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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tri-Met to hand $10 million to Homer Williams

This town has now gone way beyond bizarre.

And if you vote in favor of the Tri-Met property tax, perhaps it's rubbed off on you.

Comments (44)

Public-private partnership!! Public pays, private pockets the gains!!

That O story is weird, too, in its comments on South Waterfront: "more glitzy condos than ...".

I thought most of those condo buildings were pretty much empty or at least significant percentages of them were empty.

"so that we can capture some of these ventures and not lose them to Silicon Valley or Cambridge, Mass."

But Florida is OK?

It doesn't say where the $10 million from TriMet comes from.

That's becasue they have no idea. Probably bonded against future operations revenue or shifted from millions in co-mingled funds.
At this juncture all it takes is for the clowns to all smile at each other and say we're in.

Same approach to Milwaukie Light Rail.

An ultimately they could care less where it comes from because they never assess or acknowledge any adverse effects on either the sources, the cost or anything else.

No one can point to a single policy discussion by any of the participants where any such concerns arise.

When they are brought up by critics the clowns just sit there with blank faces till they're done, moving on without the slightest mental pause.

There are no adequate words to label this without getting very foul.

So just imagine the worst phrases possible.

And go Ducks, and Beavs!

I am crossing my fingers hoping voters say no to TriMet's bond measure this Tuesday. With TriMet on its way to driving off the financial cliff, why is TriMet throwing scarce tax and fare revenue to land development? Besides, TriMet should not be in land development at all. The condos and apartment buildings already built alongside Max lines, outside the downtown core, are ticking time Ghettos (Ghettos in the making). The wheels appear to be visibly coming off Portland cityhall and Metro's central planning train. Belmont and Hawthorne streets sport many empty storefronts now and several of the recent additions look like they are trending into blight.

Here's an interesting fact: Less than 50% of all TriMet employees actually operate buses or light rail (drivers are only about 40% or so of total employment). The agency is top heavy in planners and PR folks I suspect.

Who ever is governor has a lot to do with the success and/or failure of TriMet as he or she appoints those calling the shots on the TriMet Board. So, think about this as you also vote for Governor. Kitzhaber is likely to continue appointing the same fiscally unfit board members as he did before as governor and more recently his brother-like Kulongoski.

Bob Clark: . . The condos and apartment buildings already built alongside Max lines, outside the downtown core, are ticking time Ghettos (Ghettos in the making). .

Smart Growth?

Environmentally Sound? Groves of trees cut to make room for these ghettos?

Crime? Do those who promote the agenda live along the lines?

Suggest people in support of smart growth take a tour!!

Shhh!! Too much silence in town!!

Shhh. . . it is too much in the city that works us over!!

The financing from the article:
As envisioned, the project will be paid for in large part by taxpayers.

The state will contribute $50 million from the sale of bonds.
$60 million from bond issuances in which OHSU, OSU and PSU will pay the debt service
TriMet, which is to contribute $10 million.
Oregon Legislature has already approved the initial $50 million for the project.
OHSU will also contribute $40 million it received from an anonymous donor
private developers contribute at least $10 million

The daydream from the article:

"We're interested in seeing a private-sector research space for companies that are spun out of academia," OHSU's Williams said, "so that we can capture some of these ventures and not lose them to Silicon Valley or Cambridge, Mass."

The result last time from the article:
When many of the condos hit the market with price tags north of half a million dollars, critics complained the city had helped create an enclave for the rich.

But the developer windfalls predicted by the district's critics were tempered by the housing bust. Developers have given some condo buildings back to their lenders and have turned to auctions to sell off units.

Left out of article:
Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result is an indicator of insanity.



6 months ago this was a $250 million Life Sciences Collaborative Complex.

"South Waterfront Life Sciences Facility- 250,000,000"

It was to be bonding of millions against future operations and tuition revenue.

