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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 11, 2010 8:13 AM. The previous post in this blog was Take it from east siders: The couplet stinks. The next post in this blog is Bragdon's leaving Metro. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Selling "urban renewal," by the pound

The push by the developer-construction-contractor Mafia to bring Portland-style "urban renewal" schemes to the suburbs is showing the makings of an all-out war. Chastened by the recent rejection of "urban renewal" by the City of Tualatin, the proponents of "tax increment financing" and other budget-busting devices to build tacky apartments and pointless trains are girding up for real battle in places like Beaverton and Clackamas County.

Yesterday we had the chief operating officer of Metro make a curious announcement touting the advantages of "urban renewal" pork pots, and vaguely threatening disaster if localities didn't have them at the ready for the next developer wet dream. Today we discover that the commissioners in Clackamas County have hired a $50,000 political consultant to create a sales package for "urban renewal," to be taken to the county's residents.

The contract, between the county commissioners and a Portland public relations operative named Leslie Hildula, is here. In it, she agrees to create a "public information plan" entitled "Investing in Our Neighborhoods," which will "create an overall look and theme, i.e. a 'brand'... that inspires confidence, [p]ortraying efficiency, effectiveness and community understanding." "Investing" is the new word for "diverting tax dollars to developers" -- eerily, the same language was all over yesterday's greasy press materials issued by Metro.

The Clackamas contract with Hildula gets quite specific. It sets out a list of deliverables, and the price for each:

Brochure for distribution at public meetings (price does not include translation into Spanish)$2,850
Flyers about specific urban renewal areas$1,500, or 2 for $2,500
Survey through Survey Monkey$1,800
Update website (new photos and videos extra)$500 per month
Create Facebook account for "Planning Clackamas," modeled after "Planning Cleveland"$1,050, plus $125 a week for updates
Meeting planning and "facilitating"$125 to $200 an hour
Open houses$2,200 each

The county also signs up to pay Hildula $500 a week for "community relations" work on the existing Sunnybrook Boulevard and Harmony Road projects.

Hildula is an experienced government p.r. flack. She recently left a gig at Tri-Met, where she sold the MAX green line, and before that worked public relations for Opus NW on the dopey Burnside Bridgehead deal in Portland, when she was employed by a national outfit called Zetlin Strategic. She also apparently has been involved in promoting the Lake Oswego streetcar line. Until recently, she additionally served as volunteer chair of the "citizens commission" that rides herd over Portland's quixotic "voter-owned elections" system -- including sterling leadership during the many months of the Emilie Boyles ordeal. At least at one time, Hildula was an officer of the Forest Park Neighborhood Association out toward Kyronland. Apparently she sat knee-to-knee with Amanda Fritz at west side neighborhood shindigs for a while.

What is it she will be selling for Clackamas County?

For those of us who haven't been following matters down there too closely, we learn that County Chair Lynn Peterson and crew have grand plans to replicate Portland's "urban renewal" scams on a large scale along McLoughlin Boulevard. Not only will this divert local property taxes to pay for the insane light rail train being proposed to run between Milwaukie and Portland, but it will also include "mixed-use" development (translation: ugly apartments and Subway sandwich joints) all the way down Route 99E to Jennings Lodge:

To get this done, the voters down that way are going to have to sign up for "tax increment financing," which diverts all property tax increases in the area for the foreseeable future out to building infrastructure for apartments and giving away real estate to developers. With property tax revenues for basic services frozen, those services are inevitably cut as the cost of delivering them rises. It's an awful tradeoff, and one that has not worked in places like the South Waterfront district in Portland. Given the recent defeat of such a plan in Tualatin -- a defeat that was sealed by local firefighters' objections to a frozen budget -- Clackamas County is going to have a hard time getting this past a flat-broke public.

But it's going to have Leslie Hildula out front giving it the old college try.

Comments (24)

Well, at least there's real blight along 99E from Milwaukie to Oregon City. Not that what they want to build would be any better - just different blight.

Metro Exec Jordan said "This means regional leaders should work together to reduce the costs of future projects. Otherwise, the region will need to raise another $13.5 billion to 20.5 billion in coming decades for such projects as streets, sewers, water systems, schools and parks."

I think Redden missed the whole point yesterday. We covered what it was really about here.

I think you got the name wrong. It is not a "public information plan". It's a "public information media plan"- or PIMP.

This is actually good news. For years and years the construction mafia was able to get away with sucking the public trough dry in relative obscurity.

Now they have to hire a PIMP to sell their toxic sludge.

I think Ms. Hildula is in need of hiring a PR consultant to keep her PR Consulting above water. It's amazing, now we have cities with their own PR department, then their sub-governmental agencies that have their own PR staff having to hire outside PR consultants, which now have to hire a fourth tier of PR consultants to stay alive-FOUR layers of PR.

I sure miss the good-ole-times when government just did their job and let the citizens determine if they were getting the results they want for their tax dollars spent.

