The High Cost of Liberalism

Right From the Start

Right From the Start

The high cost of liberalism continues to increase. Tuesday mornings Oregonian reported on another “green energy” fantasy slipping into failure at considerable cost to taxpayers. An article by Molly Young stated:

“Portland’s SoloPower Systems has missed another monthly payment on a $10 million public loan that’s been in arrears since February.  A state Energy Department spokesperson confirmed Monday the agency had not received $119,000, as required, for June.  SoloPower had some cash — it wired $124,950 to the state in late May — but is now behind by a total of $238,000.  State officials in charge of the loan have said they are hopeful SoloPower will soon bring the loan current. Company executives, though, have declined to comment on financials.“SoloPower’s North Portland plant has been dark for a year.

* * *


“It received millions of dollars in state and local tax breaks and subsidies to start up.  Yet it closed in mid-2013, months after turning on its first production line.  Documents show executives sought upwards of $50 million to turn the factory back on.

Despite what state officials say is in the pipeline, SoloPower does not yet appear to be hiring. Its web page lists no open positions.  The company is also dealing with lawsuits filed separately by two former top executives, both alleging they are owed money.

But Oregon’s liberals, particularly those in Portland, remain undeterred. Dirk VanderHart reported in Monday’s Portland Mercury:

“Remember in November, when the Portland Bureau of Transportation applied for $2 million in state lottery funds to help pay for a theoretical expansion of the city’s theoretical bike share system? The application included a bold claim, which has since proven objectively false: That Portland had already found roughly $5.5 million in sponsorships to purchase a system and run it for five years. “As we reported last week, no sponsorships have been announced for bike share, and there’s no indication any agreements have been reached. Kaiser Permanente, the health care provider rumored to have been on the verge of signing a sponsorship, now says that isn’t even on its radar.

“Earlier this year, we raised questions over the truthfulness of the PBOT application with the Oregon Department of Transportation, which administers the ConnectOregon grant funds PBOT was applying for. Others have complained to ODOT in recent months, too. ConnectOregon officials repeatedly acknowledged public concerns, but allowed the application to carry on, unimpeded. In fact, Portland’s bid for more bike share money was ranked fourth among all applications for bike/pedestrian projects this year, following only projects that earned a highest-possible “Tier 1” designation. (It still faced steep odds of being chosen. ConnectOregon has only $42 million to dish out this year, and $126 million in requests.)

“Not anymore. On Friday, PBOT sent word it was formally pulling the application, blaming the shifting sands that have plagued Portland’s quest for a bike share program. . .”

Add to that the recent report by KATU:

“After years of work and millions of dollars [$3.2 Million] spent, an expensive wave energy project proposed off the Oregon coast is dead, leaving a never deployed taxpayer funded and large wave-energy buoy stranded on shore with an uncertain future. “While millions of dollars of taxpayer money was spent, it could have been a lot worse. The U.S. Department of Energy put the brakes on the project after it determined the project would not happen as planned.”

And Oregon’s famed CoverOregon failure. What was once trumpeted by Gov. John Kitzhaber as a model for the nation, Oregon’s “healthcare exchange” was abandoned without ever signing up a single person. Over $250 Million was wasted with the only visible results being a series of television jingles that proved fodder for talk show hosts, comedians and serious minded opponents of Obamacare alike. So bad was the failure that the federal government has launched a criminal investigation and Gov. Kitzhaber now wants to sue Oracle Systems to recover $130 Million spent on developing the failed online website. Insiders have explained to me that while the piece parts of the system work individually, because they were developed separately, they cannot be made to integrate. That suggests that it the fault of the state’s managers more than the state’s contractors. A failed lawsuit will simply add to the costs of this disaster.

Then there is the failed solar farm south of Bend. In December of 2013, the Oregonian’s Ted Sickinger reported:

“Before he showed up in south-central Oregon, Alfred Fairbanks had never tried to build a solar farm. Yet when the Pullman, Wash., dentist told state officials in 2009 that his company planned to build the state’s largest solar array in the desert southeast of Bend, they welcomed him with open arms and the promise of a massive subsidy from taxpayers.“According to his application with the Oregon Department of Energy, Fairbanks planned to carpet his 160-acre plot of sagebrush with solar panels. The $50 million array, he said, would include 133,000 panels capable of generating 6.7 megawatts of power. All this outside Christmas Valley, a hardscrabble community of alfalfa farmers and ranchers in an area so remote it’s known as the Oregon Outback.

Energy Department analysts approved his paperwork, promising Fairbanks a $10 million tax credit if his company, Energetics, built the project within three years.

“He never did. An investigation by The Oregonian shows the only thing Energetics ever completed was a small installation of 180 solar panels that never sent any electricity to the grid and was taken down by late 2010. Yet the Department of Energy’s staff, without ever visiting the site, has repeatedly extended the project’s eligibility for a $10 million taxpayer subsidy.”

And the list goes on and on:

  • Portland’s infamous “urban outhouse” which was to be the “model” for modern metropolitan areas developed by the City of Portland but never sold a unit.
  • Portland’s failed water department billing system that was to be the model for other Northwest communities and resulted in losing thousands of customer’s usage data – abandoned in its entirety.
  • The famed Certificate of Initial Mastery and Certificate of Advanced Master (CIM/CAM) that was to serve as a national model for measuring academic achievement in public schools. Abandoned after nearly fifteen years and $500 million in waste annually.
  • The Columbia River Crossing. The failed attempt to replace the aging interstate span across the Columbia River between Portland and Vancouver which has languished for over a dozen years and a cost of $185 Million solely because Portland insists on its priority being light rail rather than auto traffic.

Oregon is dominated by the Democrat Party (it holds every statewide elected office and all but one of the Congressional seats) which in turn is dominated by Portland’s uber liberal faction (Portland voted nearly 80 percent for Pres. Barack Obama in the last election and has provided the margin of victory for every Democrat governor in the past three decades.)

One wonders where Oregon might be today if Oregon’s liberals had focused on the real problems of Oregon – high unemployment, deteriorating roads and infrastructure, declining academic achievement in the public schools, and an ailing economy drifting towards tourism and away from production. In Portland those who vote do not necessarily pay for the waste. And increasingly in Oregon, the same can be said to be true.