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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Kimberly's role will evolve over time"

The 32-year-old mayoral aide who's moving over to the Portland Development Commission is going to be a "deputy director" over there -- one of two (the other hasn't been identified, to our knowledge). But what she will actually be doing is shrouded in the following dense cloud of bureaucratese:

Kimberly Schneider Branam is joining the Leadership Team as Deputy Director for Strategy and Operations. While Kimberly's role will evolve over time, she will be responsible for ensuring that our project and program work implements the Economic Development Strategy and the key actions of the PDC Strategic Plan. One of Kimberly's initial priorities will be the completion and implementation of the Neighborhood Economic Development Action Plan. In addition, Kimberly will be working closely with Lew Bowers, Jennifer Nolfi and our Neighborhood managers on priority projects for the agency.
There ya go. A steal, no doubt, at $135,000 plus benefits.

The mayor is notorious for stuffing his buddies onto the payrolls of city bureaus, who then have no idea what to do with them except pay them. Remember the dude who wrote his goofy term paper and accompanying PowerPoint presentation on the sewer bureau's dime? "Senior policy advisor," my eye. Let's hope this isn't more of the same.

Comments (23)

It's amazing how people say there's no corruption in Oregon. If this isn't a Chicago-style patronage position, I don't know what one would look like.

Wow. I think I've seen this before:


Just out of curiosity, do you think Sam's a fan of "Absolutely Fabulous", considering that he's running the city like Edina Monsoon's publicity company, or he's more of a Young Ones kinda guy? (I was about ready to make a Bottom joke, but that would be cruel.)

Wow! The thirtysomething has got a real important job ...

  • Economic Development Strategy

  • PDC Strategic Plan

  • Neighborhood Economic Development Action Plan

Strategy! Plans! Action! Is this the crap they teach in planning school?

They seem to have Scott Adams writing job descriptions. Is he related to Sam?

$135k. Save the money sweetheart. You've just hit your upper bound at age 32.

Wouldn't "Economic Development Czar" be a better title?

Bubble has better hair! or at least it is groomed, unlike Ms Kimberly's.
If we give Ms. Kimberly a shopping cart to push around the Pearl, will that "spur the local economy" too?

Most former Peace Corps volunteers I know have a great skepticism of American governance and would disdain working for the corporate or government establishment. For Branam and her husband (another returned Peace Corps volunteer), the Peace Corps sounds like it was just another box to be checked off in the climb into the liberal meritocratic elite (Ivy League degree for her, Portland Schools Foundation and running for elected office for him).

Then again, many Peace Corps volunteers work on development projects in benighted economic backwaters, so maybe she's a perfect fit for the PDC.

Maybe this explains why the mayor's office keeps coming up with new bureaus... job creation for the right people.

When is somebody going to shine a bright under this pile of rot?

On second thought, I realize this blog shines such a light.

I should've said, is anyone above the local level even noticing or caring about what's going on in unimportant, little backwater Oregon?

It is in a word 'disgusting.' After watching the video of Michael Moore's speech in Wisconsin last night, this is particularly disheartening.

Sounds just like when City Hall 'foisted' a new manager on us (when they DIDN'T want or like her) as our Public Affairs Manager (Director?!), bumping up her salary significantly. City Hall staff openly celebrated her departure, and the staff of PDC suffered. She was unqualified to do the job well with NO real background in communication, or understanding of much of the work that we were trying to do in PA. And she shut down our key public information materials, didn't value staff and their skills, and talked down to everyone.

On top of that she was a mean spirited tyrant who seemed to take satisfaction in intimidating folks and managing by instilling fear. And we complained and complained, and had to endure her behavior for about 18 months. Only our collective LOUD and PERSISTENT voices forced management/HR to finally do something and she "resigned." But by then, much of the irrevocable damage had already been done.

This article from the Oregonian lets me know that PDC is the same with its core of being so inhumane and insensitive. It is in so many ways a 'soul less' organization and as challenging as life is for me being self-employed in this down economy, I am HAPPY to no longer be there.

My heart goes out to anyone still there who feels the pain and acknowledges the injustice of the organization. And to all of those who do not speak up, and who have become complicit co-dependents of the psyche their, I would encourage them to consider speaking out and standing strong. As I did when I worked with coworkers to *successfully* bring the union to PDC for the first time in its 50-year history.

