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Thursday, May 24, 2012

What the Mystery Train is all about

Why spend $1.5 billion to build a crime train to nowhere? It will create "new development opportunities." Translation: More bad apartments in more neighborhoods, all subsidized by existing residents through just about every level of government. It's a shame to see Portland neighborhoods wrecked, but even more maddening to be a taxpayer paying for it.

Comments (27)

Sometimes this feels like a states rights issue. By offering these matching funds, the federal government is dangling money in front of our elected officials and their cronies. Then the locals are matching it with money that we'd be better off spending elsewhere.
Never mind for a second, that the federal money doesn't really exist except as more debt, it just feels like a bribe has occurred here, and our states rights have been violated.
It would be one thing to have the fed give the money with no strings attached, but this crosses over into the decision-making process on stuff the federal government isn't supposed to be deciding.
Am I crazy or not?

The locals need to be smart enough to say no. I'm no fan of Chris Christie (whom my 86-old churchgoing mother calls "that fat f**k"), but he did the right thing on the new Hudson River crossing. He cancelled it because the state can't afford it.

This is all SO depressing!
But your mother's comment had me LMFAO! this am.

Jack, I'm begging you to quit blogging and turn the reins over to your mother. That is the blog I want to read.

It's very strange how ingrained it has become here that local governments should be involved in real estate development.

Most cities are not involved in real estate development at all beyond zoning and permitting. It is this strange business that local governments here have taken on and just grows and grows.

Here is another link stating that Clackamas County has put a $250k "place holder" in its budget for the first payment on their $25 million light rail commitment. Interestingly, the article states that the actual annual payment will be $1.4 million+ (out of the general fund no less), and the County doesn't know where it will come from:

"We don't have that money right now, so we put in a placeholder," said Laurel Butman, deputy county administrator. "We're still trying to find out exactly where that first year payment is going to come from. The money we have, we put in there."

Incidently, does anyone know what specific document counts as Clackamas County's legally binding agreement to contribute the money? I don't doubt that they signed something, but I can't track down what and when. Thanks.

Of course the federal money is a bribe. That's why it's structured that way, so FTA can impose its bureaucratic vision on cities where local elected officials are dumb enough to play along.

But this will probably be the last federal contract. The LO Streetcar is dead, the CRC project is stalled out, and by the time the Barbur Blvd boondoggle is ready for federal financing, TriMet will probably be insolvent.

"TriMet will probably be insolvent"

The Feds too.

John - what do you mean the LO Streetcar is dead? As far as I can tell, it was put to sleep by politicians who wanted us to forget about voting on it last month when they knew the vote would not go their way. As long as Homer and assoc. are still working with the city on "alternative" plans for Foothills (just figures on paper, no meaningful drawings), there is no doubt in my mind that the streetcar will be resuscitated when and if they secure the council seats they need in Nov. Williams & Dame said that the development and the streetcar are "inextricably linked" and I have no reason to think they were lying.

The locals need to be smart enough to say no. I'm no fan of Chris Christie (whom my 86-old churchgoing mother calls "that fat f**k"), but he did the right thing on the new Hudson River crossing. He cancelled it because the state can't afford it.

Maybe not:

Northwest Armory - one of the premier gun shops in the metro area, is really close to the end-of-the-line at Park & McGloughlin. This is gonna make it a really popular run with the gang bangers.

What recourse does a citizenry have when its elected officials sign binding contracts on their behalf that are financially decimating to the said community, then leave office? In former times they would've been tarred and feathered, essentially lynched, but what about in these modern times?

Maybe not

More rail tunnels aren't the answer to traffic congestion in and out of Manhattan. There probably isn't any answer, but they certainly aren't it.

The Sulzbergers probably like Milwaukie MAX, too. They wouldn't if they lived here, or in New Jersey.

New Jersey needs more cops and firefighters in its ghettos way more than it needs more rail to the Big Apple.

More rail tunnels aren't the answer to traffic congestion in and out of Manhattan.

So, which is it? Affordability, or need?

Jack: I'm no fan of Chris Christie (whom my 86-old churchgoing mother calls "that fat f**k"), but he did the right thing on the new Hudson River crossing. He cancelled it because the state can't afford it.
Mike: He made many other decisions like this, mostly due to the state not having the money. Were these other decisions good or bad or ??? What is it about Christie you do not like, besides him being a Republican and a fat f**k?

" republican and a fat f-/k"
In't that hate speech ?
Will That will be enough to get you intolerant people two weeks at a mind
Corrective camp?

I was asked to write an essay about the Clackamas rebellion and not use the word "Clackastani."

you intolerant people

If you have seen Christie, or a picture of him, you know that he is much more than fat. If you have heard him speak, you also know the other part, which is independent of his obesity.

