Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gang-wannabe warfare - another simpleton editorial

Gang-wannabe warfare demands entire community's response | OregonLive.com

Another simpleton's editorial [see
post] on gangs exposing the lack of any active intelligence on the matter. And, the editorial board just couldn't step away from its anti-police basis - it had to point a finger of blame at the police department. In the final analysis the board wants us to hold hands around the campfire.


Sprucing up an otherwise superficial editorial with quotes from Sun Tzu obscured the one potentially valid point in its editorial: "More leadership from the mayor is a must, but more leadership across a broad front is crucial, too."

A problem here is looking to this mayor for leadership. His only response thus far has been to look to gun control as a solution like the gang members worry about access to weapons. The other problem is the naiveté contained in this statement: 

"No one should be a bystander here. Ministers, community leaders, parents and relatives (both of gang members and kids who want nothing to do with them), neighbors, volunteers: Everyone needs to combine forces."

I stand by my earlier post - the editorial board has no clue about gang sociology and the causation of gang violence. Family - their family - is a gang focus much like that attributed to the mafia. Read what the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin for a feeling of what makes gangs tick.

Yes, I realize I am no expert, but it only takes a few moments of one's Internet time to Google to obtain an educated perspective about gangs. The editorial board is shooting from the hip spouting the platitudes of the past.

Here the editorial board sits on their high perch overlooking Portland pontificating solutions to problems they do not understand demonstrating not only their lack of knowledge but also their lack of leadership.

Who has world's highest concentration of electric vehicle chargers? Not Portland

Elk Horn, Iowa has world's highest concentration of electric vehicle chargers [w/video] — Autoblog Green:

"With one charger for every 162 people and four additional chargers on the way (!), Elk Horn is likely to retain its top spot for quite some time." With only 649 residents and 8 chargers it is unlikely they will ever be anything other than number 1.

They have the right thinking: "We are really pre-positioned here way ahead of the curve. We are confident that when electric cars come, we have a location where people can charge their vehicles, enjoy our town, and then be able to continue on their journey."

Can I get an AMEN?

Report: Climate science panel should be better run

Russia bans strong booze at night

Russia bans strong booze at night - RT:

"The veto does not affect beer and wine, and it concerns retail sales only – clubs and restaurants will be still able serve strong drinks 24 hours a day." 

The article is a good read on a very proactive approach by Russia, and other countries as well, to curb not only drunk driving but other alcohol related crimes.

“Not only this helps to rule out a lot of problems – like drunk violence, drunk murder, car accidents – but also to reduce the number of alcohol poisonings. When people are sober, they buy the quantity of alcohol which is okay for them. But when they get drunk, they think that was not enough and at night they go to get another bottle. We already introduced the ban in some Russian regions, and the result was really positive."

"
The same strategies have been tried by many countries, including Sweden and the UK. The campaigns have been highly successfully."


Monday, August 30, 2010

Every little bit helps philosophy?

ReVolt chooses Portland headquarters � Daily Journal of Commerce

This is not a new event - it was announced in September 2009 that the company had selected Portland for its US headquarters. PDC in December 2009, in an Intergovernment Agreement and in January 2010, in a Sustainablity Report,  announced Portland as the ReVolt selection. On May 5, 2010 the company announced it had received approximately $5 million [not the $30 mil sought] in development funding from the feds. And, on the same day, the Daily Journal had Portland as being selected for the headquarters.

August 27, 2010 the Daily Journal announces, as if it is new, that Revolt has chosen Portland for its US headquarters and that Revolt “expects to hire 150 employees over the next five years.” But what we see is that arguably Revolt had been holding its $5 mil award from the feds and remaining in Portland as hostage in its negotiations with the city and state that resulted in Revolt receiving $6.8 million in loans and tax credits.

But we are not informed by the media how many new employees will be initially hired and what if any conditions were placed on the hiring of the expected 150 employees within 5 years? E.g., as in the Vestas deal the company had to give back $1 mil to the state if it failed to hire 100 new employees in 5 years. [See post for more details.]

In the ReVolt press release we see a slightly different view: "ReVolt has selected a site . . . to serve as its headquarters . . . supporting approximately 150 jobs between 2010 and 2015." Isn't "supporting" is a carefully chosen word challenging the grandiloquent statements of the governor and mayor?

Neither are we informed how the $6.8 mil is spread across the sources. e.g., how much is coming from PDC?. What are the interest rates of the loans? Are any of them forgivable? What tax credits, e.g., are these state income tax credits? If  PDC is a loan source - then can it be assume that TIF is the revenue source for the loan?

Admittedly, a new job is a welcomed job. But, is this the same 5 years that PDC and city expects to produce 10,000 net new jobs? [Portland Tribune]. Almost - the five years started in 2009 and we have a little more than four years to go. Thus, while little bits from ReVolt and Vestas helps, they are hardly significant.

And doesn't this come at a great cost to the public? E.g., with Revolt will there be a positive return on the state and city's investment? Doesn't seem likely - does it?

State revenue sources

Where States Get Their Money - NYTimes.com

Don't miss the ". . . interactive map, showing what percent of each state’s tax revenues come from each of the following sources: property taxes, general sales taxes, elective sales taxes, individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, and licenses and other taxes."

The eats are good but the learning . . . .

Portland's school children are eating well at school but still ignorant.

Portland streetcar success

Portland streetcar success has fueled interest elsewhere - USATODAY.com

The article gives credit where credit isn't due to the Streetcar for development of Pearl. "A streetcar line that opened in 2001 helped transform it into a lively neighborhood with boutiques, condos and restaurants." Sorry that is hogwash. People walk to Pearl and they drive to Pearl but by and large the Streetcar is transportation through the Pearl.

Success? I wonder how success is being defined - is it only a perception not based in reality? It is not a monetary success. It is like all other rail passenger modes of transportation - it doesn't pay for itself relying heavily on subsidies.
 
I like the Streetcar (and MAX). I don't have a car, and if I did I probably shouldn't be driving. I purposefully - really no other choice - chose twice to locate near light rail. But the peculiar thing is that I avoid riding them preferring to walk. When I live in Old Town I would walk downtown and then later take the Streetcar to Bridgeport Brewery in the Pearl. Later a walk back to Old Town. But I suspect that I am one of the few patrons that arrived at Bridgeport via the Streetcar.

Now that I live in the Pearl I infrequently use the Streetcar except to get to the VA or to NW 23rd. But I have ridden the Streetcar more than the MAX. In those rides passengers most often traveled through Pearl not within it or to it.

