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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 21, 2011 9:46 AM. The previous post in this blog was Jefferson Smith paper trail leads into dense thicket. The next post in this blog is $20 loaf of bread gets a little closer. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fish: "What's so bad about insolvency?"

"It's the challenge of talking about debt we see at the federal level," Nick Fish said. Commissioner Nick Fish said that unlike the debate in Congress, the recent audit could lead to a one-sided discussion in the city. "I think what we inadvertently risk doing is presenting the public with one side of the ledger on debt, and saying 'the debt's growing' without a corresponding discussion of what the debt has produced as a benefit."

Fish argued that rising urban renewal spending is an investment.

Borrowing money to roll the dice on shlock like South Waterfront, the east side streetcar, and all the unnecessary water bureau frolics is an "investment"? Those "investments" aren't paying off, dude, and they probably never will. But we'll pay through the nose to Bank of America and the rest of the lenders for them.

Geez, Nick, we hoped for more common sense from you. There are times to listen to what smart people are telling you. You're screwing up.

Comments (29)

Urban renewal is a travesty. $.24 of every tax dollar and growing. I'd rather have more cops, social services, and good schools.

"Fish argued that rising urban renewal spending is an investment."

Nick can't you tell how much better the schools are from all those TIFs?

These people are like any criminal trying to justify bad behaviors - Forgive them, they know not what they do.

Jack, Fish is more than screwing up. I believe he has sold out to the developer weasels.

According to Jack's debt clock, my share is $11,060.

Nick, I'd love for you to explain what that debt has produced as a benefit when there are no jobs and the schools suck. Really, I'm all ears.

And this is how you spend $48 million (excluding debt service and operating expenses) on long term "affordable housing" for less than 130 people/studio apt at the Bud Clark Commons.

That's $369,230 per studio apartment.

Somebody's getting rich on these scams, but that doesn't qualify it as a public investment.

Rolling the dice is exactly right. These guys mix up bets (things like a new light rail bridge) w/ investments (replacing a dangerous Sellwood bridge) all the time and never acknowledge the speculative nature of what they are doing w/ public money.

Mr Fish, a beneficiary of inherited wealth from the Dutchess County NY family Fish, is not terribly familiar with the concept of personal debt. His primary public effort to date appears to have been directed toward removing regret from those who voted for the other guy during his head-to-head commissioner campaign with the current divisive, alleged mayor.

The song being sung over and over again in City Hall isn't so much about selling out as much as simply doing what one has been told to do or say. Obviously, this situation doesn't always sit well with some people, hence the periodic spasms of indignant resignations.

Portland has no real government officials, only paid PR representatives. That's why it's such an amazing scam... It looks like, walks like, and quacks like a private business interest masquerading as a municipality.

Fish deserves a middle finger.

Are the PDC Severance checks also "investments"?

I swear, Fish et al are so stupid and/or corrupt they can't even imagine where UR money either comes from or goes to.

And does anyone doubt that all of "them" believe Jack is more of a problem than any of the shenanigans?

Jack, Fish is more than screwing up. I believe he has sold out to the developer weasels.

I may be wrong, but I'm not thinking that so much about Fish. I think he's one part True Believer, believing that profligate public spending for "Good Causes" is never wrong, and second part politician seeing bloated budgets for huge projects as politically empowering. I don't know if he goes any deeper than that. Now it is probably true that makes him an easy target for developers.

Fish is drinking the kool-aide, because if he doesn't he will wind up on the trash heap of politicians and lawyers who do not play ball with the developer weasels.
These folks are powerful and will destroy those who do not obey.

Fish provided the third vote needed, along with Mayor and Leonard to pour another $80 million down that unneeded hole out at Powell Butte in last May's hearing.

He along with the others were asked by an upstairs and downstairs filled city council chambers, for council to stop the spending.
Fish apparently has no problem with more debt, not his to have to pay off....
a great disappointment he has been.
Too bad his seat isn't up soon!
He should not be reelected!
Send him back to New York!

