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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sam the Tram reads his own mind

I see that Portland's crown prince-elect is planning to introduce an ordinance that would re-dedicate some utility taxes to transportation. As the Trib points out this morning, this is deja vu all over again, as the City Council did this once before years ago but then promptly raided the fund for other things. The diversion took place when Vera Katz was mayor and the crown prince-elect was her head honcho. But supposedly things are different now, because the jiffy, spiffy new ordinance is going to be "a much clearer expression of the council's intent" than the prior ordinance was.

These guys never cease to crack me up. Under Portland's arcane form of government, the same city commissioners who set the budget priorities also administer the bureaus, and so the tax money is raised, allocated, and spent all under the direction of the same people. When they "express their intent," they are essentially talking to themselves.

Maybe this time they'll listen.

Comments (16)

I don't think the form of government is a base problem. If we paid the council members 50 large each month we might attract some legitimate talent.

"Transportation needs more money because I'm in charge of it."

I predict that Adams is going to railroad the rest of the Council during his term. We're going to have Government by Sam for the next four years (until the Council unanimously passing his proposal to lengthen the Mayoral term to 10 years.)

My column in Brainstorm NW in November of 2007 was on this topic. I called it "Inconvenient Truth". I raised the question as to how Adams could promote a half billion dollar tax for a transportation backlog when he had been Vera's chief of staff when she killed the ULF allocation. I called on them to revisit the ULF allocation before proposing new fees or taxes. Now that polling has shown no chance for passing a ballot measure they have decided to do just that.

Of course, who knows what the "transportation" money will be spent on. If it comes down to a choice between more streetcar operators' salaries or fixing potholes, I know what they'll choose.

It'll be a new funding source for streetcars.

Does the city ever intend to pave all the roads on the east side? I realize lil Sammy doesn't give a rat's azz about the outer east side, but I would think that he'd at least be concerned with paving roads west of 82nd. I mean, after all, a bicyclist could get hurt on one of those rutted roads.

No kidding. There are unimproved streets in the forties and fifties off Woodstock that have been that way since I was a kid. And that's a loooong time ago.

I'm reasonably sure this falls under the "cc nasty comment" heading...

I don't think the form of government is a base problem. If we paid the council members 50 large each month we might attract some legitimate talent.

Posted by: Daivd E Gilmore | August 5, 2008 11:43 AM

Now there's a novel plan. We've got a systemic problem - all we need to do is shove more money down the rathole. More money will bring legitimate talent.

I think we've got about all the talent we can stand as it is.

What we need is some adult perspective, a dose of honesty and a sense of responsibility.


Your idea might be taken more seriously if you could spell your own name.

(That's the nasty part)

Myself, I'd be happy if Sam the Tram would use the asphalt they've got for paving gravel streets in SE Portland, rather than putting mountainous speedbumps on every block of SE 41st between Woodstock and Holgate.

They completely ruined that street. I can't go over those things at ANY speed in my car without practically getting thrown over the dashboard and onto the hood.

thrown over the dashboard and onto the hood.

Isn't that where the fashionable are riding these days?

I bet this money goes to the I5 bridge...

Penmanship was a big deal when I first started communicating. Something about old dogs and new tricks.

The utilities took them to court on it, as I recall, arguing that if it wasn't spent on street maintenance, they had no right to collect it. However, this is Portland, so, legislative intent? What legislative intent? We have developers to make rich, so get out of the way.

The ULF tax dispersions will be out of balance to the actual usage of our transportation systems.

For example, Sam took $139 Million of state gas taxes in 2007 and allocated it to everything but streets according to ODOT STIP dollars given to Portland. He conveniently forgets that 96% of Portland trips are by vehicles. Why would we think that he has been listening?

Rick Metzger should be looking at misuse of State of Oregon gas tax dollars besides his latest, rightful investigation of misuse of tax dollars elsewhere. We need some legislative or legal actions to clean up the mess our government is foisting on us.

thrown over the dashboard and onto the hood

That's where the bicyclists are riding these days.

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