What is really excellent about the Streetcar is really what is wrong with it - it doesn't pay for itself. In the recent years that I had rode the Streetcar nearly everyday - no one paid the fare unless the fare nudger was on board. The Streetcar does provide an excellent means of transportation for a relatively small portion of the city.

The reality is that except for three points - PSU, Powell's, and NW 23rd - it has little value. There are few places of interest on the line. If it were not for the PSU students and tourists its ridership would be nil. And, there is no evidence that the Streetcar had any catalytic, development value for Pearl. There was no cause and effect.

It is one more nice-to-have item that people "appreciate" when they believe someone else is paying for it. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Portland Police busy in August

Portland: 15 shootings; 2 bank robberies; restaurant robbery; stabbing.







Small-business credit crisis?

For small-business owners, credit crisis won't go away | OregonLive.com

Too bad for this story that they chose as a "poster boy" a restaurant owner that admits that his business hasn't been profitable since 2007 yet complains that he can't get credit. "'We took care of the big guys, the auto companies and the banks,' Thompson said. But for small businesses, 'the banks aren't lending. It's a tragedy.'"

Just why any bank should lend him $600,000 that he claims he needs is not stated. It seems that he, and maybe others similarly situated, believe the government ought to bail them out of their financial difficulty. It is a market economy in which government should not be involved in risk aversion for any business.

An interesting attitude is seen in this comment: "In 2007 [I assume a typo], Harry DeWolf, head of the Small Business Administration's Portland office, learned firsthand about the bank's new lending standards: 'They [bank] were going to turn my request for a business loan into a home equity loan.'" Is it surprising that a prudent bank would want collateral?

It doesn't seem so much that there is a crisis as it is a reversion by financial institutions to prudent financial practices.

A good start - environmentalist banned from restaurant

Environmentalist Banned From Restaurant - Slashfood

Thanks to bojack for calling attention to this article. It is an example of the overload of self-important people and their causes. This is a story about a restaurant banning the president of Wild Salmon Center who, according to him, had been a 10 year regular customer. At issue was that the restaurant's menu contained Atlantic (Northern) bluefin tuna. It is unclear from the menu that, in fact, it was the Atlantic bluefin tuna. Apparently, all bluefin species are highly prized for sushi and sashimi. [Wikipedia].

So why was he banned (cheers from me)? He somehow just now after being a regular customer at the restaurant for ten years noticed that Atlantic bluefin tuna was on the sushi menu. So he emailed the restaurant:

"I have been a regular customer of Sinju for years and the Wild Salmon Center has given Sinju quite a bit of business. So when I saw Atlantic Bluefin tuna on the menu, I felt it was important for Sinju to know that this is not just another declining species, but perhaps the most high profile endangered fish species on earth."

We are not told the full content of the email, but he should have stopped there, but that was not enough for this "protector" of our environment.

"[He] didn't just mention that bluefin was overfished, he took the time to come back with printed materials detailing the seriousness of their plight in the hopes that at the very least, the team at Sinju would think twice before putting the fish on the menu again."

The article quotes the complainer: "'I'm a regular customer. I didn't just walk in out of nowhere, and I did it in such a respectful way. I mean, this is Portland we're talking about,' he says."

I wonder how this conversation actually went. One wonders too if the restaurant saw him as a good customer. Ten years and they banned him over this? And why did he think that he was so important that he should interfere with the restaurant's business? He should have stopped with the email.

Save us from our saviors.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Street gangs - a FBI perspective

"Street-Gang Mentality: A Mosaic of Remorseless Violence and Relentless Loyalty" By ANTHONY J. PINIZZOTTO, Ph.D., EDWARD F. DAVIS, M.S., and CHARLES E. MILLER III" [2007 FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.

This post adds to an earlier post on an Oregonian editorial "Galvanizing Portlanders against gang violence." The FBI bulletin makes clear that gangs' cause and effect is not something countered by after school basketball.

Rather than restate the material I will use quotes from the bulletin to make my points. Paragraph headings in bold taken from the bulletin.

"During their more than 20 years of research on violence against law enforcement officers, the authors interviewed hundreds of offenders either housed in various prisons throughout the United States or following release from these institutions after serving their sentences. The authors found marked differences among these individuals who had killed and assaulted officers. One of these variations focused on street-gang mentality, specifically cold-blooded and remorseless behavior."

Family Dynamics. "All gang members lacked male role models in their households. Six never lived with their biological fathers, while seven reported their biological fathers as mostly absent from the home setting. As to the presence of their biological mothers, nine gang members stated that she lived in the home but worked full time, leaving the children unsupervised throughout much of their early childhood. The gang members often lived temporarily with various people, such as grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and friends or acquaintances of their families. The number of people residing in the households constantly changed."

Education Levels“'I didn’t need to read to sell drugs. I make more money than those people who write books.' As these comments illustrate, formal education meant little and was not a goal recognized by the gangs."

Criminal Activity.
"On average, the gang members committed their first criminal offense at the age of 9. From this first encounter, their criminal histories escalated. Five gang members had committed murders, 10 had perpetrated armed robberies, 11 had effected burglaries, and all had engaged in drug violations and weapons offenses."

Exposure to Violence. “'It’s a pretty violent neighborhood. A lot of drug dealers, gangs. A lot of people getting killed in my neighborhood....' All gang members came from dysfunctional families. Each had experienced some form of verbal or physical abuse within the family setting."

Work Experience.  "No gang members were employed in a conventional sense at the time they assaulted an officer. In addition, although none had served in the military, they often referred to themselves as a soldier or street soldier. Moreover, their gangs expected them to behave similarly to formally trained U.S. military personnel, particularly when serving as protectors. This street-soldier attitude significantly contributed to the development of the street-gang mentality." 

Names of Members and Their Gangs. "Gang members appeared to have more pride in their gang names than in their surnames, especially if they had received them in recognition of criminal deeds or behavior."

The Neighborhood. "The neighborhood where the gang members grew up comprised a large part of their lives. It was where they had their first interactions with people outside the family setting and where they felt safe at an early age." 

"The authors visited some of the neighborhoods and found them run-down and heavily littered with few commercial establishments, forcing residents to travel long distances to shop for food and other necessities. While these locations did not resemble areas that most people would consider desirable, all of the gang members professed extreme pride in their individual neighborhoods."

Conclusion (in full).

