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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 13, 2011 8:46 AM. The previous post in this blog was It must have been a dream. The next post in this blog is Going to need your help. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Layer upon layer of bureaucracy

We must have missed the media coverage of this, but Portland's "unique" Metro government is currently looking for both an "executive director" and a "director of operations" for the Oregon Convention Center. One of these vacancies was discussed recently by the "general manager" of "Metro visitor venues," who delegated a bunch of authority down to the Convention Center's "assistant executive director."

It seems that there are more well paid bureaucrats in the office over at the Convention Center than there are conventioneers most of time. If only there were a taxpayer-funded private hotel...

Comments (17)

I've _always_ considered Metro to be a completely needless, redundant, and wasteful entity. Ron Cease's wet dream.

Metro is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What are the salaries for these "executives"?
Who says unemployment is a problem in Portlandia?

It's unfortunate that I'm not well-connected at Metro. Because, given the record of this agency and local government generally, I would be a great candidate for this position. Here are some of my qualifications.

1) I'm completely ignorant about running a facility such as the Oregon Convention Center, and so would bring in a large staff of highly-paid (by the public, of course) hacks and lackeys who would strive mightily to maintain an illusion of productive work.

2) I could run up all sorts of undocumented, unrelated expenses while making sure my supervisors received a lucrative percentage of the cash.

3) I've rehearsed saying things like "Linchpin," "Sustainable economic development," "Mistakes were made," and "We're conducting a full internal investigation but are unable to disclose any details of personnel matters." And can use those phrases in any context with any connotation.

4) I'm a master of apparent sincerity and faux earnestness. I can easily portray the image of just your typical green-friendly, bike-loving, common-sense, willing-to-stand-up-to-the-system
public manager who lives modestly and empathizes completely with the public's need for accountability, disclosure, honesty and transparency, especially where the public's hard-earned tax money is concerned. Without actually being any of those things, of course.

5) I have a closetful of empty suits.''

In short, I think I would be the ideal candidate for either, or both, of those jobs. In fact, I think having the same person for BOTH jobs would be best. Makes it easier to divvy up the graft.

Privatize the Convention Center and the Expo Center and the Schnitz and the Civic Auditorium.

There is no need to continue endless taxpayer subsidies for these organizations that largely support the private sector. If they can't stand on their own feet, sell the buildings off. Imagine that the Convention Center could be remade into a world-class corporate headquarters for a prominent Fortune 100 company, right in the heart of downtown Portland.

Up until about six years ago, the OCC was headed by a general manager who reported to both the MERC Commission and the Metro Council. The 4 or 5 OCC department managers reported to the general manager (now called the executive director).

Since that time, at the Metro level they've added the general manager of visitor venues position, and at the OCC they've added a director of operations and an assistant executive director. The irony is, after 9/11 the convention business dropped off significantly and never came back, so now they have all these new, highly paid people managing less activity. It's maddening. OCC probably needs to keep 3 or 4 high volume coffee machines running constantly in their management office to adequately serve these bored and underutilized executives while they count down the number of days they have left until their PERS retirements kick in.

Erik H-

Convention Center as corporate headquarters?

What rationally managed Fortune 100 company would locate in Portland, or even Oregon for that matter?

Note: Nike doesn't count. Uncle Phil is not rational.

hahaha a coffee-through-the-nose-moment when I read Jimbo's comments especially the #5...hahahahaha. Empty suits indeed!

Don't know about it as a corporate headquarters, but it'd make a spiffy hotel.

Hey - we could call it the Convention Center Hotel!

Bureaucracy gives birth to itself and then expects maternity benefits.

Dale Dauten

Maybe not a Fortune 100, but an internet retail business (Amazon) would make good use of doing business in Oregon where they wouldn't have to worry about collecting sales taxes from anyone. Plus the wages are lower than in Seattle.

After all it was Amazon that plastered its name on the grain elevator just west of the Rose Garden.

There is a lesson here for Portland bureaus "scrambling" to identify 8% in budget cuts next year: reduce management by 50%.

Erik H -

Respectfully disagree.

Using Amazon as an example, I suggest you try a field trip to Fernly, NV. the closest Amazon warehouse / shipping site. Convention Center no where near big enough.

Even for a smaller volume operation than Amazon, the Convention Center site sucks in terms of moving freight / inventory / sold items in an out. It sits at the center of an 18 hour a day traffic jam. Neithe 84 east, nor 5 (especially north) or south are free flowing freight arteries.

Oregon's sales tax free nature is no help other than for sales within Oregon. Wethere Amazon ( or anybody else) has to collect sales tax on 'net sales is a function of the law in the state where the product is delivered, not the law in the state from which the product is sold / shipped.

Back office workers, headquarters staff? Why subject the staff to Oregon's relatively high personal income tax rates?

It is a white elephant.

But I love the idea of replacing it with a hotel.
I love the idea of putting a

"It is a white elephant.

But I love the idea of replacing it with a hotel. I love the idea of putting a "


But aren't elephants afraid of

No, not as a distribution center. Their headquarters.

Amazon is required to collect sales tax in the jurisdictions they do business in. Moving their operations to non-taxed states would free them of this liability (it would now be up to the purchasers to self-report, but Amazon would not be legally required to report sales tax.) Taking over the OCC as a corporate headquarters would allow them to have a lower cost facility than in Seattle, with plenty of space for their web servers, database servers and such, whatever call center they need...

True, I-5/I-84 is Portland's Malfunction Junction - but who cares if you're a high-tech people industry. They can ride MAX. Put the distribution centers out in...oh, Boardman. Or Albany. Or Salem. Or even Troutdale. Heck, there's still plenty of space and even empty warehouse space up in Rivergate - but the distribution center doesn't even have to be in Oregon.

Amazon will have no problem finding workers in Portland - even call center workers and other menial jobs that pay just $10/hour (because those same jobs are at least a couple dollars an hour more in Seattle).

I'm just thinking out loud. Of course it'll never happen, because Metro won't give it up (how dare we believe private business knows good, only Government knows best for us!), and Amazon would be foolish to move to Oregon. But it is an interesting exercise in how Oregon has clear-cut advantages for business, and how Oregon can still royally screw it up.

Not sure who is right on the tax issue, but if is an advantage to be in a no sales tax state, why isn't Oregon booming with distribution warehouses?

Old Zeb -

Sorry.

Brain fart.

That fragment was supposed to have been deleted prior to posting.


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