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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New "urban renewal" district is illegal, says League of Women Voters

The group gives a big thumbs-down to the proposed "education urban renewal" district at Portland State and Lincoln High School, and it makes this important point about it:

The Urban Renewal Law (ORS 457) provides a mechanism for local governments to address areas within their boundaries that are in serious decline. Under ORS 457, each proposed urban renewal area must meet a "blight test" to determine whether the area in question merits the "excessive and disproportionate expenditures of public funds." It is this blight and the "growing or total lack" of economic prosperity that justifies taking tax dollars from other taxing districts and their programs and dedicating such funds to an urban renewal area.

Urban renewal is not intended to be used to improve areas that are attracting substantial private investment, whose property values are increasing and simply need thoughtful public investment to achieve desired ends. It is difficult to understand how an area with a relatively new light rail line and an extension in the works, the street car, picturesque Park Blocks, and buildings under construction or recently completed could be considered blighted. The purported blighting conditions described in the urban renewal report do not exhibit a "growing or total lack" of economic prosperity that warrants an urban renewal designation.

The league also complains, quite rightly, that the plan that the City Council plans to pass is so lacking in detail that it fails to satisfy the requirements for an urban renewal plan as specified in state law.

And so who is going to go to court to stop the council's obviously illegal move? If the answer is that no one will, it's a major statement about the civic health of Portland. And not a good one.

Comments (24)

Could possibly Dr. Drugstore Cowboy follow the lead of MoonBeam to the south and eliminate forever the UR fraud? Anyone know of the Dr. wore his "cowboy" outfit to DC?

It's not the first time Portland has raised its middle finger to laws, statutes, and ordinance. It's a sad statement and condemnation of our community that it now requires individuals to instigate the tedious and expensive process of litigation to halt these blatant abuses of trust.

Says the sheep to the wolf in its pen, "baaaa, baaaa".

This is another kind of corruption. Ignoring specific language in statutes and administrative laws (regulations).

All because it doesn't fit in with their 'insider' crony capitalist agenda.

Don't claim only Republicans engage in crony capitalism (preaching to the choir).

This town, Portland, has the Democratic version.

Corruption respects no party -- it's an equal opportunity human behavior.

I'd rewrite the fake puzzlement part where they say, "It is difficult to understand...."

I think with this and the water bills and the whole subject of public/private partnerships, we all understand that the politicians are acting like scoundrels, viewing the intent of the law as an impediment to get around.

"Portlandia" has been taken, but I'd call Portland "Allegory, USA" for the almost surreal way in which we capture national issues on a local basis. if only our characters were works of fiction.

For example, we don't just reflect the whole fiscal meltdown - we have one of the main players from it here, Henry Paulson, setting up his son in the soccer business, and when it turns out neither one of them really knows what they're doing, we have Merritt in full pout mode about the Timbers, wondering why the butler didn't put together his shiny new toy right on Christmas morning.

I was also struck by how the Mayor - such an advocate for bicycles - has had one incident where his car runs into a bicyclist. It's like we're channeling a Joseph Heller novel. I mean just take the name "Beau Breedlove". That doesn't just happen, does it?

Now, we have the Lincoln students flying directly to Washington, D.C. to explain the Rule of Law as set out in the Constitution, and winning first prize for how well they did it.

And meanwhile, here we have our local sleazeball politicians trying to finagle their way around the Rule of Law at every turn - but not just with the Water Bills or the general concept of public/private partnerships. No, our people are actually targeting Lincoln High School.

It's breathtaking. Allegory, USA.

And therein lies the rub: "And so who is going to go to court to stop the council's obviously illegal move?

It seems that the answer to the rhetorical question is no one. More to the point. Will any of the new council members give a rat's ass?

Eradication of "blight" has long ceased being a factor in PDC urban renewal decisions. But while LWV in Portland has been the ever vigilant watchdog over PDC policies - it takes more than their memos and testimony at PDC hearings.

What is to be done?

And so who is going to go to court to stop the council's obviously illegal move?

Isn't that why we have the press? Cripes, Portland has three or four weekly papers of consequence, three or four TV stations with local news and a daily paper.

and maybe a blog or two.

The League of Extraordinary Women Voters have confirmed what any two-bit lawyer could conclude.

But in our post-rule-of-law world, the political class will just huff and yammer and then go back to their enabling boot licking ankle grabbing sleaze.

And why the rush to get this though now?

It couldn't possibly be the effect of a well-known blog hammering away on this obvious scam and SOME people finally waking up?

Thanks League of Women Voters for speaking up, as several of us have been hinting. Please follow through with legal action. And I hope other interested groups like in education help. I think other citizens would help if you created a network to help both financially and otherwise. We've seen enough misappropriation of resources in these URAs.

Maybe Jack's mayoral opponent will help since she works in the area. The so-called Education URA is a misnomer.

Now, we have the Lincoln students flying directly to Washington, D.C. to explain the Rule of Law as set out in the Constitution, and winning first prize for how well they did it.

YES! Those kids didn't get nearly the kudus they deserve. Lincoln High is the top-performing school in PPS, so naturally it must be targeted in order to satisfy the salivating condo-builders. Anywhere else, it'd be amazing. Sadly, it's the norm, here.

I also agree with Jim's comment above on corruption. It's an equal-opportunity disease. Just look at Illinois, where four governors - from both parties - are doing time for corruption. "Tighty-righties" and "loony lefties" are equally susceptible.

