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Thursday, April 21, 2011

More campaign abuse from Portland public schools

We can't believe they keep doing this. With all the money the Portland schools have raised as a campaign fund for their colossal property tax increase ballot measures, they continue to blow taxpayer dollars promoting the measures. Here's the latest piece of election porn, which showed up in our snail mailbox yesterday:

Campaign literature, to be sure. So it must be paid for by the unions and contractors, right? Think again!

They say they're after $588 a year from the "median homeowner," but despite their informational zeal, the school bureaucrats fail to disclose what the measures would cost the average homeowner. By our count, it's $699 a year.

That's too much for our budget. And when you see from the campaign itself how fast and loose the school district plays with tax dollars, it's all the more reason to say, "Sorry, try again next year for half that." Please, knock it off with the campaign abuse.

By the way, can anyone tell us what this symbol, from just below our address on the flyer, is supposed to mean?

Comments (36)

Screwed from all directions?

A quibble on the median vs. average (mean) though: when considered highly skewed distributions, such as income, median is probably considered the better representation.

Now I don't doubt that they would select and use whichever number made their case better,so I'm not disagrreeing with your objection to the whole flyer, but an objective person with no dog in the fight would, as it happens probably use the cost to the median household to gauge the impact. If anything, you should celebrate their occasional, I'd unintentional use of the right statistical measure here, because it will make it obvious if they try using average (mean) in a later campaign.

I think that emblem is a warning.

You are surrounded-resistance is futile.

At least this time they included a figure, even if it was skewed. People need to wake up to how expensive this sucker is.

When is someone going to sue them for campaigning with public funds?

That symbol is the Cult of Sam seal of approval.

The Web of Power Logo?

In the last 20 years I have raised three children to adulthood in Portland, and if I knew then what I know now I would pack up my family and flee to safety. Portland is no place for children anymore.

Should I be shocked that they didn't bother to send any fliers to Lents (in the wake of the Marshall closure?)

Incidentally, we hear they're planning on sending the students from Cleveland to the Marshall campus while Cleveland's rebuilt. Equity!

The logic is rather simple.

Wages for working folks has not kept up with inflation for 30 some years. But Schools and other public institutions have to pay for expenses with current inflated prices. S0 for 30 years the tax base has decreased, since the amount of tax paid is based on your income and your income has declined in real dollars.

And since we also have to buy goods in current inflated prices, each month we have less to spend and certainly less ability to pay more taxes.

So everything is coming to a huge brick wall. The only way to get this turned around is to just SAY NO to ANY TAX or BOND MEASURE.

Without a restructuring of our economy (which ain't going to be easy), we are all headed to the poor house.

Simple solution, rip this garbage up and throw it in the garbage on your way back from the mail box as I did.
No frustration.

"It's contents are not intended to advocate for or against any measure"

Wow. However put that flyer together and then had the b*lls to include that statement must feel pretty slimy.

Let's see. As a parent of a student at one of Portland's few public charter schools, I am familiar with the numbers: in Oregon, we spend 10K per year per student on district students, and 55% of that on charter school students, due to the design of the original charter law, where the teachers unions worked to screw the charter kids in advance..

Like so many bastard children, the rights of these kids are being quietly ignored. I attended a hearing in Salem recently, where bill 3397, in an attempt to correct this disparity, is currently languishing/fermenting/stalled/being ignored, by our "progressive" Democrat politicos, who simply refuse to bring the issue even to a vote, it seems.

And I should vote for this PPS bond measure, from which exactly zero dollars will be apportioned to charter school students?

Not a chance.

Slimy Scene in Stumptown!
We are being stumped politically here on so many issues that we may have to retrieve that nickname.

$588 per median household equals a 1.2% of median household income and about a 1.9% increase in the cost of living (difference between the two is taxes). This isn't chump change.

No one ever EVER mentions the return on the black hole of PPS - a 50% graduation rate.

How much more will you pay for overwhelming failure?

Someone should set up an online calculator: How much the property tax ballot measures will cost you.

Here’s how I see it. My house was assessed for $183,320 in 2010 and I paid taxes in the amount of $3,992. I have no doubt that the county will increase my assessed value by the legally allowed 3% for 2011 making the assessed value $188,819.

Now let’s look at the damage. Assuming all other taxing bodies remain the same, I will pay an additional $2/1000 for the construction bond and an additional .74/1000 on the local option levy. In 2011 I can expect a tax bill of $4,510. That’s a 13% increase in property taxes.

Well, if those were arrowheads instead of screwheads, that logo would be of the famed symbol of chaos, as popularized by the author Michael Moorcock. (Eight blue arrows on a red background, signifying the infinite possibilities of Chaos as opposed to the single amber arrow of Law.) Considering what we know about Portland government, I figure those really are screwheads, so they've stolen Malcolm McLaren's "Cash From Chaos" theme. Either way, you guys are screwed.

Creepy has stated that his goal is to make sure HE gets PPS school measures passed. Maybe he could nullify all the urban renewal bonds; this would almost be the same amount as what the district is seeking from taxpayers.

Jack, I'm with you on the "too much for the personal budget" approach to this, for the first time in my life. I'm approaching retirement, and even as a PERS retiree, I'm not one of the rich ones. I figure I would have to work nearly another year to have the extra retirement income to cover the property tax increases on my modest bungalow.

