This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 11, 2010 7:40 AM. The previous post in this blog was A harsh dose of reality. The next post in this blog is Multnomah County's real estate delusions. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

The pungent odor of scam

The Portland Development Commission has really stepped up its developer welfare program lately. Here's a dandy of a story: Instead of lending $745,000 to the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine to earthquake-proof its new Old Town facility (formerly the Globe Hotel), now the PDC is suddenly lending the college $5.5 million for the purchase and renovation of the building. Interest will be between 1% and 2%, and since it's owned by a nonprofit, the building will continue to be property tax-exempt.

Or wait... is it $6.2 million? Guess it depends on who you ask.

Sweet deal for the taxpayers, eh? In a pig's eye. Remember, when the city goes out and borrows money for these "urban renewal" schemes, it pays much higher interest rates, and the IOU's are supposed to get paid off out of property tax revenues. What a joke.

And the developer? Wait for it...

Brad Malsin's Beam Development.

Cha-ching! Merry Christmas, Brad! Don't worry, no matter how screwed up your business plan is, you'll never fail. The grandmas and grandpas of Portland are here to bail you out. Our property tax bills are your paychecks. We love you that much. Really.

Will the alternative medicine school be able to pay back $5.5 million of debt over seven years as scheduled? Even at 1% interest, the payment on that kind of money is around $815,000 a year. The most recent IRS reports for the college show annual net revenues of roughly the following amounts:

2006-2007: $34,000
2007-2008: $256,000
2009-2009: $198,000

To our untrained eye, it doesn't seem to be the world's most secure loan. And yet, the chair of the PDC, a Melvin Mark suit, has the gall to blow this smoke:

Andrews said he hopes the college will pay back its loans sooner than required. That could allow the agency to add more to its proposed $7.6 million subsidy for the Uwajimaya project.
Yes, and I hope to hit the Powerball jackpot. I must remember to buy a ticket.

Of course, O reporter Ryan Frank is quick to regurgitate the latest pap from the PDC. He even loads this on the pile:

The Oregon College of Oriental Medicine is part of the city's decades-long effort to revive the frayed Old Town Chinatown district. The city made progress in the past five years, investing $28 million in real estate deals to attract the University of Oregon's Portland campus and the Mercy Corps headquarters, renovate a historic building and build a new home for Portland Saturday Market. The neighborhood, long dominated by drug pushers and the homeless, now includes a mix of young hipsters and middle-aged professionals.
Ryan's prose is so much smoother since the lobotomy. (He's the City Hall reporter now; apparently Randy Gragg refused to come back.)

This latest news comes on the heels of the airing of the Vestas headquarters deal over in the Pearl District, which gets more and more shadowy by the week. That one's an $8.1 million loan to a shaky European windmill manufacturer, which will lease its newly renovated offices and spacious parking garage from... wait for it...

An affiliate of Mark Edlen. Another fellow that we Portland taxpayers just can't give enough money to. A walking linchpin, the guy is.

And oh, what a loan his group is getting this time! According to another O reporter, Brad Schmidt:

Though it's not uncommon for PDC to use public money for private development, this loan is unlike any other in the agency's 4-year-old Commercial Property Redevelopment Loan Program. It strays from agency guidelines in several ways:

* The $8,105,000 loan is four times larger than the $2 million maximum established by guidelines for the redevelopment program. Exceptions are allowed, but the loan is by far the largest in the program's history, representing one-third of all funds, according to agency documents.

* The loan is interest-free. Guidelines suggest below-market rates of 3 percent. Of the program's 27 other loans, four totaling $2.5 million were no-interest.

* The term of the loan is 15 years. Guidelines suggest up to 10, and only the Vestas project exceeds that.

* No payments are required until maturity in 15 years. Guidelines call for regular principal and interest payments. Eight other loans have received exceptions, almost always for two years, with the longest deferred for six.

With all this sweet, sweet taxpayer money sloshing around, one word comes to mind:


Maybe it's all legal graft, and certainly in Portland it's graft that will never be questioned by law enforcement, but graft nonetheless.

Smile as you pay that unmanageable water and sewer bill, people. Smile while the hipsters and '60s burnouts vote away thousands of your dollars toward new property taxes. Because your money's going to make some real estate sharpies in the West Hills even richer than they already are. And there's not a darn thing you can do about it, except move.

Maybe if you get too stressed about all the nickel-and-diming, you can go in for some acupuncture.

Comments (52)

The $8.1M is just like Paulsen's rescue of AIG, the money flowed right thru to Goldman Sachs (which coincidentally is where Paulsen's net worth is.)

The $8.1M goes straight to G-E for tenant improvements on his building.

