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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thorn in their sides

You can bet the Sam Rands hate this new document by the city auditor's office. It actually tells the truth about the City of Portland's finances -- they're going down the tubes due to "urban renewal" boondoggles and scandalously unfunded cop and firefighter pensions.

Why, it's not spouting the usual "colors of money" baloney. How dare they!

Comments (21)

This is a pretty interesting read - note that almost all categories of "satisfaction" have decreased and overall "satisfaction" has dropped by 6 points.

And - note what "services" the city is chartered to provide with our money -- doesn't list things like getting PPS students to school, giving many millions in bailouts to PPS, assessing a tax for art in schools, grants to non-profits, building "water houses" and on and on.

The majority here have been suckered into believing that city and county can do whatever they want cause it is all "quality of life." Really, most of the money goes to benefit rich guys, insiders, provide jobs and benefits for the mediocre bureaucrats, to cover funds being taken for one purpose and used for another and to pay on debt.

At least LaVonne has the balls to put it in writing. She's got my vote.

Hales is Sam Rand.

So is Smith.

It is appalling that 56% of our property taxes goes to debt service-from disability and retirement debt to urban renewal debt. And what's worse is the most of the remaining 44% isn't going to basic city services. But we have bio-swales and waterhouses and tour buses to Bull Run.

Even most struggling Portland households don't have this percentage of their income going to debt service. Vote for prudence-vote for LaVonne.

I've got a vague creative idea about this; needs some additional cooperative thinking.
Don't say why it won't work; say how to make it work. Anyone? ... anyone?

Suppose the City goes to build some Urban Renewal. A road improvement or a public building, say, and suppose it is $10 million budgeted.

So the City stamps out $10 million worth of scrip, coupons to pay construction wages, say.

[Unsolved problem: how to NOT print the coupons in '$' denominations.
1st attempted solution: Denominate the coupons in terms of housing cost (in the 'Renewal' area?); so, like, 1 hour of labor = 1/30th of the average monthly rent, which means a hour's work buys a room for the night; 30 hours work pays the month's rent (lease? mortgage?)
Anyway, some calculation, whatever, as an example of coupon scrip denominated NOT in dollars. although it would have a $-equivalency, in practical uses, but no dollars change hands and there is no $ denomination on the coupon.]

Anyway, so the workers get paid in couponscrip and then they go out and spend it, and buy things, and get serviced'ed. Just like dollars. But it's not dollars.

So, what good are the coupons? Who wants 'em?

Well, essentially anyone who pays City Property Taxes could pay that tax in coupons. So merchants in the City would want to collect the scrip. City residents or landlords would want to collect piles of the scrip, it would seem, to pay their City-part of property taxes.

See, no interest on that 'debt.' The City 'coins' that money. It circulates around and comes back to the City, which
'retires' it. No 'debt service' additional cost.

And where the Urban Renewal increases property assessment, then the coupon value appreciates. Say 1 coupon pays 1 day's (fraction of the year's) property taxes, so 365 coupons pay 1 year's City.Prop.Tax bill.

Some idea like that. City 'coins' its own 'currency' for City public improvements.

Included in the idea is something like: The amount of money printed, er, I mean 'currency coined' is exactly equal to the 'value' of the Civic Work done. 'Money' value would be based on the Labor standard, instead of the Gold standard.

Also included is that the City does NOT have to go into the Bond market or Borrowing 'long term.' The money is printed until the work is finished, and then no longer.
Sorta like the City becomes the 'Lender' and 'loans' out the value-of-the-project and the community (Renewal area only?) workers literally hold the loan 'proceeds' in their hands ... and then they 'pay back' the loan, to the City. PDX coupons could pay, (be 'PDX-legal tender' for) permits, fees, fines, taxes, etc. Parking?

The whole idea is one example of creating new 'currency' among citizens (subjects) in a community (sovereignty of land), explained in familiar(?) examples and terms such as Urban Renewal Funds. This book is full of examples:
Web of Debt, Ellen Hodgson Brown.
Spoiler ALERT: Debt is money. Taxes is interest (compounding).
(City,State,National) Government-printed and -issued money is non-interest bearing, (interest-free, and Brown documents in her book the times when such money circulated including 4 times in U.S. history), and no 'interest payment' on our 'money supply' =means= no taxes to be paid ... we 'borrow' it from ourselves and 'create it' into being. And with that money in circulation, it buys Civic Works; the effective quality of life makes the 'valuable quality' of the currency. I mean, coupons.

Then teh gawddam obstructing and playing-defense Righties and T-baggers can quit bitchin about 'too much blahblahblah taxes blahblahblah' and just get out there digging ditches for newer sewer lines, or mowing the lawn in the Park. Labor a little and presto! taxes paid in full.
And do it again next year.

It's the big plan how to get out of pension-related costs, go bankrupt.

Gee, I'm impressed only 56% of all income for debts and benefits.