OHSU is borrowing the $70 million against future operations revenue, that it doesn't have, and the Oregon University System share is bonding $60 million against future tuition revenue that is already far short of needs. The Legislature hid $115 million in an end of session bill no one read. It borrows against the lottery revenue stream already funding needed services.

Now TriMet is tossing in $10 million?

So what's up? Will the real story please stand up?

The Streetcar and Moody Street are both having to be moved and the entire site raised 14 feet to accommodate Milwaukie Light Rail and the New Life Sciences Complex.

None of that is in either the MLR budget or new building budget.

"Providing Article 11-G and lottery bonding authority of about $115 million for university Priority 1 capital projects; and $85 million for debt service on outstanding capital bonds are additional capital construction provisions in the Governor’s budget that address student access and quality academic programs and facilities.
$250 million to create an interinstitutional Life Sciences Collaborative Complex in Portland’s South Waterfront development area, which will provide an instruction and research facility for bioscience, medical device/diagnostics, medical and pharmacy faculty from OHSU, PSU, OSU, UO and OIT working collaboratively on life and bioscience issues with private sector partners."

And there's this

"South Waterfront Corporate Complex $150,000,000"

I'm sick of this. Where's the whole story, the attorney General, a full audit???????

They will probably get the funds for raising Moody from Transportation maintenance funds. That means more and bigger potholes. Maybe once the billing is set up for the Leaf Fee we can get a Pothole Fee. We need a new set of rascals.

I believe there was a fed grant for a big part of moving the Steetcar and Moody St. and raising the site the 14 ft.

Again, all of this is for the Milwaukie Light rail approach to it's new bridge.

The rest of SoWa needed 4 ft of lift.

Get ready for a new round of bus service cuts...

I'm starting to think that TriMet engineered the benefits issue so as to distract citizens from all of the frivilous spending TriMet does involving development, light rail, streetcar and commuter rail...they couldn't take the heat there, so invent something that attacts generally bus operators - the cost of benefits. Transit agencies that haven't bent over backwards to build rail systems - Seattle, in particular (King County Metro does not own/operate/maintain the Central Link Light Rail, the Seattle Streetcar, or Sounder) have not had to make the drastic cuts that TriMet has. And their operators still get a pretty good wage/benefits package.

Erik H.
I haven't gone back into past comments, as I recall though, someone here commented about TriMet and federal funding for buses, but they refused and are now running this campaign?

If this is so, would they be doing this "much needed money for bus campaign" so that they can actually get more money for their rail projects?

They seem to be having trouble getting the public to support the rail, so "get them to give the money" for buses, is this the idea?

There are decent real estate developers. Names such as Naito and McMenamin come to mind.

Then there are the dirt pimps who whore the earth. The latter have been given the keys.

Homer must have explicit photos of several high profile somebodies in very compromising poses. There is no other rational explanation for the wheelbarrows full of cash he has hauled out of this city.

"Homer must have explicit photos of several high profile somebodies in very compromising poses."

Maybe Homer has secret sexually explicit pics of our Mayor with a teenager in the City Hall restroom?

Or maybe some pics of the Mayor with his pants still unzipped right after his single car accident in a parking lot?

Or maybe Homer has some dirt on some big lies the Mayor told to get elected?

Nah, nobody would believe Homer even if he had the pics. No mayor would get caught doing those things, because he knew he would get recalled by the electorate.

clinamen: I believe I was one that said that TriMet has refused to obtain routine federal grants for buses in the past (or applied for much less than they could have applied for and received).

I believe that if this measure passes, it will be a green-light to continue to divert existing general fund revenues over to light rail capital, thus leading to TriMet depending on ongoing public support (at the ballot box) for any new bus investment.

If this measure fails, TriMet will incorrectly interpret the results as "the public doesn't support the bus system" and take steps to further reduce bus service.

