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Monday, July 18, 2005

What the "creative class" needs

Every once in a while, The Oregonian's outgoing soul-patch-and-black-beret architecture-critic-who-rarely-writes-about-actual-architecture, Randy Gragg, gets it right. Yesterday was one of those days. But in typical Oregonian fashion, the most important part of the story didn't appear until way down at the end. As they say in the business, he buried his "lede."

The topic was a new political action group formed by Portland's "creative class" -- a self-identified group of designers and other right-brain types who have either helped Portland gain its reputation for hospitality to talented people of their ilk, or at least been attracted here by that reputation. They're wining and dining Mayor Tom Potter and knocking on other politicians' doors, demanding a better atmosphere for their design endeavors. (By the way, the group is described as "a Portland Development Commission-backed effort to figure out ways to support creative industries," and so I bet the food at the Noble Rot soiree with Potter was darned good and the juice was flowing, heh heh. Wonder if, as a taxpayer, I paid for it.)

It's about time the "creative class" folks got together and started lobbying for change, since quite frankly, their future here is not filled with promise at the moment. Simply put, there aren't very many good jobs for them in these parts.

And they're being used. For example, take the official myth that the alterations that are currently being made to the look and feel of Portland -- that is, the skyscrapers being inflicted on the city skyline by the PDC and the 200 or so paid city "planners" -- are somehow related to these people. We show them the shiny Pearl, which gets them here and starts them salivating, but after a few months they're waiting tables at Oba with no better options in sight. Meanwhile, the Usual Developer Suspects head off to the bank with the latest deposits from Retired California.

As I say, way down at the end of the piece, Gragg hits it:

At the Design Exchange event at Mississippi Pizza, a longtime and successful designer, Steve Sandstrom, maybe summed it up best. Promoting Portland as a whole right now is imperative to success, he argues, because nobody here is buying the services or wares.

"My biggest concern as a businessperson is, I don't have any clients in Portland," Sandstrom said. "Without more dollars being headquartered here, we as designers really have a challenge ahead."

No kidding. What the creative class really needs is to have some Fortune 500 companies come or return to Portland for their corporate homes. But will they? Not to Erik Sten and Sam Adams's Portland. Those guys have given up on real industry. Convinced that the only hope for the Portland economy is real estate speculation, the med school, and maybe tourism (if we can somehow get our 6,100 homeless residents to disappear), they're busy building condo towers, streetcars and aerial trams. And spending millions and milions on business-hostile socialist-looking projects like hassling the telecommunications companies and pushing public power on a public that doesn't want it.

I wonder if the creative class will ever be creative enough to see that.

Instead of blowing tens of millions on a Convention Center hotel, the City of Portland ought to build a huge corporate headquarters building somewhere within the city limits -- maybe over in North or Northeast Portland -- and offer any Fortune 500 company free office space for a couple of years if they'll just move a substantial number of executive jobs here.

Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. Instead, we'll wallow in the aerial tram and the hotel, thanks.

But I will say one positive thing about the Portland City Council's current economic vision: It's nice having people with masters degrees waiting on you in the restaurants. They're so good with the wine list.

Comments (58)

Darth Vera didn't want people with real jobs in Portland - only retired folks from California. Everyone else, to paraphrase Tom McCall, should leave.

Hmmm. Ragging on the creative class and Gragg is getting a little, well, played. I say we think of a new approach and articulate what we want not in terms of people and groups but rather go beyond the earlier articulated wish lists of the past year.

I mean, we're obviously not convincing the cc to change their fundamental nature, even if Gragg is leaving for more pompous pastures (if that's possible). Meanwhile, like in Pete Wilson's racist border crossing ads, "They Keep Coming," the chief difference being they have larger bank accounts that they can pump through our economy.

(Jack, were you going to get with Lars and start a Minuteman chapter at SFO and LAX?...Because patrolling our southern border in the Siskiyous isn't going to do any good. It would be, actually, a bit amusing to see the right get more exercised over the creative class than migrant laborers because it would 1) address the issue at its true source and 2) lead to greater tax savings...)

Maybe you should take the advice of this kid, a fellow Stanford-ite, at http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/newethics

"No more will I defend saying something simply because it is "the truth". No, from now on, I am adopting the rigorous standards of professional journalists. I've been convinced that telling people the truth will just hurt them and, frankly, I'm a little tired of being mocked and shunned for my honesty, which goes completely unappreciated by you people."

"So, here's the new regime."

"Like all major newspapers, there will be no factchecking.
Like Newsweek, I will run any possibly unflattering stories by my subjects before publishing them.
Like Bob Woodward, I will totally adopt the point of view of my sources in a piece, even if this means contradicting a previous piece.
Like Judith Miller, I will go to jail in order to protect a source who committed a crime.
Like Judith Miller, I will continue to insist my stories are true even when they obviously aren't.
Like Ceci Connolly of the Washington Post and Chris Vlasto of ABC News, I will fabricate quotes and doctor audiotapes if it will help my political cause.
Like Elizabeth Bumiller of the New York Times, I will write complete puff pieces about people in power.
Like practically everyone famous, I will provide glowing blurbs for books I've never read.
Like most news outlets, I will no longer try to provide facts about things and instead focus on personality.
Like Robert Novak, I will promote products from my friends and family without disclosing my association."