I also have concerns about PPS' ability to manage this amount of construction work - there's going to be a lot of money going to firms that perform project management, construction inspection, etc. not to mention all of the design work. I would also like to have seen a much more modest start to this process, to 1) not take so much out of my pocket, and 2) prove PPS can do a good job with OUR money. PPS should also be looking at all of their excess property, and once and for all make some decisions about these, and likely sell off a number of parcels.

Based on the history of capital public projects in Portland and the region you can be pretty sure they will only accompolish about 25% of what they say they will with the bond money.

Just look at the tram, the DMV computer system, the wireless interoperability network, Potland's SAP software implementation. Massive overruns time and time again.

Just because it's schools, why should we expect it will be anything different?

At last Friday's forum, someone did the math:

57 million / 600 teachers = $95,000 per teacher.

Do PPS teachers really get $95,000 /year (presumably including benefits?)


JK: If that includes benefits, which I would estimate at 35% of salary including PERS, that equates to $70,370 in wages. That seems a little high as I think it's about top of range for an experienced teacher with a masters -- I would guess the average is more like $55,000 - $60,000, but I'm not that familiar with the numbers.

Are you sure the 600 teachers is accurate, and includes special ed and part-time teachers that might be included in the $57 million? If that number is really 650, for instance, it lowers the average salary to $65k.

"Are you sure the 600 teachers is accurate,"

It came off of Jack's scan of the PPS mailer above (as did the 57 mil)


I figure I would have to work nearly another year to have the extra retirement income to cover the property tax increases on my modest bungalow.

I walk in different neighborhoods throughout the city, and wonder how many will be able to pay the increased taxes, pickpocketing schemes, increased everything to live costs, - just stop the debt swamping!

By our count, it's $699 a year. That's too much for our budget.

Really? Jack, do you need the name of a good financial planner?

I can understand why people don't want to vote for this thing. But please answer this question: how will your NO vote improve anything?

I don't care. It's way too much.

Sweethearts like Dave make me all the more resolute to vote no, and urge everyone else to do so.

I'm just glad that while I live in Portland I don't live in the PPS district, so even if the idiots vote yes for it my property taxes won't go up because of it. (Of course it also means I don't get to vote no on it.)

No one ever EVER mentions the return on the black hole of PPS - a 50% graduation rate.

You do realize that parents, student ability, and economic circumstance are the primary factors in high school graduation rates, right?

Want proof? Look at the graduation rate of developmentally disabled students. What's that? It's low? Then it must be the fault of the teachers, right? Now, look at the graduation rate of students living in poverty. What's that? It's low? It must be the teachers--it can't be some mix of socioeconomic and parental factors. Wait--you found a high school where poor kids graduate often? Well heck--THAT must be because of good parents, not teachers. And so on.

Seriously, do any of you have a clue about how silly it is to not hold students and their families *equally* accountable for the child's education?

For me this would be a large property tax increase.

But what has really worn me down is the cummulative effect of all the levies and tax increases in Portland since I've become a homeowner here. They keep coming at you every year with something else.

Any one of these things might be worthy by itself, or in the abstract, or if cost were no object. Heck, rebuilding schools is great. But it adds up, and my income hasn't gone up for a few years now.

As I've mentioned here before, Portland parks is already sniffing around for a $200 million levy next year.

Enough already. Just let me catch my breath for crissakes.

Dave J - it's what Snards said - it's this levy, and the leaf tax, and increased water/sewer rates, and potentially a parks levy, plus nearly a buck a gallon higher for gas, higher Tri-Met fees (if one cares to pay on the Max), higher costs for food, medical costs, a new tree code coming on line that will certainly raise costs for many homeowners, etc. etc. etc. Many of us are living on stagnant incomes, or are or will be living on fixed incomes (eg retirement, social security). It has to stop.

I thought Kitz was planning on remodeling all the schools in Oregon as an employment scheme and paying for it through energy savings. What happened to that plan?

Why is it that Sizemore gets more than his knuckles whacked (I'm not condoning his actions)and the obvious campaign abuses of the school district and the teacher union are overlooked?

What's the difference on the severity scale of abuse? If our society and nation is to succeed then we need to enforce equal adherence to our laws.

White Meat - Yes, there are actual people on this blog who know how to think critically. In response to your question, it's because we are being asked to swallow the largest combo of school bonds in PDX history to pay teachers and build PPS buildings, not to pay families to raise better kids. The economic state we're in alone should be enough to question whether this is the right time for any significant financial ask of residents.

Snards:But what has really worn me down is the cummulative effect of all the levies and tax increases in Portland since I've become a homeowner here. They keep coming at you every year with something else.

On top of all that, what I believe has worn so many down is the shabby process and disregard for the people's interest.
The cummulative effect of it all is sheer abuse as I see it, absolutely no concern or respect, they don't care.

There have been articles/books written on
empathy and democracy.

Empathy missing here?

I don't find the PPS flier to be all this effective. It is so busy with words and pictures I think the average person receiving it just throws it in recycling without really reading it.

P.S remember early March when the School District agreed to a new teacher contract late Thursday, and gave the public only until Monday to review terms. Well, now we find the teacher union providing $100k to the Yes Side on these measures so the District can run TV ads telling us we better vote yes for our children or else they might get electrocuted.

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