"Gang members stated that they learned violent gang values at an early age and had them strongly and regularly reinforced. Rather than the prosocial behaviors taught in most well-adjusted families, the gangs instilled and reinforced antisocial ones that protected them from outsiders, which included the law enforcement community. In fact, the gangs not only regarded law enforcement officers as outsiders but as a threat to their survival.

The goal of every gang member was to achieve status and respect within their gangs. Respected only when feared, gang members achieved this through repeated acts of physical violence against others, who they usually viewed as outsiders. Once perceived as willing to use violence without conscience, especially when directed toward law enforcement officers, gang members obtained status.

With such a mind-set, gang members can represent a grave danger to all Americans who value a safe and productive life. They also pose an even greater threat to members of the law enforcement profession because of their lack of remorse for destroying lives and their relentless loyalty to the groups that spawned their vicious behavior."

A simpleton's editorial on gang violence

Galvanizing Portlanders against gang violence | OregonLive.com

Probably too harsh of an assessment but the editorial reads that way. It has two essential points: mayoral leadership and roots of gangs. It is nearly impossible to believe that one can expect Mayor Adams to have the leadership qualities of former Mayor Katz.

For Adams "leadership" is formal attribute to be exercised for political reasons only. i.e, expect him to act as a "leader" only to further some political goal - not to in fact exercise leadership in the analysis and solving of a problem.

The Oregonian recognizes that Adams' assumption of the chair of the Gang Violence Task Force would be symbolic but then equates that with leadership. Doesn't it take more to be a leader? Adams has shown no leadership qualities. Despite that one might have disagreements with Mayor Katz's policies and actions - she was a leader. When she was present - everyone knew it and looked to her for leadership. There was respect.

Gang membership is not so simple as Oregonian seems to believe. I wonder if the members of the editorial board or their staff knows how to use Google? The editorial endorses this view that gang members are "looking for something to do, something to belong to, something to accomplish." [Rob Ingram, director of the Office of Youth Violence Prevention in Portland.]

And that "[m]any could be enticed away from the gang life with a concerted effort. Kids as young as 10, 11 or 12 long to belong, too, and often haven't decided which way to go yet. A gang could easily lure them in. But their loyalties are up for grabs."

Oh please!

Thus, the "galvanizing" that the Oregonian proposes is to come from Mayor Adams. Really? And for a realistic view by those who know and understand gangs see 2007 FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. See my post containing excerpts.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Portland Police & Z-Man Scholarships

Portland Police Press Release

Date: August 25, 2010Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Community Room at 737 SE 106th Avenue, Portland, Oregon,

For 17 years, Portland Police Officer Mark "Z-Man" Zylawy served the Portland community with dedication, honor and commitment. He treated the citizens he served with respect and encouraged them to give back to the communities in which they lived. His service to the city of Portland was tragically cut short in 2008, spawning the launch of the Z-Man Scholarship Foundation. The Foundation was launched by a unique combination of fellow officers, private citizens and local businesses in order to honor Mark's commitment to community and service and to build upon the goodwill that he left behind.

The Z-Man Scholarship Foundation supports Portland area students who have demonstrated a commitment to public service and leadership in their communities. The organization provides students with full tuition scholarships to college preparatory high schools in the Portland area, and helps the recipients achieve their ultimate goal of attending college.

This year the Z-Man Foundation received twenty-six applications and twenty-one students were interviewed for scholarships. The Portland Police Bureau and the Z-Man Foundation are proud to present the following students with scholarships to La Salle High School and De La Salle High School. These scholarships will provide funds to each student through graduation.

1. Airuel Gregg (Freshman accepted at La Salle) Airuel has completed numerous volunteer projects and her interests are volleyball, softball, basketball and music.

2. Zaire Wellmon (Freshman accepted at De La Salle) Zaire has completed numerous volunteer projects and his interests are basketball.

3. Christine Thuy Trinh (Junior currently attending De La Salle) Christine has interests in track, basketball, art/painting, and interned at a Law office this summer.

4. Christina Starr (Freshman accepted at De La Salle) Christina's interests are painting, singing, acting, debating, and volunteer work

5. Njeri Ford (Sophomore currently attending at De La Salle) Njeri's interests are volleyball, track, dance and art.

6. Tina Myers (Freshman accepted at De La Salle) Tina's interests are public speaking and student government. Tina is also 1st degree black belt in Tai Kwan Do.

Please come join the Z-Man Foundation in applauding these students for their achievements and wishing them well in the upcoming school year.

EB-5 Immigrant Investor - buying green cards and citizenship?

PDC studies possible foreign investment plan

This Tribune article apparently springs from a June 2010 PDC Media Release - EB-5 Program REI Release. The gist is that PDC is attempting to create an EB-5 Regional Center. An EB-5 Immigrant Investor is the fifth category (or preference) by which an individual can become a permanent worker.

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services: "If you have the right combination of skills, education, and/or work experience and are otherwise eligible, you may be able to live permanently in the United States." I guess they forgot to add "money" to the "right combination."

Having a "green card" or permanent worker status is an ordinary first step to naturalization or citizenship. However, there is little difference in being a permanent worker and a citizen. See After Green Card is Granted and Your Rights and Responsibilities (page 8).

The EB-5 program is individual focused. Under this fifth preference for permanent workers one can obtain a visa by investing in a business enterprise, investing in a troubled business, or investing in a regional center pilot program.

There is no regional center in the Portland area, thus, one has to be created to attract the well-healed individual investor having $1/2 to $1 mil. Each investment is expected to create 10 direct or indirect  full time jobs. Not a difficult requirement.

PDC and the private companies it seeks as "partners" must apply and demonstrate:

  • How the regional center plans to focus on a geographical region within the U.S., and msut (sic) explain how the regional center will achieve the required economic growth within this regional area

  • That the regional center’s business plan can be relied upon as a viable business model grounded in reasonable and credible estimates and assumptions for market conditions, project costs, and activity timelines

  • How in verifiable detail (using economic models in some instances) jobs will be created directly or indirectly through capital investments made in accordance with the regional center’s business plan

  • The amount and source of capital committed to the project and the promotional efforts made and planned for the business project. 

  • See Immigrant Investor Regional Center for a listing. Frankly, putting aside any discussion of the merits of being able to essentially buy a green card, I wonder why this hadn't been pursued before? 

    Vestas development - who is paying?

