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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 11, 2012 5:16 AM. The previous post in this blog was Missing the whole point. The next post in this blog is Where have all the mailers gone, long time passin'?. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Lousy schools? Go by streetcar!

Ah, Portland's "angry school supporters" are going to march today. That phrase has gotten to be redundant any more, hasn't it?

The rhetoric will no doubt include swipes at those who voted against recent tax increase proposals for schools. Some of the opposition to those taxes was mean-spirited and anti-union, but many of us who voted no did so after growing tired of watching local government burn millions on streetcars and other developer welfare while letting the schools rot.

We wish the marchers a safe and productive event, but if they think that a lot more tax revenue is needed to solve their problems, our advice to them from last year, here, still stands.

The march is set to start at the Rose Quarter and end at Pioneer Courthouse Square. We hope the angry people walk over the Broadway Bridge, and look at the shiny streetcar tracks that have been laid there. It's the best symbol we can find of the root cause of their problems.

Comments (27)

Hey, this is Oregon, this is how things get done is with amplitude instead of logic. How else do you think we get bike paths and soccer stadia instead of good roads and schools?

UPSET looks like another pressure group with some OEA backing.

Welcome to UPSET, where "more money" is our only solution ...

My oh my.

The organizers are missing a golden opportunity by ending at the square.

A few blocks further and they could show support for the "Education Urban Renewal District".

I urge them to reconsider and extend the march to the South Parks blocks/PSU area within the planned UR district.

This marvelous plan deserves some solidarity. Marchers should curry favor with the city, PDC and developers who are contributing so much to improving livability and education as a whole.

It is quite possible the resulting synergy could even help win over support for the Sustainability Center.

From there all things are possible.

Marchers, please trot on down a few blocks further. 4 Kids and Kommunity.

How about surrounding city hall, since all their policies of URA and pet projects have caused school funding problems?
But wait, Sam just promised to send them $7 million, so no UPSET there.

"It's the best symbol we can find of the root cause of their problem."

I ask not to be confrontational, but do you honestly think this is just "their" problem? That struck me as a tad bit elitist and Romney-esque. When you say "their" are you referring to my daughters or to me and my wife? Isn't this problem all of ours? Or is it not your problem because you can afford not to send your kids to public schools. If I chose to send my kids to private school, an option that's always there, I don't think the school funding issue would be any less pertinent to me.

Maybe you really feel that way, I don't know.

I'm a little confused here, Jack.

While I'm not commenting on the broader issue of funding transportation vs funding education, it seems to me that just a week or two back you were protesting Adams' decision to give PPS $7M to help with its budget issues. (Not the first time the City has helped bail out the local school district either).

Perhaps you were only disagreeing on technical/legal grounds--i.e. you don't mind the funds transfer but aren't sure if it's legal. (Again, I would point out that you're the attorney in the room; I would think that you have a better idea of what's legal or not than those of us in the peanut gallery). But it strikes me as strange to complain in one thread that the City is spending city funds on schools, and then in another, to complain that the City is spending money on transportation/land use projects that you dislike, while the schools go wanting.

Either K-12 education should be a budget priority for the City of Portland, or it shouldn't.

If you want to find something to be outraged about, you might ask where the bailout money for Reynolds, David Douglas, Centennial, and other east-county districts that lie partially within City boundaries. (Riverdale Schools can take care of themselves, methinks).

They ought to "occupy" S.W. Moody Avenue between Riverplace and SoWhat - a $40 million project to "raise" the street, landscape it, and move a perfectly good (if unnecessary) Streetcar track from its former separate ROW onto the street, so that now the street is above the surrounding land but promises to make the area more conducive to development (of course within a URA, so schools won't get any of the money).

There's even a nice new Streetcar stop that isn't open because...well...there's nothing there to stop for!

The school district and the county need to get together and agree to actively fight against every expansion of urban renewal in the city.

It is hard to take complaints seriously when PPS and the county have both recently voted to support an urban renewal expansion.

All local taxing jurisdictions need to understand that they shouldn't be complaining about lack of funding for basic services until they've ended all luxury expenditures. PPS and the county are so strapped that they don't really have luxury expenditures, but they do have leverage over all the BS spending done by the City of Portland.

Here's another opinion on the "root cause of their problems." To get a good picture of what's eating up the funding for our schools, one need look no further than the OEA and the unrealistic benefits paid out under OEBB and PERS. The system is not sustainable, and the benefits eat up most all of the new funding that schools have cobbled together over the years.

"the benefits eat up most all of the new funding." I remember being at a band performance at Mt. Tabor Middle School around 2005 to see one of my sons performing. A member of the PTA gave a short speech on the importance of voting yes on the upcoming city tax to fund the schools. He gave a percentage of how much of the tax dollars went directly to the classroom. I remember wanting to ask how much of that percentage was teacher salary and benefits but I kept quiet. Didn't want to ruin the evening.

