The chefs at Cafe Creepy
Sam Adams is at it again -- telling a totally preposterous story, hoping no one will notice how patently absurd it is. Today he's babbling that although he wants $20 million immediately diverted from the sewer bureau (a.k.a. Bureau of Environmental Services) budget to build portions of the city's quixotic bicycle plan, somehow the commandeering of that money isn't going to affect the sewer system at all. It's classic Adams -- his spiel is so ridiculous that there's no way to even paraphrase it without one's head exploding, although Jim Redden at the Trib gives it his best shot:
According to Adams, the city finance office has identified $15.4 million in recession-generated cost and contingency savings on existing project that can be redirected to bicycle-related street projects. Those savings, combined with other transfers, can pay for the $20 million Adams promised to find for the bicycle plan without postponing sewer projects previously authorized by the City Council....Even if these assertions are true -- and considering the source, that's doubtful -- the pretzel logic is amazing. They have suddenly found $20 million sloshing around, and so they can spend it on whatever they want, and it doesn't cost anybody anything.
On Tuesday Adams responded by releasing a matrix that he says shows BES has enough money to kick start the plan without delaying other projects. He says the bureau has saved millions of dollars in recent years because contractors are bidding lower than expected on projects, primary because the recession has increased competition for jobs.
How about using the found money to cut city residents' outrageous sewer bills? Doesn't this new discovery mean that ratepayers have been overcharged $20 million for the projects currently in the bureau budget?
"Adams responded by releasing a matrix." We really are crossing over into science fiction, Portland.
But beyond casting a harsh light on the mayor's deep-seated character flaws, today's story raises an even more alarming issue. Why aren't the folks who are running the sewer bureau giving us these new facts and figures? Indeed, last week the sewer folks told us the truth -- that other projects wouldn't be funded if the bike toys are. Why is today's magic "matrix," laying out the miraculous sewer savings, coming from the city's management and finance office, rather than the people who actually oversee the city's sewer projects?
The answer's pretty obvious. The sewer folks don't answer directly to the mayor, but the finance people do. And so the finance people are doing as they're told, and telling the mayor what he wants to hear. I know which group I believe.
In a city that's approaching $6 billion of long-term debt, seeing the finance people cooking up "matrix" documents to help the mayor make bogus political points raises all sorts of red flags. What other numbers are they massaging to obfsucate the obvious truth? I fear we'll find out in bankruptcy court.