PDC has waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much money if they can p!ss it away on bad ideas and developers like this. I guess they coudln't give it to Malsin fast enough via the Burnside Bridgehead, so consider this a bridge loan (actually under these terms a gift.)

Not to mention: The University of Oregon, Mercy Corp and the Oriental College of Medicine are all TAX EXEMPT - in other words, none of them will pay a dime in property taxes.
And try and get a commercial property loan at 1-2% anywhere. The bankers will laugh at you while they have the security staff escorts you out the door.

Where's our activist A.G.? The one who vowed to crack down on public corruption.

This ought to be a cakewalk compared to Persico and Enron.

If a private entity loans money to people who have no ability to repay it, it's bad underwriting. If you do it with public funds, it's fraud or abuse of the public trust.

You folks may be wrong about the property tax exemption issues.

If the non profit / 501 c 3 is merely the TENANT, and the real estate and building are owned by the developer, then there will be property taxes collected on the project. Those taxes may be lower than a similar building located elsewhere because of UR District considerations, but if the non profit is merely the Tenant (Oriental College of Medicine / Mercy Corps) then the developer who retains title will pay taxes. AIUI, UO owns the building downtown.

This doesn't change Jack's initial analysis. These deals are screwy. The loans go to an entity with no apparent equity interest in the real estate, and the funds immediately pass through to the building owner for "improvements". The Vestas deal and the Oriental College appear to be structured this way. When each default on the loans, PDC and we taxpayers are mere general creditors a with no security interest in the underlying property.

Vestas and the windmill industry in general are not the best long term credit risks. Bottom has fallen out of the windmill industry, and Vestas worldwide is shedding employees as fast as it can. Duuuuh.

OCM, per the 990s Jack initially referenced, hasn't the cash flow to service the loan.

All the lender has is a worthless piece of paper on which the note is printed. And a judgement proof, asset free debtor.

There isn't a private lender in the world who would do that.

But in each of the OCM and Vestas deals, the developer winds up with a really good pile of class A office space, without any liability to the folks (PDC / us taxpayers) who paid for the rehabs.


The $6.2 million figure the DJC reported includes the $745,000 for seismic upgrades. According to the Development and Disposition Agreement between the PDC and the Globe Hotel, the authorized financial assistance is $6,224,000.

- DJC Web editor

Ok Nonny Mouse, explane this tax bill:


Taxes are zero.

I thought URL's were suppose to invest so the tax base goes up...

Another interesting fact about the Oriental College of Medicine remodeling is that it is over $400 per sq/ft, not even including PDC administrative costs, debt cost, etc. At $400 you could build a brand new building. The $400 is way over average commercial remodeling cost for this area, almost double. And you'd think Daily Journal of Commerce who reports on this kind of news would ask the obvious question, "Why so much?". For the Oregonian "reporters" (they are really just regurgitators), asking the obvious isn't in their contracts.

Nonny, you're somewhat right in the policy that even though a non-profit may have title, but if tenants are private then property taxes are paid. The post below yours is one example. But in SoWhat there are numerous examples where taxes are not being paid under this so-called policy. Examine the OHSU Health Club building.

Dave A., on your point on how so many URA have many properties not paying property taxes to help retire their debt, look at SoWhat. It has now come to the point that over 1/2 of the whole acreage of SoWhat is now in non-profit ownership/control- OHSU, PSU, Affordable Housing to-be-blocks, tax-exempt-TOD tax subsidies, etc. How can the $290 Million TIF debt every be paid off? Then just recently this fall, OHSU took over another block west of it's OHSU Doctors Health Club for its Children's Facility renovated building, now off the tax rolls. Pretty soon Portland will be a predominately property tax-free zone.

Nonny - If the college is actually purchasing the site, it is probably exempt from property taxes. ORS 307.130. If PDC is the owner and has a basis to claim exemption, then the property could still be exempt if the college is the tennant. ORS 307.166. It doesn't really matter who the developer is if they are not on the title, nor does it matter where the money comes from. I'm sure PDC knows how to structure this to maximum advantage . . . the question is, to whom?

"If the non profit / 501 c 3 is merely the TENANT, and the real estate and building are owned by the developer, then there will be property taxes collected on the project."

Hate to crush your dream, but any part of the building you lease to a non-profit the owner doesn't pay property taxes on. They just need to fill out a form stating same for the county.

Maybe Phil Stanford should stop writing about all the crime and corruption from decades ago and get up to speed on the crap going on in the present.

The amount of fleecing happening right now, today to OUR money is staggering compared to a bunch of smucks who made pocket change off of drugs, gambling and whores.

