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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 12, 2010 7:43 AM. The previous post in this blog was Right around the corner, via the Big Apple. The next post in this blog is War over "urban renewal" is definitely on. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Needless toys bought -- time to raise taxes for basic services

Now that Tri-Met has blown every available dollar on streetcars and light rail, it suddenly needs you to increase your property taxes so that it can buy new buses. Apparently, someone just noticed that the old ones are falling apart.

It's hard to believe how stupid they think the voting public is. As long as they're talking about blowing a billion and change on a train to Milwaukie, and talking up a lunatic streetcar to Lake Oswego, the only sane way to vote is no, no, a thousand times no. A complete nonstarter.

Comments (43)

Wow someone woke up over there and took a look around. Let's contract the whole operation out to a private business as has been done in Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen and numerous other cities around the globe and let's open the market at the same time to allow for private vendors to enter and leave as needed. Just get rid of their damn monopoly.

Why don't they just fix or refurbish the buses? Surely that can't cost as much... and would set a good example.

OPAL member Jon Ostar who spoke at yesterday's TriMet board meeting hit a home run.


Jon Ostar:

"What we're doing – what you're doing, essentially, is requiring voters to pass bonds for absolutely essentially service, essential infrastructure, basic infrastructure. Things that we have payroll tax revenue to pay for. But instead, we're now using that payroll tax revenue to pay for non-essential service – light rail - and requiring voters to pass bond measures to pay for essential service. I think that we have it backwards."

Every voter should know this, vote no and demand a shake up at TriMet.

How much (accumulated $) is the local share of Portland's light rail/street car experiment?

Besides TriMet's Ostar's excellent analysis of what this bond measure really means, also put into the equation the recent bus purchases by TriMet. In 2009 40 new buses were purchased, then recently last month, $2 Million was given by the feds to purchase buses. Also, there's more federal transportation money coming to TriMet.


TriMet has over 660 buses and over 2/3rd are of the low-profile type. What is this shakedown about how we need low profile buses for the "woodstock generation"-we have them?

And by the way, the claim that these buses are approaching 20 years of age isn't correct. The bus age average is much less. I'm 12 years old but I'm "approaching 20 years" too.

Don't forget the annual operating subsidy for the streetcar. I'm sure the City of Portland subsidy runs more than $10 million total so far.

I agree 100% with Ben's comment.

Tri Mets scenario about needing these busses for the boomer generation is interesting if not so disingenuous. It will be interesting how this one goes. The young hipster bicycle crowd that keeps Sam Adams and company in power isn’t thinking about property taxes as they live on someone else’s couch. They probably resent the boomer generation and blame them for their underemployment. If they vote at all, it would most likely be no, as let them ride bikes. The boomer generation for whom this measure is targeted will mostly vote no. The Portland Progressives who vote for all taxes and government infrastructure projects will vote yes. East County will vote no. The final result will be 68% no and 32% yes. In spite of all of that, myself a boomer, knowing that Tri Met needs a real shake up and new leadership will most likely vote yes. My property taxes won’t go up as this measure extends a levy all ready in place which expires in 2012. I do ride the bus on occasion and see the need for new busses.

The cynicism -- or incompetence -- is breathtaking: look at all these cool toys we have! Oh, wait, oops! No money for essential service! Quick, hit up the voters for more cash!

Like Randy's fire bond levy, I'm voting no on this. Essential equipment required for delivering mission-critical services must be budgeted for out of core revenues. Portland Fire and Trimet can nurse their current fleets of fire trucks and buses along for another year or two. Or, cancel a URA and postpone the Milwaukie MAX and there will be plenty of money.

I couldn't agree more.

Every governmental organization--EVERY ONE--should (1) determine how much money they have to spend, without any assumed tax increases, (2) determine the priorities of their constituents, (3) fully fund the highest priorities first, and only fund priorities as long as there's money left to fund them. When the money has all been spoken for by the public's highest priorities, then the spending exercise is done. And in operating the organization, their job is to reduce the costs of operations (not assume that costs have to go up every year at a rate in excess of overall inflation), so that more public priorities can actually be funded.

Unfortunately, Tri-Met, the City of Portland and the state legislature have been doing this in a very different order. (1) Fund a wide variety of priorities that aren't at the top of the public's list, without consideration of the impact of each individual decision on the budget as a whole, (2) leave the public's highest priorities until the end of the process (buses in the case of Tri-Met; education in the case of the legislature; public safety in the case of City of Portland), (3) complain that there isn't enough money to adequately fund those priorities, and (4) demand higher taxes.

Regardless of your political views, I would think that you should support a more rational process for allocating scarce public resources. Then we can save the arguments for what the public's priorities should actually be, and what constitutes "adequately funded".