    In 2012, Vestas is consolidating its nearly 400 employees in various Portland locations and moving them to leased premises in the expected redeveloped Gerding Edlen building at NW 14th and NW Everett - the extant vacant Meier and Frank warehouse in the Pearl. [See my post for details.]

    That's it! That should be end of story.

    But with typical Portland leadership obscuration, with media participation, one might believe that Portland and Oregon's economy had been revived and that Portland's office market is on the rise again. One would think that 500 to 600 new jobs have been added when in fact no new jobs has been added, and Vestas has only agreed to expand by 100 employees by 2017 (5 years after move-in).

    What has been obscured too is who is paying for the development of this project? It is important to separate the project from the lessees. Vestas is only the lessee. Arguably, Oregon and Portland taxpayers have bought at a very high price Vestas' promise to remain in Portland for some unknown and unstated duration.

    Oh yes they have to retain the extant 400 employees, but need not hire one new employee. But what about the promise to hire additional 100? They have 5 years to do that, and if they don't - they give $1 mil back to the state, presumably with no interest. What are the chances that will happen?

    This has been hyped as a public-private partnership, but there is something strikingly wrong about these partnerships. Unlike what the name implies there is no equality in the partnership unless one considers a "partnership" one that the public partner funds the partnership and the private partner receives all the benefits. This "partnership" turns free enterprise on its head.

    It is important to take note that while myself and the media have continually referred to the developer as Gerding Edlen it is legally in fact 14th Everett Investors, LLC, hereinafter "LLC." LLC = Limited Liability Company.  "The debts, obligations and liabilities of a limited liability company, whether arising in contract, tort or otherwise, are solely the debts, obligations and liabilities of the limited liability company. A member or manager is not personally liable for a debt, obligation or liability of the limited liability company solely by reason of being or acting as a member or manager. [ORS.62.165].

    The financial package is far from transparent. One might suspect that it was hastily thrown together since there is a 12/31/10 cut off date to issue the $31mil in RZFBs. But one thing is for sure: "The deal is an enormous win for Gerding Edlen [LLC], which has tried for several years to develop the building." [Oregonian].

    Isn't interesting that, via its LLC, Gerding Edlen, one of the more successful "urban renewal" developers has leveraged a developer's equity of $19.5 mil to obtain estimated $66 mil project financing? And should that project fail, the taxpayers might well be on the hook for $46.5 mil and more.

    "The total development cost for the Project is estimated to be $65,700,000. 14th Everett [Gerding Edlen] has proposed a preliminary financial structure for the Project that identifies RZFBs [Recovery Zone Facilities Bonds] in the amount of up to $31,000,000, $7,000,000 in Historic Tax Credit equity, $19,500,000 in developer equity, $1,000,000 Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund grant from the Oregon Business Development Department, and subordinate debt from PDC in an amount to be determined." [PDC Report re Resolution 6817].

    It is difficult to add up the numbers. The project - development of this property - has an estimated $66 mil price tag. The Oregonian indicates that the state is kicking in $2.5 mil and that the city is loaning Gerding Edlen $8 mil interest free loan. The Tribune indicates that the state is giving $1.25 mil in tax credits to Vestas and $1 mil from state strategic fund to the project. Is the Tribune's $2.25 mil the same as the Oregonian's $2.5 mil?

    How about the $8 mil? In the letter of intent the city had been previously authorized to issue RZFBs in the amount of $20.3 mil. According to PDC, the state has agreed (verbally) to make up the difference to the estimated $31 mil. So is the LLC obtaining tax free bond proceeds in the amount of $23 mil and additional $8 mil interest free loan from the city or is it obtaining $31 mil plus the $8 mil? Wouldn't the former be a sweeter deal than reported in the media?

    RZFBs "are private activity bonds that are able to be issued as tax-exempt bonds." This thanks to federal recovery legislation. "These bonds are called “conduit financing” because the City issues them; however, the bonds are not obligations of the City or PDC. The borrower, through a loan agreement with PDC and the City, assumes responsibility for debt service on the bonds.[PDC Report re Resolution 6817].

    The Oregonian states that the RZFB buyers and not the taxpayers are providing the $31 mil. But while technically correct the capital is not public funds the payback is still on taxpayers' back. The loan agreement requires that the developer indemnify and hold harmless the PDC and City. But if the developer, LLC, fails who will be responsible for the debt (bonds and loans)? Who is the partner taking the risk?

    Will the city be seeking additional assets and financial guarantees from Gerding Edlen? One might expect that private financing would look for other assets to hold hostage. But have no fear - the city will not require the same guarantees that private financing requires - after all - it is Gerding Edlen

    And just how much "subordinate debt from PDC" will be issued? Sounds like an open checkbook.

    And one more thing - is the $31 mil in bonds forthcoming? The project started in July 2008 . The recovery act was in 2009 and the recovery zone designation pertinent to the bonds was in 2010. See my post.

    With all this obfuscation how are interested Portlanders to determined the merits? That is the point - isn't it?


    Aren't these TriMet priorities reversed?

    TriMet: Transit Investment Plan (TIP) FY 2011:  "ESTABLISHING PRIORITIES

    Within available financial resources, TriMet and its partners balance needs to guide where, when and how to invest transit-related dollars. The TIP priorities are to:
    1. Build the 'Total Transit System': Enhance customer information, access to transit, stop amenities, frequency, reliability, passenger comfort, safety and security.
    2. Expand high-capacity transit: Invest in light rail, commuter rail and streetcar service along key corridors to connect regional centers.
    3. Expand Frequent Service: Add to TriMet's network of bus lines that run every 15 minutes or better.
    4. Improve local service: Work with local jurisdictions to improve transit service in specific local areas."

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Vestas development - what does this mean?

    IRS Notice 2009-50; SECTION 4.02 RECOVERY ZONE FACILITY BONDS, RECOVERY ZONE PROPERTY: Section 1400U-3(c)(1) defines the term “recovery zone property” to mean any property to which § 168 (relating to the accelerated cost recovery system) applies (or would apply but for § 179 (relating to electing to expense certain depreciable business assets)) if: (A) such property was constructed, reconstructed, renovated, or acquired by purchase (as defined in § 179(d)(2)) by the taxpayer after the date on which the designation of the recovery zone took effect; . . . ." [Emphasis added].

    ORDINANCE No. 183653: Authorize the creation of a recovery zone under the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to issue Recovery ZoneEconomic Developrnent Bonds and Recovery Zone Facility Bonds (Ordinance).
    Ordinance designating the recovery zone filed 02/26/2010.