Neither Brad Schmidt nor Nigel nor Ryan Frank is the City Hall reporter.

The real City Hall reporter in this town is Jack. Thanks for producing a truly invaluable resource.

Did you see the Lund Report story yesterday about the $100k that Salem is going to give to OSPIRG to hire a consultant to review health insurance premium hikes?

What's up with that? If we don't have the expertise in-house to critically examine the health insurance mafia's latest "offers you can't refuse" then we should hire some, or contract for it directly -- why should/does OSPIRG get a slice?

Steve: . .The $8.1M goes straight to G-E for tenant improvements on his building. .

GE U.S. Government Engagement Leader Kevin Decker and Mayor Sam Adams sign the Memorandum of Agreement (June 8, 2010)

Next American City Magazine interview with Sam Adams and Kevin Decker from GE,
Oct. 14, 2010
Earlier this month, Portland Mayor Sam Adams and GE’s Kevin Decker sat down with Next American Vanguard member and Transportation for America staffer Katie Drennan to talk about EcoDistricts and what they mean for the future of the city. . . .

This is a must read to find out what is currently going on with the Mayor and his vision for all of us.

...why should/does OSPIRG get a slice?

Well gosh, GAS, it's because they support (and turn out support) for all the right folks. You know - Democrats.

Aren't they the same folks YOU support?

"And there's not a darn thing you can do about it, except move."

I DID move, but I'm still paying for this crap since I still own property in SE Portland, because the market devaluation.

Talk about taxation without representation. Hell, even when I lived in Portland I was being taxed without being represented, much like a whole lot of people.


I wanted to respond to a couple of points.

The $5.5 million figure referenced in my story this morning comes from the following: $745,000 for a seismic loan, $2.2 million for a land loan the college will use to buy the building from PDC, and a $2.5 million bridge loan to be paid off when the college sells its existing campus. That rounds up to $5.5 million.

The $6.2 million figure is mentioned in the PDC documents as a not-to-exceed figure. Here’s why: The PDC is fronting $745,000 to pay for construction documents. Once the financing closes, that money will be folded into the longer-term debt which nets out at $5.5 million. You can read more in the PDC documents online.

I don’t think anyone could argue that Old Town is a better and safer place today than it was 20 or even 10 years ago. That’s the point I was trying to make in the story. You can certainly argue about the reasons for the change and whether the city should be spending taxpayer money on the projects I mentioned. But having new employers, new bars, new restaurants and new coffee shops does change the look and feel of the neighborhood.

On your broader points, I always appreciate your perspective, respect your criticism and admire the time you devote to the blog. So, thanks for keeping up with it. I’m glad that our stories provide fodder for your posts. That’s the point. Our job isn’t to pick sides and throw barbs. But we do choose to write stories, like this one, for a reason. We pick stories that get to bigger issues, trends, themes or questions the city faces. Like, should PDC continue spending property tax revenues on downtown development? That’s a fair and reasonable debate and that’s why we write these stories. We provide some context, perspective and quotes from all sides. Then, people like you get to opine. If you see opportunities we’re missing, please share them. We can all use the constructive criticism.

On a personal note, I’ve invited you to coffee a couple of times to learn more about your views of the city and what you think City Hall should be doing. If you want to take shots from the comfort of your Lewis & Clark office without actually having to meet anyone face to face, go for it. But my friends tell me you’re actually a very reasonable and funny guy and a popular professor. It’d be nice to see that side of you. So, if you want to meet and have a real discussion and share your thoughts in person, my invitation still stands. I’ll even buy.

Ryan Frank, reporter
The Oregonian

I don't need coffee. I need you to grow some skepticism. Throw the press releases in the garbage and write your own stories. In other words, do what Sickinger does.


Thanks for the thoughtful response.

Ryan Frank

"I don’t think anyone could argue that Old Town is a better and safer place today"

Ryan you missed it - The schools and Sellwood Bridge are that much lousier than they were 10-20 years ago. However, I gotta admit Malsin, G-E and Homer are doing a heckuva lot better than 10-20 years ago.

Throwing all the public development money into the area between the river and 405 is plundering the rest of the city. Worse yet, it just shows how lacking in ideas they are by repeating the same threadbare approach over and over for the past 10-20 years.

You may have heard of a similar phenomen called Versailles.

Steve, it's beyond the ken of a newspaper scribe.

Ryan, when you finally decide to become a reporter (see The Watergate Papers), maybe then you can rise to the rank to which Jack occupies, especially his humanity.


Fair points. The city has a choice between continuing to pursue large-scale urban renewal projects or pulling back some to focus on the basics of running the city. That's a point that you can expect to see reflected in some of our coverage, but it may not necessarily be in every story.

