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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The blind leading the blind

It's amazing that this report from the City of Portland shows a seven-person lobbying staff on its payroll. They probably have outside consultants that they quietly pay, too. And when these folks go down to lobby in Salem, they push for a lot of stuff that either isn't really the city's business, or is the city's business and the city's getting it wrong. Just a few examples:

There are sizable water infrastructure needs in rural Oregon with many communities unable to finance necessary upgrades and maintenance. The City of Portland supports assistance that helps rural communities access and deliver clean water.

Other than cooking up some more pork for Admiral Randy's cozy consultant pals, why is Portland spending money advocating for rural communities?

Additionally, the City supports efforts to remove preemptions on local government authority, such as allowing greater autonomy in day-to-day operations or increased authority to levy taxes or fees.

Examples of existing statutory preemptions include prohibitions on local authority to:

• Levy taxes on alcohol and tobacco products; and

• Establish a city vehicle registration fee.

More nickels and dimes. Always more nickels and dimes.


Oppose legislation that would financially weaken or reduce the City’s ability to use urban renewal statutes as a tool for redevelopment and neighborhood improvement.


Urban renewal programs rely on tax increment financing, which is essential for the City of Portland to achieve outcomes in adopted strategies for economic development and affordable housing. Tax increment financing currently comprises nearly 90 percent of the Portland Development Commission budget and the resources are essential to continue the City’s pursuit of an aggressive strategy to create one of the world’s most desirable and equitable cities by investing in job creation, innovation, affordable housing, and economic opportunity throughout Portland....

The City of Portland values urban renewal as a critical tool for affordable housing, neighborhood improvement, and economic development and would actively oppose any legislation to its detriment.

Translation: The developers and construction guys need new yachts. And is somebody actually proposing "legislation to its detriment"? We can only hope.

Anyway, Portland City Hall and the Oregon state legislature make quite a pair to draw to. Although without the involvement of Jefferson Smith, we don't know how either can be expected to function effectively.

Comments (15)

"... create one of the world’s most desirable and equitable cities...

That degree in Russian Studies comes in handier & handier: Reference: Five-Year Plans and their notorious ludicrous grandiosity. Substitute: unattainable for sustainable.

One might even imagine a smidge of corrupt kleptocracy.

Clackamas County staff put the same thing on their lobbying agenda

It's all here and will be discussed today.


"Local Control & Preemption
Objective: Oppose efforts to restrict local government authority and preempt local tax and fee sources.
Issue: Local control allows counties to design, fund, and implement programs based on locally determined needs and priorities. By bringing the delivery system for state programs to the County level, local government is able to respond to the unique needs of their communities.
Clackamas County supports local control over the design and funding of these programs and opposes efforts to preempt local fee and taxing authority"

Besides staff calling the shots this strikes me as troubling. The County Government, servants of the people, blindly opposes any effort by the people to restrict their authority?

So if the citizenry were attempting to get their legislators to pass a bill restricting some local fee or taxing authority the local county government would oppose it out of hand?

Another red flag is the expectation that the county will lobby to support regional federal transportation funding. Sure we can always use more money but staff wrote it up without mention of Portand-Milwaukie Light Rail that is certainly part of this year's requested fed funding. It may be the biggest chunk. There was an election with the two Light Rail supporters thrown out of office.

Here's how staff presented the agenda item.

"Transportation Reauthorization
Objective: Advocate for passage of a surface transportation authorization bill that adequately funds federal transportation programs in order to improve the reliability and safety of our transportation system, meet the needs of our interconnected economy, and provide stable funding for the maintenance of county roads."

Should Clackamas County support funding for light rail they did not want?

Or should they oppose the reauthorization and lobby for reduced funding for PMLR to force TriMet to pull back to Tacoma Street.

There's some pretty disturbing items in this document and I only read part way through it. For instance changing the State Constitution to allow taxes to be levied against fair market value rather than assessed value.

I'm guessing everything in their agenda comes with a hefty price tag.

Next they'll be wanting to amend the state constitution to move the capitol from Vichy to P..., oops, I meant Salem to Portland.

It seems that CoP, Clackamas Co. and other statewide counties and cities are in the illegal realm that officials of PPS exhibited when they used taxpayer dollars to campaign for recent building bonds.

It is time to legally challenge these lobbying efforts where they are contrary to any city, county and state legislative process that has allowed proper citizen input. For example when has CoP developed any legal basis to state that "Portland supports assistance that helps rural communities access and deliver clean water."?

Holy Smokes, these guys are really getting aggressive now. Here is just a sample.

They want to amend the constitution to get more revenue from property taxes, as if we aren't paying too much already.

They want to restrict gun ownership, to be more like Chicago (which has 5 times the national average of homicides and one of the most restricted gun laws in the USA).

They also want to start taking water from the Willamette for drinking!

If the City of Portland was truly in “pursuit of an aggressive strategy to create one of the world’s most desirable and equitable cities”; lobby efforts would include the authority to implement bicycle registration and user fees to pay for bicycle infrastructure. Instead, the city continues lobby for more taxes from the people who already pay their share or more such as with wanting the authority to “Establish a city vehicle registration fee”. The City’s undisclosed and actual strategy is to create one of the world’s most socially engineered cities! It is all about dictating to the people and chipping away at our freedoms instead of governance that is of the people, by the people and for the people.

Y'know...before the passage of the "Property Tax Limitation" ballot measure, the infamous Ballot Measure 5, we had significantly less in the way of nickel and dime revenue raisers. This attribute of proliferating "user fee" financing is a direct result of the property tax limitation and was clearly predicted at the time of the ballot measure.

If we would enact a homestead exemption, we could discard the whole dysfunctional "property tax limitation" hooey. Of course, we would need to enforce thrift and parsimony upon our local elected officials, too.....like that will ever happen.

Multnomah county just broke the $100 million/yr mark in property taxes diverted to cronies.

Page 63 of the latest TSCC report has a bar graph with the history of money fed to Urban Renewal -- $115 million total, with $101 million being diverted from government services (schools, social services, fire and police) and $14 million came from a "special levy"

see See PDF pages 60-81.


godfry: we would need to enforce thrift and parsimony upon our local elected officials, too.....like that will ever happen.
JK: Good point. How do we force these clowns to just run the city, not rebuild it in some planner’s wet dream of socialist utopia?


Where'd you get that logo?

Too funny!

• Establish a city vehicle registration fee.

Wow! Who would have thought they would come up with this?
Does this include bicycles?
Is there a limit on fee increases or are they going for the moon?

Construction of County Courthouses
Support issuing state bonds to help Oregon counties, including Multnomah County, build new courthouses.
Access to justice is fundamental to democracy.

So our city council is so concerned about democracy?
At this point, I see this as another avenue to send dollars to developers.
I would rather have true justice and democracy if need be held in a barn than in a fancy new Leed polished building filled with any “make pretend” democracy and hypocrisy such as what we have had to endure here in our city council chambers and beyond.
I think our city needs to cleanse their own chambers holding “democracy” instead of running down to Salem for more buildings. It is up to the individual communities of Oregon and their elected legislators to determine courthouse needs and bonds without the City of Portland sticking their noses in it.

Sure, CoP is concerned about Curry County's courthouse. What a self serving statement.

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