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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 11, 2011 8:49 AM. The previous post in this blog was Farewell to Sharita. The next post in this blog is Lather, rinse, repeat. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Monday, July 11, 2011

Feds, landlord had power to bump charter school out of SoWhat

Here's a bizarre twist in the saga of the SoWhat immigration jail. The folks at the charter school that's right next door to the site of the proposed maximum security holding tank say there was a clause in their lease that allowed their landlord, an outfit called J.D. Watamull, to kick them out if the feds challenged the school's right to operate in that location:

"It is understood," the lease read, "that if the G.S.A. takes specific land use or legal action to contest the occupancy of the space by the Tenant in the subject property, the Landlord may terminate the lease within the first 12 months."
That's an extraordinary provision if you think about it. If the feds so much as raised a challenge -- meritorious or not -- the landlord could throw the school out.

The feds never took the type of action specified in the lease. That clause has now expired, and the school is finally free to speak its mind in opposition to the jail, which the feds are still hellbent on siting there.

But true to form in this drama, neither the federal immigration folks nor the landlord will say whose idea it was to put that clause in the lease:

GSA spokeswoman Chelsea Turnbull, asked about the school's lease provision, said, "We have no idea where or why that came into being in their lease."

Watumull said he couldn't recall why that clause was added, either, other than he wanted to notify the school about the proposed facility next door. Asked about adding a clause that could force the school out, he said, "You don't want to fuss with the federal government, do you?"

Does that sound like an honest, complete answer to you? Me neither.

The school officials also say that the owner of the jail site, Lindquist Development, which has vague ties to Watamull, threatened them if they testified against the jail at the Portland City Council back in January:

[T]hey say a representative for Lindquist, whom they declined to name, gave them a warning in a conference call. School office manager Marlene Dorfman can't remember the exact wording but said the remark was to the effect of, "You need to control your people."

But school parents testified the next day, Jan. 19, at a City Council hearing on the ICE proposal. So did students at the K-8 school, including a fifth-grader who told politicians she wanted to "feel safe while I'm playing" outside.

The next day, work on the school building stopped, school officials say....

Watumull, asked whether work stopped after parents and students testified, said, "not to my recollection." He said it was his company that served as the general contractor on the school renovations but Lindquist "was helping me out with some subs," which he said meant giving him names of subcontractors.

Threats, intimidation, implausible explanations... all par for the course for the immigration people, whose reputation is legendary. And alas, not atypical of a certain city commissioner who's been the ramrod behind this deal from the start. Some days it seems as though nobody's safe when one of his developer pals wants to make some money.

What I don't understand is where the school's congressional representatives stand in all this. Hey Merkley, Wyden, Wu, Blumenauer! Do you really think there should be a high-security federal deportation tank -- so sensitive that its proposed floor plan must be kept secret -- right next door to a grammar school? And where are the local champions of the children, Dan Saltzman and Jeff Cogen? As the kids say, LOL.

Comments (17)


"What I don't understand is where the school's congressional representatives stand in all this. Hey Merkley, Wyden, Wu, Blumenauer!"

Where are they on anything local?

Merkley, Wyden, Wu, Blumenauer get support from the teachers unions. Charter schools doen't.

So Jack maybe some of your readers know the answer to this question. Once upon a time I was told that the Federal Government is NOT subject to local building and zoning rules. Rather congress has told the GSA to "consult" with local authorities to see if there are any good suggestions before building whatever, wherever they feel like. So I wonder if that's true why all the angst about this ICE jail. If ICE wants it there it goes there, right?

"You don't want to fuss with the federal government, do you?"

Fuss or f***?

“As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities”

Voltaire

Jack,

Do you know how many detainees the ICE don't-call-it-a-Jail is capable of holding?

As I recall, the old bank vault was to be modified into four detention units.

But how many PEOPLE can be held in each detention unit? I recall looking at drawings that showed a large number of seats located around the perimiter (like 80-90 seats).

Given the size of the facility and the proposed buses, I don't think they will be holding 4 people at a time.

Merkley, Wyden, Wu, Blumenauer get support from the teachers unions. Charter schools doen't.

That's it in a nutshell. Those guys are not going to publicly defend a charter school.

...What I don't understand is where the school's congressional representatives stand in all this. Hey Merkley, Wyden, Wu, Blumenauer!...

Would the sales of those condos be even more difficult with ICE?
Is that the plan, the city and developers can now say to the public that they had to comply with the feds on this and can use that as an excuse for a "failed SoWhat" project?

