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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Best news in years

It's a sure sign that Tom Potter's doing the right thing at the Portland Development Commission: Randy Gragg hates it. He thinks Charlie Hales should have been put in charge so that we can have 10 more lines of streetcars.

Oh, and the search committee for the PDC exec was a bunch of dopes: "it was diluted by neophytes -- fine for the appearance of citizen involvement but dangerous for selecting the head of the city's $200 million-a-year economic development arm." Yes, it would have been safer to just ask Randy, and he could have asked Homer. Damn that citizen involvement that you have to put up with when you're spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars, eh Randy? It's just not cool.

But Charlie Hales is so-o-o-o-o cool. He's building a streetcar in Miami, you know. And he had coffee with Randy. Randy, who's risen from covering First Thursday to becoming the O's new super-critic of local government operations -- the self-appointed expert who tells off every neighborhood in Portland that dares to stand up to the Usual Real Estate Welfare Clients.

Of course, the way the O functions, one day, out of the blue, Randy will be transferred to the police beat in Gresham. Then within a week he'll have a job working for some developer, Charlie Hales maybe, destroying another Portland neighborhood in a "public-private partnership." Given that he's just openly ridiculed the new PDC chief, whoever it turns out to be (you talk about your dangerous moves), that turn of events might be welcomed by just about everyone but Gragg and Hales.

Comments (21)

I heard from a fairly good source that Hales didn't want it, along with nearly every other prominent possibility.

Now why would this story appear? Well there's nothing better than being mentioned as the best candidate, when you've already been eliminated as a candidate, because you eliminated yourself! No better way to look good.

Seriously, who the heck would want PDC right now, with City Hall focusing their rifle at the bullseye?

BTW, if there's going to be an unqualified blowhard playing armchair mayor and telling people off, it should be me.

That paean to Hales from Gragg is about the biggest, longest Lewinsky I've ever seen publicly executed.

I'm sure he has a beret.

Did I miss some subtle twist in Mr. Gragg's prose, or did he laud Mr. Hales for working for a company that depends on public contracts (including building mass transit lines) just before he slammed one of the other candidates for representing companies that depend on public contracts?

Yes, that was right after he said that (a) they should have brought in someone from out of town, and (b) they should have hired Hales.

I suspect that his real problem with the new PDC crew is that they're not beholden to the same people he's beholden to.

What bothers me is that its gotten to the point that whenever I read Gragg's articles, I spend the whole time thinking how is Jack Bog gonna react.

and well, this is kind of how I thought you would respond...

You've had your fun, Jack. Gragg may be a sycophant, but Hales should be the Mayor of this city, not Tom Potter. He's got big ideas, so that makes him bad in your book.

Hales may not agree with your policy prescriptions. But he's no "unqualified blowhard." You've really descended into an ad hominem attack here Jack, a sure sign that your real arguments aren't holding water.

-----"Hales should be the Mayor of this city"----

That would require him to actually run for the job, campaign and possibly even answer tough questions.
Hales' high level of arrogance and low level of genuine skills leaves him effectively lazy and not up to such a challenge.

He likely feels that task is also beneath him.

It's so much easier to be anointed or appointed.

Hales I'm sure would love the PDC job and the opportunity to further mislead the public while spending millions of general fund dollars on PDC play time land speculation.

Hales is full of misplanning babble. Hopelessly out to lunch when it come to REAL planning involving such bazaar notions as efficient transit, traffic congestion, commerce mobility, affordable housing, and legitimate public funded economic development.

Stay away Charlie. We don't need your services.

And, yes it's general fund tax dollars devoured by the PDC despite another dose of the PDC deception in today's O. Deception I'm sure Hales views as justified.

---"Development agency must open books to city review"----

In this story the PDC scam is echoed with,

----"The commission,,,, uses tax money,,,, Most of the money it uses to spur urban redevelopment comes from federal grants, private donations and tax-increment financing, rather than from the city's general fund."-----

False and misleading is putting it mildly.
The bulk of their revenue is indeed general fund money.
Hopefully, City Auditor Blackmer (as a side bar to his upcoming audit) will once and for all make clear to the public that the PDC spends general fund money. That they do so through Tax Increment Financing which skims off money heading to general fund budgets just prior to it arriving there.
The vast majority of PDC funny money comes from this skimming or diverting process. From the 1000s of acres in the city's 11 Urban Renewal Districts the PDC takes every single annual increase in property taxes collected from every single property in the districts. Those County tax assessor, automatic increases, of at least 3% per year, would otherwise be going to basic services including schools, parks, police, fire, jails, libraries and misc. social programs. Services and programs which see their costs rise every year without that increased revenue because of the PDC.

Auditor Blackmer, make this clear.

Charlie Hales certainly would not.

As long as the Auditor also makes it clear that this "diversion" of funds isn't some nefarious scheme hatched by the evil Red Lectroids from Planet PDC, but simply the way thay state lawmakers drafted urban renewal law.

Oh, and also that some of the problems are caused by problematic property tax laws which were pushed by anti-tax zealots, many of whom now are also the ones most rabidly going after urban renewal.

Which is not, of course, to say that all critics of urban renewal fit into the above, and not, of course, to say that all criticism of urban renewal or PDC is unfounded. It's just that as long as we're playing the "let's give people the whole picture" game, I figured I should toss in the other bits that people like to ignore as well, on the other side.

No b!x you're just trying to cloud the issue.