Imagine the possibilities. It could really make the podcasting take off. The "framing" debates with the sheep on BlueOregon would be legion. If the O doesn't report the truth, hey, there's always tomorrow, and the next day, and the millenium after that. In the meantime, kick back, remedially slander your enemies with gusto, and create your own reality? Kidding aside, I don't think so. What's needed is more than "I want/I wish, this/not that". Whether people lift a finger is the object of persuasion. Keep your eye on the ball.

I'm not ragging on the creative class. I feel sorry for their younger members, who are actually trying to live in the New Portland. And in this post, I'm not ragging on Gragg at all, except to say that he buried his lead.

I appreciate your helpful tone, but I can't figure out most of what you're saying to me. We need real business here, not condo towers, a hotel and a tram. It's a message worth repeating. The rascals at the PDC have been cleaned out -- now it's time for Erik to stop playing with his toys and come down for dinner.

Going back 150 years, neither Portland nor Oregon have ever been open to business. Not really. That's why it was and continues to be thoroughly skunked by it's neighbors to the north and south in that department, despite a sizeable head start (check the 19th century census data, such as it was, and compare Portland to Seattle and Oregon to Washington). And the other neighbors, Nevada, Idaho and Utah, are catching up fast. For whatever reason, a reason left largely unexplored and unexplained, other than the now gone lumber barons, the people who settled here were not outward lookers, being content instead to try to milk whatever sustenance they could off of each other. And that's the enduring mindset. As a result, Portland has always been a backwater burg, pridefully genteel, but backwater nevertheless, content to always simply tell itself that it matters, but without ever really mattering. You can think all the good thoughts you want, even reduce them to daily affirmations, but it isn't going to change, not in the lifetime of anybody here. There's no track record for it, and nothing's on the horizon suggesting a change is coming. And even if something did appear to be coming, there'd be no shortage of takers for the quick and dirty job of killing it dead in its tracks.

I'm not being negative. Just realistic. If you choose to live here, you live here because there's something about this place that you like. That's it, and about all you can say.

And Jack, Portland's history as a home to Fortune 500 companies is not very bright. There was Georgia-Pacific, but the lumber industry died hereabouts (or was murdered, take your choice), and besides, they always had substantial operations in the South, hence their name. They just went home. Likewise Louisiana-Pacific, but it was in the process of going under even as it moved, and I'm not sure if it ever truly was one of the 500 anyway. Maybe Tektronix would've qualified back in the 60s or 70s, I don't know. It was once Oregon's brightest industry star. Besides that, like Nike, it doesn't live in Portland, but Beaverton.

Just another Swan with short wings.

Plenty of Flap that doesn't go anywhere.

Ok, yes: we need new business here. You suggested building a new building and stopping lunacy like the convention center hotel, which has been tried in, oh, about 20 other cities nationwide with similar lame results.

What I'm getting at is translating that want/not want into bodies and pressure. It seems like "why complain at all?" if we are just forming a message here and relying on broader mediums like the O to transmit it to politicians, or to wait for the politicians and quasi-agency feeders to stand down. The O is never going to run the editorial "Jack Bogdanski: Genius. How could we have been so wrong?" It may, however, subject to the perverse media "ethics" in my earlier post, run after the legwork of individuals or organizations dogging these bastards, run notice of the fact that people are showing up at every public meeting to dog them, etc. And that requires pulling people together to do more than gripe.

It's the classic problem of political organization. Why the Republican party hasn't caught on yet, I have no idea (well, I do, but I don't really want to know). Somebody in this region cares enough to throw some cash, and I think it's an error to assume that they will come forward before a basic organization and a more detailed set of actions are assembled. Would you invest in someone without a business plan?

This is getting too long. But yeah, AC, let's talk about "doesn't go anywhere" -- what are you doing? Bring the cryptic smugness that only anonymous impotence on a blog can provide. If that's how it's going to be, maybe it's time to sign Cialis up as a corporate sponsor and just run the History Channel's Hitler at Nuremburg, Volume XIV or so, on mute 24/7. It would represent about the same psychological effort.

Having lived for a large part of my life in both Portland and Seattle I'm not sure you really want to be more like Seattle. On just about every measure, Portland does things better. Bus Tunnel anyone?

As for population growth, Seattle has always been boom and bust while Portland has always been more steady growth. Unless I'm mistaken, Seattle overtook Portland during the Klondike Gold Rush. And for much of the early 20th Century, Alaska was more or less operated as a colony of the Seattle business community. Not exactly a sustainable development model. Then with WW-II Seattle was better positioned for war-related growth with better deep-water ports around Puget Sound and Boeing. Although Portland certainly boomed too.

Personally I think the lack of "creative class" jobs in Portland has a lot to do with the fact that Portland has no major universities nearby. Look at all of Portland's competitors. Seattle has UW. Austin has UT. Bay Area has Berkeley and Stanford. Boston has Harvard, MIT, BU, Tufts etc. What does Portland have? A couple "boutique" liberal arts colleges and a 2nd-rate commuter school. Take a walk through the UW campus and look at the investment they've been putting into engineering, biotech, and other 21st century fields. Nothing like that is happening in Oregon. In places like Seattle and Austin a lot of the "best and brightest" types spin out of grad school and into their own start-up companies that are developed to a large extent through alumni contacts and that sort of thing. In Portland you have young folks showing up from all over, attracted to Portland for it's "hipness" quotient but that informal infrastructure of networks is just lacking. I went to undergrad at Reed and grad school at UW and while being a Reed grad is a nice little exclusive club in Portland, being a UW grad in Seattle really opens a lot more doors.

