VICTORIA TAFT: Cash for Cronies IV: PSU Goes From Verdant Oasis to Cabrini Green


Portland State University.. deemed to require radical new “Urban Redevlopment District”? Urban Renewal is a favorite Crony Government Public/Private partnership system… A real favorite with the Progressive crowd in Portland. What can’t make sense in the private sector, makes perfect sense when government becomes a partner and uses other people’s money to finance bizarre schemes. Click to read more. This is just another abuse of power and influence that has turned Portland into a cesspool of special interests that dine on the carcass of taxpayers held ransom by a local government that prides itself as a model for insider fueled crony capitalism.…

Urban Renewal- Another Abuse Of Taxpayer Funds and Trust

Never give an urban renewal sucker an even break

Community Soapbox by John Williams

The Oregon City News, Feb 22, 2012
A $30 million scam right here in Oregon City? Who lost the big bucks? Who pulled it off? Bankers, private equity manipulators, junk bond purveyors? Is it hard to believe?
It’s true. If you paid property taxes in Oregon City in the last 20 years you were a victim of a “grand scam.” A scam called the Downtown/North End Urban Renewal Plan promising to make you and the city property tax richer.
Proponents will say, “Just give us some of the city general fund tax income today and in 20 years we will pay it back with a bigger tax base than ever before! We’ll give you new jobs, business and progress. It’s like free money!”
Want the facts? From 1992 to 2011, $10 million was diverted from taxes meant to pay for police, fire, parks, and senior center, etc. Nearly $10 million was drained from the state school fund, and the remaining $10 million came from a direct special levy tax paid by Oregon City property owners.
What did the taxpayers get for $30 million? In 20 years zero, nada, not one dime of new taxable values was created in downtown Oregon City’s urban renewal plan area by urban renewal expenditures. The only new tax-generating project in the urban renewal area is Home Depot. It was built without ANY urban renewal dollars!
Proponents will say, “But look we have a new $8 million City Hall, we paved Washington Street, 7th Street, McLoughlin Boulevard, did a streetscape on Main, rebuilt the historic Promenade rock wall, bought some land, built a parking lot and painted some downtown buildings, all good projects, right?”
Wrong! Those projects are exempt from property taxes never to pay back the $30 million, or produce a bigger tax base for the city. No new permanent jobs or new property values were created as promised by the experiment in “urban renewal.” The “scam” is in.
Were the projects good? Certainly paving roads can be good. Repairing a historic rock wall could be good. But using urban renewal money to build City Hall borders on “criminally fiscal negligence,” and any respectable professional urban renewal specialist will agree erecting public buildings with urban renewal dollars is oxymoronic.
Our former city manager insisted a new city hall would bring “new value” to the surrounding neighborhood. It did not, and it will not. Since 1998 taxable property can only increase 3 percent. There is no “halo” effect. New values come from new construction. Buying and remodeling the city hall building only subtracted the value of the building and land from the tax rolls by becoming “exempt.”
To add insult to injury, since 2006, a “consulting firm” has been paid more than $1 million for “good advice” on how to spend urban renewal tax money.
Here’s another way to judge urban renewal. During the same 20-year period, how does the increase in taxable value of Downtown Urban Renewal Plan compare to the rest of Oregon City?
Urban renewal area taxable values DOUBLED. Taxable values in the rest of Oregon City QUADRUPLED! Taxable values have increased twice as fast outside as within the urban renewal boundaries!
How did urban renewal backers snooker the voters and misappropriate $30 million? By ignoring the Oregon City charter and using the urban renewal financing mechanism. The charter requires voter approval of any new bonded indebtedness proposed by the City Commission, but, by oversight, the charter omits indebtedness undertaken by the Urban Renewal Commission.
Successive city commissions (aided by city staff) have turned over many capital improvements, building city hall and paving streets, etc., to the URC to avoid the required public vote. Why not? Why risk voters disfavor when we can use urban renewal taxes? That’s the scam.
As W.C. Fields advised his niece Gloria in a 1940s motion picture, “My dear, never give a sucker an even break.” He must have been a consultant to the Oregon City Urban Renewal Commission.

John Williams is a former mayor of Oregon City.

