bag. Certainly that's the way Homer Williams and the Gerding Edlen boys always had things wired on deals like the Pearl and the SoWhat District. But they were smart guys who had been around the block on stuff like this more than a few times -- the same cannot be said for Henry III. Between him and the genius that is Sam & Randy, they'll probably leave ultimate financial responsibility in some sort of vague gray area -- which will eventually make some trial lawyers more than a little richer.

Paulson's letter says that the "development agreement" will be voted on by the City Council in January, and that construction will start in February. This seems quite dubious. The city couldn't possibly borrow the money fast enough to make that happen, and on this particular borrowing, there's a more than negligible threat that a petition drive could force the matter onto a citywide ballot. Maybe they'll start ripping up PGE Park before the city has its mortgage money -- nothing would surprise me on this deal -- but if they wait for the bonds, I would think we're talking spring break or thereabouts. Most likely, the February start is just another empty statement from a veritable font of empty statements over many months.

The strong warning signs flashed by the reality detach here makes the terms of the pending contract all the more important, of course. And it's disturbing that the talks are taking so long, with little or no public discussion of what's hanging them up.

What are the points of negotiation between the city and Paulson at this stage of the game? Has anybody in the media asked? Why can't the public know about them? Could it be that public scrutiny isn't really desired by the City Council? One would hope that a complicated deal like this fiasco-in-the-making would be thoroughly aired before a council vote, but more likely they'll show people the deal on Tuesday and vote for it on Wednesday. That's the Sam-Rand way.

Comments (12)

Where are the probers from the media? Each Sunday in the Zero, we are treated to a front page story of an impending enviro disaster, a story of injustice against the downtrodden, or some other heart tug. When is someone going to pick apart the intricacies of this deal?

I have read more on the CoP/Paulson marriage here than anywhere else.

This thing needs to be filleted; exposed. I suspect too it is inedible!

I'm not one to be negative or anything BUT,
I'll wager that behind the scenes, the Mayor et al have been "advised" by all sorts of "stakeholders" (usual supects) including deveopers and the PDC, on how important this scehme, deal, is to keep the city vibrant and avoid any further stagnation caused by the current recession.
Of course it's all wrapped up in rhetoric to sound so wise, prudent and vital while the interested public will never get to see or scrutinize that pitch for it's very certain BS.

History, reputation and the clowns involved make certain that there will be "some serious financial carnage on the Portland stadium deal".

The perfect storm of conflicts of interests, incompetence and unethical bureaucrats and politicians make it the only possible outcome.

In short, Duh.

I saw construction cranes in there last week, are they already doing work? Or are they doing work at the MAC Club?

I wish the MLS could come to Portland without so much of a headache.

Yeah, the level of play is much lower than England's Premier League... but when higher-skilled players aren't lured to come to the MLS for low amounts of money, that's the kind of play we get.

It's unfortunate that a lot of Americans only see the MLS level of play and then immediately have the notion that soccer isn't exciting or fun to watch. Quite the contrary, in fact. While the MLS isn't the Premiership, it's still quite competitive.

FYI - This project is already well and truly underway. Turner Construction has gone out for bids (due 1/5/09)for site work in anticipation of the complete remodel which I understand is to be complete in 2010. If Turner is not the contractor for this work, someone should tell them.

I double dog-dare him to sue the City (for WHAT? Hah!) -- no matter what, worst case scenario is even if the City would lose, it would cost less than this sucker's play. Besides, Paulson and family wouldn't want to suffer the scrutiny of the discovery process (I'd look forward to THAT), and his lawyers are quite tangled-up in all this, to boot. Go p*** up a rope, Paulie.

I never would have imagined that soccer would take over baseball in Portland.

I'm glad I'm not cynical. Otherwise, I might think that Paulson and the city want to "finalize" this deal before Jan. 31, 2010 ... when the collective bargaining agreement between the MLS and the MLS players runs out. Even the Timbers' Army fanboys on the council might have trouble bringing themselves to approve a deal if the MLS players are out on strike.

see this 12/30/09 3pm press release from Portland Business Journal


While we have been distracted by another snowstorm ineptly addressed by the alleged, divisive mayor of our city and his far too loyal PBOT:

Sure enough, WW has more on the mayor's resolution: "The surprise resolution would allow Paulson to begin renovating the city-owned PGE Park for Major League Soccer — without a final financial agreement in place with the city."
And this comes out on a Friday afternoon, New Year's Eve, when attention is fixed on the upcoming Rose Bowl.
Just when you think these people can go no lower ....

If Fish and Saltzman are dumb enough to go for that, it's their political funerals.

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