You had ample opportunities to clarify the scandalous skimming of basic services dollars and YOU chose not to.
You have proven yourself to be as deceptive as the PDC.
As far as tax laws and "anti-tax zealots" go, the point here is if the PDC were not skimming countless millions every year from basic services the need for additional taxes to back fill the skimming would not be needed. Or certainly far less of a need.
The fact that the skimming leads to illegitimate
spending without accoutability makes it even worse.
You just can't play it straight can you?

Also, the legislature and legislation does not give license to or excuse public official's deceiving the public on their spending practices.

If the public doesn't know about the skimming, thanks to people like you, then they aren't going to be calling on any legislative fixes now are they.

Your dance is sure getting old.

Play a new song and get off the partisan crap.

Remember, you're progressive and a champion of basic services, right?

One more too often silenced fact is the line item on Portland property tax bills for Urban Renewal.
Including properties NOT in UR districts.
1.70/per thousand.

We need full auditing and full news reporting.

One more too often silenced fact is the line item on Portland property tax bills for Urban Renewal.

That line exists because of the self-same laws which meddled with property tax calculations and limits -- you know, the ones you say cloud the issue.

How PDC is funded is an artifact of the state laws governing urban renewal. The issue is with those laws, not with PDC following those laws -- PDC is just an example of the effect those laws have. Further, those urban renewal laws are impacted by the property tax laws. The issue is with those laws, not with PDC following those laws -- PDC is just an example of the effect of those laws.

You just can't play it straight, can you?

I agree with Randy Gragg on this one. Hales should have been chosen for PDC's top job. And what's wrong with "10 more lines of streetcars"? That's precisely what Portland should set its sights on.

The PDC's spending power is enabled by a city council that keeps creating, approving and extending UR Districts. The ultimate fault is with them. They don't have the money to pay for basic services because they keep borrowing money to pay for new projects.

B!x would blame state UR laws for the City's borrowing mess?!?

As if the City Council needs a state law to prevent it from spending the grocery money on lotto tickets.

Maybe he's right. Instead of cracking down on payday loan shops, maybe the legislature should prevent spendthrift city councils from borrowing against their municipal-function revenue base through UR Districts altogether.

Poor ignorant City Comm's, why should we let the Homer's of the world continue to exploit their inability to perform simple math?

OH that is such BS b!X.
Your dancing infantile bit on state UR law is nauseous.
The issue IS the deliberately clouded, or covered up, funding of and spending by the PDC.
The virtual defrauding of the public with claims such as
"Urban Renewal is pay as you go", or
"Urban Renewal pays for itself" or "
"No general fund money is used".

The abuse, or as you say "effects" of the State law are being purposefully obscured by the PDC
because they enjoy the ability to take and spend without the public grasping what they are doing.

The UR levy on every property tax bill in the city takes $60 million alone.

The massive PDC skimming in UR districts is like diverting a river (revenue stream) before it gets to the reservoir (general fund services) followed by the LIE that no water (general fund dollars)
were taken.

You apparently like that approach as well.

Since you are abundantly aware of this scheme
I'll say again that you are dishonest.

The PDC is as just about as crooked as it gets. Using tax dollars to scam the public, ripping off basic services, padding salaries, doling out cash/subsidies like it was funny money, conflict of interest joint venturing and using more tax dollars to sway elected official and promote it all as good for the public.

It appears you want this debate to lean away from genuine transparency or clarity and towards some patisan form you advocate but you are ill-prepared to counter the takings and spending so wrongfully perpetrated by the City and PDC.

Aside from the pluses and minuses of the streetcar, it appears some readers have short term memory loss.

Mr. Hales quit the city council after it was revealed he took most of the summer off. When asked by a reporter how he justified that he said, somewhat arrogantly, who in their right mind would spend August in Portland?

Additionally, Mr. Hales oversaw Portland's building permit system. How anyone could defend that morass of bureaucratic quick sand is a mystery to me.

How does one with that work history make the case that they are capable of taking on an entrenched bureaucracy such as is the PDC?

Grand vision is fine but that is not what the PDC is wanting in.

Gordo, the "unqualified blowhard" I referred to was not Hales. It was me vs. Gragg.

Indeed, the post was not about Hales much at all. It was about Gragg.

But I will say that streetcars are a waste of the city's precious tax dollars, and if we never build another inch of them, it's fine with me.

"Grand vision" a la Hales-Katz-Sten mostly meant "big bucks for Neil Goldschmidt's clients." Pardon me if I pass on more of that.

You don't think that was an accident do you?

I am sure that Choo Choo Charlie is angling for something and calling in some chits to get his name back into circulation.

Perhaps a Senatorial run at Smith?

Actually Hales quit when the water run-off fees were killed by the business community.

I remember... I was on the stump with him one day and he was touting all these "big ideas" and, almost as an aside, I asked "so what if you don't get the revenues for all your big ideas/promises? Do you quit?"... the whole event, even in my mind, just kinda wandered off the radar screen until not too long later that yeesh... he did quit!

So, when he runs out of public money for his toys he quits. Big ideas are nice when you are forcing others to pay for them.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Best news in years:

» How (Or Whether) To Fund Urban Renewal? from The One True b!X's PORTLAND COMMUNIQUE
What had started out as a Jack Bogdanski post about the joys not not getting Charlie Hales at the Portland Development Commission became a conflict over defining the relevant issues of how urban renewa... [Read More]

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