This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 14, 2006 2:46 AM. The previous post in this blog was It's official: Urban renewal has Portland strapped. The next post in this blog is Relieve this. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Supremely Dumb Idea of the Year

Let's put Metro in charge of all the hospitals in the Portland metropolitan area!

Man, I'm sorry, but that smells so Goldschmidt.

Comments (1)

Excellent tie in though with their management of the local pioneer cemeteries.

Posted by: Tom at July 14, 2006 06:05 AM

Ah, Metro, the white elephant of the tri-county area, the laughing stock of the rest of the country. I remember asking why another layer of government was born, and being told that the feds were going to REQUIRE it nationwide. Here it is 20 years later and Metro is the ONLY governmental agency of it's type in the nation; everyone else being smart enough to "just say no".

Portland city government, light rail, streetcars, bike lanes, the scam ... er tram, high taxes, wasted spending, poor schools all this and Metro too. I can't wait till I can move out of this area - only a few more years, just a few more years.

Posted by: mmmarvel at July 14, 2006 06:29 AM

God, this back-and-fill grabbing stuff drives me nutz.

Lets manage regional health care (though it is just fine now), oh, by the way we need to hire another 1000 people to do this. A year later - sorry we need to increase your METRO part of the prop tax to do all of this stuff you asked for!

Yet the potholes deepen.

Posted by: Steve at July 14, 2006 07:31 AM

I can't wait till I can move out of this area - only a few more years, just a few more years.

Sorry, but I don't think that's a healthy attitude, for yourself, or as a way to address the issues we face. You make it sound like you're trapped in a hideous marriage you can't or won't get out if...but make damned sure everyone knows how unhappy you are.

Why not start from the point of view of how to make this relationship work? Why not start from the point of view that you love this city, this state, recognize we've got some pretty great stuff here...and be inspired to make things better? Cut and run is what developers do who exploit our neighborhoods for the quick profit of it all and then they're off to somewhere else, leaving their messes behind.

Personally, I'm here to stay, and I appreciate the people who contribute to the dialogue to figure out ways to make things better. The folks who stormed the Bastille weren't invaders looking for loot, they weren't nihilist on a cynical lark, they were people who said this is our world, and we're taking it back from you who don't deserve it. Kings and Queens lording it over us?...that's not working.

Our government is only as good as we make it be. And part of the social compact is we recognize we don't all like --or have to like-- the same things, whether its bike lanes, streetcars, SUVs or fur coats. We do, somehow, need to get along. And need to have representative government that truly represents not just one narrow set of interests --whatever that is-- but all of the interests out there, which is a huge challenge when so many of those interests are contradictory. Nonetheless, if the government can't do that, won't do that, then you tear down the walls and pull those kings and queens off their golden throwns.

Or, I suppose, you can move somewhere else.

Happy Bastille Day!

Posted by: Frank Dufay at July 14, 2006 07:38 AM

Frank, the problem is that the "powers that be" dont give a crap about what we want. We try and change things through the initiative process, or "just say no" to projects with our ballots, and they override the majority and do whatever they want anyway.

Posted by: Jon at July 14, 2006 07:55 AM

Thanks for reminding me - Since it is Bastille Day, we already have Versailles (I nominate the Pearl District since we pump most of the public development dollars there at the expense of the entire city)
The Bastille (which had 3 inmates when they stormed it) is that unopened jail in east county.

And the commissioners, who if we don't like what they do say "let them eat cake" (i.e. take the light rail to the Pearl)

Posted by: Steve at July 14, 2006 08:04 AM

As I recall the Father of Metro (Rick Gustafson) went on to create The Oregon Garden.

Posted by: Abe at July 14, 2006 09:54 AM

Does that mean METRO could say: (To OHSU for example) you cant put that building there and fill it with a non-profit (UMA) because no tax revenue will be generated and it wont provide enough primary care for the uninsured?

Posted by: Ken at July 14, 2006 09:57 AM

You have to consider the who is behind it, groups like the Oregon Health Action Campaign. While their hearts are in the right place to ensure healthcare for all, they way they want to go about it is CRAZY. They don't seem to realize that the bottom line is this: hospitals are businesses, and they have to meet their clients expectations on new, state of the art facilities and services. It would be "nice" to use the money for indigent and charity care, but that's not reality.