    14th & Everett, LLC (AKA Gerding and Edlen)
    purchased the property February 2007, that is, the property was acquired before the creation of the "recovery zone."



    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    The Vestas giveaway - weeding out the chaff




    Portlandmaps.com

    Vestas' view




    The hype and other BS is circulating much like chaff in the wind - the vision of the facts is obscured by the grandiloquence of our "leaders." The Oregonian had the most comprehensive article. But all in all it still takes the reading of many media reports to get the complete picture. Yet, the media seems to have forgotten to even check its own archives or even do a Google search.

    At best this agreement is a leasing agreement whereby Vestas, a wind turbine builder headquartered in Denmark, is moving with some consolidation of their nearly 400 Portland employees from downtown Portland to the Pearl. Vestas recently cut 15 employees in Portland. Vestas has 22,392 employees worldwide. Portland is their North American sales and service headquarters.

    Vestas media release states that "the cost for developers is estimated at $66 million." However, it is taxpayers via the city and state that are paying for the development of this Gerding Edlen building. No where is it mentioned the leasing costs to Vestas. One assumes that it isn't free.

    The present structure is 4 stories (160,000 sq. ft.) plus a basement (40,000). The proposed structure is to be a "refurbished five-story office building containing four floors of office space (approximately 133,000 net leasable square feet) and one floor of parking using hydraulic parking stackers totaling 183 parking spaces."

    The fifth floor is more like a penthouse at 22,000 sq. ft.  Each of the other floors are 40,000 sq. ft. And, the parking floor apparently has the flexibility of being converted to office space. All in all in the most "glass is half full" view, with this conversion Vestas has the flexibility to expand to a total of 850 employees.

    Take a look at this building, vacant for a decade, as it is shown on Portlandmaps - how does it rate as a historic building? Ironically,  the historic designation apparently conflicted with Vestas' desire to install wind turbines.

    It is an unremarkable building. [Take a Google walk and see for yourself.] Even with the new design it still seems unremarkable. The design is limited by the historic designation (apparently for its facade). [See National Register of Historic Places.] Ironic too is that the building was added to the register only in 2000 apparently for the tax incentive, otherwise it probably could have been demolished with a resulting structure much more exciting.

    "The design [left over - not one for Vestas] has been approved in accordance with State of Oregon and Federal historic guidelines." [PDC]. One wonders how this occurred and whether this converted structure will get a pass from the Portland Historic Commission? Oh - silly me - it Gerding Edlen.

    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    WTF:# 10 shooting since August 17

    Press Releases: "This morning at approximately 6:45 a.m., Portland Police Officers responded to a residence in the 2700 Block of Northeast Saratoga Street on the report of a person that had been shot.." [See CRIME STOPPERS CASE #10-36 Gang Shootings].

    What seems to be absent is any demonstration of real concern by the city especially the mayor. His major concern was self-promoting himself. See his Request for Comments where he is seeking support for illegal gun initiatives.

    Even the media seems to be expressing little concern. Is it because no one has yet been killed in this shooting spree? One "gang outreach worker" wondered where was the mayor?

    Not all the shootings are gang related. This one isn't. But it is interesting that the shootings have occurred in different neighborhoods, except for two in the Vernon neighborhood. Looking at the 2000 census stats on portlandmaps.com, nothing stands out as being particularly significant. Thus, there is no racial excuse. For the most part the neighborhoods house a substantially white majority.

    The crime information available on portlandmaps.com also fails to provide a crime statistic that might separate the neighborhoods or point to a particular crime that might be a basis. Most of the neighborhoods had drug and alcohol activities, but they didn't seem out of whack with other neighborhoods. Interesting though is that the Argay neighborhood (3rd shooting) is nearly crime free.

    Thus, there is something going on here that isn't being told by city and the media. It is difficult to believe that gangs have spread across so many neighborhoods - 9.

    Where is the outrage?

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    CRIME STOPPERS CASE #10-36 Gang Shootings

    Taken from the Portland Police Department media release 8/20/2010. All 9 shootings took place from 8/17 to 8/20 with 7 of them on the 18th. Shootings 1, 4, 5, 8, 9 can be geographically grouped and shootings 6, 3, 2, & 7 can be so grouped.  Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in any of these cases, or any unsolved felony crime. Callers can remain anonymous. Call Crime Stoppers at 503-823-HELP (4357), leave a tip online at www.crimestoppersoforegon.com

    The first shooting: Tuesday August 17, at 11:21 p.m. at North Albina and Killingsworth. Multiple gunshots were heard and officers arrived to find a Tri Met bus kiosk damaged. No victims or witnesses were located by police.
    The second shooting: Wednesday August 18, at 12:00 a.m. in the 4500 Block of Northeast 119th Avenue. Officers arrived and located an occupied apartment that had been hit with several gunshots. Nobody was hurt in the shooting.
    The third shooting: Wednesday August 18, at 12:05 a.m. in the 4000 Block of Northeast 135th Avenue. Callers to 9-1-1 reported hearing multiple gunshots and officers arrived to find bullet holes into a residence. Nobody was injured as a result of the shooting.
    The fourth shooting: Wednesday August 18, at 12:31 a.m. at North Albina and Stafford Street. Officers arrived to find two gunshot victims. Both victims were transported to area hospitals. 25-year-old Demarcus Laray Carney of North Portland remains in critical condition. 34-year-old Karl Casey Colbert of North Portland remains in stable condition.
    The fifth shooting: Wednesday August 18, at 12:39 a.m. in the 1800 Block of Northeast Alberta Street. Officers did not locate any victims or property damage.
    The sixth shooting: Wednesday August 18, at 12:39 a.m. in the 2400 Block of Southeast 139th Avenue. Officers arrived to find an occupied residence with multiple bullet holes. Nobody inside the residence was injured in this shooting.
    The seventh shooting: Wednesday August 18, at 12:56 a.m. in the 12700 Block of Southeast Main Street. Officers arrived to find an occupied residence with multiple bullet holes. Nobody inside the residence was injured in this shooting.
    The eighth shooting: Wednesday August 18, at 3:00 p.m. in the 1600 block of Northeast Killingsworth. Officers arrived to find that a vacant building had been shot at causing property damage. No one was injured in this shooting.
    The ninth shooting: Friday August 20, at 1:00 a.m., in the 1500 block of North Skidmore Street. Officers responded to the area and found a crime scene near North Skidmore Street and North Maryland Avenue. After talking with witnesses, officers learned a victim and several other persons had already left the area by private car to an area hospital. 39-year-old Furnell Osbin of Southeast Portland suffered a serious but non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the face.