All of this stems from the failure of the South|North ballot measure back in the late 1990s when regional voters said no to the measure. Then, the elite at Metro said "Hey, Portland voted for it!" and decided to build the Yellow Line (the so-called North|North line) using money stashed away in TriMet's bank accounts - money that was supposed to be used to replace buses and other general, ongoing maintenance. The Red Line which was supposed to be the wonderful "public/private partnership" wasn't much private as the majority of funding came from public sources. The Green Line, along with WES, received substantial investment from TriMet directly - all without a vote of the public. That money came from somewhere...

As a former PSU Alumni (Master's '09), I am not seeing anything wrong with PSU, OHSU, the private sector and the public sector teaming up to turn SoWa into something more than half empty condo towers and medical buildings.

Looking at it from a residential, taxpayer perspective, I can see and understand the visceral anger.

That being said, what are the alternatives? I think this is the essential question now that the City and taxpayers of Oregon have invested so much into it now. You just cannot leave it as it is with so much already invested. Something has to come of it otherwise we get up on our Tea Party-esque pedestal, pull all public money, and leave public projects to become blight areas.

As for "the public pays, the private sector gains" argument, it isn't that simple. If a public-private partnership allows for PSU and OHSU to create more laboratories for research, then those students who participate and show promise will have something to show on their resume and even if they are not hired by the private sector involved, this endeavor and their following research will allow them a greater chance to land a job in the private sector.

Overall, I think until we see the definite plans from all sides, we should hold off on the knee jerk reactions and look at it from all angles than just besides a Tea Party-esque angle where even the interstate highway system would not be built because it would mean an increase in taxes.

Furthemore, did Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Yale and all the top notch research universities gain their fame by not allowing any private sector input? I surmise not and please show if I am wrong.

Let's pause to welcome a new term. We are now past "linchpins" and have moved on to "incubator space."
If I understand this correctly, OHSU doesn't really mean space for actual incubators to help babies. No, these are places where additional business scams will be hatched and begin to grow. The planners at OHSU are so far from their original mission now that they're using medical terms metaphorically.

Oh for crying out loud Ryan.

We don't need you explaining things to us angry confused people.

This is a heavily tax funded project and Homer Willaims' niece is on the TriMet board.

You just cannot leave it as it is with so much already invested.

Brilliant logic. We screwed up! So we must screw up more!

did Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Yale and all the top notch research universities gain their fame by not allowing any private sector input?

They're all private schools. And they weren't slimy enough to bankrupt their home cities and local transit systems on the way to permanent mediocrity.

"If you don't agree with the Goldschmidt people, you're in the Teeeeeea Paaaaarty!" Give me a break, son. It's not about politics. Many of these people are crooks.

BTW, I believe Tiffany Sweitzer of the Tri-Met board is Homer Williams's stepdaughter, not his niece.


I may have said "angry," but I did not explicitly in a derogatory manner call anyone "confused." If it was implied, well everyone reads things from a different set of lens.

As for nepotism in politics, isn't it part of the scheme in any major metropolitan area? So if it is a political reality, then why get mad about it? I didn't hear too much hollering and screaming when Hillary Clinton was riding off of Bill's coat-tails during her 2008 presidential bid. Where are Chicago progressives kicking and screaming with Rahm Emanuel parachuting from Obama and using his experience to get an edge in the mayoral campaign?

All I was saying was to give this time and to try and look at big public works or public-private projects from another angle. If we constantly take the view of "say NO to every big project the City of Portland supports because they cannnot show each project creates long-term, living wage jobs," then how are we going to recognize a good project when it comes along? How would the USA be today if our parents (my grandparents) took this view during the Great Depression and after? Would we have the interstate highway system, Hoover Dam, Bonneville Dam, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)?

It would be naive to say the interstate highway system, TVA, and Bonneville were created solely for job creation. If I have my history right, the interstate highway system we have was created to move tanks and troops in the case of a Soviet invasion. TVA was sorely needed in Tennessee to provide electricity and modernize the economy in rural Tennessee. Bonneville was created to alleviate flooding, hydroelectricity powering the region in the future, and irrigation for farmers.

