Monday, December 31, 2007

Back to work

I've taken a break from blogging over the Christmas season. A new year is about to begin, and I'll be getting back to more regular posting.

For the last post of the year, I just have to give a reaction the the completely idiotic editorial in The Funny Paper yesterday about South Waterfront and the Tram. Hat tip to Steve Schopp, who sent an e-mail out yesterday that I have adapted for this post. Steve knows much more about the whole fiasco than I do, and so I have pasted significant portions of his e-mail below.

The Funny Paper says: Bring on the bridge! The Tram is such a success, we just HAVE to add a pedestrian/light rail bridge over the Willamette!

They Tram is a success? By what measure?

We are told the city had to pay "only $8.5 million" for its share of the Tram cost overruns. While negotaitons and politicking by City Commissioners to finish the tram proceeded, millions of dollars in cash payments to OHSU and developers miraculously appeared in SoWa budgets. Those cash payments, under various line items such as jobs accelerator, econominc development and biotech research, have grown to over $50 million to OHSU and many millions more to the developers in SoWa.

So much for the city's small Tram share.

The Funny Paper is still propagandizing that the Tram triggered the $2 billion development in SoWa, which echoes the past lie that 10,000 biotech jobs would be created by the public investment in the district.

Here's complete fabrication: the editorial says "Oregon Health & Science University has completed one research building on the South Waterfront". Anyone who has been paying attention to SoWa knows that first OHSU building in SoWa is not a research building at all. It is an OHSU doctor's owned, tax exempt, clinic, doctors offices, administration offices, a lavish health club with some token components to accomodate some future research if ever needed.

So disconnected from reality is this piece that it never so much as makes a passing reference to the fact that OHSU recently announced that 1) they are losing upwards of $50 million a year, requiring that they scale back research spending, and 2) they are $60 million short of equipping and staffing the big research building recently completed on pill hill. That building was funded with a $200 million bond.

The bottom line? The Tram did not trigger anything but a park and ride lot in SoWa and an extensive cover up of the real public costs.

OHSU has placed a huge bet (at public expense) on the SoWa district, and in the process put fiscal stability at risk. The 10,000 biotech jobs were a scam, a sexy rationale that never had any basis in anything resembling reality, but which The Funny Paper endlessly touted.

Instead we got doctors offices and a high rise condo jungle, scheduled to be completed just in time for the biggest condo glut since the 1970's.

And The Funny Paper says we should spend hundreds of millions more on toy projects, because "money miraculously seems to be attracted to worthwhile projects effectively presented". There is nothing miraculous about elected officials directing funding towards boondoggles while basic infrastructure crumbles and our road system turnss to gridlock. It's irresponsible.

This is in the face of huge cost overruns for the existing SoWa build out, along with hundreds of millions in unfunded road infrastructure needs including, (but among many others) the $60 million unfunded greenway along the river, $200 million unfunded Sellwood Bridge replacement, $50 million I-5 ramp and the $650 million unfunded street maintenance backlog.

The Funny Paper editorial board has lost any pretense at credibility.

1 comment:

Doug Daniels said...

Mr. Kremer - Give me a call when you can, I have a quick question for you, Thanks - Doug Daniels - (503) 602-1736