Everyone talks about how terrible and corrupt Tri Met is. In any case, voting no on this levy won’t shake up Tri Met, it won’t change their management and they will do what they want in the end anyway. It is too bad; perhaps a change at the head of this state’s government in November will facilitate some pressure on Tri Met.

A point of clarification to the post: When I say "increase your property taxes," I mean increase them above what will happen if the current Tri-Met property tax levy, which was supposed to be temporary, is allowed to expire on schedule.

I'm not sure the next time I will vote for a new bond or levy, but I'm beginning to suspect it will be a very long time.

I'm sick of the nickle and diming. Randy's chief of staff says: "It's just the cost of a monthly latte!" Yeah, but so is the next thing and the next thing. Use the budget you have to get the job done. That's what I do at home.

Every local taxing entity needs to get its crap together with the money it has.

And it's reached he point that urban renewal needs to be outlawed altogether.

I feel like a tri-met ATM machine.

All taxes, levies and bonds are an automatic no vote from me. It will remain a no vote until our leaders can act like adults when it comes to spending our money.

John Benton:
Sounds a bit like a dangerous scenario. As long as they don't start organizing in brewpubs and handing out red and black bicycle wheel armbands...

How Machiavellian! Let's you and him fight so the Prince does what he wants with no worries.

Not just here, the whole political system.

I'm not generally opposed to raising my taxes to pay for quality public services. The problem is that we keep getting less and less service for more and more money. Portlanders are the highest-taxed constituency in the state, and what to do we have to show for it? Crumbling roads (and only one pothole crew), struggling schools, and pleas for volunteers to help maintain parks.

If a key city department truly spent all it's money delivering core services and came up short, I would vote to give it more money. But I have no confidence in the current leadership at the city (except maybe Fritz) and Tri-Met having been that fiscally responsible. They've siphoned off money for pet projects and extra Twitterers for the Mayor. Why didn't the sewer "savings" go for new fire trucks instead of to bike lanes? Why are we paying to renovate a stadium at the behest of a millionaire sports team owner and subsidize his underpaid staff? Why is the city investing in a "sustainability center" and shuffling its staff around to help out private landlords when the "greenest" thing to do would be to stay put and upgrade the buildings it already has? Why is Tri-Met wasting money on the WES failure and building a new light-rail line when the current system is underutilized and it can't maintain the bus service that the majority of its passengers use?

If the pork and pet projects were cut back by even a quarter and the money put where it was truly needed, they would have more than enough money to work with.

Exactly. Thanks for summing up about 1,000 posts on this blog.

The answer is very simple.

If the TriMet board doesn't vote to suspend Milwaukie Light rail at their next meeting a tsunami of NO will greet them in November.

The current service will then last until they are all replaced along with TriMet management.

Yesterday the board delayed the purchase of property for Milwaukie Light Rail because the GM refused to tell them, even approximately, how much the requested purchase would cost.

Both he and his head of acquisitions actually told the board they did not know or have that information with them.

Yeah sure. This just shows us how stupid these bureaucrats think everyone else but them are. Never mind it would take 10 seconds on a laptop and PortlandMaps.com to find out.

And the four page resolution authorizing the purchase had no price, real market value, assessed value or appraisal included.

Only that the board was required to approve any land purchases over $500,000.

"Don't ask any questions just rubber stamp the resolution"?

TriMet has at least 100 bureaucrats along with other agencies and consultants
burning through millions associated with Milwaukie Light Rail.

If they really were concerned about essential services they would stop it now.

If they need new buses, then they need to put off building the Milwaukie line.

But, but... you just don't understand...

The TriMet board is appointed by the governor. The board is comprised of union heads and developer and contractor puppets.


The TriMet Board has for years been a case study in ineffective board governance / management of an entity. The board for decades has done whatever the TriMet executive director and staff told it to do. There is, under the current board selection model, zro chance of changing the way TriMet operates.

Until and unless the TriMet Board is directly elected by the voters, there is no possibility of change.

Given the oft demonstrated foolishness of Portland voters - the largest part of the TriMet S service area in terms of voting population - I am not very confident that the voters would pick Tri Met board members much better than they do PDX Mayors, City Counsellors, Multnomah County Commissioners, rtc., etc., etc.,.nothing will change.

Gee, I just sorta said the exact same thing you did on my daily video.

I feel bad cause I don't want to see em fail, but ya know, its, well, uh, hmmm.

"Until and unless the TriMet Board is directly elected by the voters, there is no possibility of change."

Oh I don't know about that.

When Governor Dudley appoints John Charles, or Ben :) to the board there will be BIG changes.

Don't worry Al, it will involve more bus drivers.

Governor Dudley appoint directors...?