Clackamas commissioners’ “urban renewal” measure doubly ambiguous

Clackamas commissioners’ “urban renewal” measure doubly ambiguous

We’ve been staring for a couple of days now at the language of the decoy ballot measure that the Clackamas County commissioners have placed on the November ballot to compete with the citizens’ initiative petition that would require countywide votes for future “urban renewal” expansions. The longer we look at the politicians’ measure, the more ambiguous parts of it seem.
In particular, we’re referring to the conflict provision — the part of the commissioners’ measure that talks about what happens if it conflicts with other county laws. It reads as follows:

A number of intriguing questions arise out of this poorly chosen language.
First things first: Does this language even apply to the conflict between the two measures on the November ballot? Specifically, is the measure originally initiated by the citizens’ petition a “referral”? At least to our untrained eye, it doesn’t seem so. There’s a clear distinction made in state law between an initiative and a referendum. A referendum is the situation in which a law or ordinance that the county commissioners enacted is forced onto the ballot by petition signatures. As we understand it, that’s not what the citizens did here — they invented their own measure, which is an initiative rather than a referendum. And so the conflict language in the commissioners’ measure — alluding to “any referral” — may not even apply to the glaring conflict between these two measures. (The crux of the dispute is whether future “urban renewal” schemes should be subject to a countywide vote, or just a vote of the district that would benefit.)
Assuming that the conflict language does apply — and that seems a major assumption — there’s an additional problem with the operative language: “the provisions having received the lesser number of votes in any referral of the measure to an election shall be void.” Does that mean (a) the lesser number of “yes” votes, or (b) the lesser number of total votes, both in favor and against?
Take this example: Both measures pass. The citizens’ initiative passes 10,000 to 5,000, and the commissioners’ measure passes, 8,000 to 7,500. Assuming the conflict language applies, then which ballot measure prevails, and which one is void? The citizens’ initiative has more “yes” votes (10,000 to 8,000), but the commissioners’ measure, which also passed, has more overall votes (15,500 to 15,000). Which “provisions… received the lesser number of votes”? Common sense would say the politicians’ version, but that idea could have been expressed much more clearly than in the commissioners’ drafting.
If somehow the language means that the most total votes wins, then so long as both measures get a majority of votes cast, folks who favor the citizens’ measure might be better off not voting at all on the commissioners’ measure — not even voting “no.” On the other hand, if the measure with the most “yes” votes wins (a more loigcal, but by no means necessary, reading), then it would make sense for the citizens’ group to vote yes on the initiative measure and no on the commissioners’.
Are these two ambiguities deliberate and malicious, or are they accidental? It’s hard to tell. In the original version of the decoy measure, there was reference to actions taken by more or less than 51% of the voters in the “urban renewal” area. That was bad drafting, too. As anyone who’s thought about it knows, a majority is 50% plus 1 vote — not 51%. 5,001 to 4,999 is a majority — you needn’t get to 5,100. Somebody down there is a truly poor drafter, or diabolically clever.
Either way, it’s hard to tell what the heck that conflict provision says. So who knows what the rules are going to be here? Maybe Kate Brown or John Kroger can send out a press release on the subject. But the vote’s less than two months away. Election procedures in Oregon are the pits sometimes, aren’t they?

Posted at 8:42 AM

Clackamas County Commissioners- Tell Citizens to “Shove It”

 Public Hearing Notice

Tuesday September 6th. at 6:00 PM.



 About 10,000 registered voters have signed the

Citizens’ petition to require voter approval for

the formation of urban renewal districts and

our measure will be on the November ballot.


The County Commissioners are drafting

a counter measure in an attempt to fool

the Citizens of the Clackamas County

not to vote for the Citizens’ measure.


This hearing may be your only opportunity to

tell the Commissioners what you think about

them putting a counter measure on the ballot

that could overturn your right to vote on the

formation of all urban renewal districts

within Clackamas County.


Help us spread the word about this hearing.

We need as many people as possible

to come and speak against the

Commissioners on this issue!



 County Commissioners’ Hearing

 Tuesday September 6th at 6 PM

 Commissioners’ Hearing Room – 4th floor

 2051 Kaen Rd. Oregon City



You may view the county’s counter measure at

Clackamas Government- An Elitist Agenda that is deaf to citizen concerns? – AFP Clackamas

Clackamas Government- An Elitist Agenda that is deaf to citizen concerns?

The Portland-Milwaukie Intergovernmental Grant Agreement  between TriMet and Clackamas County

The county staff and four commissioners are insisting “a deal is a deal” and the agreement cannot be broken.  

3 out of the four parties to the contract are Clackamas County. 
Clackamas County 
Clackamas County Development Agency 
North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District

The county and agency are represented by Dan Johnson. The same guy putting on the community Urban Renewal presentations.  

Commissioner Ann Lininger signed the agreement for all three parties.

Many question whether or not she and the board had the authority because there never was any money identified as available.

Contracts are broken every day of the week.

In this case the majority of the board is claiming they have no choice but to honor the agreement. 

However, there is no defined enforceable action or cost to withdrawing. 

The parties to the contract could have fun suing each other. 
Perhaps Dan, representing the agency could sue Dan representing the county?

Perhaps TriMet would sue the county for some sort of damages?  There’s a big problem there because TriMet does not have the rest of the funding secured.  
It would be fun to see TriMet do so but even if the county were ultimately required to pay TriMet some compensation it would be in the 10s of thousands  

3. Yesterday BCC Work Session.
Commissioners and staff are discussing putting a competing Urban Renewal measure on the ballot. Obviously one that would be aimed at disrupting the citizen effort to stop the Urban Renewal funding schemes including for Milwaukie Light Rail. They talked about an option where only the voters within the UR district voting on an UR measure.

