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Tuesday, June 7, 2005

World-class b.s.

Interesting story in today's Oregonian about Anthony Harris, the-four-time-bankrupt consultant who made $131,641 working for the Portland Development Commission as a "management coach" to its deputy director and a guru behind its laughable "world-class city" campaign.

One of the assistants to outgoing CEO Don "the Don" Mazziotti wrote a memo a while back wondering what the heck the PDC was getting from Harris under his no-bid contract. As O reporter Ryan Frank tells it:

An assistant to executive director Don Mazziotti raised concerns about Harris' work on the world-class project, according to an undated memo written earlier this year and obtained through a public records request. Harris billed $200 an hour for his work.

"I must convey the continued negative remarks I receive relative to Anthony Harris," Tracey Gemma wrote. "The majority of these comments relate to the amount of money he receives and does not deliver quality goods/services.

" . . . I tend to agree with the feedback, as he is paid extremely well to come unprepared and to be utilizing our staff's time to complete his work."

You tell' em, Tracey! Of course, she is now refusing to discuss the matter in public, no doubt fearing for her future on the municipal government flak-job merry-go-round.

Also revealed in the article is that Harris ran out and hired a graphics design firm as a subcontractor:

Gemma's memo also raised concerns that Harris asked commission staff to make changes and print color copies at $1 each. Handwritten and unsigned notes in Harris' file at the commission show employees spent 29 hours working on the project and made 800 color copies.

Tim Liszt, the commission's Web content coordinator, said he was asked to build a PowerPoint presentation for the commission based on Harris' work.

Winston said Liszt's job was to make the presentation compatible with the agency's design styles. Yet, Harris had billed the agency thousands of dollars for a graphic design firm he hired as a subcontractor.

Sweet. I'm afraid to ask who the subcontractor was.

As commenters on this blog have suggested, do the math, folks -- $131,000 divided by $200 an hour is 655 hours -- the equivalent of more than 16 weeks (nearly four months) of full-time work. Did the PDC get that from Mr. Harris?

Am I the only one in town who thinks a criminal investigation of the PDC is in order? Lars, could you give the Republican U.S. attorney a shout out for me on this one? Ask her to do a Kenneth Starr on the PDC.

We sit down here in Portland and cluck our tongues at what the mayor of Spokane was doing in his office. But what often happens in public agency offices in the Rose City is also self-abuse.

Comments (22)

Given what The O reported today, dig the comments in today's Tribune:

"There is no action contemplated with Winston," Hennessee said. "I'm impressed with the work of Mr. Harris."


Twenty-three more days of "Rev." Hennessee. Then he and "Rev." Harris can hold hands and pray for another pot of public gold.

The world-class city" line seems so pretentious to me; it reminds me of when I was a kid and some of my mother's long-lost Ozark Mountain relations visited us in California boasting that they had taken the "extremeline train". A hokey lawless gang is a hokey lawless gang, no matter how dressed-up, no matter how multicultural. I would like to see a criminal investigation, but don't know if some of the dufuses (dufi?) are capable of forming the requisite intent.

What cracks me up is that Winston gets 130 something thousand a year for a leadership position, but his leadership skills need coaching. Wouldn't you think somebody getting that kind of dough would come with the skillset required?

Harris said he delivered what the commission wanted and received only positive feedback. For the world-class project, Harris produced a 33-page report that covered topics ranging from creative workers to tax credits.

Is that report available on-line? Seriously, I'd love to see what I and my fellow taxpayers bought for $130,000. Something tells me it is mostly filled with generalities and that any specifics could be found using a $15/hour college-age researcher who knows how to use Google.

The lack of accountability at this organization is the most absurd thing I've seen in quite some time. It reminds me of my time in Salt Lake City, where local and state government was filled with all these little good-old-boy networks, invariably populated wth elders in the LDS Church, who were unelected, unmanaged, and unaccountable.

From what I read today it appeares Harris may have assigned work to PDC staff then billed for it as if he did it.

With the type of comments coming from Hennessee and Winston the entire Portland blog world should
simultaneously demand and end to the PDC and it's fast and loose use of public funds and interests.

The Port of Portland has supervisors using Port credit cards to rack up 45K in vidoe poker losses and the Tram has already produced it's first scandal with

Tram Ma'am Sara Graham
The Tram architect was not licensed in Oregon and calles it a which hunt when she is fined.
Every architect, two bit contractor and other business folks know a license is necessary to operate in other states.

Sarah Graham, designer of Portland's aerial tram was fined $15000 by the Oregon Board of Architectural Examiners.

The board fined Graham $5,000 each for three infractions: representing herself as an architect in Oregon, her firm as an architect in Oregon and providing false information on her registration application.

Graham paid the $15,000 without argument. But contacted by e-mail, Graham called the action a "witch hunt."

Oh my! Perhaps Hennessee can reimburse her with PDC funny money.


And the library has been letting people walk out the door with hundreds or thousands of DVD's and CD's.

And the library has been letting people walk out the door with hundreds or thousands of DVD's and CD's.

You THINK. Because they don't have a system in place to tell you (or themselves) whether that is true or not.

