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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 1, 2011 8:47 AM. The previous post in this blog was Seattle plans noisy welcome for scoundrel banker Jamie Dimon. The next post in this blog is Occupy Portland arrest numbers hit 37. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day of reckoning nears for Portland water, sewer mission creep

We've been complaining for nearly two years now about the City of Portland's spending water and sewer revenue on projects that have nothing to do with delivery of either water or sewer service. And for almost as long, attorney John DiLorenzo has been suggesting that he might sue the city on behalf of unidentified clients over those expenditures, which he believes violate the city charter.

Now DiLorenzo has sent the city a set of letters, demanding that the inappropriate expenditures be halted and an accounting made of past transgressions. The letters set a deadline of two weeks from today, and threaten a lawsuit. Copies of the documents are here. Among the complaints are these:

We believe the following non-mission specific expenditures have been made by the Portland Water Bureau. Please note that this is not an exclusive list. We are identifying others as we further our investigation:

1. Public financing of political campaigns.

2. Portland Loo Projects and maintenance.

3. Purchase of and renovation of Rose Festival building referenced at pages 2, 10 and 11 of the Auditor's Report including the Mount Tabor maintenance yard land exchange for the Rose Festival Building referenced at page 10 of the Auditor's Report.

4. Hiring of additional staff including former Bureau of Development Services employees to perform work unrelated to the water system (e.g. Rose Festival building renovations, Dodge Park renovations, etc.), referenced at page 2 of the Auditor's Report.

5. Dodge Park master plan and park projects.

6. Construction, staffing and operation of the "Water House," referenced at pages 2, 10 and 12 of the Auditor's report.

7. Development and maintenance for hydro parks.

8. Powell Butte II project non-water related park amenities (new caretaker residence, amphitheater, etc.).

9. Greenstreets and other transfer payments to BES and other agencies.

10. Park Bureau decorative fountain modifications and maintenance referenced at page 9 of the Auditor's Report.

11. Costs associated with Rose Festival ships.

12. Utility relocation costs (normally paid for by project sponsors) for Street Car and light rail projects in excess of $12 million.

The Bureau of Environmental Services has similarly expended funds from sewer fees which bear no nexus to the establishment and maintenance of the Portland sewer system. These include:

1. Public financing of political campaigns.

2. Park arborists and invasive species control expenses referenced at page 8 of the Auditor's Report.

3. Greenspace land acquisitions under the pretext of stormwater management.

4. Centennial Mils acquisition led by Portland Development Commission.

5. River planing activities identified at page 10 of City Auditor's report of March 30, 2011.

DiLorenzo is representing a new nonprofit corporation calling itself WATR -- Citizens for Water Accountability, Trust and Reform, Inc. Its articles of incorporation are here. Its initial directors are Floy Jones, long a thorn in the water bureau's side on Mount Tabor; Kent Craford of the Portland Water Users Coalition; and Fred Leonetti, who apparently lives in the KOIN Tower.

We hope that they go through with their threat to sue, and that they prevail. The outlandish mission creep at Portland water and sewer has got to stop, as in yesterday. Residents are being nickeled and dimed straight out of their homes. These legal actions will likely drag on past the end of the terms of the Sam Rand Twins, but perhaps they will keep the two of them busy enough to stop them from further destroying the city that they have not been smart enough or humble enough to govern wisely.

Comments (18)

Good for them!
Maybe The Fireman/Admiral will quit early.

What if the city simply ignores this? These guys are brazen beyond belief and even the state AG seemed to want to avoid any confrontation with CoP.

Boo-ya! City can't just ignore it if they are taken to court. A judge might ignore/dismiss it. But one would hope that the judiciary isn't as co-opted as every other office and institution in the state.

This is great. I'm going to look into how to support these guys and get back to you all.

If you would like more information on this effort, such as how you can help, please send an email to waterreform@yahoo.com. Thank you. Kent Craford

Remember the recall? We could have had one of them alongtime ago.

Keep up the good work Jack, it has helped people a bunch.

About time somebody called SamRand to the carpet on this. Although, I wonder where the junkies will go if the shooting galllery, um, Portland Loo, disappears.

Turn off that damn spigot! Time to drain the swamp and flush away the rats wasting our money.

Go team WATR!

Re: "City can't just ignore it if they are taken to court. A judge might ignore/dismiss it. But one would hope that the judiciary isn't as co-opted as every other office and institution in the state."

Snards,

"[O]ne would hope," but one need also fear. Yale Law School's Adam Cohen reminds us that across the land "Judges Are for Sale":

"The Occupy Wall Street movement is shining a spotlight on how much influence big-money interests have with the White House and Congress. But people are not talking about how big money is also increasingly getting its way with the courts, which is too bad. It's a scandal that needs more attention. A blistering new report details how big business and corporate lobbyists are pouring money into state judicial elections across the country and packing the courts with judges who put special interests ahead of the public interest."
http://ideas.time.com/2011/10/31/judges-are-for-sale-and-special-interests-are-buying/

"The American ideal of justice requires neutral judges, whose only commitment is to the law. Judicial elections that are dominated by special interest money make a mockery of that ideal."


If memory is correct DiLorenzo has a pretty good track record with lawsuits and court actions.

In related news, Compton, California is going through complete meltdown for doing many of the same things that are going to burn Portland:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-compton-20111101,0,7089212.story

Of particular note:

"By 2009, officials were using money from the water, sewer, retirement and other funds to paper over the shortfalls when the general fund ran short on cash for day-to-day operations. In its report for 2009, the city's independent audit firm chastised officials for the practice and for violating a city policy requiring council approval for budget changes."

Forget the food trucks. I figure that the big money will be in eyeglasses, when Sam tries to find a replacement for his Cory Doctorow birth-control frames that go with tar and feathers.

John, add to your list:
13. Utility relocation in the central district of South Waterfront URA due to raising site 3 ft to 6 ft.

14. Utility relocation for the first and second relocation/building of SW Moody in the north district of South Waterfront URA.

Also John, add 13 and 14 above, applied to your Bureau of Environmental Service's list.

Everytime I read about the water scams in Puddletown I just thank my lucky stars I am living on well water now.
It is criminal what is being done in Portland. Thank you Jack for keeping this scandal in public eye. People need to wake up and see what is going on.
Oh, the spin and excuses from the powers that be to justify these expenditures! Unbelievable.

Thanks for all efforts in stopping this serious matter in legal ways...
this council will not stop otherwise.
Apparently they don't care about the codes, or law or our pocketbooks
as long as they think they can get away with it and not be challenged.
What they have done is unconscionable throughout the years and their attitude has been take an inch, then a foot, - still no challenge, well let's go the whole mile, we can do what we want now and get away with it!!

The charter provision seems clear to me, and it prevails over any contradictory sections of the city code. I think Mr. DiLorenzo wins this one.

The challenge for the City is going to be finding the money to repay the Sewer Fund and the Water Fund. It will have to cut some other expenditure -- its contribution toward Milwaukie Light Rail, maybe?

Isn't there also an issue with favored contractors getting preferred rates? I think there was a matter with a mercury-bulb company?

Wasn't there also testing by an Australian company that may have had bidding constraints that did not allow locals to bid?

Then, have there been cultural-resources contracts to out-of-town contractors, when some of the experts concerning the tribes who lived here are in town?

It seems to me I recall a number of contracts let on an emergency basis? Could that get looked into because it affects costs?

Maybe now is a time to wonder about a team to see that remedies are enforced?

Enough of us have testified to no avail over the years, that we are pretty interested in this process.


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