This is of course ridiculous as county wide services would be taking a huge hit by the diverted millions in county funding for county services.

Staff/county counsel also asked to commissioners to allow them to have (hire) outside legal counsel to review our Initiative Petition.
So they are going to spend public funds to have high priced lawyers help them figure out how to obstruct the public will.

At 3:35 Commissioner Bernard asked what would happen if both competing measures passed. 
County counsel said, “we can word it so ours trumps theirs”.  Benrnard said, “so we win– group laughter — Bernard , ” we declare victory”.
Their disdain for the voters is now funny. 

4. McLoughlin Area Plan  (Urban Renewal for Milwaukie Light Rail)

In pushing UR, county staff Dan Johnson has been giving community presentations misrepresenting Tax Increment Financing. His claims that UR pays for itself are of course blatant lies. One of his other whoppers is that the “Clackamas Town Center Urban Renewal District created 30,000 jobs”.

The Columbia River Crossing lie about creating 25,000 lies has been shown by Willamette Week to be only 2500 jobs.
The 14,000 jobs that TriMet and the commissioners like to tell about Milwaukie Light Rail is another complete fabrication.

The BIG DIG in Boston spent $50 billion and it was determined to have created only 5000 jobs.

The MAP UR scheme will be much larger than the MLR $25 million. Probably a $100 million or more plan. All borrowed and paid back by skimming property taxes from a likely 700 acre, or greater, UR district.

It’s interesting that this Beaverton UR plan, that requires voter approval, is posted on the MAP website.
  See it here:

Although this Beaverton plan will go to a public vote the same misinformation is being distributed.

Their plan involves $150 million, 1000 acres, $777 million in assessed value and not the city or paper tells the voters that all of the normal yearly increases on ALL of the 1000 acres  will be diverted from essential services to pay the UR debt. This will trigger the need for new taxes and fees and/or service cuts to deal with the resulting funding gap.  

Yet city officials and the press are telling the voters,

“The unanimous approval puts the $150 million, 30-year plan – which will not increase residents’ taxes – in the hands of city voters, who will decide the measure’s fate in the Nov. 8 election.
The city’s urban renewal district encompasses nearly 1,000 acres and around $777 million in assessed property tax value in and around the city’s core. The area includes historic Old Town, the TriMet transit area, Central Beaverton’s office and retail area and the “employment district” east of Highway 217 between Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway and Allen Boulevard.
An urban renewal district provides a funding mechanism that encourages redevelopment of a designated blighted area to increase property values.
Tax increment financing effectively freezes assessed values at a certain level and pays for redevelopment projects and bond debt through the amount the value increases from that level.”

They are misleading the voters by not telling them most of the increased property values and property taxes used to pay the UR debt have nothing to do with the proposed development.  
Those increases are normal yearly increases that happen without any UR plan. 
With the cost of services rising every year this dishonest diverting leaves a big funding hole. 

Clackamas County’s plan to borrow $25 million for Milwaukie Light Rail wil require diverting $45 million in property taxes from the general fund that would otherwise go to essential services and existing payrolls & jobs.

5. Commissioner Damon 

An earlier update noted Damon’s long history with MLR that disputes her claim of being a new commissioner and therefore lacking familiarity with the project.
She has been more involved than any other, for years, as a facilitator persuading (I mean involving) the public. 

along with this Damon -video on at   45:00              mms://
This link on her history with MLR did not work “was on the Project Staff as a consultant for Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project Citizen Advisory Committee.”
It had been removed by Metro. Here it is attached Damon MLR
MEETING: Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project Citizen Advisory Committee
DATE: Thursday, October 25, 2007



Crista Gardner, Phillip Kennedy-Wong, Jenn Tuerk, Mark Turpel, Bridget Wieghart, Karen Withrow
Sean Batty, Claudia Steinberg, Dave Unsworth
Project Consultants
Jamie Damon, Jeanne Lawson & Associates
Steve Iwata
City of Milwaukie
Kenny Asher

Urban renewal drains and pains taxpayers


Urban Renewal sounds good. But when you actually investigate the enormous costs and compare that to the benefits… just who is getting the benefit? Urban Renewal is another enormous waste of money… and another rabbit hole that government sells as a “desireable” function of government. Not so.
Urban renewal’s history of failure.. just a few..………

Urban renewal is the use of public funds to test extremely expensive and historically failed efforts to enforce conformity to the social viewpoint of elitist urban social planners. Only the public sector would waste money on this scale, over and over and over.. trying to create a narrow version of “heaven on earth” by the politically correct social engineering elite.

Urban Renewal is one of the most expensive and failed programs in government   Governments are filled with “planners” who plead for “do overs”.. insisting the next time, they’ll get it right.