Engineer,

Methunks you are twisting in the Portland wind.

As for your manipulative query. Are you pretending Adams produced that $7 million bail out? He just took it from other essential services where shortages are as severe as the PPS.

PPS is also not a responsibility of the CoP. Some may "feel" it is appropriate to recklessly shift money

without a clue as to the broader effects but that doesn't make is so.

Furthermore, these so called bail outs are no more than irresponsible political shenanigans which enable the mismanagement of both PPS and CoP.

Then you use the cooked language, "funding transportation vs funding education" to mask the real beef about funding rail transit, mystery train & streetcar boondoggles.

The heated uprising and blow back is not about a dislike of "transportation" spending and the anti-rail masses are neither anti-transit or anti-transportation. They are anti-crappy transportation, anti-waste, anti-dysfunctional and anti-ruin of communities.

It's your manipulation of circumstances which attempts to cast as strange both complaining about city spending on schools, and also about the City spending on "transportation/land use projects".

No K-12 is not a budget priority for the City of Portland. It's not a budget item period. And the "bail out" money taken from other services leaves then wanting without any regard for which may be worse.

That act of blind bailout is part of political parasite that is ruining many local things.

The long term reckless endangerment of both the CoP and PPS through the commingling of corrupted spending throughout them, the PDC & TriMet, Metro and Mult. Co. is causing a melt down of everything core and fundamental.

Perhaps you should go find your own outrage instead of trying to misrepresent and manipulate others'.

Suggesting attention be diverted to the idea of unequal bailouts instead of why they are needed at all is simply more enabling of the worsening problems.

You may as well be preaching that more light rail sooner will save money.

EngineerScotty-

It was probably (another) illegal expenditure of funds by the city to give the schools. They have their own tax authority and distinct budget/entity. But the tax base sees one giant property tax bill, and if they didn't give away hundreds of millions of dollars that tab would be lower and I imagine more people would have voted for an increase for the schools pie, it's just that the pie is CRUSHING the residents of this city currently.

This is the game, starve popular services by giving money to urban renewal, then hold those services hostage and ask for a tax increase when there is plenty of money available if they didn't spend it on UR contractors and other backdoor (haha!) deals.

To be clear, I'm not defending (or attacking) the $7M transfer to PPS; I'm only asking for clarification on the seemingly contradictory stances being taken.

"We shouldn't spend money on X; we should instead spend it on Y", when X and Y are unrelated things, is one of the older rhetorical tricks in the book. Education has nothing to do with what sort of transportation infrastructure we choose to fund, which is my point. If Jack (or someone else) thinks that education is getting underfunded and transportation is getting over-funded, that's a good conversation to have. If folks think that spending money on bike/transit infrastructure is a bad idea, and instead the money should go to roads (whether to fix 'em or improve 'em), that's a good conversation to have. But "we shouldn't build Streetcar because of the schools" is confusing the issues--does the same argument apply to street repair? Or to policing?

Of course, voters CAN'T increase school funding much more, thanks to Ballot Measure 5 and its progeny--property taxes for school operational funds are capped out at 0.5%. The wisdom of that, of course, is also an interesting topic to discuss.

The streetcar is a waste of money. So is "urban renewal." If you killed them and gave that money to the schools, the schools would be fine. And it can be done, if the politicians want to make it so. But they don't.

I don't advocate violating the state constitution, no matter how noble the cause.

Your invitation to debate on your slanted terms is declined.

Actually, Jack, I'm not a terribly big defender of the Streetcar. I'm not as cynical about the Portland political establishment as you are (some of 'em, certainly, but not all), but my personal opinion is that transportation dollars ought to be focused on things that improve the performance of transportation.

However, the city (and the nation) does have a problem: Automobile infrastructure is getting expensive. Like many empires before us, we've spent gazillions of dollars building lots of stuff that we can no longer afford to maintain. Some of that is macro-economics; some of that is the 1% grabbing an ever-increasing slice of the pie (and declining to pay for their fair share of our common infrastructure, even though they benefit tremendously from it), and some of that is the result of decades of unwise deficit spending--including the longstanding practice of many public agencies (both the city and TriMet included) of granting employees boatloads of deferred compensation in lieu of salary, while not bothering to adequately fund this debt. And now retirees have an ever-increasing claim on tax revenues, a problem compounded by skyrocketing healthcare costs, something which our political system seems to have a hard time doing something about.

That's the environment we live in. PBOT is increasingly unable to afford to keep up with street maintenance.

