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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 28, 2010 6:44 AM. The previous post in this blog was It's a miracle!. The next post in this blog is Brrrrrrrrrrr!. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We are not alone

This blog's deep concern about the irresponsible borrowing being done by the City of Portland and other state and local governmental units finds strong echoes in this article.

Comments (18)

The thing that is so disappointing about this is that most of these taxpaid handouts are to guys (like Paulson) who own some sports enterprise and could afford to do their own stuff.

We can always find money for crap like this or streetcars, but funny how Sam's trips to beg Earl never get more money for schools or sewer systems.

Supposedly muni bonds are supposed to be the big short for the finance types this year. I think the only way places like Portland are going to be saved (unless we boot people like Samdy and get some draconian type) are thru Fed handouts.

Get ready for $1000/month water bills and $100K for a bldg permit - Because they can.

Sorry for rambling, but this whole p!ssing away money and screwing our kids future makes me incoherent.

While debating with my egghead buddy, we revisited Oregon's Measure 5, circa 1990. 'Member that guy?

Yeah, the State's property tax has been capped for 20 years now, at 1.5%. Voter initiative to repeal Measure 5, and then a restructure of the property tax tables, ought to do just nicely.

Having 'remembered' that Measure, and knowing that education accounts for 43% of annual spending out of the general fund, I can sure see why the proponents were mad. I also understand this to have been a reaction to the urban growth boundary, and it's instant effect on property taxes. In fact, I remember voting for that guy. We were assured the urban growth boundary would be accompanied by measures to prevent exactly what happened. One year a person owed a couple of grand in property taxes, the next year, they owed ten, twelve, thousand. Plus, the urban growth boundary has been instrumental in sky-rocketing assessments.

Anyway. Developers just leap-frogged the boundary, so the boundary is fairly impotent now. Time to put school funding back into the hands of parents, and raise property taxes back up to where they should be.

This City doesn't have a revenue problem. It has a Californian problem.

I think I found the money quote:

“There’s a huge consensus among economists that there is no economic development benefit to these stadiums,” notes economist J. C. Bradbury.

You don't say...

The article states, "Seven years ago, officials there [Oregon] began to push for a change in the state’s constitution to let its pension funds issue bonds, saying that it would save millions of dollars." These officials aren't identified, just as the officials who ordered the deliberate low-balling of BETC costs were never identified.

I propose a new state motto: "Oregon. Where no one is held accountable."

Vance ...please keep voting for every property tax increase our fiscally irresponsible public representaives put forth. I will be the one cancelling your vote. Irresponsible public servant spending and borrowing. Remember that as we continue our path to Detroit west, and bankruptcy.

Vance, are you nuts? Apparently you are not a home owner. Without prop 5 the average property tax on a home in Portland would be $10K instead of $3K.

I'm up for naming names. Some of the officials are identified in the 2003 Voter's Pamphlet:
They include State Treasurer Randall Edwards, state representatives Lane Shetterly and Joanne Verger, and state senator Roger Beyer.
The legislative sponsors were representatives Shetterly, Westlund, Avakian, Backlund, Barker, Barnhart, Butler, Hass, Hopson, Hunt, Nelson, Patridge, Williams, and Wirth, and senators Burdick, Clarno, Courtney, Deckert, Metsger, Ringo, B. Starr, and Walker.


Thanks for keeping us informed. Sadly, like most fiscal conservatives, I moved out of town rather than risk paying the unfunded liabilities of Portland's recklessness. Go by Bioswale!

"the State's property tax has been capped for 20 years now, at 1.5%."

I think you mean a 3% increase annually independent of any other items like bonds that are voted on.

"raise property taxes back up to where they should be."

You must be nuts. State revenue has increased every year since Measure 5 (using all funds):
2009-11 $53,760,031,018 11.987%
2007-09 $48,005,409,654 11.071%
2005-07 $43,220,555,200 11.557%
2003-05 $38,743,009,114 9.108%
2001-03 $35,508,990,712 16.567%
1999-01 $30,462,319,439 11.548%
1997-99 $27,308,692,023 17.615%
1995-97 $23,218,655,377 15.850%
1993-95 $20,042,060,862 12.175%
1991-93 $17,866,757,268 17.738%
1989-91 $15,174,994,031 20.724%

Besides, it doesn't matter how much we spend. Ted gave education a 20% bump in 2007 and then 9 months later told us it all went for benefits.

I'd say divert the several hundred million annual for streetcars and MAX to PPS. You'd get a lot better returns.

Excellent article. Thank you for pointing it out. I've lived here too long and had no idea Portland wasn't really all that special in its headlong race off the cliff.

And as was pointed out above, unlike a CEO there's no way to hold local 'elected' officials resposible for any of it. No wonder they act like they raise their middle finger at the electorate once they're elected.

From the article:If that painful scenario emerges, it will be because we have too long ignored how politicians have become addicted to debt.

Because we have too long ignored is the problem. People may be thinking that in the end it will all work out. The prognosis doesn’t look good.

Some of the citizenry have been watchdogs and it has been onerous to watch our city fall into this trap and to do anything about it, however some still do try.
Thank you to all who have had the fortitude to deal with it.

From the link:
Thesaurus: onerous, adjective
Requiring great or extreme bodily, mental, or spiritual strength: arduous, backbreaking, burdensome, demanding, difficult, effortful, exacting, exigent, formidable, hard, heavy, laborious, oppressive, rigorous, rough, severe, taxing, tough, trying, weighty.

The confederacy of fools, in Portland, is the electorate, not the officials.

Great piece Jack.
Thank you.

Two provisions should be added to the state constitution:

No Public-private partnerships.
No Borrowing. Period. If the state cannot "save up" to fund a big project like a prudent individual that project shouldn't happen in the first place.

Sound draconian? How about a major economic depression as a result of these two abuses by government? Now that's draconian!

One of the many ways we got to this point was elected officials approving borrowing and then typically not being around to be held to account for failures and investment losses years later. They only look ahead to the next election cycle or a higher office, happily loading up the public credit card to buy votes from influential constituencies and kicking the can down the road to be dealt with by the poor schmuck(s) that come after.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires that senior officials of public companies now have individual responsibility for inaccurate or misleading statements in their financial reports. Perhaps the spirit of this should be incorporated into municipal finance regulations. That is, make elected and senior appointed government officials personally responsible for the success or failure of the borrowing they approve and the promises they make, even after they leave public office or change jobs.

It would have to be mostly symbolic - perhaps a modest fine that adjusts based upon an official's income or a small reduction in any public retirement funds the official receives - since a lot of public officials are not wealthy and many (we have to assume) were working in good faith with the best data available at the time when they made their borrowing decisions. But if a public official knew that he or she would be personally liable for borrowing that doesn't pay off as promised or jeopardizes a government entity's solvency, they would be much more careful about what they sign their names to.

Sadly, as long as mom & dad (Fed) keep bailing the kids out of trouble, things will probably stay the same.

Could this be related?

"The rest is from our sterling legislators, who want to get together and act important every year as opposed to every other year."

Kinda hard to be a sterling legislator if you don't spend lots of money for lots of good projects.

Its a hard rain that's gonna fall


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

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
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Locations, Spanish Red Wine
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Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
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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
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Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
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King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
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Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
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The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
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
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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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William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
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Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
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Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
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Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
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Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
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Keith Richards - Life
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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
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Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
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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: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
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
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In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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