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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 26, 2010 8:11 AM. The previous post in this blog was SoWhat: The affordable housing lie. The next post in this blog is At Tri-Met, nothing succeeds like failure. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Portland Parks wants another credit card

An alert reader in the southwest part of Portland reported yesterday as follows:

Two clowns from Portland Parks showed up at the Southwest Neighborhoods Inc. meeting last night to push a proposed Parks bond measure to the tune of 200 million bucks, to build new parks pretties and deal with parts of what they estimated was a $500 million parks maintenance backlog.

Their reception by the usually Kumbaya-chanting SWNI Board was not pretty.

The proposed project list reads like a park planner's full employment act, and the bond issue is transparent in its design to keep Parks' top-heavy office administration employed.

Two of the big selling points advanced by the Parks folks were that it would only cost $8 a month for the average Portland homeowner, and that interest rates have never been so low, so it has never been a better time to borrow.

Someone pointed out that Parks budget was not zero, so the "only $8 a month" was bulls***, that it was actually $8 a month *more*; further, that the actual handouts that the Parks folks had brought quoted $15 a month. Much sputtering ensued from the presenter, Chris somebody, who had this real neat PowerPoint and script, when the difference between his spiffy PowerPoint and the written documents was pointed out.

Pathetic.

The funniest question came from one fellow (not me) who asked the clowns how much in bond debt the city was retiring in 2011, when this bond was supposed to be issued if the suckers approve it at the polls; what the projected interest rate was; and what the ratio of supervisors to workers at Parks was. (He had data, 86 managers/supervisors in a total labor pool of less than 500 bureau employees.)

Not surprisingly, the Parks clowns had no idea of answers to any of the questions.

As much as I love Portland's parks, I wouldn't hand another $100 a year from our house to Zsa Zsa to run them. The last time the voters gave Parks a bond for maintenance, they broke the law by using the maintenance money for capital projects. Between the leadership over there and the fact that Portland is already overdosing on debt to the point at which its financial future is in serious doubt -- management layoffs are probably a better solution than another bond.

Comments (17)

Zari demands tribute?

Not happening. When they promise one thing, they do another, particularly when it comes to bond revenue.

There is indeed a big need for park maintenance. Past due. Past due because it has been deferred in order to spend money on legacy follies and unnecessary 'planning'. There is also a huge need for programming, which has been slashed in the face of really bad planning decisions and exceedingly irresponsible financial decisions.

The whole debacle of the poodle poop park at SoWhat is emblematic of the very reason all public funding should be denied Parks administrators.

I will not support any bond measure for Parks until such time as the current director, and all their appointed managers, are removed and replaced, and all high-cost expansion plans be shelved, if not entirely abandoned.

Once that happens, I will support the passage of a bond measure specifically to address the deferred maintenance of our existing parks and return programming to neighborhood parks. No more florid and expensive legacy projects. No more catering to development interests. Less planning, more doing.

I trust that there are others who feel similarly.

I saw that park at South Waterfront for the first time yesterday and was amazed. Why didn't they put in a soccer, running track, and baseball field so that people at OHSU could have someplace to play? Wouldn't have cost much. Instead they have a nicely landscaped grandmother park for strolling and looking at flowers).

The idea that we should borrow now because rates are so low is a trap a lot of municipalities are falling into. This is reminiscent of what homeowners did 5 years ago. We are trading one debt bubble for another.

For only the cost of a chateaubriand steak a day ....

What did they do with all of the Parks SDC fees they have been charging for years?

Next Wednesday the PURB is holding a public meeting (hey, it was posted in the Daily Journal of Commerce, that's enough public notice, right?) to present their recommendations on covering the reservoirs at Mt Tabor Park and WA Park "with all due haste" - and then taking public comments. Then the City can say there has been a full and fair public process. Check. The PURB Water Sub Committee, two of whose three members only serve as a mouthpiece for the Water Bureau and Randy Leonard, will then present their already-voted-on recommendation to the City Council to cover the reservoirs because the WB told them they are old and falling apart....even though the WB is still engaged in a $44 million maintenance and security upgrade contract with Slayden Construction at the Mt Tabor reservoirs. If these reservoirs are covered or buried or hauled off, the Portland Parks bureau will be in charge of making the big mess the WB makes, pretty. A pretty park where the reservoirs were. To cover the reservoirs alone is projected to cost over $400 million. In my opinion, this is the biggest elephant in the room with the citizens of Portland. Add a bottle of pinot to that chateaubriand steak!

The frog doesn't know it's getting boiled. This is precisely how they're going to kill us:

"It's only an additional $8/month for parks. Everyone loves parks!"

"It's only an additional $10/month for the zoo. Everyone loves the zoo!"

"It's only an additional $5/month for bike lanes. Everyone loves bikes!"

"It's only an additional $12/month for Metro to buy green spaces. Everyone loves green spaces!"

"It's only an additional $7/month for the office of sustainability. Everyone loves sustainability!"

"It's only an additional $15/month for the police. Everyone loves law and order!"