Ryan Frank

"e city has a choice between continuing to pursue large-scale urban renewal projects or pulling back some to focus on the basics of running the city."

Ryan, that's my point, why are we building new things when:
A) We are short of money (PDC's budget of $270M notwithstanding)
B) The existing infrastructure is rotting due to lack of maintenance

It's we just think the cost of things are what they cost to build and maintenance is an afterthought.

It'd be like the father who insists on having the newest eco-sensitive $100K minivan to go to work while his kids are wearing worn out clothes after skipping breakfast to walk over the holes in the floor to go to the worn-out school to use the toilet (which is broken in their house.)

Sorry for the run-on. I do appreciate your response at least.

Old Town remains a primary destination for the "homeless", and the primary employers are non-profits, government, and nightclubs.

Explain to me how this constitutes a success story? I don't think Old Town is one bit better today than 20 years ago, with the exception of the Chinese Classical Garden. It merely offers more social services for the indigent/addicted/mentally ill with a sprinkling of low-class night clubs for twenty-somethings to get intoxicated.

Hardly the building block of a successful mixed use neighborhood.

Steve: Again, you make some good points. I don't mean in any way to disagree with you. You've hit on one of the key issues confronting City Hall today. If we're successful, you'll see that issue covered in the pages of The Oregonian.

Mister Tee: I've been closely following downtown for the last five years and I would say it has become a more mixed-use neighborhood just in that time. It's true that the social service agencies overwhelm most everything else in Old Town. But there the mix of people there has changed with the PDC's move there and the openings of the Davis Street Tavern, Ping and the Chinese Garden. But that's just my take from the last five years. I'm sure others like Richard Harris could give you a much better long-term perspective.

Ryan Frank

I've lived and worked in downtown or close in NW for over 25 years. I walk all over that area a lot and work in real estate so I notice a lot. My usual morning stroll is up one street and down another from Naito/Overton or so down to Market or so.

The city is better in some ways and worse in others. I think it may have been much better if the URA money was simply credited back in the URA area to owners and businesses. If downtown were a tax haven people would have developed and located there in droves.

The bus/rail mall has been and continues to be a problem like I heard predicted when the first brick was laid under Goldschmidt. I'd love to see a study of retail rents along rail vs. away from rail.

Driving downtown used to be (pre 1990) almost fun and it was pretty efficient. Now it is a nightmare, lots of places you cannot go, bikes everywhere, pedestrians never obeying signals so right turns are impossible, etc.

The homeless are still a major problem.

Old town has become safer feeling since the nightclub scene took over but has never gotten close to reaching its potential.

I could go on.


I certainly appreciate your willingness to engage your readers in this format. In my opinion, this type of dialogue is an ideal way to allow print media to remain timely in the information age (if you can fit the additional hours into your work schedule). And avoid getting trolled.

May I also suggest the OregonLive.com front page should refresh more than twice a month. They must have had the "Kurt Schrader trails in the polls" headline up for three weeks in a row.

Again, thanks for commenting here. I find it much more interesting than what the editor likes.

Dear Ryan Frank:

Obviously you don't see the bigger picture that Jack is putting in front of you. I'll try to ask a few questions that might get the light bulb to turn on and help you put a stop to the city's foolishness.

If the office market is so hot (as the Oregonian reported this last week) why is any subsidy needed for any office space in an area that you admit has already changed for the better?

What are the current prices per foot that office buildings sell for in today's market? Why would the PDC loan money to a a Beam project that may be worth less when finished than the cost to build it? While on that topic, did Gerding Edlen pay too much for the Vestas building and will it too be worth less than the cost to build it? Why would any rational company do that unless they needed the fees just to stay in business in the short term? Is the PDC making bad loans with sloppy underwriting standards?

How much actual money (not development fees thrown in) does Beam have in the Oriental Medicine project? Are all of these loans recourse, or does Beam get a hefty fee with no responsibilty for the mess down the road? As you stated, the PDC fronts all of the design costs so does Beam get all of these costs paid without any of his own money in the project?

What buildings were developed over the last 10-15 years and if subsidized by the City, did the developers give any money to City Council and Mayoral candidates?

How about Gerding Edlen? Did Gerding Edlen cause both investors and lenders Millions of dollars in losses? Tens of Millions? Are they facing potential lawsuits from lenders or investors who lost money and do they have recourse loan provisions that that are still out in front of them? Did they sell the Cyan downtown for less than the loan on the building and do they face the potential problems posed above? If so, how come the PDC loans them money when you and I couldn't get a loan with this kind of credit history. Could the PDC be making loans to a development company that is on the verge of going under?

