Tuesday, April 15, 2008

They can't BS Nigel

For a good laugh you ought to go to Willamette Week's website and watch some of the endorsement interviews for city council candidates. It takes awhile to get to the good parts, but when the talk turns to the emerging "sustainability cluster," it gets laugh out loud funny.

One by one the assembled candidates spew their BS, and Nigel Jaquiss challenges them, revealing their understanding of economics and business to be that of, well, Portland politicians.

The top two bullshit artists were Nick Fish and Jim Middaugh. Nick has run twice unsuccessfully for city council, and Middaugh was Eric Sten's chief of staff. These two consummate insiders are no doubt used to be able to talk circles around the lesser brains at The Funny Paper, the City Club, and other Portland institutions. But when Nigel challenged them they pretty much just stammered the same thing again and again and then stared blankly, wondering why it wasn't working here.

Starting at the 58:30 mark, Middaugh made the claim that Portland can "justifiably claim" that it has reduced carbon emissions to 1990 levels. This is such unadulterated crap. They faked the numbers from whole cloth, got caught by Cascade Policy Institute, and then years later they still repeat the lie. They NEVER MEASURED carbon emission. The claim of reduced emissions was mostly based on less gasoline being purchased inside the city limits. That, of course, is a result of higher gas taxes in the city, and the fact that the city has spent the last 20 years making sure there are fewer gas stations. A complete fabrication, repeated again by Middaugh. What a liar.

Then Middagh goes on to tout the "sustainability cluster." All you have to do is replace "sustainability" with "biotech" and the rest of the promises sound just the same. "The future of our job growth and family wage jobs," Midaugh says. Right. Here's a guy who spent his entire adult life working in politics and environmental movement, and I am going to believe what he says about the next big industry. Sorry.

His feet under him, he rolls out the litany: green building, Gerling-Edlen, renewable energy.... Nigel interrupts, challenges him, tells him all thisgreen building stuff is uneconomic, doesn't pencil. Where's the benefit?

Middaugh is taken aback. Huh? He obviously doesn't have to justify mandating bad investments in his circles. He claims that the payback for green building is in "heathier buildings." "Lower health costs" (yeah, I'd love to see his proof of that. I'm sure that claim is based on very rigorous empirical analysis.) He says in the long run there is reduced energy use and a smaller environmental footprint.

Well there ya have it!

Builder: "Mr. Banker, I want a loan to build this keeno-neat new green office building. It will save a bunch of energy."
Banker: How much more will it cost to build?
Builder: "About $2 million."
Banker: "How much energy cost will it save?"
Builder: "About $10,000 a year."
Banker: "Sorry. Try the PDC."
Builder: "But the environmental footprint will be a lot smaller!"

Middaugh claimed all these new jobs will come from "research and development," "higher end construction," "new insulation technology," and "all those things that we will be able to export internationally."

Oh brother. I think he actually believes it. Here we go, Biotech redux.

This guy is PERFECT for Portland.

But he can't bullshit Nigel Jaquiss!


Anonymous said...

Banker: If you give me part of your subsidy, builder, then maybe I'll play along.

Ken said...

Rob -- did you see the laugher in today's Funny Paper editorial? Not only did they not-so-subtly perpetuate the carbon myth (the city's "15 years of work to reduce carbon emissions"), but then they went on to admit they were full of crap about biotech:

Everyone everywhere is talking about creating "green-collar" jobs, including many candidates in the May primary. Portland has been talking for years about reaping the benefits of a greener economy. But unless the next mayor has specific plans to galvanize the community and create jobs, this could be yet another dream that passes Portland by. (Remember when biotech was going to be the next big thing?)

So what should we take from this? Biotech didn't pan out, despite the O's cheerleading from the sidelines, and a greener economy is one in the same.

PanchoPdx said...

I was pleasantly surprised to see WW call out Kate Brown as the Rogue of the Week today.

After watching WW's SoS candidate endorsement interviews, I think they might be beginning to recognize that Kate Brown is just another unprincipled union tool.