Portland, the city that works.

For all the dis-satisfied people, look at what you're getting in place, Hales/Smith and "Parking Meter" Novick. One more pair that have a loose grip on realities and even looser grip on purse strings.

We aren't broke yet so there is no reason to change direction. Full speed ahead.


You sound like Sam Rand.

If it weren't for the
the gawddam obstructing and playing-defense Righties and T-baggers bitchin about 'too much blahblahblah taxes blahblahblah'
everything would be great?

That $10 million project needs $4.5 million for the planners, consultants and lining Homer's pocket.
They take dollars.

All this talk about debt is a real downer. Lets focus on more positive things like a Sustainability Center and a Convention Hotel. Come on, think positive and good things will happen!

This is America, the land of spoiled brats. Someone else will fix our boo boo and pay our bills for us. Right? Right?

"They take dollars."

Couponscripted Public Works don't pay dollars.

"They" take a hike, do their work somewhere else that pays dollars. Not here.

Say how the proposal would have to be worded in order to get your endorsement -- add your 'conditions and clauses' needed for your approval in it.
Or, on second thought, when creative thinking is called for: don't answer.

Read this (it's already viral; keep up) to get the creative juices raging ... against you:
The Careerists, Chris Hedges

Steve, wouldn't it be interesting to have a beer with Hales/Smith/Novick separately and ask them what they think about "56% of all income for debts and benefits". And hopefully not get a politically correct discussion.

But this discussion should actually be part of the public debate before the election.

Glad to see this so clearly laid out. I pulled out my own property tax statements to see if I could figure out some historical trends.

The tax statements started breaking out the urban renewal debt from the rest of the city taxes in 2002. Then urban renewal accounted for 20% of the city tax collections. (Before that year, statements listed only the citywide urban renewal special levy, but not all the TIF costs.)

Tax statements didn't break out the fire and police pension costs until 2004. That year the pensions ate up 24% of city property taxes -- combining with urban renewal to take 43% of our city property taxes. Now it's over half, with no end in sight.

Looking back 10 years, the city is taking an ever increasing share of our overall property taxes. in 2001-02, all city taxes accounted for just over a third of all the property taxes we paid: 35%. Now they take 42% of local property taxes.

The losers? The county, which used to collect 26% of local taxes, but now is down to 22% (not much more than half the city's take) and PPS, down from 34% to 29%.

Y'all keep forgetting, that Sustainability Center will be home to all the beautiful, new, greener than wheatgrass offices allocated for those patronage positions. Obviously, that is far more important than getting kids through high school, paving streets or staffing a jail.

I think Sarah Carlin Ames is starting to position herself for a run at a County Commissioner job.

I would also add Sarah that your numbers aren't really correct when you consider that a huge chunk of change was just redirected from City General Fund to PPS - somewhere between $5-$7.1 million dollars - not including the additional $200,000 CoP just agreed to pay toward Youth Pass. So, in reality, lots more of our tax dollars are actually going to PPS than your analysis presents.

The real losers are the tax payers - those who aren't on the public payroll - sucking down big salaries, pricey benefits and outrageous retirements. And - it is that much more outrageous when you consider that our public school system only manages to get less than 60% to high school graduation. Pathetic. I guess people really do get the government they deserve.

These 3 points must be making their horns and forked tails tingle:

1) The City should take care of current assets before adding more assets.

I guess when you are raised by the Devil, you don't learn that lesson.

2)Reduced spending on street preservation has contributed to a decrease in the amount of street preservation work. This in turn has increased the backlog of unmet street repair needs and costs.

The street look like Hell, just like home.

3) While Portland Development Commission loan programs have improved, major borrowers are not consistently tracked and PDC oversight of large loans has been limited.

Burn the documents, burn the taxpayers! Burn, Burn! (insert evil laugh here)

Sammyboy can't even manage his own money well. How does anyone expect him to have any sense in managing the City's - correct that, the taxpayers – money? For the Sam-Rand duo, it is all about going for broke to control their version of what the Portland way of life should look like. PDC has become nothing more than a costly social engineering agenda implementation program with taxpayer dollars being spent unwisely.

When city hall chambers are filled with representatives from businesses and with concerned citizens asking/pleading with them to stop the spending and debt,
the "royal five" just sit there and then vote to spend some more!
Prudence is not a word in their vocabulary.
Neither is the word Waiver which they will not mention but if they would only ask for a Waiver from the LT2 rule that might save this community from further enormous debt.
Is it that they simply don't care, are inept or corrupt?

A point of clarification: by Oregon law and court ruling, FPDR is WAGES, not debt. It's wages owed for work already performed.

Apparently back in the day the city paid its workers on the layaway plan.

We should start a Portlandia bankruptcy pool. At least some one would get some cash out of that !

I hear that most of the big developers are based out of either Seattle or San Francisco, and neither of them will take Portbucks. I hear they love gold though.


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