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Monday, March 8, 2010

Bike raid on sewer funds means flooded basements

The $20 million that Portland's creepy mayor is ordering the sewer bureau to spend on bike paths this coming year isn't going to fall from the sky. As this story makes clear, the money's going to be diverted from... you know... sewer projects...

According to a memo prepared by BES, providing the $20 million to the bicycle plan will require it to reallocate funds already identified for existing projects. The largest amount — $12.4 million — would come from sewer projects intended to reduce basement flooding and replace aging pipes before they fail in Northeast, Northwest and Southeast Portland.
Portlanders have been wading through stinky, knee-deep muck for the last 14 months under the current administration. Figuratively up until now, but I guess it's time for what the bureaucrats call "actualization."

Comments (39)

Ridiculous and stupid. There should be a way to sue them for malfeasance.

If you challenge any decision or action by elected officials before the tax court be prepared to be treated as if you have leprosy. Dissent: It is a contagious disease that must wiped out, before it spreads. The laws on the books that are designed specifically to limit the exercise of government power have been inverted so as to achieve precisely the opposite.

So what ahppens when the sinkholes start eating up bike lanes?

I am just waiting for the PWB Arts Festival now.

Can we start a fund to hire a lawyer to take this to court? They'll just keep stealing until they get slapped otherwise.

Steve, Don't bother with the lawyer because there is no law limiting what they spend on anything. There should be but there isn't.

How about getting your representatives to make some law limiting what utilities can spend money on. With the current crop you won't get very far.

I'm running for State Representative and, if elected, I will be introducing a law to do just that: Limit the ability of these operations to spend money only within the scope of their function. There have been far too many abuses.

"Don't bother with the lawyer because there is no law limiting what they spend on anything."

I thought there was something that said PWB ratepayer funds must only be used for water/sewer projects?

I mean it doesn't take a genius to see where this is headed. Randy saw he could raise rates a huge chunk without any blowback and now PWB is awash in funds. Of course, a lot of this if for "just-in-case" EPA stuff, but right now it doesn't have a home, so first-come first-served.

Then they'll commit to a lot of projects that will use up the upside, then we'll need another rate bump to cover actual EPA work when it gets decided.

Of course, they have no reserves for infra-structure, so that's another time-bomb that will justify yet another rate increase.

Sam must have gotten helpful advice from our Mayor in Lake Oswego. They are alla bunch of slimey weasels. How come there isn't a law restricting how funds can be diverted?
I just don't get it.

Most(not all)folks we elect seem to start off with good intentions. Somewhere along the line it becomes more about trying to create one's own legacy, rather than focusing on real issues for the community.

What about just fixing potholes, cleaning up our parks, and having a sewer system that doesn't dump tons of raw sewage into the Willamette.

Adams’ ordinance would take effective immediately upon being approved, however, because it declares that an emergency exists as a result of the timeframe for the developing the projects.

An emergency?? Bwahahahaha

How is it that the recall isn't overwhelmingly supported ? I just don't get it? Does the majority of the constituency STILL believe it's (the recall) about sex?
Is ranting in the Portland blogosphere adequate compensation for misappropriated tax funds?

This is outright pandering to the bike mafia crowd. Sort of like the time el creepo wanted to spend $5 mil on a super fancy bike/ped bridge over 405 that was already planned out as a perfectly good 1.5 mil bridge. The bike people should know better. We already have bike paths...they're called streets. People who seek power just to have it don't add up to much in my book.

Somewhere along the line it becomes more about trying to create one's own legacy, rather than focusing on real issues for the community.

Also they get buried in the minutiae of rules and bureaucracy and moving numbers around on spreadsheets and requests from their staff and lose sight of the bigger picture: that "revenues" for a city are real dollars taken out of the paychecks of real people paying their property taxes and water bills.

You get what you pay for, and I don't mind paying taxes if in return we get good schools, well-maintained parks, and roads in good repair. But we are not getting those high-quality services, in part because the funds that would pay for them are getting siphoned off to pet projects and administration (in the case of PPS) and debt service for failed real estate ventures.

With the exceptions of Dan and his family wealth and Amanda and her doc husband, as far as I know the remaining Council members are not especially well off. They have to feel the bite of these rising costs in their household income (especially Sam, who got behind on his mortgage payments recently). But maybe once you get on the Council and imbibe an extra-large helping of the Kool-Aid you get numb to the rising costs you are helping create . . .

The lines have been progressively blurring for years . . . developers trade FAR to get height where it's not allowed . . . buying and selling energy credits that were not fairly earned or deserved by an abuser . . . when Congress molds a health care bill, suddenly it has more unrelated attachments and riders than there are fleas on a mongrel dog . . . areas declared "blighted" that are far from that designation in order to slide pet projects through as "urban renewal" in a economic downturn where the use of public funds could not otherwise be justified.