The issue is--even if Portland were to abandon all construction of streetcar lines, bike lanes/bikeways, and anything else that cars don't run on--things which you seem to consider wasteful because most residents don't directly benefit from them--we still wouldn't be able to keep up with the street repair bill. Perhaps a bigger dent could be made, but the fundamental problem wouldn't be addressed. The major problems are structural in nature, not the result of foolish or wasteful policy decisions by the current administration. And they are not particular to the policies of Portland.

And I haven't even gotten to the issue of gas prices, which are now north of $4/gallon in most places around town.

Lower-density living, the sort you seem to treasure (this blog seems to react to every new apartment building around town as though plagues of locusts were being let loose in the city), is expensive to maintain--it simply requires more infrastructure per capita, and this is a simple fact of geometry. And it requires more energy to travel across, for the same reason. The 1950s aren't coming back. The younger generation--the ones who will be paying for the mess bequeathed to them by the Boomers, who couldn't be bothered to pay for their own pensions, instead passing the bill off to the kids--knows this. We simply can't maintain the old ways of doing business--even if we could wring every last dollar of corruption and waste out of the system, we can't. It's time to downsize.

You are absolutely correct to be considered about cronyism and corruption in this town; there's plenty of it to go around. But if you think that it's limited to the "new urbanists" and their political allies, you're sorely mistaken. There's just as much graft and pilfery in suburbia as there is in SoWa and other high-density development. The right-wingers running against "Portland Creep" down in Clackamas County aren't all that much different in character from the Portland "development mafia" you like to despise; their business model is simply a different style of development. Rather than building apartments at public expense, they want to build subdivisions. This despite the fact that there's still a tremendous glut of unsold housing inventory in the market.

Bottom line: The future is likely going to be one of greater density; as America won't be able to afford large swaths of suburbia in the post-imperial, post-cheap-oil economy. How we address this transition is fundamental to our future.

Starve the beast.

Why are we always put in a position to cough up more dough for the stuff everyone wants and never get to vote on the stuff that almost nobody wants?

I suppose we all know the answer:

Corruption in suits and ties

However, the city (and the nation) does have a problem: Automobile infrastructure is getting expensive. Like many empires before us, we've spent gazillions of dollars building lots of stuff that we can no longer afford to maintain.

In 50 years, America may be a third world country where everybody's riding around on bicycles and drinking recycled urine. But does it really make sense to be the first city in the country experiencing that?

PBOT is increasingly unable to afford to keep up with street maintenance.

Because it is spending all of its budget on bulls**t. Do you read what I post before you distort it?

The right-wingers running against "Portland Creep" down in Clackamas County

Well then, go argue with them, not me. You've become really tiresome.

ES: Portland misuse of URA deprives schools throughout the state of contributions from taxes, and should therefore be a statewide concern. URA's are supposed to be for "blighted" areas - which PSU certainly isn't.

What we have on our hands is not lack of resources, but mismanagement of those resources. PPS "deferred maintenance" on many buildings and plunged the "savings" into cadillac benefits packages - then came crying to us that the buildings were falling apart.

CoPo has done essentially the same - diverting infrastructure money to pet projects and growing city staff. We don't need to build $1.5 billion seven-mile train lines. But they do it anyway.

We need better bus service, but they gut that to pay for light rail, streetcars, and WES. That's why the uprisings are occurring in Clackistan and Washington County. They get it.

They don't want what Portland and Metro have in mind.

"Lower-density living, the sort you seem to treasure (this blog seems to react to every new apartment building around town as though plagues of locusts were being let loose in the city), is expensive to maintain--it simply requires more infrastructure per capita, and this is a simple fact of geometry. And it requires more energy to travel across, for the same reason."

This would be a more persuasive argument if any our elected representatives lived in high-density housing, or if any of them routinely used public transit, but none of them do. Not one. They all live in single family homes, far away from where they work, and usually drive alone into town, even though their neighborhoods are served by public transit. I'm not exaggerating: Adams lives right off the bus line in Kenton, right? Fritz lives in southwest near PCC Sylvania, Leonard lives out by felony flats, Saltzman in the west hills. Who am I forgetting? These people could all live in high-density housing and take public transit, but they don't. They're hypocrites.

It is truly remarkable how so many on the left are so willing to decide how others live.
If you love living in condo bunkers then knock yourself out.
But you will kindly leave your grimy mitts off our neighborhoods thank you very much.

tankfixer: The left isn't building condos and apartments, developers are. It's the free market at work, right?

Portland misuse of URA deprives schools throughout the state of contributions from taxes, and should therefore be a statewide concern. URA's are supposed to be for "blighted" areas - which PSU certainly isn't.

I'm not defending the PSU urban renewal proposal. And actually, I agree that UR is overused. One minimum criteria for creation of an UR district ought to be consent of the residents therein; that helps to curb the most rampant abuses thereof.