Consider the similarity to our water situation. PWB is in such "failed mode", with huge water debt, and water rate increases that they can say to the public that they had to comply with the feds on this and can use that as an excuse for a "failed PWB" leadership and bureau.

Blame local incompetence now on the feds!!
That is my view of why they are all laying down.
Fleece the people and then use the feds as an excuse.

I recall similarly Tee. Based on vaults that I've been in, and their stated plan to retrofit this one into four detention cells, and given the jail cells that I've been a guest in (got busted for hitch-hiking in Colorado as a teenager), I'm guessing about four detainees per unit, who are to be held for a stated maximum of eight hours before transfer to the Tacoma processing facility. That's what they say, anyway.

The Sterling, CO jail visit was a hoot - my cellmate was in for attempted murder; I was a 17-year-old in for hitch-hiking.

...And where are the local champions of the children, Dan Saltzman and Jeff Cogen? As the kids say, LOL.

Those two have shown themselves to be hypocrites, rah rah for the children?
Cogen head of Multnomah County and public health of our community?
He needs to get his head out of the sand and start to understand the science of our water, plus the radon situation we have here. But then, he is not a local boy is he? If he is going to be in charge of the health of our community, I hold him responsible to clearly and in depth understand the terrain of our area and what is really going on here with our drinking water and how this political LT2 rule came about. If I were an elected official, I would have attended a power point presentation at two very publicly announced town halls on our Bull Run Water. My opinion is that they prefer to remain "silent" and/or "ignorant" of the situation. That way later they can claim they did not know.

I believe the maximum capacity of the ICE jail was supposed to be something like 100. The current operation processes about 30 prisoners a day, if I recall correctly. The floor plan, now removed from the internet, showed capacity far beyond 30.

When have we seen this pattern before where the jail is no big deal one day, and very serious the next? Oh yeah, there's OHSU's bounce between public and private depending on the breeze.
At least they haven't said the jail is the linchpin for the entire South Waterfront project, but there's still time.

Max,
I started hitchhiking at 17, too and went over 25,000 miles around America. I could have been arrested several times, and even had the classic ride in the sheriff's car to the edge of town with a stern, "Don't come back."

That was in Florida but I always remembered Colorado as a risky place - especially Denver. One time there the driver said, "Didn't you hear hitchhiking is illegal in Denver and they'll bust you for it?" I said yes and he pulls out his badge and said, "Don't believe everything you hear." That was close. I got a ride from an off-duty Denver police officer and it wasn't to jail.

Last week's ICE hearing brought out several Fed/Landlord discrepancies. Hopefully the Hearing Officer can respond to over the 100 people that showed up.

One issue that CoP is avoiding is Map 510-9 of Title 33 Zoning code: "Parking Access Restricted Streets". SW Bancroft that the Jail dumps traffic onto, is a "Restricted Street". ICE says they will only have 55 cars using facility. They don't mention the bus activity. The traffic study is suspect. Plus, a Hearings Review just on this issue is required, which hasn't been done.

Another disturbing aspect for the Charter School is that ICE officials admitted that detainees "can make bail right there" at the facility. That means totally unprocessed, criminals could be dumped right outside the doors of the school and the rest of the new SoWhat neighborhood.

It will be interesting to see if another threat besides the landlords to the charter school prevails: Leonard, after the second hearing stated to the neighborhood association, "You aren't going to win anyway, give it up.". He could be right the way things happen around here. Threats and followup.

That means totally unprocessed criminals could [make bail and] be dumped right outside the doors of the school and the rest of the new SoWhat neighborhood.

I though they weren't criminals until proven guilty?

Rettig, many of the detainees are there because they have criminal records, parole violations, or they are here illegal which by most standards is criminal, and that is why they are having a hearing to determine deportation.

To bring a little humor into this ICE fiasco, the traffic report from ICE is using a 60/40 modal split. They are predicting that 60% of trips to the facility will be by transit, bike, whatever. That is an unheard of split. Almost as silly as PDOTs modal split of 40% of all trips into SoWhat will be by transit. LOL.

To help ICE's thinking that they can achieve the 60/40 split, they are offering $214 dollar a month to employees to ride mass transit. I wonder how much they will offer all the detainees, their relatives, friends and others visiting? Maybe they will offer money for shoes for walking.

Also interesting, realtors working SoWhat are predicting over a 20% drop in property valuations if ICE succeeds. Already according to reports given to the SoWhat URAC, property tax appeals have substantial increased in the area and appeals have been successful, even before the advent of the ICE Jail issue.

It doesn't look rosy in SoWhat. Sounds like good Planning to me.


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