"because nobody here is buying the services or wares."

Then why is the PDC using tax dollars on it?

Because they can.

Just like everything else they do.

It gets worse as the same lack of results appears with the more expensive "investments".

But so what.

They spend thousands every month presenting the picture they want perceived.
The $40k presentation to incoming Mayor Potter was no doubt a thorough self promoting, self sustaining snow job.

Every agency around here does this.
Along with the PDC and City of Portland these agencies continue to rig our policy making process. Collectively we have BS central and more of the same results dead ahead.

Here is an invitation to learn from their "experts"
These people are givng a seminar.
Subject: WTS Aug. 4th Professional Development Session
WTS Portland Chapter Presents a
Professional Development Seminar

How to successfully deal with the media
and have fun !!

Come learn from and talk to the experts!
Find out how to successfully get your messages across
to the media.
Plus, tips on how to keep out of trouble!

Presented by:
Mary Fetsch, TriMet; Karen Kane, Metro, and
Elisa Dozono, Port of Portland

Thursday, August 4, 2005
5:30 ­ 7:00 p.m.

Port of Portland
121 NW Everett

>>places like Seattle and Austin a lot of the "best and brightest" types spin out of grad school and into their own start-up companies that are developed to a large extent through alumni contacts and that sort of thing.

There are several small start-ups in town. The problem is the city has become extremely adept at kicking each one of them in the teeth once they become successful. Ask Carl Sandstrom, who's fight with the City over a $27,000 impact fee to move his pizza shop across the street became very public three years ago this month. Unfortunately the city would rather see another Subway staffed with creative-types than a small start-up which messes up livability by creating living wage jobs.


This is what I'm talking about. You go to Seattle or Austin and guess who's working in the city planning offices, permitting offices, banks, insurance companies, and every other place that a small startup comes into contact with? That's right, a "mafia" of UW or UT grads who more often that not can make things happen if they want to. That's exactly what I'm talking about.

Steve's last point is illustrative and insightful.

A proper response to this stupid media training event begins with collating the amounts spent over the past 2 years on local-government sponsored propaganda, especially from quasi-agencies. [Not unlike the Bush administration, which just dropped millions for EPA to enhance its image, sell its science, and buy some tapes from the Weather Channel, and has invested a whole lot more than that in marketing the war.] But before you feed your story to the media, you identify the line items in the budgets, the source(s) of that spending authority, and the campaign contributions of any nongovernmental contributors. Then the story is complete for you going forward as well. Apply the media "ethics" in the earlier post mercilessly. Don't be fair. They aren't going to be, and they aren't being "trained" to be with your money, either. Feed the beast, about a week before this "event". Drop a line to your base, and make sure readers can direct themselves back to your organization.

Sic the media beast on the "training event". Even if they don't show, sign some people up if possible (apparently they will need to be women for this one), and send 10 or so people with video cameras to be generally present and get some footage. Since this is Portland, the "progressive" bureaucrat organizers will get all fascist and touchy when confronted with the simplest, most honest of questions, which is always good. Declare victory and go bowling. Then post and replay the footage and findings before responsible parties at public meetings.

It doesn't even take a lot of money or a day long seminar at a downtown nonprofit office (isn't it disgusting how they ALL have expensive downtown office space? I mean, wtf?) to figure this out. It just takes a team organized around the substantive goal of killing taxpayer funded government propaganda, willing to share information.

And people say, "well, that sort of thing isn't always really effective, you're being naive, blah, blah..." you know, yeah, because a lot of the time the people "leading" are absurdly pompous nonprofit/prog-crat idiots who believe in taxpayer financed conference calls and PR seminars. Which is probably why they lose so much. If you know your process and embrace the pain, you're going to cause some shit to fly, which is often all that is necessary. Right now they don't take you seriously because they can argue with a blog all day, rather than people.

>>...who more often that not can make things happen if they want to.

Kind of like my days at the phone company. I could make almost anything happen, and usually tried my best to do just that. Unfortunately people smarter than me told me I had to knock it off. You know, things like helping straighten out bills. Or getting dialtone to people who'd been without it for a couple of weeks. Or helping Grandma return the three cellphones some guy sent her because she had excellent credit and he got a $50 spiff everytime he sent one out. Things like that.

I completely agree with you, Kent. It's all about who's running the show and what their goals are. I'm beginning to believe Portland's goal is to become the rootinest-tootinest streetcar friendliest bedroom community on the West Coast.

I shouldn't touch this, but...ok. The 4th, 7th, 9th, 10th, and 12th comments, are representative of why Jack asks "Why can't Portland start being the best Portland?"

Fourth comment invokes some inherent unseen force holding us down. Seventh, ninth, and tenth comments agree that a university would be useful, plus the end of the city kicking small business around, plus the idea that if we all graduated from said university, we'd be able to stop the city from kicking small business around. Followed up by comment 12, again invoking mysterious telepathy among illuminati class that cannot be breached by mere mortal Portland citizen.