I have no dog in the fight for whatever goes on in Jersey, but I can think of a lot worse Republicans than Christie. That stated, I think Jack's mom sounds like a pretty cool lady. Family gatherings must be quite interesting in the Bogdanski household.

Along the lines of "Chit my dad says" a byline of some Mom quotes would be very welcome indeed.

So, which is it? Affordability, or need?

They don't need it and can't afford it. That definitive enough for you?

Nice column, Mark. Too bad you couldn't use "Clackistani". That would have been the icing on the cake.

That definitive enough for you?

It might be if it were true. But in the real world, almost nobody (including the fat guy) except maybe our blogmeister, has disputed the need for an additional train tunnel under the Hudson. The "we don't need it" argument only came up after it came out that Christie had lied about NJ being able to afford it.

Thank you, MJ. The sense for some in the "Stop Portland Creep" movement is that "Clackistani" denotes militant opposition. There is that, but it's not the whole story.

"Clackastani" came about as a derogatory comment on the alleged backwardness of our county's citizenry, did it not?

From Measure 3-401 September 18, 2012 Special Election:
Clackamas County has a projected General Fund revenue gap of $4.3 million by 2015
A $25 million payment to TriMet will require an additional $1.9 million per year for debt servicing.

On Tuesday morning Neil McFarlane and the Light Rail Deliriants cheered the signing of the Full Funding Grant Agreement as if the FTA's Peter Rogoff had delivered a suitcase with the $745 million matching federal funds inside.
Rogoff also commanded that "Clackamas County must pay its $25 million share"

Neil McFarlane declared "full steam ahead" for the project.

Hey Neil, "Easy big fella". You're a political appointee who's oblivious to even your own agency's insolvency and showing no regard for any of the partners' financial woes.

And not so fast Mr Rogoff. Back off. You're a political appointee carrying a political agreement. Not a suitcase full of money.

What is this Full Funding Grant Agreement being cheered?
pg 5-16

"Even with an FFGA, a project must have New Starts funds appropriated to it by Congress on an
annual basis to actually receive such funds that are subject to a variety of variables such as budget limits and the demand for appropriations from other projects which may result in getting less than the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project requires that year."

TriMet is facing over $1 billion in unfunded liabilities and a multi-year process of cutting existing service.
Has the FTA neglected their responsibility as badly as the US Department of Energy's approach to Solyndra?

The FTA had to have skipped this:

"FTA looks at the ability of the sponsoring agency to fund operation and maintenance of the
entire system (including existing service) as planned, once the guideway project is built. This
includes: an examination of the current operating condition of the project sponsor; the level of
commitment of operating funds for the transit system; the financial capacity of the project
sponsor to operate and maintain all proposed, existing, and planned transit services; and the
reliability of the operating cost estimates and planning assumptions."

What has TriMet been telling the Federal Transit Administration in order to get $745 million?

Among many other things, that they will "Provide for a Fiscally Stable and Financially Efficient Transit System".

TriMet, Portland, Milwaukie & Clackamas County all have to borrow their shares and rip off future operations ans essential services to pay the debts and millions more in interest.
Metro has committed fed gas tax flex funds which are already insufficient and needed for other area transportation infrastructure upgrades and priorities.

Scaling back the project to Tacoma could save $450 -$600 million and avoid all of this local financial misery by delaying the southern portion until a future date when real funding and public support are established.

This still provides for completion of the bulk of the project in Portland with the "New Bridge" connections to PSU, SoWa, OMSI and the rest of region wide system.

The agreement between Clackamas County, other partners and Tri-Met is a political agreement and can easily be politically un-done. Just as the agreement for the Mt Hood Freeway was un-done and recently the Lake Oswego Streetcar agreement was un-done.

Clackamas County Commissioners should take the lead on this only rational option and Clackamas County residents should be screaming louder than anyone.

almost nobody (including the fat guy) except maybe our blogmeister, has disputed the need for an additional train tunnel under the Hudson

Very few people who commute from New Jersey to New York do so by car. The vast majority go by mass transit, especially train.

You can add five more rail tunnels, and it will not change New Jerseyans' commuting habits to any noticeable extent. If you think otherwise, you are out of touch with the people who live there.

Not to mention the fact that New Jersey Transit and the PATH system do not have equipment and personnel sitting around idle to use up any new traffic capacity in their systems. So there's more expense, for minimal benefit.

It would not change the economy of the New York metropolitan area at all. All it would do is make work for contractors building the things. Money that would be better spent elsewhere.

As asked before, can anyone post the supposed Agreements with Clackamas Co and Milwaukie that page 5-8 (9-35) refers to in "Clackastani notice" post above?


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