As for giving Metro something new to work on since they have so much free time on their hands, how about the fact that Multnomah County is cutting the budget of the Probation Department, and notified some of their "clients" that they no longer need to stay in touch with their probation officers!? Yep, but don't worry. It's only the low level sex offenders, stalkers, and mentally ill criminal types who publicly expose themselves to children. No worries!

Posted by: JustLooking at July 14, 2006 10:02 AM

Frank, the citizens of our metro area need to sponser an intiative to modify, restate the mission statement, or eliminate Metro if this continued "reach" keeps happening. I am out of here too, like so many of many friends, clients have voiced and several have done.

Sorry, I have spent 40 years trying to help get the message across, serving on so many committees, etc; but it isn't working. The Revolution is coming as well as the bankrupcy.

Posted by: lw at July 14, 2006 10:14 AM

Union representatives and their allies say the community should have a voice in health care planning, including where new hospitals are sited and what services they provide. And they think Metro could be the body to represent the public’s interest in those decisions.

So they want the ability to tell private businesses what services they can provide?

As for Metro representing the public interest...puh-leeze. They dont give a crap what the public wants.

Posted by: Jon at July 14, 2006 10:14 AM

"Metro looks past trash and transit to hospitals..."

and Portland creeps closer and closer toward socialism.

Posted by: Chris McMullen at July 14, 2006 10:33 AM

NO THANKS!!!! I don't want Metro involved in ANYWAY whatsoever in healthcare decisions in this area. It's the area unions who will want to dictate which hospital is granted expansion rights and which ones wil be left on the sidelines.....all based on the various hospital's relationship with the union community.

Market forces are driving the current expansions and menu of services each hospital provides and that is how it should be.

Posted by: Charlie in Gresham at July 14, 2006 10:52 AM

Aside from the asinine hospital idea, perhaps eliminating that layer of government now occupied by the three counties in the urban region would make more sense than eliminating Metro. Granted, what's left of Clackamas and Washington counties would have to be relegated to the boonies and/or absorbed by neighboring counties but a single regional government might do a better job of coordinating efforts with the individual cities. Just a thought.

Posted by: Ronald M at July 14, 2006 12:01 PM

you stay dufay, too many bozos on your bus for my comfort... i am born and raised in gresham now living in vancouver.. you can deal with the buffoons.theres no randy leonard on this side of the river.. come one come all, we have that old fashion kinda of gas and something portland lacks.. common sense. joco

Posted by: jocose at July 14, 2006 12:05 PM

Hey... I just thought of something.

If Metro takes on health care planning, then they could hire Peter Kohler to be the program executive! But they'd probably have to provide him $600,000+ a year and a mansion.

Ah, what the hell...just charge it off to the hospitals.

Posted by: godfry at July 14, 2006 03:35 PM

As I recall the Father of Metro (Rick Gustafson) went on to create The Oregon Garden.
Actually, the father of Metro was Ron Cease, a Portland State Poly Sci & Public Administration professor, who was also a state legislator. It was his brainchild. He ushered it through the legislature, and it was referred to the voters in 1978, billed as an extension of the Columbia Region Association of Governments (CRAG). Metro has spent the last 28 years groping for a mission and a raison d'etre. Tri-Met? No way. The zoo? Nope. Garbage. That's it. Garbage. But apparantly they're still groping for more, bless their hearts.

Posted by: Rusty at July 14, 2006 03:56 PM

I thought they still had the zoo. And of course, they want the Convention Center hotel now, too.

Why don't we give their functions back to the cities and counties and get rid of Metro?

Posted by: Jack Bog at July 14, 2006 04:11 PM

You're right, they do still have the zoo.

Back in the day CRAG was an quasi-official quasi-informal body to which various counties and cities on both sides of the Columbia River sent representatives to meet together to solve problems that extended across municipal jurisdictions. It worked pretty well. Cease's idea was to beef it up and give it rulemaking and taxing authority, do away with CRAG. My recollection is that his concept also included extending into Southwest Washington. A truly regional government that extended across state lines designed to solves regional problems. This was Cease's vison, and I suppose what he hoped would be his claim to political science academic fame: the creation of a novel multi-state governmental body in the US. But Washington never signed on to the idea. And, beyond that, the whole idea of regional government just kind of fizzled.

If there ever was any operation that begged for regional administration it's Tri-Met, but nobody ever wanted to let Metro to get anywhere near to Tri-Met. The idea of garbage being a regional matter is dubious. And I don't know what the zoo has to do with regionalism.

There have been threats of mounting an initative petition drive aimed at repealing Metro, especially in the years right after it was formed, but they never gathered much steam.

