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Monday, July 23, 2012

Will Portland tell Wall Street about "boil water" scare?

It's been quite a weekend here in Portlandia. On Saturday the city announced that bacterial contamination had been detected in one of the reservoirs in Washington Park, and all residents and businesses on the city's west side were told to boil tap water for a full minute before allowing it in their mouths. The mayor was Tweeting away feverishly. A number of restaurants closed and lost their Saturday night business. On Sunday morning the city told residents that new tests showed the water was safe, but advised as a precaution that they let the taps run for a couple of minutes before drinking what came out.

This latest E. coli incident comes at an interesting time, in that the city is currently marketing bonds for the water system. The sale of the bonds -- essentially, the city borrowing $75 million for construction pork of various kinds, at least vaguely related to the water supply, with a mortgage on the entire system -- is expected to take place tomorrow.

The law requires the city to disclose all material facts to prospective investors in the bonds, and that duty runs right up to the time of the sale. The city's sales document for the bonds was written weeks ago, and of course it makes no mention of this weekend's scare. Will the city issue a supplemental statement to the bondholders today?

At one time, we might have thought so, but the city's idea of what is material to investors turns out to be a lot different from ours. As we pointed out last week, the current sales pitch does not even mention the city's highly unusual dealings with Carollo Engineers, a private company that takes hundreds of millions of gallons of untreated water out of the city's Columbia well fields and pays a bargain price for it. If that's not something the bondholders need to know about, then a little E. coli is probably not worthy of a supplemental statement.

Comments (15)

I don't know if it'd make a diff. Wall Street is all too happy to have CoP keep wrapping old financing with new and generating fees. Plus SamRand get more money to play with that someone else has to pay for down the road.

If you think Wall Street is going to be a check on bad behavior I'd reflect on Dimon's oversight of the $2B (erm $4B, oops $5.8B) derivatives loss at JPM. It's all about generating fees at this stage.

When Portland defaults on some debt -- and the question is more when than if -- bondholders are going to start going over the old prospectuses with a fine-toothed comb. If I were in the city's finance bureau, I'd be disclosing up a storm to cover my own tail.

The big historical issue with banks is there ability to pick winners and losers - historically their power to dictate eventually gets out of control.

Right now you see it is very, very hard to get bank loans for small and medium businesses. But for municipal governments, it is still possible until the value of the cities assets are below the debt amount. Portland has a ways to go but is approaching the cross over point in the next few years.

For places like Stockton, CA there ain't much there to buy up to get their money back.

I spent a good part of the weekend and last night on the toilet, with a headache. I still have symptoms and I'm pretty confident I'm not the only guy in Portland that was affected.

If the cause had been a privately-owned business like a restaurant, I am certain I would have the possibility of a remedy (and at leasst an apology). Here, I assume I do not.

There's no need to disclose in the financing documents that they're making their customers sick if their customers can't do anything about it.

It will also be interesting to see of the city discloses that the council members intend to pass an ordinance for fluoridation of city water. All the behind the scenes work has been completed and the skids have been greased by Mark “Winning Wiener.” The vote will take place in early fall after the advocates complete a media campaign to give the council members enough political cover to take the vote. This is just one more example of the “open public process” for which Portland is so famous.

As with the country's food production network - the 'bigger and safer' they make it - the more dangerous it becomes.

"When Portland defaults on some debt"

That's the problem, if it gets close Wall Street will just sell some more new paper.

Anything with a yield slightly better than T-bills and tax exemption right now is selling. That's the problem with all this easy money sitting inside the banks and high-net worth types, it ends up inflating assets. Meanwhile, we should've given Joe Average a $1T tax break to pay bills or buy stuff instead.

Contaminated water samples aren't limited to open reservoirs: Portland City Hall roundup
Published: Monday, July 23, 2012, 10:04 AM Updated: Monday, July 23, 2012, 10:12 AM

Putting on the Ritz

Super duper!

In my opinion, the biggest scare is our city council and other elected officials who I can only surmise are more interested in their political career and/or whatever, than in the health of the community! I can only wonder whether this was game playing at this point to get the public to back their grand plans! One way to get all those restaurants and people with plans last Saturday night to fall right in line. Unfortunately, trust in PWB has been lost.

I got the water alert phn. msg. Sat. 1pm-ish.
After googing it , I find out it started thurs , JEESUS
As I don't watch teevee , or listen to local radio
this was my only notice , it was very slow to listen
to and way to late. Now if his Honor the Mayor
can send me emails of his achievements [which I enjoy]
why can't he email me when I am about to get
really sick from City Water ?

Bob W.: Sounds more like you had salmonella poisoning than any e coli - headache being the tell-tale symptom.



Think back to the meal you had before the weekend episode began.

Hey Mojo. Thanks for the diagnosis. I trust the Mayo Clinic more than the Portland Water Bureau, but here's what the O reported:

"However, the bacteria can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches or other symptoms, the bureau said. And they may pose a particular risk for infants, young children, some elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems."

In any event, I'll send you my $10 co-pay.

I hope you're right as rain now, OBW -- no co-pays in my network, but you can send a donation here:

33 Sickened by Salmonella Linked to Ground Beef: CDC

TUESDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- A salmonella outbreak that has sickened 33 people in seven states appears to be linked to recalled ground beef produced by Cargill Meat Solutions, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The numbers of illnesses reported in each state are: Maine (1), Massachusetts (3), New Hampshire (2), New York (14), Rhode Island (1), Virginia (2) and Vermont (10). Eleven people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.