When they get these city loans do they have to provide their financials to the PDC? Do they do it from their attorney to the PDC attorneys so they don't have to publicly disclose their real net worth or liabilities? Have they been truthful on those financial disclosures?

Is the sustainability center the same kind of situation? Does Gerdin Edlen get fees on that project too with no real money into the project?

I have a lot more, Ryan but I'm already getting depressed after thinking about the questions above. Instead of making "thoughful response" comments about Jack, start asking good questions and write stories that ask and answer these kinds of questions so the public isn't left wondering.

I work for the City of Portland and know how they try to keep you off track. They frame the debate early on and fool you into writing about "progress."

You miss the more important questions. Are public dollars going towards bad loans that only serve to line the pockets of proven money losing characters? If the market is as good as the Oregonian just reported, then why is it even necessary for the citizens to go further into debt?

Think, Ryan. Think.

Thank you.

And Ryan, when a suit from the PDC tells you "Maybe they'll repay their loan early," show the slightest bit of common sense and forget they said something so stupid. Throw it away, think for a minute, and write a real story. Don't embarrass yourself by actually repeating such obvious b.s. in an article under your name.


The reason you are getting the luke warm responses is because your PDC reporting is always missing the elephant in the room context which screams to be included.

Where does the PDC money COME FROM?

The Oregonian has yet to publish a single story which accurately and clearly explains how Urban Renewal works.

Instead it selects the deliberately complex and obscuring version the PDC and other Urban Renewal abusers find useful.

I propose you get together with Betsy Hammond and report on the connection between the PDC & PPS.

I know she has the recent PDC 5 year projection of their impact on Portland Public Schools. .
It's $163 million. Jack has a copy as well.

It will be instructive if your paper refuses to report on this.

As for the problem in reporting Urban Renewal it is easily remedied.

Just stop parroting the PDC tall tales and publish this.


It doesn't need any comments or interpretation from the PDC so leave them out of just one story.

Make the connection, PDC-PPS and know it is the tip of the iceberg.

Like so many other PDC millions you've reported on they are all borrowed and then repaid plus interest with school, public safety and other essential services funding.

So it's a little repulsive to continue reading about the things the gross misappropriations were spent on when not a single public official ever had the decency to apply any due diligence to measure if it makes sense to take school money to build light rail or development.

Report the real funding for financing Milwaukie Light Rail and let the readers get the tar and feathers ready.

Ah, you are missing the point here, Ben and city worker.

Ryan doesn't work for us. He works for the Oregonian.

Is there a beat left in corporate owned media for investigative journalists with untied hands?

Ryan, I commend you for responding.

We've had several discussions in years past, even about three years ago with coffee. We even touched on concerns expressed here on O's coverage of above issues.

It probably has nothing to do with your ability to change O's focus, but your interest to reflect more than the PR put out by governments hasn't materialized; even though you stated above that the O has.

Laying out opposing viewpoints doesn't editorialize anymore than rewriting PDC or CoP's PR. That is editorializing too, more so if that is the only bent.

Steve's and City Workers comments, to me, are seldom reflected in O's reporting. There have been obvious comments for many years with the Oregonian ignoring them.

For example we've talked about North Macadam, you've spent time in PDC meetings concerning the issues there, and the contrary viewpoints. What many said over 15 years ago have come to be true, but I have a hard time seeing that viewpoint, the critique. I'm sure you can point out a few instances from your viewpoint of you or the O being insightful, but I have a hard time seeing it.

And if there is a critique, it is always soft spoken and sometimes belittling as using the adjective of "crumudgeon" or "activist". PDC is just as much an "activist" as those that question their policies and actions.

Ryan, I still appreciate your attempts to cover the issues that have put us into a deep financial hole

no really, i'm a great reporter, guys - i, i, i question stuff, ask the tough questions...
just not in every story


Is Ryan Frank related to Gerry Frank? That would explain a lot.


It may be old news to some but it shows a pattern. How about a real investigation into Sten's purchase of his west hills home? When asked he gave the papers a BS story about selling inherited properties to pay for it. No one bothered to go to the county records to see that he took out a $1 million mortgage on the new home and did not sell other property. That mortgage would have required him to show a $500K annual salary to qualify for it. Did he have a mystery income beyond the one we knew about? Did he lie on his loan application (a federal offense)? Did a lender look the other way in exchange for some favors? I have no idea but when the O and WW gave him a pass on this one then just took his word on the disappearing act, I canceled my subscription.

Frankly, I can't stand reading the "O" and I canceled my subscription years ago. Reasons are as clear as the text on the paper... retreaded stories about how wonderful city hall is, how innovative the PDC development plans are, why the city is justified spending 4,6,8 x the project project cost, etc.

