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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Put 2 + 2 together? Not in the O.

One thing Portland's daily newspaper rarely does is connect the dots. Check out these two stories posted within three hours of each other:

The first is about the unmitigated financial disaster known as the South Waterfront (SoWhat) district along the river in southwest Portland. Even reporter Ryan Frank, who seems never to think critically about a fish story told to him by a bureaucrat, can't bring himself to say anything positive. The fat cat developers lied through their teeth and basically stole millions from the public. And their henchmen at the Portland Development Commission -- all Goldschmidt lieutenants at the time, placed there by Neil's best puppets, Vera Katz and Sam Adams -- handed it over to the real estate sharpies, along with a nice "consulting" check for Neil.

In a real city, people would be in jail over stuff like that.

Meanwhile, out in surburbia, the guy who steered Portland into the SoWhat black hole as head of the PDC -- Don "The Don" Mazziotti -- is now doing the very same thing in his new job. As development poobah for the City of Beaverton, The Don wants authority to cut a no-bid deal with a lead contractor, and he's holding out a blank checkbook for the number and types of "urban renewal" malarkey projects that he and said contractor can come up with. Of course, he's also talking all his familiar, tough-guy-deal-man talk about "skin in the game," blah blah blah.

Are the two stories linked in any way by the newspaper? Of course not.

Some folks wonder why the voters in this area never learn. A big part of it is that the mainstream media here won't, or can't, teach.

Comments (24)

same old story
slightly new location
poor Beaverton
Soon that town will have no money for basic services.
Drink the Kool-aide and go by street car!

The line in that Beaverton story that killed me was this one from Mazzotti:

"For me, it's about a community that is really at the Rubicon," he said Wednesday. "Beaverton's not in a bad position. Beaverton's in a great position."

Welcome to the Rubicon, the 2010 version of the linchpin.

One more reason to end public-private partnerships that function solely to privatize profits and socialize risks.

Here in rural Oregon we're dealing with Electric Co-operatives that do basically the same thing. Electric Co-operatives are private, non-profit corporations supposedly "owned" by the ratepayers (stockholders) - those who buy their electric power.

Problem is that Co-operative stockholders do not have the rights of stockholders of conventional corporations. We do not have the right to get any financial information...Pay and benefits of the CEO, etc. We also do not have the right to fair and impartial board of directors elections so nobody gets on their board unless those who control the Co-operative want them there...No matter how many votes they get. That's how communist countries conduct their elections.

Yet these are private corporations who can contribute as much as they want to politicians' campaigns to maintain this extraordinary privilege. They're a private corporation when it's in their best interests and a government agency when it's in their best interests.

For more information check out

Your comments about the little o and Ryan frank are apt.

Its important, though, to keep in mind that despite the byline on top of each story, the editors at the o have far more to do with what actually gets printed, and what connections and conclusions see print, than any of the reporters.

IMHO, the o editorial crew are singularly un intelligent and amazingly cloistered in the office, and really have no clues, or interest in finding any clues, about realities in PDX or the metro area.

"The Rubicon": to pass the point of no return...
how true!

Nonny, the editors at the Zero are just nattering nabobs of boosterism.

Frm the oregonlive Beaverton story

richard2 June 10, 2010 at 8:04AM

Beaverton will never get their Urban Renewal scheme past the voters.
The scam is now too easily explained to taxpayers and voters.
The Urban Renewal ponzi scheme "Tax Increment Financing" long ago became a dishonest tool for unethical city officials to play developer and risk millions in tax revenue meant for basic services. The inexcusable, cold blooded diverting of school, police, fire, parks and library services funding without any regard for either those services or the public they serve has been repeated in many municipal plans which resulted in new/higher fees and taxes to replace what was misappropriated.
Not so funny is that Mazziotti is working for the city.
He was at the helm of the PDC when Portland planners put together the most ginned up misrepresentation of Urban Renewal ever seen in this state. His staff prepared low balled estimates of projects, inflated revenue projections, embellished artist's conceptual drawings, declared the plan feasible and recommended approval to PDC commissioners and city council.
But at it's core was the mirror image of the earlier Round model. The failed "mixed use", "TOD" (transit oriented development) concept that the transit itself was supposed to "spur" but did not.
Irresponsible planners and city officials have been following these false claims of transit spurring with millions in tax subsidies in attempts to spur the un-spurrable. Followed by millions more and heavily altered plans that barely resemble the intended vision. Time after time market rate housing is canceled and parking structures are built to accommodate the realities these planners and officials perpetually refuse to accept.
At the Round half and whole buildings have been canceled and adapted to provide routine office space and a 7 story parking garage. That's not for parking MAX cars, buses or bikes.
Portland's $200 million subsidized Cascade Station was intended to be a "ped/bike/transit mini-city" and prohibit any BIG BOX strip mall development. The only thing that worked out was the prohibition until years passed and the city grudgingly caved in favor of the very BIG BOX strip mall they wanted to avoid.
Has anyone faced any consequences for any of the failed plans and wasted millions anywhere? NO.

