Wild cowboy action on Paulson stadium deal
While critics fret that the City of Portland is going to pass a resolution to allow Little Lord Paulson to start banging away on PGE Park, even without a definitive development agreement with the city, they're likely missing the real outrage: Apparently the construction work has already started, even though the resolution won't be presented to the City Council until tomorrow.
Not one but two alert readers point out that some sort of crane-like device rolled into the stadium last week, and that they've seen construction activity going on from their viewing spot at the nearby Multnomah Athletic Club. "There was a big apparatus that looked like a big well-driller along the first base line," one wrote in an e-mail message. "I don't know what it was, but it was definitely heavy equipment."
The permit that the city proposes to issue Paulson shows that the work being planned in advance of the development agreement -- and apparently already started -- is not minor. Indeed, it's fairly invasive. He's going to be ripping up turf, tearing down the outfield wall, relocating an electrical transformer, and installing new urinals and plumbing, among other things. Once he's in that deep, any leverage that the city might have in any financial negotiations will be gone.
There's also concern that the creaky old Tanner Creek sewer, which runs under the part of the stadium that Paulson's going to be whacking on, might not be able to take the stress of the renovation project. As explained here, that sewer is old (as in a century or so) and overtaxed as it is. Since His Lordship is in such a hurry to get his soccer team upgraded, however, there's apparently no chance that the sewer situation will be improved as part of this re-renovation of PGE.
Moreover, as we pointed out yesterday, the number of different Paulson companies that crop up in the documents make it impossible to know who the city's really dealing with, and what assets those entities really own. The city has said it has never seen the financials of Paulson's various business entities. If that's true, and if damage is done in the construction, the city doesn't really know what it would be able to get in a lawsuit. For all the city knows, it could be dealing with an empty shell.
It's more obvious than ever that this deal is a runaway train. Mayor Creepy and Fireman Randy are letting Paulson do whatever he wants. They say they're negotiating a deal with him that will be good for the city's taxpayers in the long run, but their actions are lawless and reckless. It's a real shame that the other three members of the council are looking the other way and allowing a serious trespass to city property -- not to mention the extraordinary foolishness of starting an eight-figure construction project with no sense of how expensive the financing is going to be, or whether it's going to be available at all.