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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 7, 2010 7:48 AM. The previous post in this blog was Have a great weekend. The next post in this blog is Boondoggles dying on the vine. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

How many inmates will SoWhat immigration jail hold?

Funny thing -- nobody wants to say.

Comments (23)

From the article:

"This is not a welcome addition to one of Portland's premier neighborhoods," said Jim Davis, land-use chairman for the South Portland Neighborhood Association. "It doesn't fit the zoning. That's just outrageous. If I lived in the Pearl, I wouldn't expect a jail to be opened next to me."

Fortunately, Jack, several of your comments on this came from a man named John Benton who seemed to know a lot about it. After giving us valuable information and some conjecture, he wrote, "I don’t really see what the big deal is."

John, since the media is having trouble getting the facts, could you find out? How many "guests" would it take coming and going everyday in South Waterfront to make this a big deal?

And if it's no big deal, why won't they say?

One other thing, if it's not a jail or a detention facility, will there be a concierge?

The federal government's landlord has signed a lease to consolidate two Portland immigration offices into a renovated building at the southern tip of South Waterfront.

To make room, the building at 4310 S.W. Macadam Ave. would be expanded to include a three-story addition, according to plans filed with the city of Portland. The building sits at the southern gateway into the South Waterfront District, where drivers on Macadam Avenue enter the neighborhood.

Although nothing is said about now much the feds (er, *we*) are paying to locate in trendy SoWhat, it is telling that no private businesses had yet made the plunge.

At first I was relieved to read that they'd be moving into a "renovated building", then realized that the expansion and remodeling costs would probably be greater than moving into am empty first floor condo space.

Seriously, isn't there either land or building space available in North or Northeast Portland?

Garage Wine had it right. They're counting the inmate searches as bio-tech jobs. Did I say "inmate"? I'm sorry, I meant "guest."
You know, I had long years of experience with guests in the hotel business so maybe I can help out here.
What we have to remember is that it's the amenities that often make or break a place. May I suggest a gift shop?

Ah..amenities...the Four Seasons offers "sack lunches" with a bagel, milk, an apple, and a cookie to some departing guests. The Fairmont, offers doggie goodie bags, as do the Coast Hotels in Canada. Pens, stationary, post cards, and WiFi are also common place now along with the toiletry kits, mending kits and the those cute little bottles of shampoo and conditioner, hand lotion and mouth wash.
Will the leg irons and hand cuffs come with fake (of course) fur or felt liners? Will there be bell hops for the luggage, err... plastic bags?
"Guests" Indeed!!! What a load! I soulda worn my hip boots!
Signed the lease already, eh? That says it all, folks!

I'd also get ready for our city council to play this like they were sticking it to the rich. My guess is they'll use this as cover to distance themselves from a billion dollar turkey. What they're really doing is wiping South Waterfront off their shoes.

Can't you just hear Sam now? "We must all shoulder the burdens of society equally - even the wealthiest among us."
Then one of the other team - maybe Randy - will chime in, "Look, we're not here to cater to the wealthy. It's about all Portland citizens. Excuse me, Merritt's on the phone."

Sure, they're sticking up for the rest of us. Got it. Meanwhile they'd do anything at this point to keep South Waterfront from looking - as one great comment put it - like the set of "I Am Legend." And if they can get some distance doing it, great. They may have a shiny new Wellness Center but their big South Waterfront plan is a little under the weather right now.

Sooner or later Portland will get it: This is the washing machine cycle of Portland projects: Soak us and give to the rich, add enough detergent and colorful brighteners to kill the smell, then drain the whole thing down a bioswale.
Add the next project and repeat.

Hello City:

Sam Adams here. You may remember from Belgium Bath Houses III or Taipei Trysts. When I'm not Tweeting my taste in oysters, I'm working hard to bring jobs--good jobs--to this city.

Bill's right about these jobs. These will be family wage jobs involving both "bio" and "tech." You won't believe how many fluids these illegals have. And the technology they use to track them ... it's better than a Pentium!

This place will be a real multi-modal Mecca. We bring 'em in by police car and ship 'em out by streetcar.

There are some down sides, though. Randy really wants to make Portland a sanctuary city. He read about it a book somewhere. I said, "No way with this kind of money coming in!" Take that, Tom Potter with your not-helping-the-Feds attitude.