Posted by: Rusty at July 14, 2006 06:23 PM

Rusty has the same understanding as do I. I believe it is the source of the UGB, too, and decides what is in and what is not. Ron Cease was indeed the progenitor of Metro.

I personally think it makes more sense than the counties. I could see doing away with the counties and having a single entity which deals with "regional" issues. The zoo is regional because, in large part, the major users all live within the metropolitan area, but are not necessarily confined to a single city or county. It makes fee structuring much easier and unloads it from a municipality which has other priorities...also, it's location prevents a lot of development on very unstable land. A lot of planning issues were to be handled at this level, as well...which is what I understood CRAGs purpose to be, coordination of planning. A single, integrated library system for the entire metro area makes a lot of sense, too. The way water is handled these days, it has an argument for regional administration.

Yeah, I agree that there is an extra layer of government, but I'd say it's the counties. The urban area has a set of coextensive issues which they do not share with the rural area.

I would note that I would not like to see any growth in responsibilities for Metro unless I see a concomitant reduction of tax and fee burden from other local governments.

Posted by: godfry at July 14, 2006 07:24 PM

CRAG was a regional planning council, a type of organization which exists in every state (there are hundreds of them), largely at the mandate of federal rules which require planning as part of the process to hand out federal transportation dollars. Grafted on to CRAG's transportation planning mission was land use planning which grew out of the mandate of the 1973 SB100 a la Tom McCall. Ron Cease was certainly influential in moving the enabling legislation through the legislature, but the form of the government itself and the political impetus behind it surely came far more from local officials like McKay Rich and Corky Kikrpatrick. The Metropolitan Service District, then known as MSD, had responsibilities over the zoo and regional solid waste programs. In 1978 the St. Johns landfill was projected to be closing soon and no elected official in local government wanted to touch with a ten foot pole the job of siting a new landfill. Solid waste responsibilities were dumped in the lap of the MSD mostly because no elected official wanted to deal with it IMHO.

The current Metro was formed by a ballot measure in 1978 which was titled "Abolishes CRAG, Reorganizes the Metropolitan Service District." No one challenged the ballot title and most informed observers felt that the measure got a boost at the polls by voters who actually thought they were abolishing CRAG.

The newly established MSD nee Metro had in its enabling legislation the ability to take over TriMet any time it wanted to, simply by a vote of its board. It had that ability for years and to my knowledge that legal authority has never changed.

I suppose that you could abolish Metro if you wanted to, but the best it would do for you would be to return you to the status quo ante when all regional planning was done by an unelected council of governments. One would be foolish to assume that all of its planning functions, most of which are mandated in one way or another by federal rule or state law, would just disappear. And, to its credit, Metro has done some things very well. I find it more than slightly ironic that this discussion is juxtaposed with Jack's next post which is largely in praise of recycling when Metro has done a superb of establishing recycling programs.

Opposition to Metro reminds me somewhat the visceral John Birch-type fear of the United Nations; a lot of heat and very little understanding. How appropriate that one poster labels it as creeping socialism.

Posted by: Arne at July 14, 2006 07:57 PM

Opposition to Metro reminds me somewhat the visceral John Birch-type fear of the United Nations; a lot of heat and very little understanding. How appropriate that one poster labels it as creeping socialism.
I don't know about the pettifoggery on either side of the equation, but I do know that when it comes to governments and governmental bodies, the less we can get by without, the better off we are. Or, as Thomas Paine put it, "that government is best which governs least."

Posted by: Rusty at July 14, 2006 09:01 PM

reminds me somewhat the visceral John Birch-type fear of the United Nations

Oh, that's fair. Where's the Hitler reference?

Posted by: Jack Bog at July 14, 2006 09:03 PM

I personally think it makes more sense than the counties. I could see doing away with the counties and having a single entity which deals with "regional" issues.

I totally agree. County government seems the odd man out, without a clear mission. Coordination at the regional level seems to have some value.

That said, I'd rather see METRO taking over Tri-Met --which seems to exist beyond ANY accountability-- and get its cultural assets under fiscal control, then worrying about hospital care.

Posted by: Frank Dufay at July 14, 2006 09:16 PM

the hitler reference comes from the same impulse that spews out the label of "socialism" as a trump card to end all argument.

Posted by: arne at July 14, 2006 09:48 PM

the hitler reference comes from the same impulse that spews out the label of "socialism" as a trump card to end all argument.
Kinda like comparing people with whom you differ to John Birchers, which I believe is Jack's point.

