Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Office of Unsustainable Economics

I chuckled when I read the story in today's Oregonian that five city bureaus are leasing office space in the private market while city-owned owned offices remain vacant.

Just another run-of-the-mill example of incompetence and perverse incentives we so often find in government budget management.

But I laughed out loud when I read the comments by the head of the "Office of Sustainable Development" when she justified the fact that her office is spending $25+ per square foot to lease swanky offices in the Pearl instead of occupying the vacant city-owned offices.

So all the greenies in the office go to work in the "uber-green Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center building, commonly known as the Ecotrust building."

Why do they need to spend all this money to be in the upscale office buiding: As the article says: "City employees can walk downstairs for a slice of organic pizza or pick up a new fleece from the Earth-friendly Patagonia store. "

from the article, Susan Anderson, head of the office says the expensive space is

"core to our mission" because it shows the office is committed to the environment. That's helped attract more private money to beef up the budget, Anderson said.

"If you dig even an inch deep, you can see the economic sense of it," Anderson said. "Could we do our work from someplace else? Sure. Could we do it as well? Probably not. That I'm pretty sure of."

Ok, let's analyze this just a little bit.

Greenies like Anderson don't understand a central tenet of economics, which is that a dollar represents a claim on resources. Spending dollars unnecessarily is the anithesis of "sustainability."

For her to say that she attracts more private money to the office because they show their commitment to sustainabilty by wasting taxpayer dollars is just, well, laughable on its face.

She says if we dig an inch deep we would see the sense of it? Reminds me of another saying about so-called environmentalists. Scratch a greenie and you'll find red underneath.


John Bartley K7AAY said...

$25.47 a square foot? Heck, I wouldn't want to waste my budget on such nonsense, given what downtown real estate goes for these days. I suspect that the salary of the BGS chief should be tied directly to the occupancy rate of city-owned real estate, and then we'd see a solution, tuit suite.

Troutdale Councilor Canfield said...

Somewhere deep in PDX City Hall, there are monkeys at typewriters, randomly coming up with press quotes.

It's the only way to explain a quote like,
"expensive space is core to our mission" because it shows the office is committed to the environment. That's helped attract more private money to beef up the budget". . . .

Jane Goodall, rescue your chimps!

Anonymous said...

We used to call enviros "watermelons." Green on the outside. Red on the inside. As a matter of fact, I think I still do call them watermelons.

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Anonymous said...

What I love is the fact that year round there is a steady stream of reports of the city of Portland failing to prioritize anything (let alone spending).

Then when ever a boondoggle appears low and behold: BAMMM a priority is the reason for the lack of logic.

Every dollar the city spends is a dollar that could go to fight crime. Every dollar the city spends is a dollar that could educate "at risk youth."

Imagine if the Office of Sustainable Development agreed to all telecommute from home and use other bureau's confernce rooms for their meetings. The savings could go a long way to cleaning up the Willamete.

This is a wacky idea, but its the same one they push on business in the name of cleaning our environment. I'm glad to see they practice what they preach which is nonsense.

Anonymous said...

She says "if we dig an inch deep we would see the sense of it?"

An inch? I expect the trench needed to find the truth may first require a environmental impact study.

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Dave Lister said...

"Sustainability" is the city's ultimate buzzword, but in their vernacular it means nothing. The city thinks sustainable businesses plant grass roofs and put bricks in their toilets. They don't understand that to sustain a business requires making a profit, first and foremost. That's why they don't feel there's any problem in plundering business profits through the business income tax, business license fee, system development charges, permits, fees, etc. etc. etc.

Steve Schopp said...

"Profit" is an anti-public motive.

That's why the greenies refer to those seeking profits as profiteeers, greedy, self interested, stingy, and anti-community.

Unless they are making a profit building high density (SoWa) with public subsidies or light rail (airport max) with no bid contracts.

The notion that wasting money helps the OSD's mission is the poster child for Portland governing attitude.