Taken for a ride
Portland's mayor has returned from whatever he was doing in Washington, D.C. (one shudders to imagine) and announced that the city has "reached a final agreement" with Little Lord Paulson for the needless re-renovation of PGE Park for "major league" (by U.S. standards) soccer. Sure, there's got to be a City Council vote, and there could be a public referendum on the bonds, and nobody knows what the terms of the junk-bond borrowing's going to be, but hey -- Creepy and Fireman Randy are in love with His Lordship, and this is the "final" deal. Because they said so -- got it?
Of course, since this cozy arrangement has been in the works for many, many months, we'd all like to see the actual contracts that we've been waiting for. But the boondoggle-meisters at City Hall haven't favored us with them yet. Instead, we're sent to this page, which is pretty much a sales pitch rather than a set of enforceable legal documents. The actual text of the actual agreements? We'll be lucky if those show up on the internet much before the City Council vote. What you don't know can't hurt you.
I love the mayor's bullet points on this one:
· No impact to the City’s General FundThose first two are the same things he told us about the OHSU aerial tram [rim shot] and the SoWhat district -- probably the worst fiscal decisions made by the city in the last quarter-century, or maybe ever. But this time, there are no "urban renewal" shenanigans.
· No impact to the City’s ability to provide basic services
· No Urban Renewal funding
Or maybe not. Alert readers point out that down in the Goose Hollow neighborhood, where PGE Park sits, residents have been put on notice that "urban renewal" is coming to that neck of the woods. If the Paulsons don't get a piece of the action on the current deal, surely they'll get it when they come back looking for more money in a couple of years. (If the league lasts that long.)
Meanwhile, an alert reader with a view of the stadium from right across the street sends along some interesting photos looking from right field to left field. They've ripped up part of the turf and marked off where the 94-year-old sewer pipe sits, seven feet below the surface, waiting to make a big poopy mess:
It's amazing that they're going to try to play minor league baseball on that field starting in early April, while they're building the new soccer stands. If I owned a visiting minor league team, I'd be a little concerned that one of my outfielders might get hurt.
But from whatever corner it arises, resistance is futile. Another eight figures of public debt has already been earmarked for a building that's never made money for anybody in our lifetimes. Here we go. At least the latest documents say that His Lordship and King Henry II are going sign some personal guarantees of something or other in connection with the deal. When the "major" soccer league blows up, it will be comforting to see those two on the chow line with us taxpayers for a nice big plate of crow.
If I had to guess, I'd say that once the soccer deal is signed, the Paulsons will tell us that we simply have to build a baseball stadium for the Beavers somewhere in town, because if we don't, there won't be enough money in the so-called "spectator fund" (which as I recall is already tied up for many years to pay off the last genius renovation of PGE) to pay off the soccer bonds, which we're now agreeing to sign up for. Or something like that. Anyone who has studied Paulson Sr. knows that these guys set you up for one crisis after another, cleaning your clock at every turn. Come back to today's rosy term sheet in five years -- I've downloaded it here -- and I'll bet it will prompt a wistful laugh.