Question: Are you dead yet?

If no, what are you doing here? Start bailing.

I run a small business in Portland that brings in money from Colorado and Southern California, while not damaging Portland’s environment. As long as we’re throwing money around, I could sure use an aerial tram to get to the bank.

Is anyone else bothered by the implicit assumption in all of this that it is the job of the PDC or the city government to *do something* about these perceived problems? (see, e.g., "It's all about who's running the show and what their goals are.") Aren't we generally agreed that these entities *doing something* is what caused many of the problems in the first place?

I must agree with Jack that we could use some actual business here in PDX. My wife and I yesterday decided that all of those fancy glass buildings downtown must be filled with cardboard boxes of Nike shoes and Columbia clothes, since we don't know of many other businesses in town. How to get it? Certainly not by further cultivating our reputation for being the least business-friendly community in the country. Beyond that . . . well, simply adhering to the "do no harm" principle would probably get us a long way there.

The Meriweather tower is now 96% sold out.


Portland is booming. Despite people who boo-hoo our low taxes.

Sorry, it gets really depressing expecting anything out of City Hall. I gave Commissioner Sam a bunch of garbage about spending a day working at Burgerville. His reason, he needed to see how bad these jobs are. (Real reason - Good press coverage.)

I really think after 12 years as Vera's economic development person, we would see what a colossal joke these guys are about anything to do with economic growth.

I hope they realize the "build it, they will come" philosophy really is not going to do it. There is this dream that prop tax revenues on these projects will catch up and fund everything, but it hasn't happened yet.

The Meriweather tower is now 96% sold out.

So say the developers. Many of the other eyesores they have built are not.

And even if there are lots of fools willing to pay $1 million to live in an apartment building down there, what does it prove? That if you steal other people's light and air and views and put them up for sale with a property tax break to boot, you're going to have a bunch of California people buying in to make a fast buck, and they may even try living there for a while.

That's not the kind of thinking that made Oregon great. In fact, that's the exact opposite.

Sid said, ---"Portland is booming"---
Because the ---"Meriweather tower is now 96% sold out."---

Now that's special.

How can I make clear how pathetic and foolish that is???????

Try this.

That's like telling us the Rose Garden and Blazers are booming because the Rose Garden luxury suites are 96% sold out.

The Rose Garden is in bankruptcy and the Blazers are losing $100 million a year.

Are they booming just like Portland?

You have zero sense of what is happening with regard to the city, region and State. Your embracing of the wholly dysfunctional status quo is beyond help and should be viewed as solidly part of the problem.

The shallow and murkey water defense you offer
resembles much of the public deception coming from our public agencies.

"Portland is booming. Despite people who boo-hoo our low taxes."

You've got this site confused with Blue Oregon. There, people boo-hoo "low" taxes. Here, Jack gives links that prove Portland to be #6 high-taxed city in the country (#5 if you're poor).

The Portland area unemployment rate has fallen below 6%, FYI. First time in 4 years.

"That if you steal other people's light and air and views"

Seriously? For a gang that seems to want government, planners and regulation to stop thrwarting business and investment, I'm surprised. Expecting to buy a house with a view and never have someone build in your viewshed is like buying a seat at a movie theater and demanding that no one buy the seat in front of you. And frankly, the argument that the buyer's are "fools," does not negate Sid's point that demand exists for the product of this vision that you all so despise. So which of the Pearl/South Waterfront developments (or eyesores) were you referring to that have had trouble selling...?

Lived in Portland almost 20 years now. Gone from running a MSM shop to teaching middle school. Wife runs her own small business. Doing well. Some sit and type, others work.

Portland is booming (sorry you guys seem to be on the sidelines) with NO sales tax, lowest car license fee in USA, second lowest beer/wine tax in USA (unchanged since Saddam was our pal) and the infamous $10 minimum business income tax, same it's been since 1930's.

Non-partisan Tax Foundation says Oregon is 34/50 in taxes, so look out Alabamee!

You have a funny way of figuring boom.
Since you are a PPS teacher I'll ask you again
what happened to the Portland Strategic Plan?

Nolan, do you work for Earl?
---- "May 1, 2003 1:15 PM – Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s Office – Congressman Blumenauer was unavailable but our presentation captured his Legislative Correspondent Nolan Lienhart."---

The only gang in town is the one you support.
Your bit on views is absurd.

The only thing that matters around here is who ever has the deepest pockets gets the views.
Deep pockets keep their views such as was the case at Riverplace where existing downtown high rise fat cats successfully maintained a 150 ft height limit on two new condo towers. Thereby preserving their existing views.
Contrast that with existing property owners having their views taken away in the case of South Waterfront. Fat cat developers bought city hall zones changes for new widths and new heights of 325ft. Thereby taking the existing views away from people less able to influence city hall.

To add insult to injury they also pursuaded city hall to help pay for their new development with the skimming of property taxes from all existing properties in the 403 acre area.

Sure people expect things when they buy a movie ticket. One is that the theaters won't force movie goers to help pay for the tallest/wealthiest people to take up the front row.

"The only thing that matters around here is who ever has the deepest pockets gets the views."

Welcome to the United States of America, Steve. People with money ALWAYS HAVE THE BEST VIEWS. Why don't we try to address issues unique to Portland if we're going to blame local leadership?

