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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Is Portland school bond campaigning on the public dime?

The folks pushing not one but two major property tax increases in Portland for the public schools have amassed a campaign war chest of about a bazillion dollars. The money's come raining down on them from all the usual suspects -- from the government employee unions to the construction dudes who will make a killing "modernizing" the schools. The political types are falling all over each other throwing Benjamins. The old Mark Edlen types are right in there with their "green" this and that -- I hear Benson High School will be LEED Plutonium.

Anyway, the "for the children" campaign signs are popping up like early dandelions on lawns all over town, and apparently they've paid for enough space in the voters' pamphlet to allow every public school student to publish a poem. The election is on May 17, and so the mailing of the pamphlet to the voters, dead and alive, is just a few weeks away.

O.k., all well and good. That's democracy, Oregon style. But having an obscene pile of private campaign money isn't enough, apparently. Last week this showed up in our mailbox -- an obvious piece of election porn, disguised as a "report" from the school board:

You don't have to look too far in this eight-page flyer to find the same kind of rhetoric that you'd expect to find in a hard-core campaign mailer:

So who paid for this thing? It's not entirely clear. The return address is the school district, but up front they include this little tidbit:

It was "supported by" somebody or other, but that doesn't mean that tax dollars weren't spent. And even though there were "no classroom funds used," that seems to indicate that some public funds in fact were.

This sort of sleaze is what turned us off on the highly misleading library campaign in the last election. The "progressive" government in Portland is such a turnoff, it's almost enough to turn a guy into a Republican.


Comments (33)

No COLAs for two years. Such a sacrifice.

This household took a 20% hit two years ago in order to keep more employees on the payroll. This is not unique to the private sector here in PDX. Wonder what size hit it would take in teacher benefits to keep the 200-400 positions that are on the chopping block depending on each of the two tax proposals?

It's all pretty dispiriting because you know this thing is going to pass easily. In 8 years of living here, I don't think Portland voters have rejected a property tax increase once.

Don't forget measure 26-121 includes, under 'Transportation Safety' 2 million for bike lanes and bike boulevards.

This practice is a pretty shady way to promote a message or person with public dollars. This seems more and more to be common-place, even on issues or with people I sometimes support. I don't like it, and it is not ethical.

PR folks are hired on the public dime, reportedly for the purpose of providing information to the public. They want to be "transparent". Instead, the media created is carefully crafted to support a particular point of view.

Most recipients of the information don't question the motives or how it was funded, but get upset later when they see the tax bill, or put an elected into office they regret ever electing.

Premier Press is an Oregon assumed business name registered to PEP Printing, Inc., an Oregon corporation.510 NW 15th. Premier is registered for Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas Counties. The registered representative is Arnold L. Wheeler, same address on 15th. Premier has been a registered ABN since the mid 1980s.

PEP Printing, Inc., is an Oregon corporataion, registered since the mid 1980s. THe President is Jodi Ferrara Krohn; the Secretary is Diane J. Wheeler. The Registered Agent is Arnold L. Wheeler. All at the NW 15th address.

It sure would be interesting to know if any of the individuals , or either of the registered business name, has contributed to the "Yes" campaign. It also would be interesting to know if either of the business names has ongoing business relationships or printing contracts with PPS.

How long do we think ththat PPS would stall in answering the "business relationships" question.

I can't find anything on the ViDa Program".

We don't need to become Republicans, we just need some common-sense moderate Dems who know the meaning of the words "budget" and "ethics" and "99% of your constituents actually feel it when you raise their property taxes twice per year".

After this one, we have a $200 Parks levy on deck for next year. Maybe we should all just mail our wallets to City Hall and get it over with.

Of course, I meant a $200 "million" Parks levy. The City doesn't even get out of bed for less than nine digits any more.

Welcome to collective bargaining, where the old deadwood teachers get raises and the young energetic teachers get pink slips. Thanks PPS for getting that contract done in record time!

Printing and mailing provided by ViDA Program ...