The ages of the patients ranged from 12 years to 101 years, the CDC said, and illnesses arose between June 6 to June 26.

According to the agency, it takes an average of two to three weeks between the time a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported, which means that illnesses that occurred after June 29 might not be reported yet.

Federal and state investigators were able to link illnesses in five patients with ground beef products produced by a single Cargill Meat Solutions facility.

On July 22, Cargill recalled nearly 30,000 pounds of fresh ground beef products. The products carry the establishment number "EST. 9400" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The use-by dates of the products have passed and they are no longer available in grocery stores. Officials are concerned, however, that some of the recalled products may still be in consumers' freezers.

Consumers should check their refrigerators and freezers for the recalled products, which were sold under different brand names and may not bear the "EST. 9400" on the labeling. The only grocery-store chain known to have sold the contaminated meat is Hannaford Supermarkets, which operates about 180 stores across the northeastern United States, according to The New York Times.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service website has a list of stores that sold the recalled products.

Preliminary test results indicate that the salmonella strain involved in this outbreak is susceptible to commonly prescribed antibiotics, the CDC said.

The agency said the investigation is continuing and updates will be released to the public as information becomes available.
More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about food and salmonella.

The bacteria strain was determined to be non infectious, harmless, but reporting on safe water isn't a story.
A broad-based coalition of organizations signed the following letter to City Council on Sunday and Monday, July 22 and 23rd. Note Dr.Thomas Ward is an infectious disease specialist at OHSU.

July 23, 2012
Dear Mayor Adams and Commissioners Fish, Fritz, Saltzman and Leonard,

As you enter the Work Session on Portland Reservoirs this Tuesday, please take
our comments into consideration.
The City of Portland's top federal priority this year is to secure relief from the raw water treatment and storage requirements of the federal Long
Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (LT2) for Portland’s
drinking water system.

This means that the Mayor and Commissioners should
be actively engaged in discussions with our federal representatives right now.

Federal elected official: President Obama
President Obama has the capacity to deliver administrative relief to the City. He can direct EPA’s Lisa Jackson to communicate with OHA"s Public Health
Department to allow a time-out on the reservoir construction schedule at least
until review of the LT2 Rule is complete. What is the point of his Executive Order
13563 if Portland is forced to waste $400 million dollars before the review is
complete? We urge you to please ask him.

Federal elected officials: Every member of Oregon's congressional delegation.
They have the capacity to team up and deliver both short-term and long-term
(administrative and legislative) remedies for our water systems. Senator Merkley
is fighting for LT2 relief for residents of Portland and Bend. Congressman
Walden is now fighting for LT2 relief for residents of Bend. (See House panel to
EPA: Go easy on Bend water rules) All of our representatives can sit at the
same table and implement a smart strategy that delivers results. We urge you
to please ask them.

Additionally, we request that you send a second request for extension of
compliance schedule to the Oregon Health Authority. The schedule should be
delayed out of consideration for the continuing recession and to allow for an
independent assessment of alternative compliance options which include
"treatment at the outlet."

Our drinking water is very, very safe. In over one hundred years of operation,
there has never been a waterborne infection from Cryptosporidium, Giardia or
viruses or bacteria attributable to Portland’s uncovered finished water storage facilities. The EPA should allow a water supplier to protect uncovered finished water storage facilities against Cryptosporidium, Giardia and viruses through implementation of a facility-specific risk mitigation plan that identifies and addresses the specific risks faced by a particular facility. This would encourage investments that achieve cost-effective tangible public health benefits without unduly burdening water suppliers and ratepayers.

Your leadership can both
prevent the waste of hundreds of millions of dollars and help restore trust in
government to make decisions based on science and not on emotion or fear.

Please do not miss this rare and critical opportunity for city, state and national
leaders to work together and solve a problem that has the potential to negatively impact nearly one million Oregonians.

Thank you for considering our request,
Floy Jones for Friends of Reservoirs
Regna Merritt for Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
Kent Craford for Portland Water Users Coalition Members:
ALSCO, American Linen Division
American Property Management
Ashland Hercules Water Technologies
The Benson Hotel
BOMA Portland
Harsch Investment
The Hilton Portland and Executive Tower
Mt. Hood Solutions
New System Laundry
Portland Bottling
Siltronic Corp.
Sunshine Dairy Foods
Vigor Industrial
Widmer Brothers Brewing
Juliana Lukasik for Central Eastside Industrial Council
Sandra McDonough for Portland Business Alliance
Thomas T. Ward, MD
Bob Salinger for Audubon Society of Portland
Alex P. Brown for BARK
Sean Stevens for Oregon Wild
Julia DeGraw for Food & Water Watch
David E. Delk for Alliance for Democracy
Maxine Wilkins and Micheal Meo for the Eastside Democratic Club
Stephanie Stewart for Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association
Jeffrey Boley for Arlington Heights Neighborhood Association
Anne Dufay for SE Uplift Neighborhood
Coalition for:
North Tabor Neighborhood Association
Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association
Montavilla Neighborhood Association
Sunnyside Neighborhood Association
Buckman Neighborhood Association
Hosford Abernathy Neighborhood Association
Richmond Neighborhood Association
South Tabor Neighborhood Association
Foster Powell Neighborhood Association
Creston - Kenilworth Neighborhood Association
Brooklyn Neighborhood Association
Reed Neighborhood Association
Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association
Sellwood Moreland Neighborhood Association
Woodstock Neighborhood Association
Mount Scott Arleta Neighborhood Association
Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood Association
Ardenwald - Johnson Creek Neighborhood
Kerns Neighborhood Association
Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association

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