Beaverton officials are grossly out of touch in seeking to attempt yet more of the same. With all the same objectives, same people, same plans, same scams and same misappropriation of millions in property tax revenue meant for the government services taxpayers intended.
It is bizarre that the city would suggest taking $250 million, along with another $200 million in interest, away from these services to enable more of the kind of private development planners insist is preferable and worthy of subsidy.
These schemes are not even worthy of the millions spent planning them.
If city officials think they are so swell they should invest their own money and ask voters to tax themselves more to pay for them.
The laughter would be a clear answer.

I love it when idiots unknowingly unmask themselves for all to see. Roman generals -- essentially mercenary contractors, the Halliburtons of their day, were forbidden to cross the Rubicon with troops because doing so signified intent to use the troops against Rome. So, yes, I do think that Beaverton faces a Rubicon moment, when a mercenary official with a Roman name is about to declare war on the home city and sack its treasury.

The FAIL known as Beaverton in the Round should be a stark lesson to the city of Beaverton not to do stupid development projects. Even after the attempt to rejuvenate it, there is still empty space. And should one wish to eat at any of the restaurants in the complex, parking tends to be an issue.

Of course, Beaverton's earliest FAIL at planning is their street design which leads to massive grid lock during high activity drive times.

Meanwhile, it's clear why surrounding areas from Cedar Hills, to Nike, to Aloha, to West Slope have resisted and will continue to resist annexation attempts by Beaverton.

My SO brought me the paper with the SoWhat headline, and I just called him over to show him the insanity proposed in Beaverton under the master mind of SoWhat, he just grinned and said have you read Jack?

The other good article in Today's paper is the editorial by Dave Lister, on the migration of the creative class out of Portland, because you can't find a job that pays squat outside of the "government bubble".

If those weasels get their way in Beaverton, you can watch one more classy school and park system go down the tubes, and services for taxpayers be gutted to facilitate Urban Renewal ie Developor enrichment plan

Some folks wonder why the voters in this area never learn. A big part of it is that the mainstream media here won't, or can't, teach.

Possibly, but I wonder if it doesn't have more to do with high residency turnover and the steep influx rate of new people in the area. It takes living here more than a couple of years to see what's going on.

Like marks at a snake oil show, it's really kind of a perfect setup for a scam.

Speaking ofthe Rubicon:

"If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it."

- Julius Caesar

You're right. Once you've been here awhile, you start picking up the patterns.

I always enjoy the part where the city planners tear up and explain how it went wrong. Sure, the usual bunch still manages to fill their own pockets - that part of the plan always works. But, darn it, it just hurts so much when the politicians realize they have to scale back the benefits for poorer people! Especially when these were used to sell the thing to the public!

So we have to endure some anguished pronouncements about how disappointed they are. Oh, does it hurt! They barely have enough energy to move on! Gosh, are they bummed.

I always feel like writing them a card saying, "Don't feel so bad about misleading us. We never believed you from the beginning."

But they can't chance it. Without all the dramatic expressions of shock and sadness that the plan will only benefit the rich and powerful, some cynical citizen could get the impression that this was the real plan all along. And nothing could be farther from the truth. Hilarious.

Count on Jack to make the instant connection between these two articles. I was actually going to email it to him, but he doesn't need my help....

JC, I think you're exactly right re: new arrivals. Not only are they not up to speed on how these things work around here, but the planning boondoggles and "progressive government thinking" are often among the KEY ATTRACTORS for new arrivals. If they were indifferent, it might not take so long to wise up, but instead they have to go all the way from being active boosters to understanding that it's a scam.

One thing about the Ryan Frank article. He includes specific criticism about money for affordable housing being diverted to the tram and streetcar. But then a few paragraphs later, he lets pass without mention the PDC's statement about "but the MAX is coming, so that will be really great." Frank needs to look into how much SoWa Urban Renewal money is being diverted to that new MAX line (i.e. a buttload), just as it was diverted to the tram and streetcar.

The total public investment in this area to produce one of the most expensive and exclusives enclaves in town, is completely inexcusable.

You have no idea how right you are on this. Don fancies himself a shrewd dealmaker, but he is a developer favorite because of his ignorance. Everyone prefers an idiot, preferably with a large ego, across the negotiating table. The City has issued probably $1million in consulting contracts in the last few months.