My staffers say that in about one year we'll have enough people hanging out in ICE that we can start our own minor league baseball team. Can you say "SoWhat Stadium." It'll be a baseball version of the Longest Yard.

Just wait 'till we host First Thursday down there. That's where you can meet all the inmates I've been mentoring ...

Dear Sam Adams: Your blatant use of Sam Adams (as your own name in this blog) to gaybash an upstanding public official will now require you to resign before Glenn Beck makes mention.

The SoWhat Jail is certainly not an example of Council and PDC's Transparency.One would think that the South Waterfront Urban Renewal Advisory Committee would be informed and have the opportunity to comment on this issue. It wasn't, it didn't. Why do we have URAC's? For show of public participation?

Another issue. The Jail's location is at the to-be-built South Portal at SW Bancroft/Macadam and the street to it's south. It is now pegged to cost over $45 Million. It is to be the premier entrance to South Waterfront. What better than to have a Jail at this Gateway!

And isn't it odd that this Portal and the Central and North Portal are not even built or even completely planned? The three major transportation entries to South Waterfront, which comprises over 93% of the vehicle trips into the District, are being left to be the last public improvements of South Waterfront. But the Tram, the LightRail, the Light Rail Bridge, the Trolley, the Park, the Greenway are moved to the head of the line.

The State and City Planning Policies require transportation infrastructure to proceed development. Where's the Planning? Where's the Bureaucrats? Where's the Politicians?

Maybe they are all on ICE, Lee.

In the interest of protecting our federal investment...why doesn't ICE just build a new facility at the current location...or...build a facility at the Main Post Office location (since the Postal Service apparently wants to move to the airport after all)...or...find a way to use the nearly vacant Gus Solomon Courthouse...or...the 511 Broadway building which is also vacant...or...the USPS owned structure at N.W. 4th and Hoyt...

It seems there's a lot of property already owned by the Federal Government that can be re-used, instead of giving that property away to a non-profit (read: not property tax generating), and then taking up prime real estate for really no good reason at all.

There's also the unneeded Jerome Sears Army Reserve facility on Multnomah Boulevard and the Portland ANG Base that is also federally owned property.

If the feds insist on a new site...why not next to the Federal Building in the Lloyd District - certainly Metro would appreciate having another government building up there with direct Streetcar access (since no business seems to have any desire to locate in the Convention Center area); or in one of the many undeveloped lots in the Pearl District next to the railroad tracks (i.e. north of the Broadway Bridge, north of Quimby) or the Oregonian property at Yeon and Nicolai, or the Con-Way property...

Yes, the Con-Way site -- Portland's Venice!

A great boon to our motion picture industry would be having so many bre-built sets and location: the reed soaked canals where the escaped immigrants can try to hide from Tommy Lee Jones. Or perhaps the honest cop in the chase scene with Orson Welles. If we are selling everything, let's sell the squeal (and the sizzle) as well and let the urban renewal farce makes us a back lot.

Bill McDonald, I had a business relationship with ICE and some knowledge of what was going on. That relationship ended a little more than a year ago. I don’t know how many people they are going to process through the new facility daily. As about me saying it is no big deal, I stand by that. The people that are going to be processed in that holding facility are the same folks that mow your lawns, do house keeping, pick fruit and hang out at the day labor center. The only difference is they are the unlucky ones that got caught.

I personally think this is funny. The residence of North and Northeast Portland have had things like this shoved down our throats for years in the name of "we know whats good for you" by the local Government. Now someone must have read the Bill of Rights, and realized "hey we can screw the rich too." So sit back and watch the fun.

Just a followup thought, isn't the old ICE building adjacent to the main post office? Can anyone say "Batter up"

Don't forget...They can also 'sell' it as 'low-income housing'.

John,
You say this facility is no big deal...well, we'll see. There has to be some reason why it hasn't gotten much attention. Could it be that your old contacts in the ICE and our city council know exactly how poorly received this will be, and they'd rather not talk about it 'til it's a done deal?

Look, John, I'm sorry if I ticked you off but I still wish you'd call your old contacts and find out the numbers. It would be interesting.

I also admit to not knowing much about the people involved here. The original post was based on an email that said, "convicted criminals from the state system (felons like drug traffickers, rapists, and other violent crimes) along with the unlucky individuals who get picked up in immigration sweeps." Of course, that referred to a detention center, and we've since learned this is "in no way" a detention center.