Mr. Grumpy:...Portland has no real government officials, only paid PR representatives. That's why it's such an amazing scam... It looks like, walks like, and quacks like a private business interest masquerading as a municipality.

Sounds remarkably like our PWB!!

Fish is just what Portland needs, another representative from New York.

Hey Nick. A lot of people thought their home was an investment, so you're not the only totally misinformed person.

Trouble is you are in a hell of a lot more dangerous position with that kind of ignorance.

I was so hoping this guy would be a grown up with worldly experience and not a cool-aid quaffer.

Where's our Bloomberg?

This could be the "first, do no harm" economic approach that I just heard the author Ron Suskind discussing in regards to his new book, "Confidence Men". The book is about how President Obama came in with a clear and even brilliant understanding of the need to change the culture of Wall Street, but let it slip away while the usual suspects gamed him or managed him.

I suspect Commissioner Fish also ran into the status quo machine that whispered constantly to him, "Yes, but if we stop doing things like we have been, there's going to be a lot of harm. Are you prepared to take that risk and the subsequent blame when you can just go along?"

Both Wall Street and the Portland City Council are already locked into a harmful path, but to get us off it would require some true disruption and some pain for a lot of very powerful people. It's much easier to ease into the same old song about how these investments are going to help us later.

Now, I can't tell from the article if Sam really compared it to a student getting a student loan to improve his or her future - that part's not in quotes and could be the OPB writer's own description, but, either way, it does bring up the question of expertise. I mean wouldn't it be better for Sam and the gang to govern? Fix a pothole for God's sake. At least succeed or fail at something you're supposed to be doing. But to give this group the keys to the future based on their assessment of what will make sense in areas that they have no expertise in? It's crazy.

Nick Fish probably knew this at one time, but found it more convenient - once in office - to go along and play the game, much as President Obama did when he had a genuine opportunity to rein in Wall Street back in 2009. Maybe Sam and Randy gamed Nick Fish just like Tim Geithner and Larry Summers gamed the President.

Re: "Both Wall Street and the Portland City Council are already locked into a harmful path, but to get us off it would require some true disruption and some pain for a lot of very powerful people."

Bill McD,

It's really time for "a lot of very powerful people" to feel "some pain." One hopeful sign came last week from the DE courtroom where the bankruptcy resolution of WaMu approaches three years:

"For big hedge funds that throw themselves into large bankruptcies with an eye on outsized profits, the Chapter 11 case of Washington Mutual Inc may be remembered as a game-changer.

A Delaware bankruptcy judge's ruling in the case rejecting the company's reorganization plan could chip away at the funds' underlying investing strategy and change how large restructurings are negotiated, according to legal experts."
http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/09/21/us-washingtonmutual-idUSTRE78K4XG20110921

"...shareholders presented evidence that the funds engaged in insider trading by cashing in on non-public, material information gleaned from the negotiations.

The funds denied the allegations, arguing among other things that they did not meet the definition of insiders.

[Judge] Walrath disagreed. In her written ruling last week, she found that the funds may have become insiders when Washington Mutual provided them confidential information and allowed them to join negotiations for a reorganization plan."

Of course, the bankruptcy hearings did not address the apparent insider information that, in 2008, gifted JPM Chase with $307B of WaMu's assets for the very risible sum of $1.888B. Matters regarding the takedown of WaMu have been in abeyance pending resolution of the holding company's (WMI) bankruptcy. There is, that is, more pain to be distributed to "a lot of very powerful people." Perhaps there are other honest judges.

It's common sense. When your house is falling down around your ears and your children are starving, maybe it's not the best time to go out and borrow to buy a Maserati.

Fish didn't really originate this analogy. Some others have been at it for quite a long time.