(Question: why can Movie Madness design a simple system to eliminate theft of DVDs, but the local library cannot?)

We sit down here in Portland and cluck our tongues at what the mayor of Spokane was doing in his office. But what often happens in public agency offices in the Rose City is also self-abuse.
You are only now figuring that out? This is something that I tuned into early in Goldschmidt's first term as mayor, about 1973 or so. It may have been going on long before that, but I never noticed. But when I did tune into it, it outraged me. No more. I've long since realized that it's an indelible part of Portland politics, so now I just enjoy it for the theater of the absurd that it is. And the elected politicos are the most fun to watch. The antics of appointees and other lower-level public employees aren't as amusing as they are disgusting.

As for Winston and Harris, I'm just wondering why the race card hasn't yet been played one way or another, not by anybody, not by critics, and not by defenders.

Re. library losses to theft ...Multnomah County is, unfortunately, typical of well funded libraries in this respect. There is no interest in taking reasonable steps to protect the public's investment because the basic orientation of most public library administrators and their staffs is to avoid actions that will detract from what they see as their primary mission - to eliminate any barriers, regardless of reasonability, between the public and the library's services. Sounds good but the cost to the taxpayer of library thefts and losses is far (!) higher than anyone is willing to acknowledge. By avoiding periodic physical inventories and focusing on the loan rate and program attendance, libraries have been fairly successful in diverting attention from this issue. The cooperative agreement between Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah counties makes it even more interesting as the level of information sharing about "problem" patrons (thieves) has historically been pretty much non-existent because of concerns over privacy.

'Criminal investigations', heh. This isn't even interesting enough fodder for Lars' show.

Investigations will get as far as a Critical Mass tantrum, er, protest - not far. They'll make lots of noise but do no good. Because so far the PDX is only guilty of working to improve a poorly performing employee & a contractor.

I think the PDC whores should be run out of town. But between you and me Jack: this is the town that gave us Vera, Sten, Potter and a freakin' tram - the PDC is just fitting in. Nothing's going to change in the next 10 years.

On the library story, this is funny.

"Among other problems, they said security systems cost too much -- many thousands of dollars each year for gates and magnetic stripping of materials"

Why? Because I watched Multnomah County build a new neighborhood library branch in the SW Portland, Hillsdale neighborhood. It cost over $6.5 million for a 12,000 sq. ft building.
Oh it's a swell building, but 541.00 per sq. ft. is almost criminal incompetence.

Big Bo!!!
Are you certain the U.S. Attorney is a Republican?

Let us ponder Ms. Immergut's legal birth:
1. Native of Brooklyn, N.Y.
2. Graduated from Amherst College in 1982.
3. Law degree in 1987 from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.
4. Gravel & Shea in Burlington, Vermont.
5. Primarily prosecuted white collar crimes.

Perhaps I may be wrong Ms. Immergut is Yankee blue nose, who graduated from blue "U" in Berkeley. Ms. Immergut has spent part of her career prosecuting white collar crimes.

This species does well on the blue East and West Coast of North America. Endangered in Iraq, Iran, or any Macho country not pandering to vaginization of masculinity.

Can you Imagin being in the sack and under covers with Karin J. Immergut? Thats something NASA might want for fuel.

I Apologize to B!X for this.

Steve Schoop - "Oh it's a swell building, but $541.00 per sq. ft. is almost criminal incompetence."

You appreantly haven't seen the $3-million condos being built under a bridge and across from the Union Pacific Train yard. This is Portland, we demand Quality...with a 'K'.

Did I mention we're building a $40-million tram?

vaginization of masculinity

Hey, that's enough of that. See a shrink.

Scott inJana says to me, "You appreantly haven't seen,,,"

Oh I be a seein Scott!

I've memorized a staggerin list which grows daily.

"The world-class city" line seems so pretentious to me"

Lets repaint city vehicles with our new motto: "Paris on the Willamette"

I guess that does sound a little pretentious.

Steve - "Oh I be a seein Scott!" But you gotta admit, $540/sq-ft is a steal in this town. Oops, did I say, 'steal'? Bwahahaha.

Jerry - Maybe the slogan could be: "What SuperFund site?"

Sigh. At least we have a tram.

The research on how to make Portland a world class city is a farce.
A notion with no real definition or measurement of progress yet useful to the PDC for coming up with trumped up validation for what they have been doing, for fabricating the need to do more and for concocting endless busy work to keep them occupied, employed and empowered.
The PDC $280 million dollar budget allows them to spend relatively great sums on self preserving and self promoting tasks.
All carefully calculated and prepared to posture the agency as one fulfilling a vital need which only they can provide.

Let's face it. With 200 employees, personal coaches (bullshit artists) and money flowing everywhere it's an easy game to make.

Afterall, what's their opposition? A few follks on blogs?
I'm more than sure some PDC folks lurk around the blogs getting some good laughs.

If the PDC would make a 6-digit donation to my personal vacation fund, I'd stop complaining.

And they have a $280-million budget?! Why the *&#$ don't they pay for the tram themselves? It's not like they're using the money for anything useful to me (see above comment on vacation fund).

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