In Portland we have the EcoNorthWest PR firm with their hands on every city endeavor. They are making hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to define the benefits of all of Portland's 11 urban renewal areas and the two they are hoping to add. The cost of Selling around here is getting as expensive as the actual product delivery. Insane.

She's a paid liar, then?

Because that's what it sounds like to me like she's just another graduate of the Mazziotti School of Public Policy and Charm.

Will she using the typical "baffle them with bulls**t" routine, you think?

This little gem is hidden on page 15 of Metro's new Community Investment Strategy, as a recommendation of what the State can do to help:

"Provide local governments with a more robust set of development and redevelopment financing tools by removing existing statutory limitations on local revenue-raising authority."

I.e. get rid of property tax caps, so that local governments have ample money to fund all these schemes and more, while continuing their fat pay and benefit packages in perpetuity.

I especially like the big charge for using Survey Monkey, a free web-survey tool, and one that produces results guaranteed to be worthless because of self-selection bias.

I think that one was in there for the same reason Van Halen put the "No brown M&Ms" clause in their contracts with venues where they were to play -- to see if the stage managers for the venues actually read the contracts they were sent or not. She probably chortled softly to herself (do women of a certain age with that patrician profile chortle -- hmmmm) when that little gem was approved. She thought to herself "These rubes will be good for many manis and pedis, and perhaps a few poolboys to boot."

The other day, I commented on the Salem condo thread. I will again to all communities in Oregon and the country for that matter:

When the troops from Portland come to your area to push their planning agenda on you - say NO! Fight like hell for your livability and pocketbook!!

I especially like the big charge for using Survey Monkey

I'm sure the $1,800 charge is for writing, and reporting the results of, the survey. And Survey Monkey does charge for some things, as I understand it.

"it will also include "mixed-use" development (translation: ugly apartments and Subway sandwich joints) "

If you want an idea of the future of McLaughlin, drive up MLK. You can see new empty office buidings with no parking, beauty supply storres and one-man pizza joints. All surrounded by crappy schools and collapsing infra-structure.

Do these planner types have one original idea in their collective heads?

Hidula was a "Total Quality Management" consultant to small businesses before that gravy train left the station.

She's a very polite and soft spoken woman, at least until you cross her.

You are shining the light of truth, Bojack. I only wish the naive Portland electorate would exercise such skepticism. Eventhough the electorate are educated, they can't seem to connect the dots between urban renewal/metro and declining educational services and other public services.

What happens when the whole state becomes one big urban renewal zone? Does there then become super urban renewal districts, or do we all implode in a mountain of financial default and deflating taxation first?

Snards:"Provide local governments with a more robust set of development and redevelopment financing tools by removing existing statutory limitations on local revenue-raising authority."

How many lobbyists will be down on Salem for "their" cause that "we" will be paying for?

Throughout the years there have been complaints about Metro, do we still need them?

They and the city have exerted entirely too much control over "how we should all live" - am not against some regulations as needed but their agenda seems more like a dictated policy sugar-coated with PR.

I would add a bitter pill to swallow, which is why the sugar-coating.

Surveys to get the answers they want to move forward??

Getting people in key positions in many of the communities of decision making to get the thing moving, so the red carpet is at least half rolled out ready to go??

To other communities, do not be taken in with fancy illustrations, glitz and facade. Look behind the curtain.

Jack -

Your development mafia membership is one group short -- one must always include the local construction unions.

They are, in many ways, the development mafia's "stick" - mobilizing the voters in general and primary elections to beat pols who don't toe the "build with public tax financing" line, just as the developers and executives / owners of the general contracting firms are the "carrots" providing campaign cash for the pols/

Pork-barrel spending: the one thing unions and capitalists, Democrats and Republicans, can all agree on.

"polite and soft spoken till you cross her" said it Mr Tee!!! I could tell you stories...but I would get sued, even though I was telling the truth!

Jack's map is a focus area for projects.
The real size of the UR district is on document page 59.

Lynn Peterson is in panick mode because she had assured the regional partners she controled the county. Without UR she can't fund the county share of Milwaukie Light Rail funding.

UR, "Tax Increment Financing" is circling the drain.

Lynn Peterson & Milwaukie Light Rail are right behind it.

Must I call the Italian-American Anti-defamation League down on all your sorry a$$e$ for the continued slurs on the Mafia?

In order to get screwed by the mob, you need to have engaged in a personal relationship with them. This group of thieves uses your elected front men/women as the means to pick your pockets clean. You don't have much choice in the matter.

LucsAdvo, you always have a choice.


Must I call the Italian-American Anti-defamation League down on all your sorry a$$e$ for the continued slurs on the Mafia?

Please suggest another descriptive name for this gang of thieves.

Thanks Jack
Now come on LucsAdvo...this is becoming tiresome...

Hey Jack - I did some research. It seems that that the "PDX Ponzi Gang" would be most appropriate tag for them since financial swindling at the root of what we dislike.


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