As I wrote this blog (11:49 am) I decided to see what the great "Zero's" OregonLive had for it's lead story. Much to my surprise it was cutting edge story with the headline...
"As two more Loos come to Portland, city officials and neighbors call them a success"

So, keep your paper, keep your "Oregonlive" website, keep your fortress mentality. I get my news elsewhere and I get FACTS and legitimate, intelligent arguments about our city here on this website and elsewhere. And tell your advertisers, I don't care about their coupons in the "O".

Now to the start of this topic. The PDC is an elephant in the city, trampling all over the real needs of our city. And the footprint of the elephant is far beyond reason. So, ask the simple question about our recent election..."Why did the Portland/Metro voters vote HECK NO to Trimet's request for more money" It was one of few ways we could say to Metro/PDX leadership that we are tired of spending billions on crap projects. And Ryan, please don't come back with the old line... if we don't spend the money it will be given to some other city.

Mister Tee: I try to participate as much as I can. Given Jack’s personal attacks in this particular post, I felt like I had to respond. But that’s why more people don’t engage in these discussions. They often turn into personal attacks.

City Worker: You’re raising a lot of good questions, questions we ask all the time. I realize that we will never get to all the issues/questions before the city in our coverage. And when we do, it may not be in the tone or angle that everyone wants. But over the course of a year, we hope to hit most of the key issues and angles. Again on this particular story about the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, I did, frankly, a quick hit story because I’ve got a number of other stories in the works and didn’t have the time to dig too deep. If I reported on every detail of every $5 milllion PDC spent, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else. That said, it is fair to expect us to do more about the broader issues of urban renewal spending vs. other core city services. On a couple of specific points, we do write about campaign constributions from people with business before the city. Here’s the most recent example: http://tinyurl.com/2bmvn5f. And we did write about Gerding Edlen’s losses from the housing meltdown here: http://tinyurl.com/y6rmp68

Ben: We have done several stories that explain how PDC works and where the money comes from. If you like, shoot me your email address and I can send some to you.

Jerry: Thanks for adding your comments and for your time over the years. I think it would be fair to say that your perspective has been included in the Oregonian’s pages over the years. And there are some stories we’ve written that get to the points you’re raising about South Waterfront. I’d be happy to email some to you if you like.

Tom: No relation to Gerry Frank.

Sal: Yes, some stories are quick daily stories and others are longer and more complex and cover more terrority. Will every single story push to answer every single question about a project? It’s not possible. But over the course of a year, will we cover the broader issues reflected in that key project? We should. If not, you should call us on it.

Ryan wrote : "But my friends tell me you’re actually a very reasonable and funny guy....It’d be nice to see that side of you."

Ryan, this is another thing you've missed. You don't need to have coffee with Jack to see his reasonable and funny side. It is on display here everyday and much appreciated by his regular readers.

Ryan, I know you are all too busy to dig deeper into the morass that is local politics but it seems there is an unlimited amount of reporting time to tout the latest "sustainability" or "green" pipe-dream. I went several weeks looking for just one paper that did not have a "sustainable" article and never found one. I was also unable to find even one that pointed out how what foolish boon-doggles most of the greenie ideas are. Only, "look how wonderful" stories.

"If I reported on every detail of every $5 milllion PDC spent, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else."

Sounds like a story to me.

ok, ryan, it seems like you're decent enough, and you're trying, and my first comment was trollish, so i'll try to respond respectfully... i see that you're smart - you're adept at using straw-man arguments - so it's hard to swallow this "when we mess up, call us out on it" line that you're laying on pretty thick here. if you know how to use debating tricks like that, you know how to identify when other people use them, and you probably know all sorts of bs when you see it, so why don't you call it like you see it, all the time? it would be one thing if you were dumb or obviously on the payroll of the persons you cover, but you're not, and you seem to know better. is that why you're here? our cathartic tourist of the day?

c'mon, man, you talk about your coverage like most of the time you get it right, but (at least in these parts) it's obvious to most of the readers of this blog that you're not even close. it's not a matter of calling you out on a mistake here and there, once in a while. the whole farookin message and tone is wrong, every day. no time? how much time can it possibly take to call a few sources so you get an intelligent point-counterpoint? for example, if you don't want to call the "activist" ice-cream man, give bob durgan a ring. he'll tell it to you straight. or, i dare not even type his name on this blog, the dapper don m., because there really is a qualitative difference between urban renewal 2000 and urban renewal 2010. in other papers i read, you see anonymous sources quoted - they always have the juicy info - but i never read about that in the o. instead, just like everyone else says, you regurgitate press releases. if that's all you have time for, why even bother writing a story? i don't want to read about how satan says it's nice and warm in hell, i want to read how an anonymous source says the damned scream in agony as their flesh burns for eternity. ya hear me?

i'm trying to be constructive here, ryan. it would be great if you became portland's bob woodward. i want to see it happen. good luck.