Just because legislators can get around the intent of the law doesn't mean it's right - and it's not. If the house is burning, don't redecorate, put the fire out.

If you don't like him, why did you vote for him?

If you did not vote for him, why don't you sign the recall petition?

I think you all secretly like him and his spendthrift ways.

And Randy too.

There is still more than 40 days left for you to download or get a petition mailed to you.

They also have an online donation form.

I am still trying to figure out the Portland electorate. I've heard about 15 to 20% of Portland employment is by government of one form or another. That doesn't seem high enough to explain why Portlanders elect more government spending on special interests and questionable government ventures like the one above. Maybe it might be a combination of government employees and new immigrants from places like California where there is even more government morass. After working in Salem for the past two years, Portlanders generally seem to have more wealth than other more conservative parts of the state. More wealth maybe increases demand for additional government services.

All said, it's still a bit of a mystery to me why Portlanders elect the likes of fiscally imprudent Sam Adams, Dan Saltzman, and Randy Leonard.

I think I live in the wrong town, that being Portland.

How is it that the recall isn't overwhelmingly supported ? I just don't get it? Does the majority of the constituency STILL believe it's (the recall) about sex?

No, I think the majority either agree with how things are done here, or look the other way because of political ideology. Just look at the Blue Oregon site for an idea.

"All said, it's still a bit of a mystery to me why Portlanders elect the likes of fiscally imprudent Sam Adams, Dan Saltzman, and Randy Leonard."

Most Portlanders have no clue what City Hall is up to. They don't follow it. They also couldn't name more than one or two people on the Council.

Portland is clueless. Those who are engaged are likely to be nazis about some ridiculous "cause" like biking or planning, and they vote for these morons because they don't understand money any better than the politicians.

Portland is a fairly clueless town that is convinced that it's very smart. It's like a know-it-all college student.

You know where all this is headed right? Higher sewer fees to pay for this now unfunded maintenance work.

The * indicates an emergency ordinance, which takes effect immediately if passed. Non-emergency ordinances require two readings and a 30-day waiting period before taking effect. Resolutions, reports, etc., adopted by Council are effective after adjournment.

Why the emergency about the bike plan?

I guess the bike folks are more interested in their perks, and Adam's his career, careening around the corner as if there is no tomorrow.

So what if basements flood? So what if basics aren't taken care of? So what if Adams thinks it is OK to add toxic chemicals in our drinking water? So what if radon backs up into our homes if the reservoirs are covered? So what if businesses leave Portland? So what if there is no fiscal responsibility? So What? So What? The list is long!

After this action by Adams, perhaps people will begin to see his actions and impact on our finances and health of our community. After all, his agenda of lies and abuse falls into those arenas as well.

We have been so abused and defeated - on how many issues in our city? We lament there is nothing we can do. For those who have written off the recall as not viable, we need to reconsider.

I believe we need to turn our thinking around on this. Right now, in the next month, we could take action, show city hall that the citizens have had enough. Please get petitions and signatures. It would show city hall we can recall and recall and recall if we must to get a rational council. Let us not be afraid of who would be in their place. We can easily get signatures for Leonard too!
Five rational citizens doing the basics for the people will do.

I see this latest action by Adams as almost a dare to us. Like, he can do whatever, we the people are weak, he is covered, too bad, what are we going to do about it? Why else would he do this in the midst of a recall?

Citizens, the weather is nice now, let us take the challenge and show them what we can do. Look week after week the Council upsets us, we cannot take this for even another year.

Finally, why are the leaders in this city giving Adams and the rest a pass?

It is kind of ironic though, NE Portland is the bastion of progressive liberalism and most likely the majority of the folks that live there and are going to be effected by sewer flooding voted for Sam and the rest of the city council.

Why the "emergency clause"?

AIUI, an "emergency clause" effectively prevents a referral of the ordinance to the voters.

Another example of the wonderfully Stalinist governmental system in Portland.

Sign the recall petition. There are places where you can drop in to sign all over town. It shouldn't take more than 5 minutes. Gitt'er done.

Playing devils advocate here, but I think the money promised bike facilities is mostly going to build bioswales and water management features on roads designated bike blvds. Yes, part of the money will actually go towards bike stuff,but the majority of the money is for BES stuff. Kind of like putting in data cables while the street is torn up for sewers, that data cable project is mostly considered a sewer project.. so bike improvements are in name only.
Portland has been under the EPAs eagle eyes for a long time, with requirements to stop polluting the Willamette with runoff. These bioswales minimize the amount of rainwater needing to be treated, so in the long run,they will pay for themselves.
But I do have to agree with most posters, this is political pandering, and probably will backfire on the Council.
I would love to see them properly fund the Bike Master Plan, but above board without sneaky stuff.

NoPoJoe and Yeoh, some of this money is being diverted from similar things (i.e. diverting from a green street elsewhere, to do a green street on a bike boulevard.)

