Portland and Its Ship of Fools

What upsets you more – the level of taxes in Portland or the foolishness with which Portland city government spends your money? Actually, they are interrelated. If there was the slightest bit of fiscal discipline or even rudimentary prioritization, the foolishness would stop and the taxes would retreat to a reasonable level.

Here’s a case in point. Monday’s edition of The Oregonian carried an article noting that the city elected to continue a pilot program to encourage people to turn in their neighbors for failing to trim their lawns:

“A Portland pilot program that lets residents not only complain but get something done about neighbor’s overgrown laws will continue this summer, city officials say. That means homeowners who fail to mow their grass could get smacked with $233 monthly fines.With a photo in hand, a city worker can send a nasty-gram telling the homeowner to clean up his property.”

Under the program, all it takes to bust a neighbor is a digital photo uploaded to the city’s website. [I decline to include the website so as to not perpetuate this foolishness].  With a photo in hand, a city worker can send a nasty-gram telling the homeowner to clean up his property.”

That’s it. All you have to do is use the camera in your cell phone and upload a picture of that felonious neighbor and the vast power of the City of Portland – utilizing full time public employee union members – will descend upon the miscreant.

This is from a city that can’t repair its potholes, can’t clean it streets and sidewalks, and can’t hire enough police to protect the public from pimps, pushers and pedophiles. But come up with a boneheaded idea and you will not only get serious consideration, you will likely get it funded.

Thus Portland is notorious for examining the hiring of doulas – you are going to have to look that one up yourselves – providing birth coaches, providing night schooling for prostitutes, establishing hiring agencies for illegal immigrants, sending Sam Adams to Sao Paulo for a climate summit, and now funding “gender modification surgery” (sex change operations for those of you forced to endure an education in Portland public schools).

Portland has light rail lines that cost hundreds of millions per track mile but are impassable during yearly ice storms. It has streets so narrow and congested with bicycle paths, and light rail stations that they can barely accommodate a car traveling at 10 miles per hour. For all of its concern about the environment, the water in the Willamette River entering Portland is far more polluted when it leaves Portland and much of that pollution comes from the city itself (tens of thousands of gallons of de-icer that was “buried” in the lagoon at Ross Island and its sewers and water treatment plants when it rains – a fact which apparently continues to be a surprise to the city leaders).

Virtually every week you can pick up the paper and read about yet another initiative that fulfills the dreams of yet another politically correct constituency without adding materially to the well being of the city or those who are expected to pay the bill.

Fred Armisen, the Saturday Night Live veteran who created Portlandia – the wickedly accurate parody of Portland describes Portland as the city where young people go to retire. The fact that Mayor Sam Adams chose to appear in episode of a show that holds the city up for ridicule in front of the whole world is in itself descriptive of the immaturity of the city’s leadership. While Portland bills itself as the “city that works,” it neither works efficiently as a city nor requires its denizens to work to survive.

Everybody has to be somewhere. Apparently Portland’s political leaders decided that the nation’s loafers belong here.

].  With a photo in hand, a city worker can send a nasty-gram telling the homeowner to clean up his property.”