IIRC, Tri Met Directors have fixed terms - but no term limits - and do not serve at the pleasure of the Governor, unlike say, the head of ODOT or DHS. Gotta' have a vacancy to make a new appointment. It would take Governor Dudley a full 4 year term, or more, to appoint a majority of TriMet Board members.

Transit agencies always like to point to the aging population as if most older people will flock to transit as they get unable to walk to the bus stop.

NO WAY. Most older people still drive!

In fact driving is one of the easiest physical tasks for older people:
Myth One: As people age, they first lose the ability to drive; they then use public transit if it is available; when unable to use public transit they walk, and finally, unable to walk they use special transit services.

Although widely believed, this “progression” is largely wrong. In fact, driving is often the
easiest physical task for older people.50 Long before they lose the ability to drive, older people may be unable to board or ride public transit, or to walk to a bus stop or train station.

Even though many may still be able to use special transit services, the overwhelming majority of older people, regardless of their stage of disability, are able to ride in a car and choose to do so first.
http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2003/07transportation_rosenbloom.aspx

Thanks
JK

JK - good points. And, when elderly residents use public transportation, it is often the small buses that deliver riders doors to door. If you can no longer drive, you also probably can't walk three or four blocks to a bus stop.

From my years of working at Multnomah County for Aging Services, funds went to pay for the Lift service, not bus tickets and passes.

If they had any courage, they would have used the $$ they already had for better bus service, and would have approved electric golf carts for driving on surface streets. But, neither of these will make any corporate interest wealthier than they already are and preserve the buggy whip industries that got us into this mess. It would only make Portland a place where people of all ages and abilities can get around without resort to fossil fuels.

Well I'm gonna vote for it, cause it would be the way all people using or employed by Trimet should vote.

But at the same time, uh, let's see, well, hmmm, can't quite find the correct words, sorry.

Oh yea I forgot, I'm supposed to make the following statement when blogging as myself per my management:


The blogger known as “Al M” does not now, nor has he ever, represented Trimet, Trimet bus drivers, or ATU 757.
The thoughts, opinions, ideas, and body odor are of myself; they does not reflect the thoughts, opinions, ideas, and/or body odor of my company, my friends, my neighbors, my fish, my roses, my dog, or my trash. All rights reserved, all lefts reserved.

Voting NO on EVERY bond or levy measure than any government entity puts to a vote is actually a pretty good idea. I used to support public services. But when the bureaucrats and politicians misspend every dime they get on pet projects and developer welfare projects, it's time to make a stand. My employer pays a huge amount of payroll taxes to TriMet. There are over 150 or more current employees in my neighborhood that have never been able to take TriMet to work not in the 80s, 90s, or 00s because of TriMet's half baked routing scheme of assuming all traffic wants to go to the core of the City of Thorns. Some of us actually work the opposite direction. There are several major employers in WA county and TriMet takes payroll tax money from these employers and provides little of value to the employees. Meanwhile, in my hood they just keep cutting back service to the core. I wouldn't even bother using it any more if I had a reason. But, last weekend driving up Vista, I noted a nearly empty bus operatring for Council Crest because they don't cut service for the rich folks' hired help.

Somewhere in the last 5-8 years, I have become a fiscal conservatie. But I still hold liberal social values and always will. The Repugs are just a party of hate mongering.

"It's hard to believe how stupid they think the voting public is."

I don't know look who gets elected. I fainted when Randy's 30 yr bump in property taxes for PFDR and the PCC bond passed.

So now we get Randy taking another bite of the apple and TriMet asking for more.

Get ready to find out how flush the voters feel.

"It's hard to believe how stupid they think the voting public is."

Really? Why? Sam and Randy are in office.

I think that tells you all you need to know.

LucsAdvo

"I have become a fiscal conservatie. But I still hold liberal social values and always will. The Repugs are just a party of hate mongering."

Well pretty soon you'll discover us Republicans are not hate mongerers.

Then you'll be one of us.

Don't you just hate that?

Touché, Max.

Though, I still think a lot of people didn't want to get involved in recalling Sammyboy because it wasn't an election yet: they would have had to sign a petition, making their their name, address, etc. available to His supporters as persons opposed to His vision of a green, sustainable, happy, healthy bicycle-

By the way, just the other night many people had their car windows shot out in SE PDX, smack in the middle of Bicycle Taliban territory.

"If the TriMet board doesn't vote to suspend Milwaukie Light rail at their next meeting a tsunami of NO will greet them in November."


Well, I've never seen anything close to that. The initial comment included something about how stupid do they think the voters are. Very stupid (the majority, that is). Drek like Leonard, Fish, and carbon copies of them, as well as the typical Metro members, keep getting elected even though it's well known that they will push the rail nonsense.