Yes, I used to work for Earl Blumenauer, which I'm sure means that because I chose to help my hometown representative in DC, and support his positions in Congress, I MUST support every policy of all the local leaders in power since he left...

On the movie theater analogy, you're right, we do have that expectation. But what would you do if the movie theater went ahead and charged you to let rich tall guys sit in front? NOT GO THERE, which is an option we all have if we don't feel we're getting our money's worth out of local goverment... we can leave.

Or vote them out.

Nolan said---"NOT GO THERE, which is an option we all have if we don't feel we're getting our money's worth out of local goverment... we can leave."---

That's his message to the countless average people living and/or running businesses along the Barbur area and in the hills above South Waterfront.
You can leave.
Same message for those having to pay the price of his agenda.
He says it's too bad if property taxes are taken to help the fat cat developers who also pad City Commissioner campaigns, too bad if sweeping zoning changes are handed out to those same developers providing them windfall profits, too bad if there is no planning for traffic in the area, to bad if you don't want the Tram, too bad if the 5000 forcasted biotech jobs was a fabrication, and too bad if you don't like any of the bad policies crippling our basic services and infrastructure.
You can leave.
That'a also the message from nearly every elected official in this region.

Re: "we can leave"

Right, but no one seems to be rushing to the affirmative part of putting "do no harm" as geoff suggested into a policy. That's clearly a classic problem of political organization and group formation, of which geoff could corrobate there is copious literature on.

Instead, we hear "it's frustrating" or more allusions to illuminati running everything, in which case, as I suggested earlier, some people should declare themselves dead and just forfeit citizenship, to lower the number of people who aren't objecting.

But it's still easier to translate your position into numbers if you are against something (or for "do no harm" as it may be). Everyone who thinks this is a matter of changing elite opinion and is unwilling to think more seriously about broadening and deepening the base of the support, and thinks you can do it the "easy way" without doing the grunt work: Please go channel Lakoff and tell us how else to place 15-20 butts at public meetings on a sustained basis, all of them prepared to speak knowledgably on specific "do no harm" issues such as taxpayer funded government propaganda, development subsidies, etc. Please tell us how it can all change by getting something for nothing. "It can't change" is just your cop-out for refusing to do the hard work to limit a government that has taken too much power.

There's no way politicians will take this seriously in terms of pressure until they see bodies dogging them demanding accountability. Even the nonprofit left gets that. It might even be fun, once people get over the effort part...take a page from their book and print some trendy t-shirts that mean things: P.I.S.S.E.D. - Portlanders Incensed at Stupid Spending Enriching Developers .(I yield to a previous creator of this acronym, if any, because it certainly should have been thought of by now).

Even the nonprofit left gets that.

Look no further than http://nosellwoodwalmart.com

Completely delusional opposition to the "threat" of a retail establishment they don't even have to shop at. Complete ignorance of its role as part of a broader subsidized development play, in conjunction with new bridge construction and streetcar or light rail, to makeover the neighborhood. Maybe 10 people know the permitting process inside and out, if that; a larger group of people sign letters and make phone calls; and the rest bring their kids to the picnic and remember how liberal they were in college, deriving some psychic pleasure from "opposing" the Man by dropping $20 in the plate.

NSWM has the benefit of a more focused geography and the "direct benefit," however deluded, of having each of its members "win" if there is no WalMart. That is the only difference between their issue and these issues (which are really the same). If you interviewed most of the people at their meetings, you would get verbatim fantasies about the government decisionmaking process from 90% of the attendees. It's the understanding of the core group that is the key. Whether their little activities, like tables, petitions, media beast feeding, etc are ultimately effective is merely a measure of how effective the core group is with the effort it chooses to put in. Which may or may not be a proxy for how much stopping Wal-Mart is really worth to them, but which, importantly, does not have to be.

Someone named Steve asked me where the Portland Strategic Plan was. Don't know. Have you looked under the frig?

I'm wondering (along with 3,300 of my teacher friends) what happened to the QEM, the Quality Education Model -- a bi-partisan agreement on how much a quality education costs in Oregon, with a promise to PAY FOR IT.

The price? More than 10 grand a kid, a year, (not counting the people who hold the buildings up) or a lot more than folks in the "Christmas State" can afford while keeping their beloved $10 business income tax.

Check it out: http://www.ode.state.or.us/sfda/qualityed/docs/qem2000fullreport.pdf

The price? More than 10 grand a kid, a year...

Which maybe ought to tell us something about the way we educate. I mean, did it ever occur to you, dude, that things were less shitty BEFORE you built the bureaucratic pyramid? But to even wonder whether it might be easier to stop the gravy train to contractors and administrators, to replicate the small scale of an earlier era, to go simpler instead of pretending to make everything "the same", to stop using the education system as a surrogate for the prisons and a buffer to a labor market that can't absorb the ridiculously unskilled workers the system turns out...Well, all of that is heresy, particularly to your kind. To avoid it requires violating the "law", home schooling, or sending your kid to private school. Hmm, wonder why almost everyone aspires to do one of the above?