But $12.4 million is being diverted from general sewer and wastewater programs. Here is the list:


Part of the $12.4 million diverted:

Capital Project Expenditures to be Delayed -
Three year delay in funding for maintenance and reliability projects to increase system capacity in areas of NW NE, and SE Portland.
These projects would have reduced basement flooding and replaced aging sewer pipes prior to failure. . .

Research done.

Mayor Adams had no grasp of fiscal responsibility. He was raised on welfare in Linclon County, he went through the U of O at the same time I did on someone else's dime (while my parents and I footed the bill for my degree). He has made his living on the Portland City pay role for years but as recently as a year ago was so behind in his house payments that he was facing foreclosure. Is this the type of person we want spending our tax money? Can Portland afford almost three more years of this?

"It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power."

$12 million is nothing to sneeze at, but the Eastside big pipe alone was a $426 million project... I don't think the sewers have been underspent on. More people bike or walk to work than take Tri-met in Portland; happily the infrastructure for biking and walking is cheap. Can't we find something more serious to argue about?

"Infrastructure for biking and walking?" You are referring to sidewalks and streets, no? Last I checked, we already have those. Tell Sam he can continue to use the existing streets at no extra charge. No need to buy more just for bikes (or just for cars, for that matter). Can my sewer rates be lowered now?

"I don't think the sewers have been underspent on."

If they're leaking into people's basements, then they could use some more money.

"Can't we find something more serious to argue about?"

I would love to talk about something more serious than bikes and streetcars, but others in this city won't shut up about them.

No worry; if raw sewage backs up into your basement , you can bicycle down to the local New Seasons for a can of Drano.......

Mike (the other one) -

We actually don't have sidewalks and streets in huge swaths of Portland, deep in SW and in the outer east side. By PBOT count there are 50.6 MILES of ARTERIAL streets in SW w/o sidewalks. Repeat, that is ARTERIAL streets, not just little residential streets, neighborhood collectors and such.. ARTERIAL streets.

SW, outside the downtown core, has just a tad over 49% of the ARTERIALS in the city w/o sidewalks.

ARTERIALS are things like Burnside, 39th, Sandy, 82nd.

If I had a basement flooding problem, and knew that Adams was taking funding from going towards the problem instead for bike perks, I would be out every spare hour I had getting signatures for the recall, and getting my neighbors with the problem to do so also.

Wouldn't it be easier to get signatures to clean up city hall than to clean a "stinky" basement. Isn't there an expression that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?

Hey Nonny ... show me where that $20 million is being spent. I am guessing it isn't SW Portland in those neighborhoods you complain about. I wouldn't have any problem improving the roads, sidewalks, and access to bring all areas of the city up to the same level. Methinks this isn't what Samadumbs and his idiot cronies are up to.

Adams says city has plenty of sewer money for bikes.

Council set to vote on $20 million kick start a plan Wednesday.

What next?
What will they do in the morning? Who can be going down there every week to testify on behalf of the public's interest?
They don't listen anyway.
I imagine the BTA bike alliance will be there.

Again, this is during the recall. I haven't figured out whether Adams thinks he has it made, no recall will happen and he can do whatever -
or is Adams being pressured to give out the perks so that he can stay in office? Either way, it is not good for those of us who care about our city and the direction under this Mayor and the Council I may add as they don't seem to be much help.

Some accuse the left for this mess, there are plenty of those on the left who are livid about this state of affairs in our city.

There is something else going on and it isn't just a liberal or left or right matter. It may just be what has been mentioned before on this blog, the "insiders" who control the city, the press and who determines who gets in, and who will continue playing the agenda for them.

I think folks are getting riled up without knowing all the facts and the context.

This is a sincere and prudent effort by Mayor Adams to achieve multiple public policy goals- improved water quality and expanded bike and pedestrian facilities- with a single public investment. By linking investments in this way, Adams is giving Portlanders more for their money and IMPLEMENTING both the Bike Master Plan and Portland Watershed Plan (both adopted by the City Council) in a cost-effective manner.

The effort is entirely consistent with the commitment and past efforts of both the City and many grassroots efforts to control stormwater run-off more cost-effectively by treating it closer the source, rather than putting all its money into costlier pipes and grey infrastructure.

Expanding the number of people who bike and walk also improves water quality because most urban stormwater and most of the pollutant loads it carries originate from roads and parking lots and ultimately from the hydrocarbons and heavy metals that come from cars and trucks.

In a City that plans more than it implements, I believe we need to support leadership that finds creative ways to move things forward especially at a time when resources are scarce.

Jim Labbe

Thanks for the "bike tango" perspective.

But from now on, if you want to comment here, you have to come up with something original.

I know you're busy. Thanks.

"Portland’s international reputation for bicycling is no news. Bikes, like beer, volunteerism, and strip-clubs, are part of the local culture."
-Jim Labbe

Maybe we start funding strip clubs!

You don't have to live here, you know. You can always move to California where this attitude flies.

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