Bob Tiernan
NE Portland

Yo Ben, when the Repugs repeal DOMA, stop suing states over death with dignity laws, stop suing states and threatening docs over medical marijuana (and son you do realize that 50 years ago the Repugs used to be all on about "states rights" and boy that has turned on a dime.), quit shoving the agenda of the religious right into politics and laws, we can talk. However, until there is another liberal Republican (e.g. think Jacob Javits, kid), there is no way in hades I will vote for a Repug. As far as being a Repug, that is highly unlikely until the leadership abandons all the religious rhetoric. Don't you just hate that, Ben?

Hey Tiernan, did you move out of Lake O or are you a different Bob Tiernan? I am guessing you are "The Bob Tiernan". And BTW, pay close attention to how your party could do a lot better by becoming a bit more centrist and respectful of the Constitution and less tea baggerish.

Hey Tiernan, did you move out of Lake O or are you a different Bob Tiernan? I am guessing you are "The Bob Tiernan".


I've never lived in Lake Oswego, and I've never been the chairman of the Oregon Republican Party.


And BTW, pay close attention to how your party could do a lot better by becoming a bit more centrist and respectful of the Constitution and less tea baggerish.


'Cept that my voter registration card shows my party as "NA". Sorry.

Oh, and if "your" party cares so much about people's Constitutional rights, then how come your four favorite USSC justices ruled in Kelo that corporations could always get their way by working with local governments to boot people out of their very un-blighted homes just so the local government could get more tax revenues (and low income blacks near Columbia University in NYC are getting booted for more college space as we speak).

Bob Tiernan
NE Portland

Bob - I don't have a party, per se. I vote for the lesser of the 2 evils and I choose to be registered so I can vote in primaries and since OR law only allows you to vote in party primaries if you are registered to that party, that means I have a party affiliation on my voter registration. I don't give them money and before the RRR took over the Repug party, I used to vote for both parties....

As far as abuse of eminent domain, it's been going on far longer than Kelo and both political parties and many governmental entities in many places have been abusing it.

http colon //www.wnd.com/?pageId=18393

Paraphrasing above article:
"From 1998 to 2003, there were 10,282-plus filed or threatened condemnations for private parties with reports of actual or threatened condemnation for private parties coming from 41 states."

Nonny Mouse: IIRC, Tri Met Directors have fixed terms - but no term limits - and do not serve at the pleasure of the Governor, unlike say, the head of ODOT or DHS. Gotta' have a vacancy to make a new appointment. It would take Governor Dudley a full 4 year term, or more, to appoint a majority of TriMet Board members.

ORS 267.090(3): The term of office of a director is four years, but each director shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor. Before the expiration of the term of a director, the director’s successor shall be appointed. A director is eligible for reappointment. In case of a vacancy for any cause, the Governor shall appoint a person to serve for the unexpired term. A director whose term has expired shall continue to serve until the appointment of a successor unless discharged by the Governor.

JK: Transit agencies always like to point to the aging population as if most older people will flock to transit as they get unable to walk to the bus stop.

What's really funny is that TriMet used to have a bus route (44-King City) that ran from the Tigard Transit Center, to King City (duplicating the 12-Barbur route) and then made a loop through King City and returned.

TriMet axed the service.

Today, Ride Connection and the American Red Cross provide a King City Shuttle that uses smaller buses (nearly identical to those used by TriMet LIFT) but in a fixed-route/route-deviation service, provided by volunteer drivers, and a bus that costs under $100,000 and gets two to three times the fuel economy of a larger, full-size TriMet bus.

There is certainly a population here in Portland (or anywhere else, for that matter) that cannot drive. That's why many communities that don't even have transit systems do have a dial-a-ride service - because it's cheaper than paying a taxi company for the service (and many small communities either don't have taxis, or the taxi vehicles are not ADA compliant).

The challenge is: how to provide the services cost effectively. If this population can be accommodated on regular services, that is the cheapest. By improving buses (low floor buses, which is now the industry standard) and bus stops/access to bus stops, many folks could just ride a regular bus - the cost is no different than anyone else, a couple dollars. (Whereas a LIFT ride, which is basically a dedicated trip, can cost many times more. Ride Connection even says their "cost per trip" is over $13 per person!) So I'd have no problem with low floor buses to reduce the number of LIFT and other subsidized taxi/medical transport rides that are required by law.

That said...that doesn't answer the question as to why TriMet is making citizens pay for something that they already paid for, but TriMet squandered the money on pet light rail projects. This is nothing more than covering up for Fred Hansen and his light rail fetish...and voters shouldn't be asked to pay for buses again. Hansen should be brought up on federal misconduct and fraud charges.


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Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
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: 115
At this date last year: 21
Total run 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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