Yeah, the state "Quality Education Model" as our highest aspiration. (Designed, of course, by private consultants and "visioners", as not even the state prog-crat mandarins produced by the earlier model are capable of articulating the new vision with the necessary nihilism or for the necessary inflated kickback fee.) Maybe next, I can call up the Department of Transportation and see if they can design a nice concrete "facility" for the property. Maybe a public restroom in the yard. We can get Bechtel and DEA to add it to the Sellwood Bridge reconstruction. Then they can call their old bosses at pdc and condemn it all and build a hotel. I'll promise to kick 30% back to city council and county commission (too low?).

Meanwhile, pickles from India. Must be time for the next round of screaming at the tv in impotent rage. With History Channel's Hitler at Nuremburg, vol. XIV, on mute and sponsored by Cialis, screaming back. People who are only talking to themselves have nothing to say.

I'm out.

Well now we are getting somewhere.
You don't know where the Plan is? Of course not because it was another tremendous education waste.
I was making a point with the The Stategic Plan which is sitting on a district shelf. After 600 teachers, adminitrators some parents and other stakeholders spent countless hours and ditrict money putting it together.

You couldn't have raised a more fitting topic, the QEM.

Having become abundantly familiar with the QEM I know it has absolutley no basis for it's central premise. That the spending amount called for in the "Model" would lead to the exceptable (90%?)level of students meeting state benchmarks.
You or anyone else can contact the ODE and ask for the supporting study or data used in adopting the model. You will get nothing because there is none.
There is nothing in this state that guarantees the additional money would go to anything other than the same education meddling and soaring payroll costs.

Now you may not have a problem with the fabrication of a model which, no surprise, calls for dramatic increased funding, but I do.

I also have a problem with the CIMCAM school reform and the endless wasting of school dollars on these Strategic Plan, Qualtity Education Model and CIMCAM nonsense.

Our education system and land use/transportation planning system are following nearly identical

As with just about anything, both could use more money.
But only if those spending it now were honest and responsible.
Unfortunatley all signs point to all new money going right into the same programs of mass dysfunction.

Jack said, "Instead of blowing tens of millions on a Convention Center hotel, the City of Portland ought to build a huge corporate headquarters building somewhere within the city limits -- maybe over in North or Northeast Portland -- and offer any Fortune 500 company free office space for a couple of years if they'll just move a substantial number of executive jobs here."

That's actually a really good idea.

Why is it that, in America, BIG is always better? Why, JackBog, have we got to have a bunch of Fortune500 companies based here, to prove we're a "real" city? Why isn't our exceedingly high population growth rate enough to satisfy you (and others)?

An exceedingly wise man named E.F. Schumacher wrote an economics text 35 yrs. ago called "Small is Beautiful". Can I suggest you read it for an alternative perspective to your "build it and they will come" idea??

Back to the topic. I agree that trying to attract a Fortune 500 company is pointless. All that would be accomplished is to create a bidding war with some other city and Portland would end up paying far more on a per-job basis than the jobs would be worth. Many other cities have discovered this.

If you really want to throw city money into building infrastructure for business it seems to me that the better solution would be for the city to build some sort of 21st century industrial park for local small businesses. If you want to give out free facilities and rent, at least do it for local business.

Besides, most Fortune 500 type companies are no longer locating in central cities anyway. When they do relocate it is generally to suburban locations.

The city should not be dabbling with development adventures in such willy nilly fashion.
The PDC uses property tax dollars which would be arriving at basic services including our schools.
Every time they dabble they use those dollars.

Only the most deserving of investments should be getting those diverted general fund dollars.

In the case of the PDC and Portland it's $270 million annually. They use it for everything they dream up as if it is funny money never weighing it against the benefit of leaving it alone as it heads to basic services and infrastructure.

The tactics and methods used in Portland to divert funds and spend without public approval, awareness or accountability is repeated across the state as advocated by the League of Oregon Cities and our Counties Association.

The collective effort is devouring enormous sums while producing only a fraction of the benefits touted. It grows like a cancer and causes cities to become addicted to the practices once limited to genuine blight and genuine public benefit.

"Instead of blowing tens of millions on a Convention Center hotel, the City of Portland ought to build a huge corporate headquarters building somewhere within the city limits -- maybe over in North or Northeast Portland -- and offer any Fortune 500 company free office space for a couple of years if they'll just move a substantial number of executive jobs here."

*instead* of blowing tens of millions? Isn't this idea blowing tens of millions?

You can't have it both ways. Either business sucks and there is plenty of room downtown, or business is booming and we need a new home for this mystery Fortune 500 company. Which is it? I mean, if there are no business' downtown, there must be plenty of room for a big company...

Steveschopp is speaking out of both sides of his mouth, sadly.

First, he says schools DO NOT NEED more money.

"Now you may not have a problem with the fabrication of a model which, no surprise, calls for dramatic increased funding, but I do".

Then, two seconds later, Stevie says, schools NEED MORE MONEY:

"As with just about anything, both could use more money".

So, which is it? I've got two college degrees and I'm kinda confused!

That's the problem in the Blogosphere -- lots of talk, but nobody knows what the hell they are talking about, except the people who have the brains and guts to work in schools every day.


Steve has consistently made the argument (and his post above is no exception) that Oregon's public school system is wasting money on worthless studies/models/testing, overpriced benefit plans (medical and retirement) and a top-heavy administrative structure.

He goes on to point out that the savings from all of this waste would do a lot of good if it was put back into the classroom (e.g., reducing class sizes).