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Strawman

    Portland Seed Fund names managers | OregonLive.com
    When is PDC an independent agency and when is it a city department or bureau? Apparently whenever it suits the city. The city via PDC is granting (giving) $500,000 to establish an investment fund where the expectation is that it will provide venture capital for startups. In name it is PDC doing the investment, but it is the city that is giving the money to PDC to re-grant.

    The reason given for PDC granting the city's money is that the city is prohibited from investing in private businesses. Please remember that PDC's urban renewal activities are enabled by a state statute. Thus, PDC is the city's strawman

    There is no credible person that holds that PDC is any longer an independent agency distinct and separate from the city government. If the city cannot do it then its department PDC cannot.. Believing themselves to be illusionists - the city is all too transparent.

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Not a cut but a delay in spending

    TriMet announces plans to plug budget hole for Milwaukie light rail | OregonLive.com

    The gist of TriMet's plan is not to pare back the project costs but only to delay the spending. Wait for next year(s) budgets.



    Pirates sharing the spoils

    Beaverton selects two master developers � Daily Journal of Commerce

    Inbreeding viz a viz urban renewal. In Portland and now Beaverton - the same small (tiny) group of developers and subcontractors rule urban renewal. One wonders how the Daily Journal missed mentioning that Don Mazziotti of PDC fame is the mastermind behind Beaverton's urban renewal. And check out the deal that Gerding Elden Development, one of the master developers, handed them by the Vestas move.


    PDC can kiss the money goodbye

    Caplan Landlord LLC struggles to hold on to downtown Portland building | OregonLive.com

    "The company defaulted on its mortgage, according to court documents. It owes $8.8 million to its lead lender and $717,000 to the Portland Development Commission."

    PDC is typically an unsecured creditor or so far down on the list it might as well be. What are the chances that the public will see any part of the $717K repaid? Where is PDC on obtaining principal payments from The Nines? [See Oregonian].

    Hung Far Low (snicker snicker)

    Restoration of Portland's Hung Far Low sign done with painstaking detail | OregonLive.com

    Please tell me who benefits from the excessive spending of property tax revenue on a sign that at best elicits snickers from the sexually immature? Culturally insensitive? I would venture a guess that the restaurant owners primarily benefit. [See Oregonian for some background.] But the better question is why should property tax revenues be gifted?

    Before I go on I find it interesting that the owner (one of them) John Jay had this to say about Old Town development: ". . . we need to find affordable housing to keep the young creatives so they don't move to the suburbs." [Oregonian]. I guess the sign is a start.

    And it is interesting that the original restaurant that the sign was attached to was one of the first to abandon Old Town for 82nd street. By the way "Hung Far Low Restaurant" is still their DBA. One might argue that they own the rights to any use of Hung Far Low. Certainly it is a confusion issue on whose restaurant is being operated in Old Town.

    Apparently, Old Town via voluntary efforts raised $8,600 toward the estimated cost of $77,461. PDC contributed (grant money) $45,000 of property tax revenue. That leaves a balance of $23,861. And who pays the difference?

    The PDC News Release and the Oregonian article left that obvious question in oblivion. It ought to be the restaurant owner that wanted the sign back. In fact, it ought to be their responsibility or that of the property owner.

    A quick search suggests that the property owner is in a better position to cough up the costs. But, I give credit to that owner as being the only property owner in Old Town that benefiting from the wasteful $5 mil plus Streetscape (3rd  & 4th streets) infrastructure made improvements to her building.

    The Oregonian article is good to read if one is interested in some background on the sign and information on the company restoring the sign,

    Bottom line: It is nice (emphasis on nice) that the sign will continue to be a source of snickers and picture taking, but a grant of $45,000 to enable that is a wrongful expenditure of public funds. Worse yet, it sounds more like the continual appeasement of the non-existent Chinatown.  There is no Chinatown in Old Town/Chinatown.

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Facts elude even the simplest of stories

    The issue of train horns annoying the high end Pearlites has been the subject of several media reports, none however published a complete and accurate story. One cannot even read all the stories and come up with a comprehensive read. But see the facts sheet everyone missed. Google "railroad quiet zone."

    In April the Tribune announced the beginning of the work on 3 out of five train track crossings that when completed will permit train engineers to "layoff" their horns. The article gives us the right flavor of why the work was being done - stop the whining of the chosen people the Peralites. It had the estimated costs at $250,000 split between PDC and Hoyt Properties. The connection between the horn and crossing is never addressed, i.e., what is to be done that eliminates the need for the horn?

    In July the Portland Business Journal had a $400,000 price tag being split between PDC and Hoyt Properties whose condos are in the unquiet zone. According to PBJ the work was completed. But why the train engineers are required to blow the horns is never stated. Nor does it state that it is a federal requirement.

    In August KGW addresses the quiet issue. For the first time, and I believe incorrectly, it is implied that the "quite" comes from "new cement barriers [that] will quiet the deafening sounds."   They have the price tag at $280,000

    The best coverage comes from the blog - Neighborhood Notes. It explains fairly well all aspects of the need and solution. Pictures are also provided. Costs: "The Portland Development Commission (PDC) is hoping to have the final cost determined within a month." It further covers the "forgotten" St. Johns that has been trying to have their same noise problems solved for 2.5 years.

    Another demonstration of who gets the city's attention? Frankly, it is more likely St. Johns doesn't have a large development company like Hoyt Properties and an urban renewal district willing to pony up the dollars.  Arguably, Pearl is willing and able to pay the freight.

    It isn't clear to me that the changes prohibit the blowing of the train horn in these quite zones as opposed to not requiring the use of the horns. KGW shows a "No Train Horn" sign apparently for the train engineers, but are they likely to see that before they are (were) required to blow the horn? If they blow the horn?

    Nor is it clear what is the actual cost or what will be the actual split between Hoyt Properties and PDC. It is still yet to be determined.
                                                    

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Communism?

    Moscow Metro taken to court over unbearable heat underground - RT: "Consumer rights activists have sued the subway for violating safety regulations."

    A Portland idea to keep the homeless off the benches?

    From Russia Today
    Park benches fitted with retractable spikes. In China park officials "fitted park benches with retractable steel spikes that hide when a coin is inserted and shoot up when the paid time is over." They "hope these coin-operated timers will stop people from lingering on benches for a long time." [Russia Today].

