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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The new Erik Sten

Our mild leeriness of State Rep. Jefferson Smith of Portland is quickly growing to outright distaste, as he's showing his colors as an overgrown Bus kid with a gigantic ego and big, not-so-smart ideas. Now he's championing the "satellite" urban renewal district boondoggle -- whereby the "blighted" Pearl District's property taxes will pay for school buildings in East County. The whole thing sounds unconstitutional to us, but more importantly, it confirms that Smith, who has lofty political ambitions, is the next in line to bankrupt us.

He also has plenty of time in his busy schedule to make cutesy YouTube videos on the public's dime. This is why we need a full-time legislature?

Does this guy have a job? Or does he, like Opie Sten, have mystery money stashed away somewhere? And what is a hard core blue-collar House district doing being represented by a Harvard Law School dandy? Anyway, he's a sweetheart of the Blue Oregon crowd, and WW loves him, and so we can expect to endure his bloviations for many years to come.

Comments (22)

Cutesy pie, like calling East Portland "Bed Rock", then hiding behind lofty descriptions, ignoring that Bed Rock is immortalized in the Flintstones.

Some people in East Portland took a flinty attitude towards this characterization.

So far as the satellite UGB, it came up briefly during a town hall meeting he held a couple of weeks ago. It sounded really flaky to me.

If WW "loves" him, the fix is in.

Isn't a bankrupt citizenry good? I mean, it gets people who are trying to hang on to their homes and lives to let go and disappear becoming invisible non-casualties, their properties become available at a reduced price saving condo developers money, and it helps make the subsidized, high-density project that replaces Portland's infamously ugly, blighted old neighborhoods more affordable to the marginally employed creative class.

I.e, it promotes turnover and helps to fulfil the plan for the New Portland.

Or, am I totally wrong?

Another phony Smooth Talker is our own Ben Cannon in SE Portland. Looking to go up the political ladder to city council and beyond. Trouble is he already has shown his true colors defending Leonard's decision on the open reservoir spending after telling us he would fight to save them. Hasn't lifited a finger except to give us water bureau party line. Unless you get reservoirs fully exempted from EPA, good luck getting re-elected Ben or even running for council. Do your job as you promised.

I've said it here a hundred times: if you want Urban Renewal money to flow out for other uses such as schools, mental health, etc. then just shrink the Urban Renewal program all together. Let districts expire, terminate others early, don't form new ones.

All an Urban Renewal district does is direct money away from schools, the county, even normal city operations. It does this by definition. That is what the "Urban Renewal" mechanism is.

Again, if you are concerned about these other taxing authorities getting revenue, then shrink the use of Urban Renewal in Portland.

(Yes, I'm aware that David Douglas is a different district, but the principle still stands.)

Hey, if he is going to do this, let him keep on, eventually URDs will be meaningless. Otherwise, it'll be the same thing - URD takes school money to help bail out Homer and G-E.

BTW - Any word on Jerry Brown's cancellation of all the Cali URDs? The frantic activity of all those Cali pols voting for projects could've only been rivalled by TriMet's speed in passing the MAX vote.

Jefferson Smith is doing a damned fine job of representing House District 47, regardless of what he calls it.

He's got a bill to address MAX safety (arguably the hottest issue among our neighbors who live near the line) up in committee today, he's fighting for the budgets for critical services our neighbors depend on, and he's done a lot on transparency. This is all highly relevant to those of us represented by Jefferson.

And according to the news coverage, the youtube video was made by volunteers. I think it's hilarious - we ought to encourage politicians to make it interesting once in a while, not chastise them for it.

I say Go Jeff Go!

He's the new Robbing 'Hood. Take from the rich district and give to the poor. Sounds reasonable until you realize it's all just a shell game with money that should have been allocated to the schools in the first place.

I'm disappointed in this 'review' of Rep. Smith.

We don't have enough elected leaders like Jefferson, who are willing to think creatively about some of our big problems. Rep. Smith thinks outside the box and is ready to take political risks to advocate for the things he really cares about.

I think this is really admirable, and something we should be encouraging, particularly in these challenging times.