The fact that you have two degrees doesn't (in and of itself) render you qualified to teach children. It certainly hasn't qualified you to read for comprehension.

Hey Pancho!

If teaching is so so easy and so so lucrative, why do HALF of all new teachers quit in the first five years?

I'm waiting for an answer. We ALL are.

Sid said---"That's the problem in the Blogosphere -- lots of talk, but nobody knows what the hell they are talking about, except the people who have the brains and guts to work in schools every day."---

It appears you have neglected to bone up and fact check on the Strategic Plan, CIMCAM, or the QEM?

Referring people to the ODE and the QEM is a pretty good indication of that.
The QEM was put together by the same people defending CIMCAM and now who are advancing an unfunded "Cultural Competency" program for every school. A program which begins with a Cultural Competency assessment which will devour around 15 to $20,000, per school.

I can easily applaud most teachers working in our classrooms.
However, when you venture outside that enclave to tellus how smart you are, tout the QEM and align yourself with the biggest problem makers in education I tend to lose respect for you.

A bill to repeal CIM/CAM has passed the house and sits dying in the Senate. Have you written your Senators to tell them how stupid they are?

How about your city commissioners who continue to siphon away school dollars for boondoggles and developers?

I'm sure you know who NEA is?

Take a read through their work and know what the City is doing to school funding.

Then get back to telling us the problems with blogs.

Sid asks, ---"why do HALF of all new teachers quit in the first five years?"---

What you don't talk to each other?
You haven't asked them?
Your union doesn't know?

How brainy is that?

I have asked quite a few. You seem to think their is some bad message in that number.

Some simply decide to do something because it didn't turnout to be like they thought.
Others are sickened by the realization they are facilitators instead of teachers. They just wanted to teach and found the push me pull me
administrators and programs too much.
Some go to private schools.
Many are simply not cut out to be teachers.
It takes a particular brand of person to be able to bring patience and enthusiasm to the classroom every day. Day in, day out, week after week.
Year after year. To be engaging and encouraging for the next batch of students on the heals others moving on.
You know this don't you?
You're a teacher. You obviously have witnessed some who were not compatable with teaching.
It has little or nothing to do with compensation being insufficient.

the better solution would be for the city to build some sort of 21st century industrial park for local small businesses. If you want to give out free facilities and rent, at least do it for local business

But that won't create any jobs for the "creative class," which is what this post started out being about.

I have seen dozens of promising teachers leave the profession over the past decade. Schools never do exit interviews. That's why God invented beer.

The teachers, young and old, rich and poor, all told me the same reasons for leaving: too much work, too many kids, not enough time, too little money, and disrespect from much of MSM and the bloggers who don't seem to have anything good to say about schools and don't have time to volunteer because they are too busy typing barely-informed nonsense at 14awpm.

Again, do something! Volunteer. Because whining on such a sunny day is just too sad.

Nice smarmy response, Sid. How about taking on Steve's questions instead slinging insults?

Are you able to objectively analyze the current public school situation without the NEA party rhetoric? (ie more money). I find it hard to believe --every-- teacher to which you spoke basically quit due to the pay.

Study after study after study has shown private and charter schools turn-out equal if not better students at half the cost of public. Why is the NEA so opposed to modeling public schools after those systems that are more efficient? Have you ever asked yourself that question?

BTW, I've spoken to many current and ex-teachers who blame bureaucracy and the NEA for most of public school's problems.


Sources please?

Private schools have the advantage of selecting their audience. I'd be more convinced by open enrollment charter schools, but since they've only been around 5-10 years, I highly doubt you'll be able to cite "study after study."

I notice Sid doesn't want to talk abnout the failures Portland Strategic Plan, CIMCAM, QEM or the upcoming "Cultural Competency" program.

Why not?
Because each and every one of these wastefuland detrimental programs was perpetrated and is perpetuated primarily by those he elects and supports.

That's how it is. Sid is willing let slide any and all dysfunction and waste by those he thinks should control our schools. No matter how crappy of a job they do. It's quite disgusting.

Instead he claims superiority, lectures others on the need to simply hand them more money and pretends he represents the best interests of our public schools.

And of course his is not whining.

If the creative class gets even more creative they might come up with some sort of Cosmology that can get us all fired up in their quest to build something like Angkor Wat.

We can't have people sitting around idle or they might get the idea that the leaders are aimless. It is best to just make work where there could be recreation instead. Ah, it conforms to the American work ethic, work work work . . . for someone else.

Just think of the parties that the City of Portland could sponser for a half billion dollars? It would be highly labor intesnsive, far more so than assembling parts to a biuilding . . . and it is only temporary, which is a good thing. It might even enhance our quality of life.

I have been on the record for ten years now saying CIM and CAM are a tremedous waste of time and money.

As a public school teacher, I've read just about every study put out there (see AskERIC) on school financing and the bottom line is Oregon currently spends $1,000 less per kid, per year, than the national average. That is an undisputed f-a-c-t.

Oregon's quality schools are the taxpayer bargain of the century, since only one big city school district's teachers have ever worked for free, for two whole weeks, to keep schools open past May.

It has happened once in America, people. Portland, Oregon, spring 2003. And, you are welcome.

" Oregon currently spends $1,000 less per kid, per year, than the national average. That is an undisputed f-a-c-t."