Ryan, let's play poker a bit. You ante that the O has written some stories with our perspective on urban renewal or other city issues. And I already granted that you'd be able to cite a few. But I know that my ante would be ten times greater to prove to you the perspectives that weren't covered.

For example, how many times did you hear and see visuals from citizens from minimally three neighborhood associations and even SWNI, representing 19 SW Neighborhoods, at City Hall or at all the preliminary Design, Greenway, PDC, Zoning change hearings on South Waterfront's "sieve transparency" of 32 story buildings proposed?

That "sieve-transparency" was Katz's favorite word from her Planning staff. She said maybe three or so tall buildings would be all that is built down there. We all disproved that claim with numerous analysis of what the zoning would allow. We even did computer mockups. We were discredited by Katz, staff, Adams, PDC, and your paper. We were called Nimbys, activists, crudmudgeons, "a few individuals", you name it. Why not "citizens"?

But disregarding the name calling, how would you call the present, slight build-out? Do you see the sieve??? Do you see the three buildings? Do you see the 10,000 bio-tech jobs?

I know you'll probably refer to a few articles that touch on what I've said on just this topic, but there wasn't really an analysis of what we all presented. You and the O haven't written about the "angles" you spoke of.

The same analogy above corresponds to the Tram. Having an article having 99% of writing spewing out PDC/CoP's perspective and then mentioning a citizen's one or two sentence perspective is not analysis.

You've said four years ago that "we'll be responding to your points about coverage soon". It hasn't happened.

It would be interesting to have you write a ditty on just the sieve-transparency issue. It is so visual.

It is much better to do investigating reporting before the deeds happen, but it is also helpful to do analysis after, to see if a claim, premise of government happens. It would be educational for this city because most of us are seeing the hyprocrisy before the O even knows it is, or will report it.

Thanks again for not walking away.

Sal: Thanks for your thoughts. I hear what you're saying.

Jerry: Send me your e-mail address and I'll shoot you a few stories. I think, if my memory is right, we've aggressively covered a lot of the topics you brought up.


Jerry: . . We were called Nimbys, activists, crudmudgeons, "a few individuals", you name it. Why not "citizens"? . .

Informed citizens are often marginalized by the council and also by the press. This is very frustrating. The press needs to inform the rest of the community, but rarely does. Way too much silence on important matters. Reporters have to know what is going on, just cannot cover what needs to be?
That is why we read the blog here.

Ryan writes..."we've aggressively covered a lot of the topics you brought up."

I believe you are serious about trying to make me believe this, but I'm laughing out loud. There hasn't been an attempt at deep probing, investigative work done reported in the "ZERO" about these significant issues facing Portland other than when the next "green project" will be launched and how much money will be saved.

I think it's time for you to understand that the frustration with this writer is not personal to you. The frustration is aimed at you because you represent an organization who pretends to be the voice for Oregon. Unfortunately, there is power in the press, but hopefully, the power and influence of the "Zero" will continue to decrease, as it is. In the mean time, PDC will continue to spend money it doesn't have, supposedly coming from taxes which diminish each time they give out their sweet heart deals. Wake up, Ryan. It isn't about you. It is about the crazies at PDC.

Good points.
Rather difficult for a community to get the critical information needed when there has essentially been a “black out” on most significant issues.
I believe that despite that, people do know things aren’t right. Even several years ago, some neighbors asked me and conversation began something like -
There is something wrong here in Portland, isn’t there? We may need to move, but at our age, they say you shouldn’t leave family and friends. . . .



The disconnect is not because we have not read the stories you think have covered eveything.

You have not explained how PDC works and where the money comes from.

Suggesting I need to read some old stories made me laugh.

The evidence of your inability to grasp and adequatley report these stories is right here before you eyes.

You miss highly germane parts of stories
exactly like you waltzed righ tby this.

Just stop parroting the PDC tall tales and publish this.


It doesn't need any comments or interpretation from the PDC so leave them out of just one story.

You didn't even acknowledge it.
That graph displays exactly what you have never included in PDC or Urban Renewal reporting.

A good metaphor for your reporting is the PDC treatment of the SoWa URAC unanimous vote opposing Adams' $10 taking from SoWa TIF for South Waterfront.

PDC in recommending approval of the taking: "There is some concern with some members of the URAC".