"It's only an additional $20/month for the schools. Everyone loves schools!"

"It's only an additional $6/month for...."

Then you let a city full of 20-something renters who pay no property taxes vote on it. Rinse and repeat.

The SoWhat Park Poop Park is almost finished three years after its supposed completion date. The administrative cost to accomplish this fete is almost 3/8ths of the total cost. Projects in the Parks Bureau is a full employment opportunity.

Godfry -

The securities fraud by Saltzman and the Parks management in the last bond issue for Parkis was brought up at the SWNI meeting.. Both Terri Davis and Chris LNU from Parks blaimed that the tr prior bond spending had been audited by Blackmere and passed with flying colors. oth denied any mis statements in the prior bond issue, and Chris denied that there had been a bod and claimed that it was "only" a special levy and Parks could spend levy money on anything, not just maintenance.

John -

The Parks SDC fees are spent almost as fast as they come in, on designing and planning new Parks pretties....its important for job security for Parks administrators to be constantly designing and planning new things when they have already demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to maintain the pretties they already have -

Snards -

The 20 somrethings renters do pay taxes as well as vote, but they are, by and large, too stupid to understand that.

The taxes of course are part of their rent, the landlord collects it, and pays the City through the County. The 20 somethings don't get a separate tax bill so they aremostly incapable of understanding that they are paying city real estate taxes up the wazoo...

Hold on folks. Leonard is waiting in the wings to let the dust settle on all his bonds over the last few years. A 2005 auditors report showed thousands of hours of deferred maintainence left over from the "computer malfunction". Instead of being a responsible "steward", Leonard created new unnecessary projects hiding behind a flawed EPA decision that provides no public health benefits. Since money from ratepayers goes to pay off bonds first, thousands of hours of deferred maintainance is not being done, no matter what PWB says. Leonard is getting ready to hit us with sustantial rate increases again and again.

The Portland Water Bureau proposed rate increases:
FY 2009-10 17.9%
FY 2010-11 18.9%
FY 2011-12 19.0%
FY 2012-13 18.8%
FY 2013-14 19.0%
In addition to the above proposed water usage charge, the base charge will
also be increased.

It is time for community outrage!!
This needs to be stopped now before Council moves forward with more expensive projects not needed and the billion dollar debt and more.
Leonard, Shaff (Commissioner of the Water Bureau and head of the Water Bureau) and our City Council will incrementally destroy our Bull Run water system if we cannot get our community educated on this matter to stand up to stop this. Too much has been happening under the radar screen.

A Bull Run treatment panel concluded there would be no measurable health benefits from a treatment plant.

Pay a fine to EPA if we must until we have a Mayor and Council who will stand up for the welfare of our community. The LT2 rule was not based on science but politics and was lobbied by those who will benefit from the contracts.

Parks, water, makes no difference – so much abuse and deception.
Remember Johnswood Park was sold for housing. Parks tried again to sell off some parkland at Mt. Tabor.

Expecting any organization, particularly a governmental agency, to cut management as a budget solution? Jack, what sort of monster are you? Why, you've probably made some of these pwecious widdle snowflakes cry. Don't you know that we're supposed to protect them from the sharp edges of reality and guarantee them 6 percent pay raises and a full pension? How else are we going to keep the brightest and the best at Portland Parks from bailing out and taking their skills to the private sector?

I'm with ya', Godfrey. And there are lots of us in my SW neighborhood as well.

The lion's share has been going to the pigs long enough.

Nonny Mouse-
The taxes of course are part of their rent, the landlord collects it, and pays the City through the County. The 20 somethings don't get a separate tax bill so they aremostly incapable of understanding that they are paying city real estate taxes up the wazoo...

Thats only true if the building they are renting in didnt get a tax abatement to get built in the first place.

Jon -

If you are referring to something in an Urban Renewal Zone, the building is generally still ass4essed and taxed at the regular rate. However, instead of the taxes h would go to the various taxing jurisdiction, (e.g. PPS District 1J; Mult. Co.; Mult ESD; Port of Portland) get diverted to "pay off" the PDC loans used to build the buildings.

You are correct that there are some straight out tax abatements, but in the great raft of property tax revenues and where the funds go, the outright abatements really are relatively small potatoes. Annoying as hell, bad public policy, but still relatively small potatoes.

I dont think its small potatoes. Millions in taxes were lost because some very wealthy property owners in the Pearl & Macadam area are/were paying nothing or only a few hundred dollars a year in property taxes for as long as 10 years.

Its essentially a subsidy to developers who had to prove the project couldnt be done without it. Along with promises from developers for things like "affordable housing".

It was all a scam.

Jon -

"It was all a scam."


On that we certainly agree.

You didn't get the full story there, professor. Parks rubbed the SWNI folks the wrong way in large part because of a rule buried in the PPR' proposal that PPR would get some measure of control over SWNI, its budget, staff picks, bylaws, and decisions. That attack on SWNI's autonomy is what pissed the board off most, and first. It's a strange power grab story that deserves its own coverage.


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