However, I don't believe UR affects state taxes. City and county levies, certainly; but as the state of Oregon doesn't collect property taxes, it isn't getting stiffed by UR districts skimming off the top.

What we have on our hands is not lack of resources, but mismanagement of those resources. PPS "deferred maintenance" on many buildings and plunged the "savings" into cadillac benefits packages - then came crying to us that the buildings were falling apart.

And I more or less stated as such. But that's water under the bridge--the worst of this was done in years past. How we deal with it going forward is the salient question.

This would be a more persuasive argument if any our elected representatives lived in high-density housing, or if any of them routinely used public transit, but none of them do. Not one.

In general, I don't know who lives where or uses what, though TriMet's general manager is reportedly a regular bus user. I'm generally more interested in discussing policy, not personalities.

It is truly remarkable how so many on the left are so willing to decide how others live.
If you love living in condo bunkers then knock yourself out. But you will kindly leave your grimy mitts off our neighborhoods thank you very much.

As nobody points out, much of this is being done by private developers, yet we get a post every so days from Bojack about how some apartment development (on private property) is sure to ruin the neighborhood, infringing on the rights of the existing neighbors to free on-street parking and such. Nobody is suggesting forcing anybody out of single-family homes.

In 50 years, America may be a third world country where everybody's riding around on bicycles and drinking recycled urine. But does it really make sense to be the first city in the country experiencing that?

Nobody's coming to force you to ride a bicycle or to drink pee (although I can assure you that many birds and beasts use Bull Run as their toilet, but never mind).

:PBOT is increasingly unable to afford to keep up with street maintenance.

Because it is spending all of its budget on bulls**t. Do you read what I post before you distort it?

Yes to the first part. (About reading, not distorting). Some of what it spends on is questionable, some not. You seem to be arguing for maintaining the status quo, however--despite that the world is changing. And perhaps that's not entirely a bad idea--if gas prices continue to go up (it's now $4.15 at the cheap station near where I live) and driving continues to go down, we won't NEED to build bikeways and rapid transit--the existing streets will not be quite so clogged with cars, and the bikes and busses will be able to freely moved, unmolested by traffic.

But still, there's a sizeable contingent of Portlanders who do commute by bike or by train. The suggestion that automobile infrastructure is the only thing that ought to be funded strikes me as a non-starter.

Well then, go argue with them, not me.

Believe me, I do. It's a full-time job.

You've become really tiresome.

I'll try and take that as a compliment.

Erik H, speaking of SW Moody in SoWhat that is now on it's third "remodeling" since SoWhat was formed, it has now been revealed that the recent 14 ft. raising was NOT for the soon-to-be stopped Milwaukie Lightrail.

That is how the $69 Million cost was sold to the SoWhat URAC. If you'll notice, there are concrete piers being built right to the west of the raised SW Moody. These are for the lightrail.

What is now becoming very obvious is that SW Moody was raised only to benefit OHSU, PSU and Zidell to the east of Moody. By raising Moody, they are now able to get one to two parking levels above the flood plain. Plus they didn't have to disturb their toxic sites by excavating down for underground parking, footings, etc., which would of cost them enormously in toxic removal. All they did was cap the sites which is much cheaper. And they avoided the floodplain structural building costs.

Now the front entry doors, like at the new OHSU/PSU Collaborative Building now visible, are at the new level of SW Moody. The raising of SW Moody was all done at taxpayer expense, had nothing to do with MLR, and only benefited "stakeholders".

Getting to EngineerScotty, the $69 Million could have gone to other city services. But he doesn't seem to be able to connect the dots.

Engineer,

Are you kidding?

Your slants are stale rehashing of tired twisted arguments and contortions used to defend the whole TriMet, Metro, global warming, peak oil, high density or die agenda.

Your offensive falsehoods about what is happening in Clackamas County is right out of Tom Hughes mouth.

Have you hired to start hanging out here peddling that load?
You've managed to distort every element form funding to why apartments spring up along MAX.


V2V: Was that an argument?

Was that smarmy
If you to run over all the same endless responses
go read all the comment sections of every clackamas story over last two years

However, I don't believe UR affects state taxes. City and county levies, certainly; but as the state of Oregon doesn't collect property taxes, it isn't getting stiffed by UR districts skimming off the top.

No it doesn't impact state taxes, but it does impact stae-wide education funding. As I recall since UR reduces the PPS budget, the state steals money from all the other state-wide districts to make PPS more whole again. So the abuse of UR in Portland impacts the schools in the entire state.

UR reduces the Oregon "State School Fund": http://blog.oregonlive.com/mytualatin/2011/10/understanding_urban_renewal_pr.html


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Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 115
At this date last year: 21
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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