I dare you to persuade editors to publish the graph and then watch the blowback you'll hear from the "ruling class" establishment who's been misappropriating billions.

Has the Oregonian ever performed and reported an independent performance audit of any PDC URA? No.

State statutes require an annual audit every year for each URA. Not one of them meets the standards of accounting practices. Has the O ever examined the fake audits from PDC to even see if they might meet accounting standards? Or if their numbers add up? No. No.

Portland has had 12 URA's since the beginning of the first in 1957. Only one has ever been fully retired. You'd think an indepth audit analysis by the O would have been performed in the last 53 years.

Search your archives Ryan to disprove this. You'll find a few bits and pieces that you may call indepth, and most of those bits come from PDC and not the extensive academic reviews that have been made regarding URA's throughout the US.

I'm not saying that URAs are bad-the concept isn't. It is how this city and many others practice urban renewalism. "Blight", the common denominator of UR has been misused. And it is breaking our city.

Blight has been misused across the country.

Good read on link and excerpts from a litigation backgrounder:


A recent report found that in just the past five years, state and local governments across the nation have taken or threatened to take by force more than 10,000 homes, businesses, churches and private land not for a “public use”—such as a police station or post office—but for the benefit of other private parties.[1]

Finding Blight Where There is None

. . Although city officials will usually tell citizens that blight and urban renewal designations are useful for funding and tax abatement, in fact a blight designation places all properties in the area at the mercy of both bureaucrats and developers. Residents should therefore view any blight designation as the first move in a coming land-grab. . .

Eminent Domain: How it Works, How it is Abused

. . Courts, instead of acting as a check on these abuses of government power, for years significantly abdicated their role and often simply deferred to whatever claims of “public purpose” a legislature or administrative agency made, no matter how attenuated. . .


. . Across the country, local governments are labeling thriving neighborhoods “blighted” as an excuse for transferring property to private developers. If the Edwards Road neighborhood in Norwood can be condemned based on a ludicrous blight designation, then so can any other neighborhood. Keeping cities honest about blight is therefore vital to preserving the rights of ordinary citizens to enjoy their property and their neighborhood in peace. Without constitutional constraints, all the incentives promote government’s aggressive, unbridled use of the eminent domain power for the benefit of private economic interests, regardless of the impact on innocent property owners. Now is the time to shift the balance away from government power and back to the constitutional rights of citizens. .

Litigation Team

The litigation team for this case for the Institute for Justice is headed by Senior Attorney Scott Bullock, who litigates property rights and free speech cases nationwide. Bullock has been involved in a number of cases challenging the government's abuse of eminent domain laws. . .

The Institute for Justice is the nation’s leading legal advocate against the abuse of eminent domain, currently fighting battles across the nation against the taking of private properties by governments for the benefit of private parties. .

clinamen, you nailed it by this citation.

Just recently there has been a little reporting by the o on the proposed Westside URA. Did the o get into the issue of calling PSU, much of the downtown area a "blighted" area. No.

Since Westside URA is now just proposed, isn't this the time for a full analysis by the o, then with followup before these backroom decisions are made? Yes

They talked about the "lobster" look of the proposed boundaries. That's good-catchy, but did they research the state statutes that frowns on using streets right-of-ways to extend a boundary a few or more blocks away from a UR area to snare a satellite, partial block? Did they question "blighted" for the area? No. No.

Wouldn't it be better if the o wanted to do investigative reporting to cite report(s) like you've posted? Yes. That is better reporting than regurgitating PDC handouts. They should demonstrate that there is a large body of work that takes exception to CoP and PDC. Let the citizens decide.

It looks like "blight" definitions can really be stretched. Am somewhat reluctant to put this in as it may give too many ideas about how to proceed, but I suspect the players all know about these anyway.

From the link above:

The City Councilors in Norwood are not the first to stretch the definition of “blight” to justify taking perfectly fine property and handing it over to a private developer. If the desire to assist a private developer is present, cities will find a way to label just about any property blighted, using preposterous justifications for their designation. On the other side of Ohio, in Lakewood, the city government declared a neighborhood very similar to the one in Norwood blighted because, among other ridiculous factors, the homes lacked two-car garages and had less than two full bathrooms. In Kentucky, a neighborhood with $200,000 homes has been declared blighted. Englewood, N.J., termed blighted a thriving industrial park that had one unoccupied building out of 37 and generated $1.2 million per year in property taxes. Richfield, Minn., labeled buildings blighted that did not have insulation that met Minnesota’s rules for energy-efficient construction of new buildings. And various California cities have tried to label neighborhoods blighted for peeling paint and uncut lawns. [3]

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