From the PPS website: "ViDA Program: Vision, Dental and Audiometric screening"

Snards, it all makes sense. Selling off park land cheap to their buddy developers so we can buy space for more parks at higher prices. Zsa Zsa's parting hand gesture to all of us as she counts her PERS package cash. My wallet is on empty.

I did find some data on the ViDA program


If I read the blurb right, its a combination of donated professional services and donated cash used by PPS to provide vision, hearing, and dental services.

Interesting conversion of cash donated for and intended to provide health care to bond propaganda.

Click through the various tabs at the upper left of the URL after you open it.

Amazing use of funds donated to provide health care.

The PPS admisistrators are utterly lacking in any integrity and have no shame whatever.

PPS is't the only school district shilling for votes.
Last evening we had 2 phone calls at dinner time of course, made by students asking for support for a levy in our rural school district.
No poems yet, but we will check it out before voting.

This illustrates what's gone very wrong here in the Portland area and beyond. The political process has been usurped by manipulators and their glossy magazine style advertising firms that play on pathetic glamour worship. Give people the 'freedom' to keep themselves medicated on their substance of choice and it's not too difficult to keep things moving along as planned.

What if instead of spending that war chest on trying to convince everyone to raise taxes they instead donated it to the very institutions they claim need money? Why spend 1 dollar to try and squeeze two out of voters three years into a recession? Just donate the buck and shut up.

Or how about a tax on bikes, volvos, outbacks and lattes? I might even support a surcharge on sandals, tats and piercings.

Puh-leeze, this is just another of those "Friends of" committees to get around reporting.

Tell PPS to ask Sam for some of that $66M he's plonking down on 3200 ft of SW Moody - which was just fine when they built it 3 years back.

It would seem just as honest to call this "tithing" for the teachers.

If both of these pass, the overall increase in property taxes will be around 10% or as much as the 11% we pay for urban renewal or the additional 11% we pay for the fire and police pension fund each and every year. Would rather pay the money to new school buildings but the other two funds seem to be out of my control as I never had a "vote" on the negotiations with the two unions nor a say over handing out excessive funding for whatever "blighted" area needs to be developed.

The children will become the adults having to pay for the debt by immoral decisions...they will know they were used.

Is there no mention of the $558 million in any of the campaign material?


And isn't the $558 million the bonds and
several 100 million more will be needed to pay them off?

So this is a vote to hand over $900 million?

Ben -

Remember the current request is for
$ 558 million for 6 years.

PPS Board intends to come back in 6 years and ask for an additional
@$ 550 millionfor a six yera term.

And then cone back 6 years later (12 years from now) and ask a third time for @ $ 550 million.

All in all, $ 1.65 BILLION over 18 years.

Not counting operating levys,

Makes me want to hunt up folks like Karla Wenzel who spent so many years on the PPS board converting
maintenence funds to bloated salaries.

Just did a check of the school district in my rural county. They want about $1.5 mil more in property taxes. There will be a special 5 year levy vote next month. In looking at the budget it looks to me like virtually all the dollars will go to service a debt of about $32 million. Most of that is for the interest on bonds that pay out on pensions.
For a small district this seems a bit high to me.
But I am not a CPA....only a taxpayer.
IF the money really went for programs for the actual schools I could support it, but this is nuts! Of course the argument is that without the money the school programs will be slashed. I realize thi is heracy, but maybe the retirees could take a cut for a change.

The children will become the adults having to pay for the debt by immoral decisions...they will know they were used.

Yes, and in some households, the cost to pay for all of this will be hurtful to those very children.

Increased taxes and rates on just about everything and including the increase in transportation and food costs, will in some cases be "taking food needed to be healthy" right out of households.

All this in the sustainable city and by a Mayor who fashions himself to be an education Mayor, while behind the curtain his policies are spending the money on the pet projects instead.

Me thinks somewhere in his head, he either feels a bit guilty, or more to the point needs to look good to others for reelection, he opens the curtain wide and portrays himself to be this education Mayor.

I will add at our expense.