You go on to suggest these are ordinary people just trying to make a living, and I'm being an insensitive jerk for acting like they did anything really wrong. In the Iranian waiter's case, I know he was arrested for selling pot while being filmed by a news crew in Washington Park. It was a pretty hopeless case, but I still felt compelled to help since his life could be in danger if he returned to Iran with that kind of conviction. Incidentally, we never have heard from him again. (That was the part where I have to reestablish my sensitive credentials to counter your portrayal of me. It's everyday tedious PC stuff.) But let's get back to what this is about:

I think you're missing the overall context. This story is mainly about local government and what happens when reality gets distorted through city-private partnerships. The crux of what is wrong with a disaster like South Waterfront is that it was the vision of a bunch of politicians, and they eventually move on to the next one,
leaving giant piles of financial debris in their wake. Eventually they kiss off a project because they aren't really invested in it - they're just playing visionary.

This sort of government behavior has been an ongoing theme of this blog since I first started reading it back in the tram decision days.

That's what the facility is about. As I said in previous comments, I think they're kissing off South Waterfront with this, because they know the project is a boondoggle. Then again, who knows? Maybe you think this will help sell condos in the area.

But if you're trying to make it about immigration and how insensitive I'm being, I think you're missing the point. There was a time when I'd be upset about being falsely portrayed like that, but those days are over. I figure if you're down to playing that card, it shows more about your hand than mine.

By the way, it's easy to play that card, John. Let me show you:
Your last sentence is, "The only difference is they are the unlucky ones that got caught."
"That got caught"? That should be "who got caught." These are not animals, John. These are human beings.

Bill, I am not ticked at you, nor do I believe you are insensitive toward illegal aliens. I too believe that So Wa is a big boondoggle. I know that ICE was talking about that location at least five years ago. It really is not ICE that makes to decision of where to locate, it is the GSA. As I said earlier the feds have security standards for their facilities and locating the real estate that will facilitate their requirements. This makes it difficult locate just anywhere. I see this situation not as a conspiracy between the City of Portland and the feds to sneak this facility there. I believe it more like the COP was asleep at the switch and not paying attention to what was happening. Secondly perhaps the Feds can do what they want, where they want regardless of what the city wants considering all the federal money going for the toys the city wants.

In any case the whole immigration system is a joke. Immigration laws are not being enforced equally or diligently. It seems that enforcement is based on haphazard directives that come via politically motivated leadership and administered by a gang that can’t shoot straight.

I'll ask again...What's wrong with the unused Wapato jail?
Other than it doesn't use up enough money, of course.

. .I see this situation not as a conspiracy between the City of Portland and the feds to sneak this facility there. I believe it more like the COP was asleep at the switch and not paying attention to what was happening. . .

It sure does seem sneaky if the location was on the table five years ago and we are just finding out about it now.

I do not think COP is ever asleep at the switch when it involves more contracts for insiders.

They are however asleep at the switch when it involves standing up for the public interest.

Who owns that property?
Perhaps a park by the river would be a better use, no more buildings needed there as how many are vacant now? Enough already, the whole SoWhat could have been a park instead of the mess the city has gotten us into. What happened to Transportation Plans? The established neighborhoods that did not want this have to look at it instead of the wonderful views they used to have.

What makes this location better on security?

I believe the property is owned by the Lindquist Development folks.

Portland Native, this facility is basically an administrative business office. Several ICE departments will be there, perhaps even a courtroom for immigration hearings. The holding cells are just a small portion of the building. Wapato is a jail, not an office building and therefore not suitable for the needs of this facility. ICE doesn’t need the amount of bed space that is available at Wapato, no even close. The new strategy with ICE is to use alternatives to detention anyway. A night in a jail – county, state, federal or what ever runs from $65 to $175. Alternatives to detention which usually involves some type of electronic monitoring via ankle bracelet is a lot cheaper and comes in under $10 per day. You see what is happening now and what is going to happen with the new facility is the felons go to Tacoma, the easily deportable get deported and the rest get released via bail, recognizance or on electronic monitoring all in the same day. The ones released go right back into the community and theoretically could be doing housekeeping tasks back at So Wa the next day if they happened to work there to begin with. I still can’t see what all the excitement is about. It isn’t a meth clinic. The people will go to that facility for various reasons and not just there to be incarcerated. They are a cross section of the immigrant population and no different really from the general population.

Wonderful, now somebody please answer the question: How many?

Data from traffic impact study/report would reveal projected inmate population.


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