Instead of disparaging Rep. Smith for his manner and approach, let's engage with the issues and respect a guy trying to do politics just a little bit differently.

"I think this is really admirable, and something we should be encouraging, particularly in these challenging times."

You mean spending more money we don't have? When he comes up with the money to get schools running and fix the Sellwood bridge without raising taxes or the price of water to $5/gal, wake me.

Otherwise, he is channeling Sten.


Place the entire state of Oregon in urban renewal districts. Every last square inch.

Create a maximum size of the urban renewal district...say, 9 square miles.

Dictate that all tax revenue collected from the URA must be spent within the URA. Property, sales, income, gas, electric, 9-1-1 surcharge, payroll...you name it, it must be collected and spent within the URA.

Many friends posted that clip on Facebook, pointing out how hilarious it was. The joke was really on the people of Oregon. I'm glad Rep. Smith has the time in the midst of this budget crisis to scheme up elaborate pranks and more government spending. No better proof is needed that we need a unicameral legislature that meets every 2 years.

We don't have enough elected leaders like Jefferson

I fervently hope not! More people like Barney, err, Jefferson and we surly will be the laughing stock of the country.

Oh wait! We already are!

And what is a hard core blue-collar House district doing being represented by a Harvard Law School dandy?

Is that why he calls his constituent's area Bedrock?
Don't like the name.

Mollie, what, "something we should be encouraging" like "satellite urban renewal" which is illegal? We should be encouraging being illegal, right?. If Smith thinks it's the right thing to do, then do it democratically and change Oregon's urban renewal statutes, better yet, with a public vote. It wouldn't pass. In fact there are many initiatives to control the misuse of our state's urban renewal.

"who are willing to think creatively about some of our big problems"

Say what?

That's is exactly the opposite of thinking creatively.

It's picking up on a heavily abused and nearly expired idea and a recent lame idea to expand it.

The reason it was raised is the same reason UR is always raised. It's a ponzi scheme that doesn't require finding any new money to cover the new borrowing.

Officials can hide behind the deliberate complexities as they borrow millions against essential services while pretending they created the funding.

Creative my butt.

Creative would be to call for a shut down of the PDC, a planners moratorium and accelerated debt servicing to free up the diverted property taxes sooner rather than never.

Then once a re-set has been accomplished require a public vote for any new schemes. Especially any that include "creative" ideas like the Convention Center Hotel.

I say Go Jeff Go!

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I find it so interesting that you must be anointed by those in power to be a viable candidate. Case in point, Randy Leonard anointing Ben Cannon, a guy with only political experience and no direct city experience, to replace him. I guess the voters don't get to decide who is 'most qualified.' Silly me.

Mary -- Is there anything public on Randy talking about Ben Cannon? Haven't seen it yet.

Having posted on many sites myself using the internet system at the capitol as well as many other government buildings, I know you can't rely entirely on where it says a post is coming from. Many government buildings now have internet access available for by visitors. That means people posting from there could be a visitor, staff member on a break, etc.

Also, we don't pay our legislators for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They have time off, just the same as the rest of us. If he wants to spend some of that time making a funny video instead of going to the movies, hanging out with some friends, etc., it's his right.

Our legislators routinely work from early in the morning until late at night during session. They take time off during the day to make up for the fact that they may be there from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. Unless people want to start paying legislators enough to cover the amount of time they are working - which would be considerably more than we pay now - you have to expect that they're going to not always be on the clock.

And yes, I do wish we had more representatives like Jeff. How many legislators do you see out volunteering in their community when it's not election time? Jeff came out and helped clean up the roadside along Burnside several weeks ago, which included picking up and disposing of discarded used needles. It was dirty, hard work and Jeff was there. I don't see many other elected officials out there doing that.

Jeff came out and helped clean up the roadside along Burnside several weeks ago, which included picking up and disposing of discarded used needles.

A job for a Haz-Mat Team.

Did not agree with Smith's idea of volunteers patrolling the Max line.

"Jeff came out and helped clean up the roadside along Burnside several weeks ago..."

Are we so starved for leadership in this state, that if someone comes out and picks up trash we will hand them the keys to Urban Renewal dollars?

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