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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 5, 2010 9:51 AM. The previous post in this blog was Tualatin cans "urban renewal" -- report. The next post in this blog is Leave it to the developer weasels. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Monday, April 5, 2010

City of Portland -- Our McMansion

Several readers have sent me a link to this cautionary tale -- huge sewer project, big rate increases, huge city debt, constant funneling of profits to Goldman Sachs and the like on Wall Street -- and bingo! Next thing you know, a whole county's future is destroyed. "Sound like Portland?" one reader asks. Maybe not in every detail, but in broad outline, well...

As one county commissioner put it, "We're like a guy making $50,000 a year with a million-dollar mortgage."
Absolutely yes. That sounds exactly like Portland.

Comments (22)

Matt is one of THE best writers out there.
Unfortunately I do not think anyone at city hall can comprehend words, and we know they do not understand any financial document.

And...the Jefferson county residents have only $4,800 per person, not the $9,900 we have in Portland.
I would suggest that all of us Bojack readers send the Matt Taibbi article to SamRan, but they can't, or don't read so there doesn't seem to be much point in doing that.

Leonard's visit to New York+Paulson+PWB Shaff's/engineer buddy lining pockets+PWB 40%debt service+February Bonds issued = Corporate takeover of Bull Run water system assests by default/bankruptcy? Wake up Portland!!!!

Matt Taibbi likes calling these firms "vampire squid" but this article describes a constrictor snake. Once it gets wrapped around you, it waits 'til you exhale and with every breath it tightens its grip.
The key question is whether any of our financial deals have these synthetic rate swaps.
I'm sure someone in the city government will step forward to tell us.
This is why some of us were so concerned watching Sam and Randy bragging about what tough negotiators they were with the Paulsons. It sounded so foolish to think these guys could get in a shark tank with Goldman Sachs-types, and get something good for Portland.
Meanwhile we get nasty sounding terms like "zero coupon bonds."
I sense problems, folks. And at the top of the list is that the financial gangsters running America, rarely face criminal prosecution.
Martha Stewart paid more than most of these financial snakes combined.

The devil is in the details. But yeah, articles like this make me very nervous.

Broken Record Parrot speaks yet again:

Think of local government, and the taxpayers attached thereto, as you would a foreign country in relation to the masters of Big Finance such as Goldman Sachs.

The likes of Goldman Sachs don't even need to use the club of gunboat diplomacy to get their way. All they need are a few strategic assets -- local corrupticrats -- to sway the public decision-making apparatus.

Stroke the local pols with platitudes about how smart they are compared to the general population, in the face of complete nonsense, and they are naturally inclined to agree. We are all malleable idiots, believing only what we want to hear. We might as well believe that a distant Manatee is really a beautiful female (or male I guess in some cases) Mermaid, because to learn the truth would be too upsetting.

We await the next tall tale with rapt attention.

Thanks Bill.
Seeing Leonard in the shark tank doing his impression of Chicago's Richard J. Daley is amusing. Getting schmused by the Paulsons and their posse in NY knowing Leonard is really Jerry Lewis as the "Patsy" is even better. Until we realize it is all with other people's money and the unknown collateral negative impacts therein. It's not so funny anymore.

Randy and Sam were probably suckered by the thrill of doing business with some big-time, East Coast, Wall Street types like the Paulsons. For a second, they were with the rich folks inside the club. Meanwhile they should have seen themselves as well-paid bellhops, butlers, or chauffeurs - servants working feverishly to get the Paulsons more wealth. Randy and Sam were welcomed as guests of the club while the deal was struck, then shown back out the servants entrance when the deal was done.

"The key question is whether any of our financial deals have these synthetic rate swaps."

Yes, can someone answer this? Can questions like these be asked by citizens during City Council meetings if they sign up?

I would love to see that crew jacked up against the wall, forced to reveal the facts before it's too late for the rest of us.

About 6 or so paragraphs from the bottom of the article Taibi lists a bunch of other governmental entities which were similarly sheared like sheep.

One is the Pennsylvania state school system -- the one Miss Vickie bailed out of to be PDX Superintendent just before the Pennsylvania house of cards collapsed. Remember after Ms. Vickie got here her "It didn't blow up while I was there lines"h?

It so comforting that she is now Bill and Melinda Gates' problem.

A lot of this seems to come down to the fact that Americans just put too much trust in the financial system.

If the Wall Street debacle has taught me anything, it's that Wall Street can't be trusted. They aren't that smart. They aren't that ethical. And they put short term profits ahead of long term stability.

