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Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The mayor of Portland's "state of the city" speech on Friday -- which Willy Week promptly characterized as long and confusing -- contained at least one surprise: The city wants the county to take river patrol duties away from the sheriff and hand them over to the city fire bureau. County Chair Jeff Cogen, who was in the audience with the usual earnest City Club types, was immediately put on the spot. You've got to wonder whether anyone had ever mentioned the idea to him before, or whether this was just more government-by-ambush from the continuing nervous breakdown known as the mayor's office. (The sheriff was not warned in advance about the grenade that the mayor was about to throw.)

Regardless of the intergovernmental protocol, though, there's a substantive issue here: If the city's fancy new $400,000 rescue boat and its crews have got enough free time to do the county's work for it, does Portland really need that boat and those crews to begin with? Surely the fire commissioner, who recently held the city's taxpayers up for a property tax increase just to buy fire trucks, will tell you that it does. But the city's offer to the county reveals that perhaps the fireman has more of a navy under his command than the city really needs -- including the (count 'em) seven harbor pilots currently on the fire bureau payroll.

Comments (16)

I'm waiting for another panic about an escaped caiman in the Willamette. It worked so well in 1997, what with the frantic panic to find it "before it gets to the children," and then the even more fervent panic because "if we don't rescue it, it'll die in the cold."

Now that the boat is bought, so to speak, I guess they can argue the need to use it in the best way that makes the most economic sense.

However, it seems to me that at least part of the Sheriff's patrol duties would involve some enforcement of our state marine laws. Are the fire guys now going to be making arrests?

Traditionally, the fire folks seem to get there very quickly to help with the search and rescue part, but very little involvement when a recovery becomes the sole mission. Will the PFB now finish the entire job, or call for others to do the recovery when a rescue fails?

I guess these are just a few of the things a county Sheriff might have wanted to know or to comment on.

The plan might make some sense on the merits, since rescue is already a part of the PFB mission and the County is short on cash. But of course Mayor Machiavelli has to pursue it with gotcha games and ambushes.

In my experience, the Multnomah Co. river patrol spends most of its time doing law enforcement and not search and rescue. I assume he's talking about having the PFB take over search and rescue duties from Mult. Co since PFB can't do law enforcement? So, you'll have still have Mult. Co. River Patrol on the river handing out tickets to the drunken morons but PFB will rescue the drunken morons if they fall over board or crash into a bridge pier? Sounds like you'll just have more boats and more people on the water - doesn't seem like a cost saving measure to me.

With Randy in charge of a fleet, I'm sure Vancouver is becoming wary of an attack by sea. If the narcissist can't be Mayor here, then maybe he can be El Presidente for Life over there.

The city was able to come up with $400,000 at the drop of a hat for a little needed boat, but has no money to put two police officers in drug infested Old Town. No wonder people have such little confidence in (city) government.

Just another example of Fire Bureau Mission creep. As better building and zoning codes have been enforced (sorry nanany state haters) the number of fires has gone down. That leaves Fire fighters sitting in their fire houses playing checkers to pass the time. So fire fighters become fire fighters/EMT's (yep we really do need $500,000 fire trucks rolling to the scene of every fender bender in town).

Then fire fighter EMT's become FF/EMT/ Building Inspectors (did you know that national fire fighters group is proposing a new Building Code to be inspected by fire fighters insted of building inspectors?) And on and on and on.

Then who would rescue the firemen?

...$400,000 at the drop of a hat...

Randy was also able to on an emergency ordinance get $135 Million for that Powell Butte storage tank and millions, I repeat millions more on projects - rather than ask for a Waiver regarding the LT2 rule.

Ahoy we go with that group in charge and money swirling down the drain.

I have a better solution.

Essentially, eliminate Multnomah County as we know it.

Portland would become Oregon's first city/county, much like San Francisco.

The unincorporated areas to the northwest of Portland (think: Sauvie Island, U.S. 30 corridor) would become part of Columbia County. (That would put all of Sauvie Island under a single county - currently, the northern part of the county is in Columbia County, but the only way on/off the island is through Multnomah County.)

Gresham, Wood Village, Fairview, and Troutdale - along with the unincorporated areas to the east would either form their own county, or merge with either Clackamas or Hood River Counties.

"The city wants the county to take river patrol duties away from the sheriff and hand them over to the city fire bureau."

Gotta have something to do with generating more income. Somehow Randy has his hand up Sam's back again to push this.

I have a better solution.

Essentially, eliminate the City of Portland as we know it.

Medals for money swirling down the drain.

Is it just me, or is the mayor's office trying to take over control of everything?

...Surely the fire commissioner, who recently held the city's taxpayers up for a property tax increase just to buy fire trucks, will tell you that it does.

Surely the water commissioner can do the same, hold the city's taxpayers up for a property tax increase just to continue to get water out of our faucets.

It worked for the fire, why not for the water?

So what about the funding? (which is the usual clue)

The state Marine Board gives the Multnomah and other counties money for marine patrols. Is Portland looking to take a chunk of that?

Then there's the separate feud between Portland & OSMB...

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