PDC is not a healthy organization. Much of its management seems to be co-conspirators of an effort to sustain what in reality isn't actually sustainable. Look at the revolving door of HR directors and of all the committed, caring, loyal and talented employees who have come and gone.

I regret the many years that I gave to that organization. It gave so very little to me during all that time other than $$$.

Thank you, Tim Liszt, for the insider's view the other insiders don't want us to know about.

The mayor is notorious for stuffing his buddies onto the payrolls of city bureaus, who then have no idea what to do with them except pay them.

Or, you could end that sentence after "buddies"...

"Much of its management seems to be co-conspirators of an effort to sustain what in reality isn't actually sustainable."

Exactly. The PDC is now a gigantic cash machine with nothing to spend it on. All they can do is keep proposing mega projects that add office and retail space in a city which has LOST jobs over the last decade. They talk about building out the Rose Quarter while business is hurting in downtown, the Lloyd, the Pearl, you name it. Why? Because they have to justify their own existence and their HUGE budget.

I worked at PDC for 20+ years in the Economic Development Department and in the Public Affairs section of the Executive Department. I saw a lot during those years, and most of it was very discouraging.

Yes, it is only now that I feel the freedom to speak openly. This is a fact: While there, PDC staff only spoke up either anonymously trying to leak information to the media, or vicariously through others posting to blogs or contacting WW or the Oregonian, etc. Rarely did anyone feel safe to speak out effectively within the organization. It was my experience that the work environment was fraught with fear and intimidation. ONLY the union brought about much needed change, but unfortunately I did not remain to experience any of the 'empowerment' of staff.

It is important for staff to have a voice. For injustice and unethical (yes!) practices at the organization to be made known. It is behind me now, and I must move on. But I still care for many colleagues who remain. I know that they are going through difficult times at the organization, and these kinds of announcements only intensify the discouragement and outrage.

Tim, were you there when PDC was brought under City Hall's control a few years ago? I wonder if things are different (better or worse) now than when it was independent. From a public governance perspective (can't say much about personnel issues), it seems like a wash - the PDC is now overseen by elected officials, theoretically giving voters and taxpayers a say over its activities (good), but now it is no longer protected from Sam's "vision" and other political meddling (bad).

I cannot fully answer your question. I left PDC May of 2007, immediately after the union vote was ratified. I worked there from September 1986 until my 'demise.' I was outspoken and worked with others to organize for the union. I was fired, call it a sheer coincidence if you want.

I do know from those who remain that the union has been effective and helped staff have more of a voice and a role in their bargaining contract. And I have heard that many are thankful for the changes that the union has helped to bring. I do not believe that any of these positive changes, as few as they may be, would have happened without the union and the organizing of staff to finally say, 'enough is enough' and 'we want a voice.'

That's what I know.

...This is a fact: While there, PDC staff only spoke up either anonymously trying to leak information to the media, or vicariously through others posting to blogs or contacting WW or the Oregonian, etc. Rarely did anyone feel safe to speak out effectively within the organization...

Tim Liszt,
Thank you for your post.
I often wonder why there are not more whistle blowers. From what you wrote, they exist, but if the channels are closed, we the public will not get the message. Know this to be so, as a rally held regarding the Bull Run Water had a reporter from the O. Result = no story.

Russian proverb that “A fish rots from the head.”

In my opinion, the web of power from the head has fowled and dispersed a sick pallor over our state and city.

We do know who they are, don't we? My angst is why the leaders in our community let this go on?

From personal experience, I know that PDC IS the 800 pound gorilla. My experience was that if mere citizens opposed any PDC project we were systematically intimidated from the top down. And it was genuinely frightening.
It seemed to me that PDC staff were intimidated by their superiors to then intimidate the citizenry who questioned any PDC decision.
Thank you Tim for speaking out.
Are there any more ex PDC staffers out there who want to comment or whistle blow?
This beast should be stopped.

The second "Deputy" is none other than Keith Witcosky. That places Patrick, Keith and Kimberly running the agency. Is anyone else worried?

"The mayor is notorious"

He learned that skill from the puppet-master Randy who has plenty of incompetents who need his aegis to keep their jobs.

No Worries. Appointment of Keith is a good sign.

Snards, you don't know how right you are. Economic development is not a bad thing but are they focusing in the right places? And PDC employee morale is REAL DOWN. They are not liking the change of leadership, Kimberly coming in, and the pending budget cuts. it's ugly. You are looking at a bureau or agency about to embark on a huge melt-down. It's going to be messy, people!

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