This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 15, 2010 6:48 AM. The previous post in this blog was The medium is not the message. The next post in this blog is Above the law. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

City Hall as crack ho

We've been bemoaning the City of Portland's dangerous addiction to bonds for years now, but the topic's currently gaining nationwide attention because municipalities all over the country are so deeply in debt that some serious defaults seem likely.

Voters have wised up to the failings of many grand, politically inspired projects, and when given the chance they've defeated new taxes and borrowing for them. But much state and local debt now exists in independent authorities whose borrowings are not subject to voter approvals. Some of these agencies have operated recklessly....

Taxpayers are only slowly realizing that their states and municipalities face long-term obligations that will be increasingly hard to meet. Rick Bookstaber, a senior policy adviser to the Securities and Exchange Commission, recently warned that the muni market has all the characteristics of a crisis that might unfold with "a widespread cascade in defaults." If that painful scenario materializes, it will be because we have too long ignored how some politicians have become addicted to debt.

Go by streetcar, my friends.

Comments (31)

I wonder how many lobbying groups that benefit from bond financing DON'T frequent the Arlington Club?

Maybe the city should just sell the heroin the cops found the other day?

Is there a difference in the high that a smokehound gets from going into a crack house, and the high our elected officials get from going to the bond market? It would be interesting to see actual studies on brain activity from the two actions...

Sometime before Obama's term expires expect the mother of all giveaways to states/counties/municipalities.

These guys will get bailed out so they can dig an even deeper hole with more bad ideas.

For politicians there seems to be an overwhelming need or want to leave a legacy, or to have their name eternally attached to some large public project. As if that is the measure of one's success while serving regardless of the long term financial impact.

That need may be driven by the same ego that caused them to seek the notoriety of elected office in the first place.

I agree with MSF that it would be interesting to compare the brain activity of certain leaders to drug addicts, or better yet to compulsive gamblers.

or for our local boys and girls...hangin' with the Paulsons and other so called famous folks...

"the high our elected officials get from going to the bond market"

To be more accurate, I think it is the high from spending other people's money.

I mean what's the downside, they get unelected, but still have a floating sidewalk or building or street named after them like they actually had anythging to do with paying for it.

Tell this to TriMet before they vote to approve their budget and proceed with the madness called Milwaukie Light Rail.

At their board meeting on Wed the 23rd or e-mail them.

Why? Because it's not funded. Every dime for this $1.4 Billion ($200 million/mile) boondoggle will be borrowed against future operating and basic services revenue at every level.

Washington County Richard Van Beveren, Pres.
Portland Tiffany Sweitzer
Westside Steve Clark
Portland Consuelo Saragoza
Portland Dr. T. Allen Bethel
Multnomah County Lynn Lehrbach
Clackamas County Hakeem Olanrewaju

Here are the board member e-mail addresses. Do something.

olanrewh@trimet.org lehrbacl@trimet.org bethelt@trimet.org sweitzet@trimet.org vanbever@trimet.org sclark@commnewspapers.com

To pay off the bonds they might cut service on the streetcars as well as other basic services. Then we'll be walking while we pay off the debts.

And don't forget the huge waste of money being spent right now to fund the totally unneeded EPA LT2 rule. This rule requires us to build expensive facilities (that must be maintained forever for a organism that is not detectable in our water supply). LT2 rule was essentially written by former City Water Bureau staff. Joe Glicker being one of them, who now works for one of the private companies that are getting the lucrative contracts.

And is a good buddy of Randy (I flew back to NYC to make backroom deals with the Paulsons)...

BTW, "Gil Kelley may have been shown the door when he was Portland planning director, but he's in demand elsewhere to explain the city's growth management practices."


OK I just have to ask... I find your posts almost always very insightful, but did you lose a bet or something where you are forced to write "go by streetcar" at least once a week? Because seriously... up the creativity a bit, big guy.

"Go by streetcar" is so apropos it could replace "The city that works".

Jack didn't 'creative up' the Go by Streetcarâ„¢ slogan - he's making fun of this ridiculous edifice found in the Pearl District, probably paid for with tax dollars through some ridiculous financing scheme involving Urban Renewal:


This sign is clearly intended to mimic the "Go by Train" sign atop Union Station, a few blocks away:


Because seriously... up the creativity a bit, big guy.

Posted from
OrgName: City of Portland
Address: 1120 SW 5th Ave
Address: Room 450
City: Portland
StateProv: OR
PostalCode: 97204
Country: US

NetRange: -
OriginAS: AS12102
NetHandle: NET-74-120-152-0-1
Parent: NET-74-0-0-0-0
NetType: Direct Assignment
RegDate: 2009-12-10
Updated: 2009-12-10

To add to Jack's posting, per the city's directory:

Technology Services, Bureau of
1120 SW 5th Avenue, Room 450, 97204
Phone: 503-823-5198

Can anyone get more specific than this?

Is there a difference in the high that a smokehound gets from going into a crack house, and the high our elected officials get from going to the bond market?

Crack is less addictive.

Portland should adopt a new approach.

"Go By Honesty"

Wow, nothing like a city employee posting from a city computer, on a city connection, during city business hours; to astroturf a blog that is critical of the city.

Thanks for wasting even more taxpayer money.

Hey Shore...care to comment now you've been LoJacked? Very funny....good job Jack.

Can anyone get more specific than this?

I don't think that means Shore is in BTS him or herself; I think all it means is that he/she posted from a computer using an IP address assigned to the City; BTS is just the administrator of the network that assigned the address.

But definitely a City employee, and one who should know better than to read and post to blogs on taxpayer time.

Eric, that's how Leonard spends most of his day, in addition to lunch with Paulson.

Shore, speaking of being creative, why did your Homer Williams steal "go by streetcar" for one of his Pearl Condo Buildings? I guess he isn't creative either. Please post back on your own dime and time.

As much as I LOL when Shore was "LoJacked," I'd hate to stop seeing all the insight public employees contribute to this blog.

If the morons at City Hall had half a technical clue, they'd be running web log analysis to find out what their darling employees were doing online on the taxpayers' dime. Pretty simple to do actually....

Perhaps they were online providing enterprising and curious bloggers with inside information?

So, I'd guess Lucs wants to cut off the flow of information from City Hall, even if it doesn't come from the marionettes of SamRand Trust (a holey owned subsidiary of Goldschmuck Enterprises).

Niiiiiice. That's real public-spirited of you.

"forget the huge waste of money being spent right now"

What are they spending it on? They are only doing studies and reports and this justifies a 30% increase in water in tow years?

Godfry.... you are close to being a troll here... I just don't think that city employees should be playing on blogs if there is real work to do and given the cuts in the city's budget I suspect there is real work to do. There are after hours ways to do all kinds of posting... If you care at all about fiscal responsibility, you can see the logic in this....

Sorry for cus sing on your blog. I can't contain my displeasure at our city government, so no more commenting from me. Thanks for the interesting read.

"forget the huge waste of money being spent right now"

What are they spending it on? They are only doing studies and reports and this justifies a 30% increase in water in tow years?

One example: Last year, Leonard used an emergency ordinance to move forward with over a $130 million project for the Powell Butte Reservoir Tank, just in case we would not get an exemption from EPA on the LT2 Rule.

"just in case"

That's my point, they shake the ratepayers down for a 30% increase (which at ext/int revenue = $224M '09-'10) and then reg compliance is like $3M per period - Just in case.

I'd love to see PGE to try something of this magnitude.

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