Instinctively, my gut tells me this is a worthwhile project. Now a Sellwood Bridge or replacing the I-5 bridge over the Columbia including bike lanes and light rail is just a waste and a fantasy because the TriMet ridership numbers don't prove any increase in streetcar is going to mean more working taxpayers are hanging up their cars and commuting via light rail to work. I just haven't seen TriMet post numbers saying 25% of those working in the Portland Metro Area commute via light rail.

Contrary, this project has more value than just that for PSU and OHSU. Having significant space for two research universities would allow for more local economic growth due to the research and subsequent manufacture of the research. If the City of Portland and the State of Oregon plays it right in using urban renewal to convert residential and farm land into more industrial land with heavy tax breaks to keep the private sector firms vested in the research here, then there will be a lot of good to come out of this project.

However it plays out, this is my preliminary opinion. I reserve the right to change it at any time.

Comparing OHSU to Stanford and MIT, Sam Adams and Vera Katz to FDR -- too funny. Don't stop believin'.

Portland State University needs this relationship with OSHU badly to gain academic credibility. Look at the baloney they taught poor Ryan.

My favorite paragraph:

"We felt there was enough meat in their business proposal and enough talent on their team to go ahead with further negotiations and discussions," said Mark Williams of OHSU, no relation to Homer Williams."

So, another project apparently not opened up for competitive bid and there's some shame involved because the writer has included a disclaimer distancing someone at OHSU from Williams because they have the same last name and apparently someone might jump to a conclusion about preferential treatment or nepotism.

Heaven forbid.

I believe Tiffany Sweitzer of the Tri-Met board is Homer Williams's stepdaughter, not his niece.

Maybe she's both.

I think maybe Ryan just qualified for a tuition refund.

Yeah Ryan that works as long as one doesn't know anything about the track record.

You're assuming there's been some genuine assessment of merit. Like a business plan.

There has not. That doesn't happen around here. Try and get that "angle".

The MLR and this building are the Tram gone wild. There is no business planning showing the investment will deliver anything but countless millions more in tax dollars chasing the pipe dream con jobs these people game.

The first SoWa OHSU building was a ridiculous failure. Do you have any understanding of that farce?
Who built it for what reason with what money and who took it over?
That it pays no taxes also etc?
How about the $200 million Oregon Opportunity?

The idea that these same people are now advancing a healthy investment plan is ludicrous.

The fact that they had to hide $110 million in an end of session legislative bill to fund it should be alarming.
The drain on the lottery profits for this and Milwaukie Light Rail will exceed $ $600 million and cripple MANY other essential needs.

You claim it should be given time?
I say it should be given prosecutions.

Try and look at this from the angle of severe incompetence and public deceit this is.

And try and grasp that despite the economy and condo failures in SoWa Homer and other stakeholders have pocketed millions from the city while insulating him from consequences just like the planners and politicians.

Here are a couple of links that identify Ms. Sweitzer as Homer's step-daughter, the second telling how she learned development prowess at her step-daddy's knee by attending meetings with him. Also notice who the partners are for Hoyt Street Properties.



"the City and taxpayers of Oregon have invested so much into it now."

I believe that was Paulsen's argument to throw $11M into PGE Park after we spent $35M on it 8 years ago.

Sometime you need to pull the plug on this frippery which is just building a more empty condos and bailing out developers. It'll never get enough money. Don't forget the $250M for I-5 access projects they still nee.

Ryan, playing poker and betting on projects like Sowhat have a lot in common. The first rule of poker (no not the one about women!) is "Don't throw good money after bad". The good money is in your pocket. The bad is in the pot.

Many people play poker just as you describe should be the process in SoWhat.

They are called losers.

If we constantly take the view of "say NO to every big project the City of Portland supports . . .

The problem is that NO hasn’t been the case here. It is YES YES YES by the insiders who benefit at our expense. This has gone on too long and when will it stop Ryan? When we have to file for bankruptcy?

