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Monday, November 5, 2012

City starting to admit water bureau mission creep is illegal

City Hall announced it on Friday afternoon so that you wouldn't talk about it, but there's big news in the lawsuit challenging illegal expenditures by the Portland water bureau under the direction of Fireman Randy. It appears that the city is going to "voluntarily" pay back the bureau from other general funds for expenditures incurred for setting up the Rose Festival headquarters building, which has been one of the subjects of the lawsuit. A new resolution to go before the City Council this week specifically refers to the suit, states that the council disagrees with it, but then reverses the expenditures and transfers the property, formerly the site of McCall's Restaurant, back to the parks bureau, from which the water folks acquired it in February 2009. (We questioned the move back when it was happening.)

This is major. And it is not the end of the litigation. It challenges many other expenditures, and it's not clear that all of the abuse has yet been uncovered.

There's an important lesson to be learned here. The City Council and bureaucrats in Portland are extremely arrogant people who abuse power. The Fireman, who walks around these days with his middle finger continuously extended to all the world, illustrated his attitude perfectly on Friday:

Portland Commissioner Randy Leonard oversees the Water Bureau and has been the fiercest defender of the Rose Festival building. "We're not backtracking on what we've accomplished," he said. "To satisfy the city attorney's office, they've suggested an alternative way to fund a project I wanted to get done. And I'm fine with that because the project's done."

We love you too, sweetheart.

Portland government officials do not listen to criticism. The only thing they understand is litigation. This one is getting their attention. Let it be a continuing lesson.

There are probably a dozen more lawsuits like this one that need to be brought, in many areas of city government operations, with a new outrage cropping up seemingly several times a year. Portland badly needs a good government league that will bring that kind of litigation as it's needed. And no, like you, we are not volunteering.

Will water rates go down as a result of the repayment? We doubt it. Because the council is also going to pass another ordinance this week, fattening one of its sweetheart consultant contracts with the ever-hungry CH2M Hill firm. The city will be throwing about $2 million more to that company for more work to replace the city's existing reservoirs with underground tanks. The contract started out at $8.5 million; it's now going up to $12.3 million, and counting. That's about a 45% increase so far.

The Hill crowd includes some of the same experts who helped federal officials write the rules that require the tanks, and now they cash in on the backs of little old ladies taking a bath in Portland. Meanwhile, other cities are getting excused by the feds from building tanks, but Portland really wants to build them and will do whatever it takes to get the multi-millions to the politicians' friends. We're happy that a little bit of justice is being done this week, but the overall picture is still disgusting. Portland needs new blood in the water bureau in the worst way. Let's hope Char-Lie puts Nurse Amanda in charge, if she makes it through tomorrow.

Comments (12)

Ever have one of those days when you figure that city government is nothing but a live rendition of "The Producers"? I'm waiting for Sam Adams to exclaim "The whole second act is terrible! They're LOSING the WAR!"

56 days

The Ballad of Sam and Randy

We both lie silently still
In the dead of the night
Although we both lie in our own beds
We feel oh so close inside

Was it something Sam said or something I did?
Did our words not come out right?
We wanted a slush fund
for a neon rose
but I guess that's why they say

Every rose has its thorn
Just like every election night has its dawn
Just like raiding the water bill was wrong, so wrong
Every neon rose has its thorn

Yeah it does

If I thought Portland could be cleaned up in the aftermath of the mis-management hyper activity of Sam Adams and Randy Leonard, I would be willing to stay and fight. But with Hales it looks highly unlikely. Sam Adams last act of funding and putting on the ballot the Arts tax (26-146) was the straw that broke the camels back for me. Here you have a new type of tax (only marginally removed from being an unconstitutional head tax, if not actually a head tax), which the City after years of abusing the water and sewer bill for pet projects, is the new slush fund to be raised with each new ginned up crisis. Hike the tax from $35 to $100 because the police need more safety training say, after some high profile police shooting with the usual political theatre.
I can tell you over the past two years I have put in countless hours fighting an out-of-control School District and now an always out-of-control Portland City Hall. It's much more fun and rewarding spending time watching Ben Rothlesberger (Steelers quarterback) dual Eli Manning (Giants quarterback) than trying to turn back the out-of-control Portland city governance. Plus, to really successfully fight back, you need a lot of bucks. The water law suit is founded by local industry, seeing continually escalating water and sewer costs; after years of cost insensitivity by former union boss, the Fireman. But even before the Fireman, the water and sewer bill were treated as a cash cow for other city endeavors. Heck, even Bud Clark hoisted a city franchise fee on the water bill inorder to fund street repair. But in subsequent years, this franchise fee got diverted to other city hall inspired pipe dreams.

The good news is these guys have screwed over the city so much that people are finally waking up.

Of course it will probably take the whole ship to crash and burn before people actually get out of their bed and do something.

People are not waking up, they are more statist and incompetent than ever. The children growing up in the past 20 years have seen the greatest amount of indoctrination and miseducation about government's role in society; basically hand-outs for everyone. Portland is filled with government workers, and now their children who have never offered their services on the market will blindly defend every stolen and wasted dollar. Think about how terrible the PDX school product is, and now these students are voters here, they honestly know nothing else but government.

This is why there's only 1 party in Portland with no dissent, no accountability, and no discussion.

Portland needs new blood in the water bureau in the worst way. Let's hope Char-Lie puts Nurse Amanda in charge, if she makes it through tomorrow.

It is not new blood, it is old blood recycled,
except perhaps for Novick, the jury is out.

It appears as if the scamming Sam-Rand duo are pleading “no contest” to the charge so they don’t have to admit any wrong doing. It also appears that scamming the ratepayers is not dead. The budget for the new water storage tanks seems to be mushrooming just like the OHSU Tram did, only this time underground. Leave it up to the twins to be fiscally irresponsible with ratepayer and taxpayer dollars.

Hear hear to putting the water bureau in Amanda Fritz's portfolio. Having talked to/testified to all the sitting commissioners about the bureau late in the 2000s, she's the only one I have confidence in to recognize the important issues.

for Novick, the jury is out.

Admiral Randy's hand-picked successor -- certainly not to be trusted with the water bureau.

What Portland needs is partisan elections. There needs to be an "out" party to hold the "ins" feet to the fire. Now we have an amorphous elite who get away with murder.

Not so sure about Amanda either. Having said that, I was not for Nolan.

I have difficulty here because they are both for fluoride. Amanda did vote for fluoride, how can we be so sure of her position on keeping our good Bull Run water clear of toxins and the negativity of fluoride?

In my opinion, she has only done bits and pieces here on our water throughout the years, hardly enough to go along with the statement to have confidence in her with our water bureau. She has been viewed as the good one, however, she has been too much of a go along rather than the fighter we needed, no wonder we are losing. Nolan would be a fighter, however, I am afraid not on our side, so there we are.

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