Here, on the other hand, it's been all loons, all the time, and they've compiled an impressive laundry list; covering everything from slop buckets to pickup reduction (with no rate reduction), diversion of ratepayer funds for pet projects like "water houses" and "Leonard loos", URA abuse, light rail, streetcars, bike paths, bioswales, road neglect (though the pot-holes can at least serve a dual purpose - they can act as small bioswales, and over time could be reclassified as protected wetlands). And that's just the tip of it all.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke.

Much like the 2 recall efforts of a few - to no avail - nothing will be done about the blatant corruption of City Hall.

The reason? No leadership. No one of substantial position will step up. And this system will fail because of this lack of concern for community.

Me - I'm stocking up and micro-networking 'cause when the SHTF, Adams and the clones to follow will not help me or my block.
Big money rules now - however, the little guy can have a measure of self-determination post-collapse if he prepares.

Have any of you been to what passes for a neighborhood "disaster preparedness" meeting CoP puts on? I've been to 2. THERE IS NO PLAN. Just a 20something passing out "Know Your Neighbor" (KYN) workbooks - filled with what used to be common sense information.

These people lie to get into office.
Then - with their middle finger pointed at you, the crony developers locusts are led to the public trough. They blind you with cognitive dissonance and divide you into little bickering groups of . . . issues.

We have become coppertops to them, and THIS is not sustainable.

Just sayin'

Civic Health? HA! I wouldn't lift a finger to stop Portland from digging the gigantic hole they are digging - at the behest of its electorate. The City of Portland, Metro, and TriMet compete with my business for private capital, don't maintain the infrastructure, and go out of their way to inhibit individual opportunity at every turn. We are considering moving so our son has a variety of opportunity available to him after High School, and I'm talking about job variety, and education opportunity. Our Family is active in our church, and in the Boy Scouts, and we spend many hours "contributing" to the community, but the bureaucracy, and electorate continue to take more than any of us are able to give, so the next logical step is to abandon ship.

Blight is just a cute way of saying an area hasn't developed in a way thats consistent with the master plan for the area.

What most people don't realize is these so-called plans were drawn up 25+ years ago and are rarely changed.

Will our once beloved City of Roses become the City of Abandonment?
Leave it to the rats, rats in charge and rats as a result.
This experiment greatly benefiting some at the expense of all else is cruel.
We need to draw a line here of who is on whose side and who will continue this agenda.

If the leaders of our community are laying down or whatever, perhaps the young brilliant students from Lincoln High can save the day by assisting with a lawsuit.
I am weary of citizens having to work so hard to get some semblance of decency around here, and having to file lawsuits.
These elected officials have no shame.

Looks as the Ladies have what the boys don't.

Ms Smith - I don't understand. "Who" are the "Big Money" in Portland? And what is the "Reward" for investing in such a place, except to benefit from the poverty propagated by Urban Renewal and Tax Increment Financing. Most developers choose not to live in Portland.

Ms Smith - I don't understand. "Who" are the "Big Money" in Portland? And what is the "Reward" for investing in such a place, except to benefit from the poverty propagated by Urban Renewal and Tax Increment Financing. Most developers choose not to live in Portland.

Mark, you could have shortened that comment to the first sentence - you know, the one where you addressed Ms Smith.

The following is from an article I read this morning in the NY Times critiquing a book written by one of Mitt Romney's pals.

“Unintended Consequences” ignores some of the most important economic work of the past few decades, about how power and politics influence economic growth. In technical language, this field is the study of “rent seeking,” in which people or companies get rich because of their power, not because of their ideas. This is one of the few fields in economics in which left and right share many influences and ideas — namely that wealthy individuals and corporations are able to influence politicians and regulators to make seemingly insignificant changes to regulations that benefit themselves. In other words, to rig the game."

The entire NYT article is here:


It gives some insight into the mentality that Romney is buying into in formulating his policies. I can't say that the other side of the aisle has been very effective in changing the status qou.

Historically, this reminds me of feudalism in the Middle Ages. The nobility didn't have to do anything to innovate, they sat back and collected off the backs of the serfs, and if anyone got out of line they were killed. Now days the modern day equivalent of the serf is too busy watching American Idol and paying for their smart phone to give a rip about the fact that urban renewal is shifting massive amounts of tax revenue from society as a whole to a select group of well connected individuals. Unfortunately, by the time people really wake up to all of this it's going to be too late to do anything about it.

Of course Usual Kevin or the NYT would have no worries about Romney's wealth if there were a (D) next to his name.

Portland, the town run only by (D) for the past 30 years. All for the children right? Ahahaha!

Illegal is a very maleable word in Oregon.

"Of course Usual Kevin or the NYT would have no worries about Romney's wealth if there were a (D) next to his name."

Of course your comment would make more sense if you actually read what I wrote. This is a problem on both the right and the left, and the current administration hasn't done much about it either. I mentioned the NYT article because it's about our society in general...including the City of Portland which is heavily Democratic.

Nowadays we don't kill serfs... we merely render them homeless and jobless.

What does Chicago and Portland have in common? They both have a corrupt political machine running a dictatorial city government as if it were a monarchy.

I'll do it Jack. I am more knowledgeable about URAs than probably most of the people at the PDC. But I would need a competent UR attorney and someone to support legal fees. Eric Winters will give a character reference...

You know how to find me.

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