Posted by: Rusty at July 14, 2006 10:06 PM

Arne, I believe Chris was not "spewing" out the word "socialism". He was merely stating a fact. Look up the word "socialism" and that is what is happening here in Portland-its not "fear-baiting" as "Hitlerism" might be.

Posted by: Lee at July 14, 2006 10:15 PM

Tri-Met (back when it had the hyphen) knew that some day MSD/Metro might want to absorb it as it searched for a mission, so it incorporated into some of its financing agreements provisions that said its loans (bonds?) were due and payable immediately if Tri-Met were taken over by any other governmental agency such as a regional government. Then its staff made sure that their friends at Metro knew about the poison pill clauses in the bonds.

Posted by: Isaac Laquedem at July 14, 2006 10:21 PM

Right about the time when I get heartbroken homesick and want to move back, you clue me in to crap ideas like this. Thanks Jack!

Posted by: PDXile in Seattle at July 14, 2006 11:13 PM

Metro is a good concept imo, but has been stained with Goldschmitty fingerprints and has come to be about promoting, rather than managing, growth. I had hope when Bill Atherton won a seat in 1998 on a growth neutral platform, but he became more interested in fitting in than developing his natural constituency. I think that was his downfall.

Posted by: Cynthia at July 15, 2006 08:49 AM

State statutes force the counties to cover the medical needs of residents, without regard to any funding shortfall from the state. For example, Multnomah County has the duty to reimburse OHSU.

Metro's role in land use used to be confined to UGB adjustments and the like. Yet we all know that land use, as a useful tool, has become a catch-all justification for political whim . . . . just as schizophrenia is a catch-all explanation for all manner of mental disease . . . or like a Tort to cover causes of action that do not fit in any other category.

The State Treasurer's office has facilitated the recent issuance, sequentially, of many 100 million dollar bond issuances for PeaceHealth. One can only presume that this means buildings, buildings and more buildings.

I find it odd that Ellen Pinney, of all people, would fail to recognize that the community, acting through their legislature, have pinned the responsibility upon the county government, as a duty, thus confining any role for Metro as merely supplementary . . . with less logical force than even the City of Portland using its' taxing authority to deliver money to the Portland Public Schools.

Ellen, it is initially all about construction, and the construction jobs. Go ask Randall Edward's -- or is that Alice (in Wonderland) -- what is up. Then follow up with whether these non-profits might one day, after they have used their monopoly power (their link to the levers in the executive branch) to destroy private competition, will then be privatized. Think about SAIF's historical transition, ultimately to that of purely private (in time). This is the meaning of "process" to some.

Ellen, perhaps instead go ask Ben Westlund what is up, or at least Stacy Dycus (aka Oregon Political Staffer LLC on Ben's expenditure report). Either should be fully capable to explaining their vision of Metro's role in the plan for Oregon's Health Plan.

Posted by: Ron Ledbury at July 15, 2006 06:24 PM

I've read folks saying that they think the county governments are the 'odd man' out - I disagree, especially if the other choice was to get rid of the county governments and allow Metro to take over for the three counties. Most of us know, it's easier to govern and control smaller parts of anything (land, operations, people) than it is larger ones. That is why the optimum number for a supervisor to supervise is something like 10 or 13 (although usually for the sake of money it's alot more employees than that).

Governing over a smaller group of people allows the people in charge to have a better chance to be in touch with the folks in that area (of course they need to CARE what the folks in that area actually think). No Metro is a bad deal and a joke, it's just one more layer of government and a layer that we can EASILY do without.

Posted by: mmmarvel at July 16, 2006 07:23 PM

Opposition to Metro reminds me somewhat the visceral John Birch-type fear of the United Nations; a lot of heat and very little understanding. How appropriate that one poster labels it as creeping socialism.

Oh I dunno, I think Metro and even the Portland City Council is just as effective at running things here as the UN has been at "saving" the world from war (#1 in the UN charter.)

Maybe thats why they are called "police actions" now??

Posted by: Jon at July 17, 2006 12:44 PM

the hitler reference comes from the same impulse that spews out the label of "socialism" as a trump card to end all argument.

Food for thought: maybe do a little Googling as to the party of which Hitler was associated...hint: "socialist" is in the acronym.

Posted by: Jon at July 17, 2006 12:53 PM

[Posted as indicated; restored later.]

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