If you are so concerned about the future and jobs, take a look at the history here. . and how the City of Portland treats some businesses, - hit squad, expensive permits, and so on. We are told that some businesses and leaders are worried about retaliation if they object to the “Royal Ones on their Perches.” Perhaps you need to know that many of us do not see this as our Portland City Council, we may as well call it The Developer’s Council. Get yourself into a situation where the chambers are filled with citizens and Council opposes them. I would venture to guess that many of us here have been through what I term the “tunnel of deception” and after one has experienced that and the shabby public process over and over, well yes there is anger.

Well I am mad as hell about what has happened here in what was once a good place to live and in the shambles our country has turned into, and I am not a Tea Party person.

One should be able to be critical and angry without being labeled.

Who is Ryan? Is he writing from kiddie hall?

Ryan, I doubt that you haven't been around for the last 20 years to know the history of SoWhat. For you to claim that comments are "knee-jerk reactions" and paraphrasing you, "give it a chance/time" is without basis.

First, Sam, Katz, Planners, Developers and the whole cabal earnestly sold SoWhat as a biotech endeavor for 10,000 jobs. Housing was secondary and was suppose to benefit the jobs and reduce transit trips. The $290 Million of direct TIF tax payer dollars, plus all federal, state, TriMet, Metro, grants, debt service, etc. raised the total cost to $1.1 Billion tax dollars, even substantiated by a PSU economist.

The "partnership" is a farce if you consider the return that the taxpayers are getting and will get for the $1.1B. Most times building streets, making a park, and developing a greenway is at the expense of the developers. And amazingly several developers in 1980s/90s wanted to develop SoWhat with mostly their money. But CoP wanted their tumbs on it all-Urban Renewal, so the developers waited for the gravy train.

Getting down to the real nuts and bolts of more recent events in SoWhat that help refute your claims that we need to invest more to create biotech jobs, we can point to recent taxpayer investments besides the $185M already spent:

1)Homer Williams-Edlen in developing the OHSU Doctors Health Club building conned $5 Million to be spent to create "ready" biotech incubator spaces in the building. The building has not generated one, true incubator job.

2)PSU reported to the SoWhat URAC in Sept. that they have spent $1.5 Million of TIF tax dollars in remodeling a small building previously owned by David Evans Engineers to create biotech "wetlab" spaces. Less than 10% of spaces in Phase 1 have been rented.

As an example of how tax dollars are taken from other sources that most of us don't even know about or consider not appropriate to help the "biotech agenda" of SoWhat is the recent example of the South Waterfront Transportation Management Association, similar to the Lloyd TMA (Lloyd Center area). In 2007 Metro spent $30K just for its feasibility study. SWF TMA is the first TMA "and the goal is to prevent problems instead of solving them afterwards". Amazing statement. I thought the whole planning of SoWhat was to include Transportation Planning. In fact it's required by our State's and Portland's Land Use laws. I don't have the total costs that this TMA has eaten, but probably Metro or PDC doesn'either.

Another example of how the shell game in SoWhat is employed to shuffle money to "help" biotech is the recent awarding of a federal grant for $42 Million (the grant could have been requested for other Portland transportation needs like Sellwood Bridge) for the relocation of the newly built trolley line along SW Moody which benefits directly the proposed Life Sciences Collaborative Building. The 100 ft. moving to the west and raising the grade 14 ft benefits the Building by first creating more new below-grade parking above the flood plain. Also, being directly adjacent to mass transit all kinds of Metro, TriMet dollars, grants will directly benefit the building (TOD's). Plus, they gain 100 ft of additional real estate.

Ryan, we have spent a fortune, and our children's fortune to bring biotech to SoWhat, and it has been a zip. But I think you might already know that.

Ryan, do your homework please. Learn the history of what has gone on with development. When I was in my 20s, I believed in the shiny lies and the unlimited future of this city as portrayed by the powers that were. Decades have passed and I can see a lot more clearly. I am no longer naive and no longer an idealist wearing rose colored glasses.