Adams, who fashions himself as Portland's "education mayor," last year proposed spending $500,000 to send as many as 500 students to community college this fall. But that has been scaled back to $360,000 and 200 students because of a smaller-than-expected applicant pool and issues over how ratepayer money from the city's Environmental Services and Water bureaus can be spent...

Notice that next year, the remaining $140,000 may be tapped.

...Next year, city officials hope to tap the remaining $140,000 in sewer and water money originally set aside from Adams' plan, which isn't being spent this year. They think they can find more students interested in the internship program at Clackamas Community College, which has a Water & Environmental Technology program.

But beyond that, Lord said, it's unlikely sewer and water dollars will be used for scholarships: "We anticipate that being just a straight general fund ask."

Too many eyes are on them now?

If I have my facts straight Creepy's program pays for three staff members to administer the funds and only returns 1/3 of the money to the students. What a fiasco! Our city seems so adept at wasting money. How do we take them to court for malfeasance?

I'm sure Betsy Hammond at the O is right on top of these figures posted here. She'll certainly won't be biased.

Our main problem with this education issue as well as so many other issues sits right in the lap of our local media: newspapers, tv, and some radio. If media disagrees with some of the points being made here, then at least report the "other side's" thinking and give facts or opinion of how wrong it is. Hammond reports only part of the story many times, then if she reports the other side many times it's after the fact or the trains already left the mall. Disturbing.

I wouldn't look to the "BoredOgonian" to repeat anything but the party line from City hall.
Portlandia, where life is beautiful, clean and safe, trah la, trah la...and everyone is under 30 and rides a bike, and goes to soccer games at night.

For those reeling from the idea of 1.65 BILLION over 18 years for PPS for bonds alone, not counting ever increasing operationg levys, there is another litytle shocker waiting in the wings.

Portland {parks and Recreation (Think Nick Fish) will gho to the November, 2012 ballot with a $ 200 million dollar bond issue for "maintenance".

I don't know about you, but I haven't had a COL increase in my Social Security in two years.

I couldn't sell this house if I tried. There are neither borrowers or financing. RMV drops like a stone.

Gives you a whole different perspective on bond votes.

And a big incentive to apply for the property tax deferral, and leave PPS
whistling in the dark to get its money.

Does anyone know who is running the bond campaign?

Liz Kaufman.

The children will become the adults having to pay for the debt by immoral decisions...they will know they were used.

Just tell them that the taxes are like student loans. I'm sure they will thank their parents for having the good sense to commit them to pay it all off decades later.

Just wait until they start pulling kids out of school and bussing them to Salem to "rally for the schools." Lost classroom time, more pay for bus drivers, more bus fuel costs.......

I'm looking at retirement in a couple of years - and I figure the operating levy/school bond combined will add nearly $600 a year to my property taxes. (Plus, of course, the expected doubling of water rates in 4-5 years.) I would hope the "No" campaign would point out the math to the many boomers who are retired/on the verge of retirement, who, as Nonny pointed out, can't sell their homes. Many of us are also not yet old enough for property tax deferrals.

I've voted for school measures in the past, but will vote no on the bond measure this time.

If we hadn't gone crazy on urban renewals (redevelopment) pet projects, and light rail for years, schools might be in better shape financially.

If we didn't have this UGB creating a lack of large parcel lands, we might have a different agenda, just seems to me another scheme to shovel money to "development" and using our public land or even convincing us to "sell" our public land, rather than really helping the children and education, and keeping this land in trust for the public.

Correct me if I am wrong on this, I certainly want what is good for the children, but I have lost trust that anything is being done for the right reason around here.

Concerned that we are so being debt swamped with all these bonds. This seems crazymaking not to be prudent during these troubling economic times.

Get priorities and what is really needed in our community. How about a moratorium to sort this all out, before we "look like mad" to just have to find more money for the light rail, $4 billion for the CRC Bridge? Another Billion with debt for a public health problem that does not even exist on the water issue, looks like a billion here and a billion there, So What? More millions there. The tram, the stadium, on and on and now??
The schools and children were left out all these years?
What does this say about our "leaders" and our community?

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