    Blinders

    The purpose of blinders on a horse is commons sense defined, but it's use as applied to humans is best defined as "[s]omething that serves to obscure clear perception and discernment." [Free Online Dictionary].

    When it comes to spending public funds - leaders with their bureaucratic thought processes (blinders) continue to spend as if it is their job to spend money. The spending of public funds is not like the spending of capital in the private sector, however raised; e.g., there is no market to help regulate the spending.

    In Portland public agencies like PDC and TriMet exhibit no restraint on spending of public funds that they yet have. The costs - whatever they might be - are passed on to tax payers. They create the need to spend money. E.g., from the Daily Journal of Commerce:

    "A major transit corridor is planned for Southwest Portland. A committee for regional government Metro approved a $1.47 million study on the area on Thursday. The project would be the third big transit project in the Portland area and would begin in earnest after completion of the Columbia River Crossing and the Portland-Milwaukie Light-Rail Project."

    And where does this nebulous metro government agency get its funding? In large part it comes from garbage collection and property taxes. [Metro Finances and funding].See FY 2009-2010, Third Quarter Report.]

    And this despite the state of economy:

    Editorial - When the Fed Speaks - NYTimes.com: "The Federal Reserve policy committee said on Tuesday that the economy had slowed recently and was not expected to improve anytime soon. "

    Borrowers Refuse to Pay Billions in Home Equity Loans - NYTimes.com: "During the great housing boom, homeowners nationwide borrowed a trillion dollars from banks, using the soaring value of their houses as security. Now the money has been spent and struggling borrowers are unable or unwilling to pay it back."

    Trouble Abroad Adds to Worries for U.S. Recovery - NYTimes.com: "As economic recovery wavers in the United States, evidence is mounting that growth abroad is also slowing and may be unable to sustain the fragile rebound here."

    Isn't it time for the blinders to be removed with a renewed appreciation for economic realities and fiscal responsibility?

    Job creation - the trickle theory

    Energy Funds Went Unspent, U.S. Auditor Says - Green Blog - NYTimes.com

    Interesting is that only 8.2% of the recovery dollars available from the federal Energy Department have been spent. And that "has produced or saved only about 2,300 jobs as of the second quarter of this year [2010]". Oregon has only spent 12.49%, i.e., $4.3 mil of the available $34.6 mil.

    The why the money has flowed at a trickle is excused by the states and others as due to regulations. The excuse goes like this: “With very good intentions, Congress put in so many controls, so many provisions, that the state and local governments have not been able to spend the money as expeditiously as planned." [Inspector general of the Energy Department].

    The Energy Department put its best spin on the audit: "The department said that the program was more successful than the report made it seem because much of the money has been committed to projects." "The contractors who will do the work once the approvals were in place can use that commitment to make hiring decisions."

    The inspector general: "a plan to hire is not as good as an actual job."

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    F**ked would be an accurate assessment

    The Round's tenacious tenants survive their winter of discontent | OregonLive.com

    "The Round is a mixed-use project along lightrail. The city of Beaverton selected developer Dorn-Platz Properties Inc. to build condos, office buildings and parking structures, but theproject remains half-finished after more than a dozen years." [Oregonian].

    This Beaverton Round project was a city's attempt at urban renewal development. Bojack thought the Oregonian article was "a silly piece trying as hard as it can to put a positive spin on an unmitigated disaster." I think it is a pretty decent article that details the 13 years of "unmitigated disaster."

    The focus is on condo owners but the whole project  has been a failure with the condos the only bright light (and that is pretty dim). What one sees in the article is a typical individual's rationalization when one has invested so much of their funds into what probably was visioned as great investment. One can just imagine the hype that went into attracting condo buyers.

    Now, they can't afford to move out. These are condos that can't be sold. Maybe in a few years after all of the problems are eliminated, but clearly not now. Bankruptcy may be the only choice, but that may relegate them to rental living.

    The city of Beaverton seems to have washed their hands clean of any responsibility, leaving the condo owners twisting in the wind. But, the city has played a primary role throughout the 13 years. Arguably, they too were taken in by the "vision."

    The Round 2003, Oregonian
    Glossed over is the fact that this is another one of those' build next to light rail' developments. Here is the applied BS: "I think 15 years from now [March 2009], it will be acknowledged on the national basis that Beaverton city center is one of the most successful transit-oriented developments in the country," Callahan [CEO of Urban Renaissance a then would be developer] said. [Oregonian].

    I like this 2009 assessment: "First rule of getting out of a hole: stop digging," said John Charles of the Cascade Policy Institute. "The utopian fantasy has failed, is failing, will continue to fail. They should stop spending anymore public money on this project." [Oregonian].

    Too bad the city can't stop digging.

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Really?

    "Due to high temperatures and for safety precautions, MAX trains traveling 35 mph or faster will be reduced by 10 mph. Riders should expect minor delays." [Trimet Service Alert].

    Continued unrestrained expenditures by public agencies is wrong

    Public agencies like TriMet and Portland Development Commission that virtually have no public oversight and operate without concern of fiscal responsibility have to be restrained by the voters. The news with few exceptions contains dire expectations for the economy in the future.

    The unemployment rate [interactive graphic] (June 2010) for Washington state is 8.9% ; for Oregon it is 10.5% - the unemployment rate for the metro area is 10.2% with a ranking of 251 out of 372 areas. 372 is the worst at 27.6% However, the underemployment rate [interactive graphic] for Oregon is 20.7% and for Washington it is 16.2%.

    There is a great interactive CNN graphic that tracks the economy from January 2007 to the present. See too another interactive graph (via Bojack) on the debt share per person for the selected state. Oregon is 7th highest - $1,859 per person. And it is interesting that New York Times Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman makes this assessment:  "Yes, growth is slowing, and the odds are that unemployment will rise, not fall, in the months ahead."

    How about this assessment for Oregon from Anirban Basu, the chief economist for Associated Builders and Contractors: “I think in two to three years people will find that they are getting busy again. It’s not that they will have recovered, but the recovery will have begun in earnest,” he said. “It’s not that they’ll be building as many office buildings as they were in 2004 or 2005; it’s more that they’ll be building office buildings again.”

    KGW: "Oregon now ranks 32nd among the states in per capita personal income, and Oregonians earn slightly more than 90 percent of the national average of the same measurement. These are the lowest figures for Oregon since the federal government started keeping the measurement -- about the same time the stock market crashed in 1929."