I am still in awe of Portland's own unique perspective on this. Think about it:

There's a growing likelihood that the work Henry Paulson's Goldman Sachs did with Greece will lead to a further and much more serious unraveling of the global economy.

Yet, when the same Paulsons descended on Portland, they were greeted by our council like gods landing on the Planet Kiss-Ass.

It's not every day that you get to see a direct link to the big wheels of history - even if the wheels are grinding you and much of the world up in the process. Frankly, as someone who grew up reading about history from afar, I'm impressed.

After the Timbers deal, I'm just surprised our city council didn't help Dick Cheney open a local water park.

Fish has been the Third Vote on many things that totally forgets economic sense. His own Bureau, Housing is a prime example of his disregard of economic common sense.

City Affordable Housing projects like in NW, NE and SoWhat are running $350 per square ft. While builders in the metro area are now building in the $65 to $100 range.

A simple question was asked of a City Housing official recently of why the disparity, and why doesn't the Housing Bureau just rehab or allow the free market build the housing they need at a much lower cost. She said that "we've been asked that question lately many times, and I can't answer it." Can Fish answer it?

Bill McD - isn't that supposed to read: help Dick Cheney open a local water BOARD park?

I kind of went subtle with that because the Timbers aren't a bad thing by themselves. They're not a tiny version of the fraud with subprimes for example. I'm actually a Timbers fan - I like the team and I'll be watching tonight and hoping they make the playoffs in the next few games.

So to have the same relationship, a Cheney business here in town wouldn't necessarily have the torture, etc... It could be something fun like a pie shop.

But that wouldn't mean our city council should be in business with either one of them. Watching Randy and Sam suck up to the Paulson money was one of the truly sickening spectacles ever to happen in Portland, especially as it appears now, that Henry Paulson will be on the short list of greedy creeps who helped destroy the greatest country in the history of the world.

Just another baby boomer destroying the world. What exactly was in those brownies being passed around at Woodstock?

" At least succeed or fail at something you're supposed to be doing."

But, but, but! That would be SO boring. That doesn't get you invited to jet set all over the world to be a spokesmodel for fashionable real estate deals, drinking other people's whiskey and smoking other people's cigars. Besides, there isn't enough money left to do the things we're supposed to be doing. If we can't play with funny-money, we won't get to play at all!

One more thing Mr Fish, this ain't gonna do it either:

http://www.portlandonline.com/mayor/index.cfm?c=49519&a=365108

We still have lousy schools and un-educated kids no matter how many over-priced buildings get thrown up.

Andy, baby, I don't think Scam or Nick Fish are old enough to be Boomers. I believe they both fall into the Gen X slacker age range. Next!

...City Affordable Housing projects like in NW, NE and SoWhat are running $350 per square ft. While builders in the metro area are now building in the $65 to $100 range...

What is that all about?
Makes no sense.
Transparency needed here and in all bureaus the way it looks!
Moratorium on all bureaus should be insisted upon and completely reviewed by independent citizens, not selected ones by the commissioners.
There is far too much control and control of the abuse.

FISHY COUNCIL FOR SURE:The drinking water future as offered by the debt swamping of
Portland Water Bureau: 1)takeover by Goldman Sachs (one of
our favorites) as well as unavailable info on underwriters of
our municipal water bonds 2) Non regulation of water treatment
toxins nor public info provided in what is placed in our water 3)renewed contract unanimously continues City consultant hiring right now costing about $200,000.00 a year for federal lobbying on city drinking water
issues (Patton Boggs legal firm's Vicki Cramm who is previously
of the law firm that is fighting off petitioners who wish to stop
Milwaukee light rail AND Patton Boggs is the legal firm and
federal revolving door lobbying group that assisted Enron's merger
with PGE and total control of the Western electricity grid to boot). Patton Boggs was also involved in GOLDMAN SACHS' oil trading which became unregulated under Bush as well as supporting oil price manpulating. PRIVATIZED DRINKING WATER TO SUM UP!


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