It's kind of like the Enron test. If something doesn't make sense, it's not that you're too dumb to understand. It's that someone is trying to scam you.

Did Wall Street put us in this position and sign for the City of Portland? No it was Leonard trying to be a big shot thinking he was smarter than everyone else. Take a lesson from Tualitan and listen to the constituants for a change.

A lot of this seems to come down to the fact that Americans just put too much trust in the financial system....If the Wall Street debacle has taught me anything, it's that Wall Street can't be trusted.

Fair enough, but if Jack's numbers off to the left have taught me anything, it's that Americans have put too much trust in their elected officials. Seriously, these guys are allowed to recklessly borrow billions with no personal recourse, create and generously pad their own retirement plans, and when they leave office they eat from the public trough for the rest of their lives...even if they performed poorly. The problem is, time and time again, we elect very poor leaders like Adams who has a mediocre education (at best), has never worked in the private sector, and can't even pay his own mortgage...then we expect that same politician to successfully run things? Seriously, do we really expect Adams to understand synthetic rate swaps and all of the fincial engineering (trickery) that Wall Street imposes?

Argue all you want, but I think these Wall Street guys are brilliant (not ethical mind you)...and its the elected official that we put in front of them that gets snookered every time.

I've been uncomfortable with all the Mc Mansions around Stafford road. They seem to pop up contrary to expectations of an Urban Growth Boundary.

"Unfortunately I do not think anyone at city hall can comprehend words"

To paraphrase City Hall: "This time it's different."

Sam doesn't have a clue - worse yet Randy does.

Argue all you want, but I think these Wall Street guys are brilliant (not ethical mind you)...and its the elected official that we put in front of them that gets snookered every time.

In the sense that Bernie Madoff is brilliant, then yeah, so is Wall Street.

But you're correct. Our politicians are being played for patsies.

This community has to stand up and say No to this EPA LT2 rule based on politics not on science. We must not lose our Bull Run Water System assets by default/bankruptcy. Over a billion dollars with debt for a public health problem that does not exist? Worse yet, health problems are likely with their plan - toxic chemicals, cancer causing and radon backed into homes, schools. How sane is this?

Our community should say No to plans that benefit corporations and to plans that are detrimental to our community health.

Something is not adding up here. Leonard, PWB say we must comply or get fined,etc.
. . . “There is significant reluctance within the E.P.A. and Justice Department to bring actions against municipalities, because there’s a view that they are often cash-strapped, and fines would ultimately be paid by local taxpayers,” said David Uhlmann, who headed the environmental crimes division at the Justice Department until 2007. . .

Below are more links some may not have seen:
. . Update: You can see the report here. In response to the UCS survey, one scientist at an EPA regional office wrote: "Do not trust the Environmental Protection Agency to protect your environment.". .
. . . In the last five years alone, chemical factories, manufacturing plants and other workplaces have violated water pollution laws more than half a million times. The violations range from failing to report emissions to dumping toxins at concentrations regulators say might contribute to cancer, birth defects and other illnesses.
However, the vast majority of those polluters have escaped punishment. State officials have repeatedly ignored obvious illegal dumping, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which can prosecute polluters when states fail to act, has often declined to intervene. . .

My question and we should all be asking:
What is the story here? EPA declines to
intervene in violations of polluted water,
why is our clean Bull Run water being targeted?
Political interference with EPA scientists?

An interesting read:

"Our politicians are being played for patsies."

Happens when you get to spend OPM (Other People's Money) pretty much without control like most elected officials do.

I am not exonerating JPM and their ilk, but the politicians we have are helping the situation at all.

BoJack for Mayor {-:

Just wait and see what happens to water and sewer rates after every single water-consuming business folds their tent and leaves town. Your water bill is going to exceed your property tax bill.

I read this thru and I have to give Mr Tabibi credit, he has the thing nailed. The scary thing is that this is CoP to a T (maybe without the fixers or at least not obvious fixers.)

You can see it coming with no other profit center besides PWB and the EPA mandate being the driving foce to leverage every bit of income stream to finance stuff like bike paths and green houses.

The simps like the city council will go along with these wolves.

This is why I want Metsger for State Treasurer over Wheeler. Wheeler is great, but Metsger has been a credit union executive. None of this BS will get past him, and he will know how to disinfect any puss pockets of this stuff he finds in on the State's books.


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In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
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Dunham, Trautina 2012
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Del Ri, Claret 2012
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Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
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Conundrum, White 2013
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The Occasional Book

Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
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James Joyce - Dubliners
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Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
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Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
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Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
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Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
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Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
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Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
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Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
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J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
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Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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