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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 9, 2012 11:49 AM. The previous post in this blog was Bunkermania in Eugene. The next post in this blog is An anthem for 2012. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, March 9, 2012

It can't happen here

Here's a California city that's actually bringing in some outside experts to suggest cost-cutting measures. Can you imagine the City of Portland trying that? Ha! Ha! The consultants would wind up floating in a bioswale somewhere, and there would be so many suspects that the cops would never solve the crime.

Comments (17)

This quote from the story is telling: “This is a good time to look at it, and we need to with the loss of redevelopment (funding),” City Manager Randy Bynder said."

Jack -

If one carefully writes the RFP, one gets exactly the outside consultant or contractor one wants -- which is always the one who tell ypu that your are doing great and need no changes.

PDX is notorious for the way it writes its' RFP's to get the consultant and answers the City wants.

Never ask the question unless you know the answer.

Personally, I can see this working, in about the same way radio stations hire consultants to improve ratings. I've met several consultants who've worked for ClearChannel stations, and they'll tell you the same exact thing: the consultants are brought in to justify or rationalize exactly what the boss wants. They're paid not to make changes, but as scapegoats, so when the station manager fires the only deejays worth hearing, or decides to gut the playlist to make more room for Phil Collins or Arcade Fire, the staff can tell angry listeners to blame the consultant. "They charged us $60,000 to do it! Honest!"

I figure that you'll see the same thing going on in Portland, because that's been SOP for Dallas and Houston for a while. Hire someone's unemployable MBA of a child to make suggestions, and make absolutely sure that the kid knows what graft the mayor really wants. Have him come up with reasons as to why the streetcar expansion will save millions, as Sam already did with Richard Florida's "creative class" gibberish, and say that "we have a top-flight consultant who recommended this, and his track record is impeccable." Then, when everything implodes and someone catches Sam stuffing his suitcases with $100 bills and a one-way plane ticket to Rio, he can point and say "It's not my fault! The CONSULTANT told me it was okay!"

I thought we had already discovered how to cut sewer and water bills by 64%, by sending them out monthly instead of quarterly. Next?

The servants are the masters.

What Portland REALLY NEEDS is a Federal Investigation of the City Council; and a serious audit of it's expenses. Too bad Eric Holder is more interested in prosecuting states that actually want to enforce Federal Immigration laws and states that want voters to actually show up for voting with more than a cereal boxtop for I.D.

"PDX is notorious for the way it writes its' RFP's to get the consultant and answers the City wants."

Actually, they have a clause that if they don't approve of the report, they don't have to pay for it. Besides one bad report and that consultant will never get a gig from the city.

Consultants are paying for excuses. Simply bad leadership. Elect leaders that hire leaders.

But aptly named Rancho Mirage is a very special place, unlike Stumptown in so many ways. It is the refuge -- more specifically, the Annenberg estate -- to which Spiro Agnew, erstwhile Baltimore County Executive, repaired following his politically prudent midterm resignation from the Nixon Administration; and it was there -- also the Annenberg estate -- that the last Shah of Iran's family found protection while the Shah himself sought another country to be part of.

"Although the first modern settlements date back to the 1920s and 1930s, Rancho Mirage got its claim to fame after World War II. The Annenberg Estate or Sunnylands, owned by philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg, had long been popular with the wealthy and powerful, including Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Queen Elizabeth II, and Mary Martin. Several United States Presidents have vacationed at the Annenberg estate, including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford. Ford later bought a house in Rancho Mirage and was living there at the time of his death in 2006. The Betty Ford Center, a world-renowned addiction rehabilitation center, is located in Rancho Mirage at the Eisenhower Medical Center."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rancho_Mirage,_California

"The median income for a household in the city was $59,826 and the median income for a family was $78,384. Males had a median income of $50,027 versus $36,529 for females. The per capita income for the city was $58,603. About 4.4% of families and 5.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.4% of those under age 18 and 3.2% of those age 65 or over."

Rancho Mirage is endowed with the wherewithal to look after its wherewithal.

http://www.portlandonline.com/mayor/?a=347626&c=49278

I don't think this is the type of info the followers of this blog are looking to see, but Portland has cut its budget significantly during the last few years, is in line to balance its budget this year, and--as stated in the above article--has received a AAA rating from Moody's, in large part because "the city's operations continue to benefit from strong management."

So what department does Radar work for?

Did someone say the city didn't have a balanced budget? It's required by law to have one. Of course, the city's $6.3 billion in debt, but yes, the piece of paper called its budget has pretty numbers on it.

The city wastes a lot of money and has terrible priorities.

As for the "Aaa" rating, it's a canard. Most of the city's massive debt (84% of it) is rated lower than that:

http://bojack.org/2011/05/tweaking_the_city_of_portland.html

In past years, portland has routinely overspent budgets. The toothless tscc just shrugs and looks the other way. Nobody has even attempted to hold these thugs accountable until the current auditor. Lets hope something changes when the two top elected crooks leave city hall.

I guess I don't get it. Ranch Mirage (which, by the way, is safe harbor for a gazillion one percenters and should not be in trouble) is hiring a consultant to do what the City's executive staff should be doing as part of its job. Or am I wrong here?

The City is cutting costs the same way that TriMet is--cut essential services (street maintenance/public safety and bus lines) and keeping or expanding the cool stuff (bioswales/water houses/bike sharing and MAX. I can cut our family's grocery budget that same way...if I quit buying bread and hamburger and fruit I'll have money for brie and shrimp!

Question: Do you ride the bus?

Answer: No.

Why not?

It's dirty, unreliable, and I hate waiting for the bus.

Question: What if we built a new light rail line that had brand new trains and really cool stations and shelters?

Answer: I'd ride the train.

Question: Would you then ride the bus?

Answer: No, I'd ride the train.

Conclusion: Portlanders would rather ride the train than the bus.

Problem: It was never asked if the person would ride the bus if TriMet bought new buses and installed new bus shelters.


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