Where's the thank-you in the return envelope for Oregon's extraordinary health & retirement benefits? As The Oregonian (which has toted a lot of water for the schools over the years) said, "If Oregon were to lower its benefits to the average ... schools would have another $500 million next year to bring back lost programs and reduce class size." And it also said, "Oregonians will not raise their taxes if they believe the extra money is needed just to ensure that school employees can retire in their mid-50s at full salary, or more."

Is that an undisputed f-a-c-t?

Where's your activism there?

I used to think whining was the worst fault of teachers. I am beginning to see that smugness is even worse.

For the record, I do not think anyone should be paid more to be retired than they were paid for working. It just does not make sense. I was back East, working for MSM when that deal was done in 1970's (about 40 years or so after that infamous $10 business tax y'all love to pay was instituted).

However, a deal is a deal is a deal. Is there a lawyer in the house?

Finally, the reason health care costs are skyrocketing is not ill teachers, it's the sick, greedy people running Big Pharma. Read much?

A point on education and a point on the creative class, if I may be so bold.

One, on education: speaking as someone with an education background (K12 and college) and as a current adjunct at PSU, I'll admit that there are several systemic problems. Educational establishment doctrine is one; a lacking 'culture of education' is another. But mostly, it is about the money. There's just not enough for good programs, salaries, investments, capital improvements, or long-term planning. And we can get away with that for a few years, but eventually it's going to cause some real pain.

Secondly, on the 'creative class': that describes my main gig now. Much as it pains my liberal self to say this, we do need the big companies to sustain an ecosystem of smaller creative service companies. But ultimately what us small firms need are stable paying clients and (to a much smaller extent) industry-specific support resources. And ultimately those aren't things that government can do much more than influence or prod, eh?

Sis said---"I have been on the record for ten years now saying CIM and CAM are a tremedous waste of time and money."---

And what have yo or your union done about it?
Nothing but demand more money.

CIMCAM is the ultimate example of why you don't get it.
Even when you ackowledge "tremendous waste of time and money" (which robbed countless students of a better education)
You refuse to step up to the plate and do something about it and the people perpetrating the waste.
A bill is stalled in the Senate right now to dump it and it is your friends stalling it.
The people sustaining our perpetual crisis on school funding are also those sustaining the "tremendous waste". You don't get it.
Other wasteful programs, projects and policies devour millions more and you do nothing about any of them.
Heck you don't even recognize a problem with PERS.
You have no interest in fixing any of the policies bringing continued bad publicity and undermining school support. You just want more money.
James Sager (former OEA pres.) is Kulongoski's education advisor. Have you called him and urged the repeal of CIM?CAM?
Of course not. Neither has any of your union heirarchy.
They are too busy defending it and working on a nother fiasco, "Cultural Competency".

Is this how to win more public suport?

What a crime.

Hey Steve. Calm down, babe. It's not like you're shooting at shadows in Iraq.

James Sager and I go back 15 years, all thee way to PSU. He knows where I stand. I donate money to causes and my accompanying notes said CIM and CAM sucked. So, it's gone. Notice? I testified in Salem too, but Sager, Nice, and even the Gov say they ever heard of you.

So, stop reading minds and telling me what I did and didn't do, because you know what Doonesbury called you bloggers. Remember?

Great you testified.
What did Sager (who I met with three times), your union, the Gov., Nice or any of those you support do about it? Nothing. In fact they are doing just the opposite in defending and sustaining it while coming up with even more.
And we're supposed to give "them" more money?

Senate Democrats are stalling the bill to dump CIMCAM which means they will be the cause of more wasted time, wasted money and harm to the education of our students.
I don't need to read your mind. Your are just another purveyor of waste and demands for more of it.
That's your game, your side, and Oregon's loss.

Doonesbury? What a laugh?

Steve, give up. Sid has answered each of your baseless attacks on him with substantive responses. "You love CIM/CAM!" Turns out he doesn't. "Well then do something about it!" Turns out he has. "Well then why isn't anything changing!?" Sid, I don't think Steve will be satisfied until you single handedly solve Oregon's education problems. And attract new Fortune 500 businesses. And employ the creative class. But not in hip childless Pearl-style neighborhoods...

Nolan you can't even read. I have been a staunch and very active opponent of CIMCAM for at least 6 years. In fact I would have to claim the mantle of the most conintually outspoken critic.
Because of Democrat legislators, OEA, COSA, and OSBA CIMCAM is alive and well and a cancer in our schools. A cancer Sid appears to agree with.
However he has neither killed it or done enough to cause his own union or democrat legislators to stop defending it.

Sid, what did you do to CIMCAM? "Killed it"?
That's news.
What did you really do.
I wonder how it is that the most powerful force in the State, the OEA, did nothing and continues to do nothing about the waste you ackowledge.

That butt thing was not very nice.

Great ad hominems, Sid. It's good to know someone of your emotional immaturity is teaching children.

With role models like you it's no wonder our schools are so messed up.


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» Economic Development in Portland from BlueOregon
Why doesn't the Portland area have more than one Fortune 500 headquarters? Over at bojack.org, Jack Bogdanski is critical of current city efforts - and has suggested at least one alternative idea: [Instead] of blowing tens of millions on a [Read More]

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