Ryan, another good point that I didn't elaborate is the effect that public owned facilities like PSU/OHSU's proposed Collaborative Building has to the tax base. It has a severe tax negative because it would pay NO property taxes.

Sure, when this point is mentioned at URAC meetings PDC, OHSU/PSU claim that if they get a few of the ground floor area with a Starbucks or Childcare facility, they'll pay property taxes- a pittance of property taxes compared to the whole.

This all has a compounded effect because its property and potential private building is taken off the tax-rolls to never produce property taxes like a private biotech/incubator would.

At this point in time over 50% of the property in the north/central/south SoWhat area has been taken off the tax-roll because it is the the non-taxpaying realm of PSU and OHSU, and Affordable Public Housing land (yet to be built). And this doesn't include all the TOD tax subsidies.

So the tax paying pie is diluted even more than what the rest of us taxpayers can sustain.

I don't think much of those occupying the new bulding or existing OHSU pay TriMet payroll taxes either.

How swell is that?

The Tram, Steeecar and Light Rail will all serve these special people and they'll pay no TriMet tax.

Google found this


January 19, 2007 8:00 PM
Erik H. Says:

According to the Oregon Department of Revenue:


What wages are exempt from transit taxes?

The following are exempt from TriMet and LTD excise taxes:

Federal government units.
Federal credit unions.
Public school districts.
Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3)--nonprofit and tax exempt institutions, except hospitals.
Foreign insurers.
All insurance adjusters, agents, and agencies, as well as their office staff, whether representing foreign or domestic companies.
Domestic service in a private home.
Casual labor.
Services performed outside the district.
Seamen who are exempt from garnishment.
Employee trusts that are exempt from taxation.
Tips paid by the customer to the employee.
Wages paid to employees whose labor is connected solely to planting, cultivating, or harvesting seasonal agricultural crops.
The following are exempt from LTD, but subject to TriMet:

Public education districts.
Public special service and utility districts.
Port authorities.
Fire districts.
City, county, and other local government units


Thanks for replying and teaching me on the specifics. I comment a lot on many different websites (mainly video game forums) and I never take it personally as a debate I have to win. I leave my comments open and vague to get specific responses which I can learn and gleam from.

Portland Native and Lucsavdo,

Yes I do have a lot to learn, as we all do. Just discounting my comments as "kiddie hall" is not a good dialogue starter to have a discussion between generations.

My generation and those after will be paying for the mistakes of leaders from your generation (and mine in 20 years). If the tone is as I perceive it is "well your not over 40, therefore you don't know jack squat," then all you will do is embitter younger individuals towards Baby Boomers.


Not all of the Tea Party is bad. Just the segment who believes economic policy is solely tax cuts and the Christian Right who is riding along trying to stay relevant.

I apologize if you took my comments as directed towards you.

"Kiddie hall" was a play on words for "city hall." As in your city leaders act like a bunch of children.

Ryan: . . My generation and those after will be paying for the mistakes of leaders from your generation . .

Precisely, and this is why I am so frustrated, and call the abuse out, this current composite of generations have screwed up royally and are continuing to do so. Can't blame the "old boys" in DC, it is as if the keys were handed down to those who are driving like mad without regard to the principles which have guided us for at least 200 years.

I cannot tell you how upset I am over this. To grow up in this country with advantages and then have some "take all one can" even if it means shredding our constitution; never mind the rule of law. Locally, codes mean less and less to these decision makers while citizen input means essentially nothing. How did we ever get to this??

I cannot tell you how sad I am over this. Many people fought and gave their lives for our country and these principles.

Now, corporatism rules and hovers over us in insidious ways. It appears they have taken over, our media, our education system, our liberty and freedom, our treasury, our health care or lack of it, and the list is long.

Thank you for your interest and that you are engaged. I think you found here a group of people who have been watchdogs and concerned citizens on many issues.

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