    Oregonian: "A fifth of Portland-area homeowners underwater on mortgage."

    © 2010

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Columbia River Crossing design questioned

    Columbia River Crossing design raises questions � Daily Journal of Commerce

    Another excellent article from the Daily Journal of Commerce. The bridge is rightfully subject to criticism for many reasons. One criticism has been that it will not relieve the traffic congestion that is one of the goals. The better criticism concerns the bridge design and its attendant cost.

    The bridge design is consistently referred to as "open-web" design. But try and find references to the design online. Try and find a definition anywhere. The bridge design is called an "unique" design meaning that it is not just different or distinctive but it is the only one of its kind.

    The why is stated in the Project Statement of Purpose and Need: "The purpose of the proposed action is to improve Interstate 5 corridor mobility by addressing present and future travel demand and mobility needs in the Columbia River crossing Bridge Influence Area (BIA)."

    "Corridor mobility" is basically the issues of congestion and earthquake susceptibility.  It is interesting that light rail is not explicitly mentioned. Arguably without the light rail the design would be substantially different and the costs would be much lower.

    Tom Warne: [CRC Chair] “We’re not saying it can’t be built, and we’re not saying it’s a bad design; we’re just saying it’s a unique enough design that it’s going to take further testing to move ahead.” [Daily Journal of Commerce].

    Sure, it is not that it can't be built - but one has never been built anywhere in the world. Sure, it is not that it is a bad design - but it is a one-of-a-kind design that might well be bad (who knows). And surely can't we expect the cost of this one-of-a-kind bridge to escalate from the estimated $3.6 BILLION? [Estimate from Oregonian].

    How about these no confidence builders from the Daily Journal of Commerce article?

    Japan's design experience: “They said they would not like to experience going through such a project again.”

    "CRC stakeholders are hoping that $400 million from the [federal transportation appropriations] bill could go toward project construction." Hoping? Really? Didn't the feds disappoint concerning the Milwaukie-Portland light rail project that included a bridge across the Willamette?

    I think there is a small chance that when we do the testing we might find out that we are not going to be able to do this type of bridge,” Wagner [CRC Director] said." A self-fulfilling prophecy?

    Finally: "But the architectural design is not the only threat to a delay of construction; money also is a major factor." [Daily Journal of Commerce]  "'I think the economy is not the greatest right now. Both states have some tough money issues and we’re going to be asking for money to fund this project,' Wagner said."

    Duh!

    © 2010

    Pearl - small town USA

    Oh yes! I am serious. I realize that most of those I have come to know over the last 6 years in Portland would scratch their heads and wonder whether old age and alcohol hasn't taken its toll.

    Most of my opinions of Pearl were formed while living in Old Town. And, most of my activities were contained within Old Town and the downtown. It seemed that most in Old Town just couldn't fathom the existence of Pearl. And I seemed to agree. Pearl was seen as the development's anti-Christ. Gentrification was its sword to destroy every thing good about Portland. Those on the city council often seem to agree.

    Gradually I spent more time in Pearl doing what I like to do - drinking coffee and beer. I came to realize that Pearl, while far from perfect, is like one of those often extolled small towns. Virtually anywhere I walk in Pearl, and it is very walkable, I am reminded of  a small town.

    Almost anything one needs or that anyone would like to have is available in Pearl.And, you can pay anything you want to pay for it. It has a true mixture of income levels. Housing, irrespective of income, is better than "decent." The parks are some of the best I have seen.  

    It ought to be the development model for the rest of Portland - but it seems not to be the case. Portland seems to follow the "let's do it different every time" model; and in most cases it fails.

    I hope that it is obvious that I now live in Pearl. It is a pleasure to walk to the coffee house, multiple choices, but I choose a Starbucks (free WIFI). I can easily walk to Powell's, Rite Aid, REI, Bridgeport Brewery, Safeway, etc. I have found that I have no need to go outside Pearl to satisfy my needs or wants.

    Other than maintaining the great neighborhoods that exist outside of downtown (Including Old Town and Pearl) - development of new neighborhoods ought to be based upon Pearl.

    As I an wrapping this up and I am reminded of comments to my former Old Town blog where there was criticism that I was too negative about Old Town. Comparing the two - it is easy to be positive about Pearl. Sadly Old Town has eschewed development of a neighborhood as commonly appreciated for the development of a social service and entertainment area.

    © 2010

    Audacity to raise property taxes



    Sneaking it in might be another way of looking at this off-year election property tax increases via bonds and levies. Off year elections appears to be the time to sneak things by the electorate. For whatever reason, turnout is typically very low but that gives way to passage of ballot issues that ought to have had the attention of all voters.

    Bojack wondered in his blog on the TriMet bonds "It's hard to believe how stupid they think the voting public is." There is an implication or inference that the public will not be fooled, but the part that isn't fooled doesn't translate to actual votes against. Apparently, supporters will vote and others stay at home not willing to put their 44 cent (46 in January) stamp of disapproval, but will lament the passage of the whatever they didn't have time to vote against.

    Apathy is what they are counting on and it is apathy they will most likely get.

    © 2010

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Process of defining urban renewal boundaries

    The NW Examiner is a must read monthly newspaper reflecting well grounded basics of journalism. In the August 2010 edition [online] the editorial "Urban renewal you can see coming" is focusing on the dreaded (by many) parking structure highlighting the hypocrisy in PDC public planning process.

    Possibly the cartoon at the end of the editorial says it all where the public involvement in the new URA's planning process is depicted as a process of subterfuge denying and delaying public involvement until it is too late. The editor questions why the "secrets and intrigue" in drawing the boundaries. And, he is correct when he says that "when boundaries are gerrymandered in such a manner, political favors and inside connections are constant companions."

    According to the editorial, this gerrymandering is "the price of urban renewal by mayoral design." But, it is the way PDC does business even after the boundaries are set - courting political favors and inside connections. The difference is that since the citizens gave mayoral control over PDC the political favors and inside connections are more transparent. In some sense he is a lighting rod for scrutiny. Now more see it coming.

    PDC public process is designed (intentional or not) to be politically submissive and to give inside connections (often developers) the edge in urban renewal projects. The redrawing of the River District URA boundaries is an example of an inside job. Public participation is much like that seen as the criminal grand jury process - the public (jury) is manipulated into approving PDC's (prosecutor) plans.

    © 2010