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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Denial: a way of life at Portland City Hall

After the Portland city auditor issues a report blasting the city parks bureau for misleading the public in a tax levy election, the chief of parks issues a public thank-you note that acts like the problem didn't exist.

Comments (10)

Dear Zari,
Thank you for your wonderful note. I really felt great about everything after I read it. There's nothing the citizens enjoy more than having ten million tons of smoke blown up our asses.

Here is the operative portion of the press release:

We were always aware of the multiple goals the funds from this levy were expected to achieve, including certain capital projects...

So as long as the one doing the misleading knows all the facts, it's all good?

I've always been lead to believe that it is illegal to spen levy funds on anything other than for the purposes stipulated in the ballot measure. If that is really true, what is the mechanism for getting some justice here? Where's the AG?? Oh - that's right, he's tied up investigating child rape by one of the electeds who misspent the levy money. Perhaps he could investigate/prosecute both at once - a two-fer?

Where did the Mayor and his band of merry thieves ever ask taxpayers if they wanted to subsidize Major League Soccer or Minor League Baseball?

Frank @ 7:27 pm: you wonder "what is the mechanism for getting some justice here?"

It's called the Local Budget Law. That law gives citizens the opportunity to take a taxing jurisdiction to court for violating one or more portions of this law. Some legal beagle can get you the ORS - there's a special section for Portland, b/c the Legislature set up a special commission to review all local budgets in the greater Portland area.

This law came about, I believe, several decades ago (maybe in the fabled and real Progressive era) when local citizens were outraged about politicians not spending property tax money according to the budgets the citizens had voted for.

To summarize - don't look to the AG - this is a citizen responsibility, given to us by our fore-parents, but rarely used in this state. I did it once about 25 years ago and got school districts to give back millions of dollars collected illegally.

WHY is Santer still running Parks? She is a horrible director who has allowed the department to bloat with management.

I love the way the local media puts it's citizens best interests on the front burner....after the horses are out of the barn.

From the Oregon Dept of Revenue 150-504-620 (revised 1-00)

ORS 294.485 outlines how ten citizens can challenge any ad valorem tax made contrary to law.
Questions call 503 378 4988
or 1 800 356 4222

PPR clearly spent outside the boundaries described in ORS 280.040 to 280.130. The capital projects built will impose an obligation upon us that will last long after these levy funds were spent.

*ORS 280.110 (2) provides that funds received from the levy may be retained or expended only for the purpose for which the funds were created.*

*Also that “no member of the governing body of a subdivision through the vote of a member shall cause to be made an unauthorized expenditure or a deficit in a fund originating pursuant to the provisions of ORS 280.040 to 280.130.”

"The city council has discretion to allocate the money from the levy for the authorized purposes, but cannot expend the funds in a manner which would be a radical departure from the authorized purposes or which would constitute a fraud on the voters.”

Does 30-40% of the levy spent on capital project align with the ballot language, “ They were to restore basic park maintenance… including litter removal, restroom cleaning, mowing, and natural area and trail care”…

"to restore maintenance" as the ballot clearly defined those planned expenditures when there were no capital project enumerated nor even mentioned???

If not it is a fraud on the voters, and they want to do this again?

O.K., I'll sign on as one of ten citizens to file suit.

Are there nine more folks on here who will join me?

I'm in.

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