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Thursday, April 21, 2011

A funny smell resurfaces

All of a sudden, they're talking about an earthquake retrofit, rather than a replacement, for the Multnomah County Courthouse in downtown Portland. Heaven knows something has to be done before a real tragedy happens with that creaky old building. It wouldn't take much of an earthquake to knock it over. Some days you wonder whether it would collapse if a Tri-Met bus blew a tire on Fifth Avenue.

But the fact that they're now mulling seismic upgrades is curious. As long-time readers of this blog already know, in 2008 the Portland Development Commission borrowed $9 million and handed it over to the county for use in building a new courthouse at the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge. The city agreed to pay the Wall Street types 6% interest on the "urban renewal" bonds, whereas the county invested the money at a yield of only half that. Even then, the idea of a new courthouse seemed bogus, and the latest discussion (with a $220 million preliminary liars' budget for retrofitting) confirms that it was a pipedream at best.

So what happened to that $9 million? Is it still sitting in a bank account, earning far less than the interest that's being paid on it? The whole thing stinks to high heaven. It's the kind of matter that you might expect the state treasurer to take a look at -- except of course for the fact that in this case, the current state treasurer was running the county when the questionable transaction was hatched.

Comments (8)

Can we continue on much longer with PDC and money deals?

Bike boulevards?

Why is the court house not on the city's list?


The $$ must be in Creepy's slush fund and this is how he is going to save our schools.

What was the rationale for PDC borrowing $ to give to the county so the county could move the county's bridge off-ramp so the county could build a new county courthouse? Why was the PDC involved at all? The county just didn't have the $ and the PDC wanted it done and can/will borrow $ from anyone anywhere anytime so it got the $ for the county?

That slushing sound you hear is public monies moving back and forth...

Part of that "slushing sound" is the luandering of money through various programs, transactions and allocations that dilute the dirt and stench just enough to provide those who should be providing oversight to pretend they're doing their job.

How is it possible for city taxes to go to county funding obligations? Why is one county helping to fund another county's budgeted infrastructure projects? How can city taxes be used to pay operating expenses for a school district that has its own taxing authority? How can anyone believe that their elected officials will will pay for their own jurisdictional obligations instead of handing over the public's money To some other entity for purposes other than what they were intended for?

Maybe we never had much control over how politicians spent our money, but if one government entity can just go to another when the well runs dry, we cannot presume our votes mean very much at all. Perhaps there should be limits on IGAs altogether.

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