If people want to do something there is nothing more egregious than the Milaukie Light rail project.

The State, Counties, Cities, Metro and TriMet cannot afford to pay the $1.4 BILLION, plus a billion in interest, to extend MAX to Milwaukie.
The combined State and local shares will exceed $1 Billion plus 100s of millions in interest.
All of which will be taken from tax money already flowing to basic services including education and public saftey.
The public never voted to approve, allow or pay for this. Let alone with money already going to every other higher priority.

The crime problem is just one of many other detriments the TriMet board is neglecting to consider as they fail to perform the due diligence they are charged with providing.
The Milwaukiie Light Rail project must be suspended now.

You must join me at the TriMet board meeting in two weeks. Wednesday June 23rd at the Portland Building room C. 8:00 AM for the budget meeeting and 9:00 AM for the board meeting.

Well, in reading the article and having some knowledge of what went down in 2006, I can tell you it wasn't Vera Katz who handed over the check to North Macadam Investors, it was Tom Potter.

Lots of PDCers knew the deal stank to the high heavens, but all the Mayor's office cared about was getting them out of their big tram mess (Sam's mess). So, those that blindly followed were never questioned. Those with too much at stake in making South Waterfront seem successful, never stepped back and assessed what they were doing. to hell with prudent real estate practices or fair competition.

The City's own finance office helped propogate this mess, too. When Sam wanted his transportation projects, the City finance office would give him the projections he needed to justify using urban renewal. Nothing but optimism. Conservative estimates be damned...get me a streetcar.

I find it shocking that this mess could be a surprise to anyone. It was pretty obvious a good 4-5 years ago, but nobody would open their eyes.

"I always feel like writing them a card saying, "Don't feel so bad about misleading us. We never believed you from the beginning."

I blame the Rubes.

They are the gullible Portland (redundant, I know) voters who did believe them from the beginning, but were 'shocked' to learn otherwise.

If it were as you say ('we never believed you from the beginning') then the vote would reflect that disbelief. But the Rubes keep voting them into the office again and again.

Ryan Frank isn't deliberately ignoring the Mazzioti-Beaverton connection. The truth is that Oregonian has abandoned its suburban coverage almost entirely. Ryan has no incentive to write about the suburban connection when all his editors care about is coverage of what is happening in the Portland city limits.

Good luck Ben.
I just hope you do not have a business or commercial property or some other entity that the city can use to get even with you when you publicly oppose the city's desires.
Beware of Randy's HIT squad, and increased fire inspections a la the Greek restaurant downtown.
Please be careful.

PDX Pessimist: North Macadam planning goes many years back from 2006.

Vera, and her Chief of Staff Sam, were deeply involved in the numerous committees that formulated the 8 Amendments. These constituted the various parts of the planning process that began essentially in 1989 and adopted in 1999. Now there are 9 Amendments. In all the Amendments there are numerous legalese explaining who scratches who's back or whatever. Homer Williams, Mark Edlen and OHSU are primary beneficiaries of several of these Agreements.

For example, Block 49, the hopefully first to be affordable housing, in the Agreements gave exclusive rights for Homer to sell his property at inflated price to the City and then be the exclusive developer and contractor to build the housing; while also getting air rights to build taller buildings (trade-able like carbon credits)because the housing (6 levels) will not max out it's height maximum of 250 ft. There are other benefits to Homer, and it's a long story, like all the tax subsidies. O's Frank may want to explore the three sales of this affordable housing property that each time benefited Homer.

SoWhat is now the biggest scandal in Portland, ever; money-wise and participants. It just needs to be investigated and reported.

SoWhat is now the biggest scandal in Portland, ever; money-wise and participants. It just needs to be investigated and reported.

And since the story does not put the powers that be in the city in a positive light, don't hold your breath waiting for it.

The biggest scandal, IMHO, is the lack of desire by the press to take on the local officials and call them out.

With the notable exception of our esteemed host, and maybe Nigel Jaquiss, the press has abdicated its role as watchdog.

It's really just sad.

Hold on! Stop the streetcar and let Lake Oswego's City Council on. They are about to approve a no bid contract with...drum roll please! Homer Williams and Dike Dame (Williams, Dame & White).
Read the last 3 pages of their agenda Exhibit G :

Obviously Portland doesn't have the corner on the questionable ethics market.
In today's economic environment why would anyone not have a public bid against non-profit developers? Is there anyone out there that gives a damn?

"Is there anyone out there that gives a damn?" For Lake Oswego? Not on my side of the River.


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