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.”

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Local Taxes, Portland Politics, Uncategorized | 47 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Rupert in Springfield

    I think this is a great idea. Is there a section on the website where citizens can turn in cell phone pictures and send a nasty-gram for the city not keeping up its property? Where can fines be collected from the city when such upkeep is not completed in a timely manner?

    • Devin

      I would love to bill the city for the property they dont maintain, maybe they can send the money for those fines right to my house!

  • bill

    Portland has not had any common sense leadership since Frank Ivancie was mayor back in the 1980s.  The scary thing is that Portland area voters are running this state and judging by the way they run Portland that bodes ill for the rest of us.

  • bill

    Portland has not had any common sense leadership since Frank Ivancie was mayor back in the 1980s.  The scary thing is that Portland area voters are running this state and judging by the way they run Portland that bodes ill for the rest of us.

    • Founding Fathers

      “You’ve buttered your bread, now you have to lie in it.”
           — Mayor Frank Ivancie, to someone who had just testified to City Council.

  • 3H

    I think every city I’ve ever had has a code enforcement division.   When grass gets too tall, it provides a habitat for rats, mice and other nuisances that can cause issues for neighbors, not to mention what it can do to surrounding property values.  Try selling your house when your neighbor’s grass is 2 feet tall.

    It may also save some money.  Rather than send out code enforcement to every complaint, it would be easier to evaluate how serious the issue is.   

    • Moe


      • 3H

        Care to elaborate?  Or are we just expected to take your word for it?

  • Bob Clark

    I wish I could say reality based leadership might return after a long absence in stump town; but looking at the candidates lining up for the Mayor’s race next year, I’d say no such luck (pretty much the same old big public dollar spenders).  Hales equals more streetcars clogging up Portland streets and depleting bus service (and riders on the street cars don’t need to pay fares if they don’t want).  While the U.S economy could benefit from increased automobile production and some parts of the federal government work towards this end, places like stump town try to resist such productive efforts.  Stump town needs the state and federal governments to stop funding its pipe dreams, and for Metro to stop steering population towards it.  These events are the only events which would give stumptown electorate a reality check anytime soon.

    There may not be a better sign of the lack of reality based management in stump town than Mayor Adams’ advocacy of public dollars paying for city employee sex change operations.  If someone wants to pay for their own sex operation, more power to them; but don’t ask me to pay for it, please!  (This is what even a citizen committee says.)  Geez, where does this pipedream stuff end.  I would like to be an eight foot tall basketball player.  This is who I am emotionally.  Really. But I don’t expect the public to pay for an operation which would add two feet to my height.  Maybe I would like to be half man and half woman.  Maybe I would like to have a straighter nose than the one I was borne with, because this is who I am emotionally; but I wouldn’t expect the public to have to pay for a nose job in such (choosey) instance.  Maybe I would like to be – fill in the blank.

    Welcome to stump town where enablement of pipe dreams is job number one of government, and helping the worker bees living in day to day reality is a joke.

    • Jhuges

      I am one of those portland workbees that in your and Larry Huss’s world is so ill-served by my local goverment and elected officials. What rubbish. I love living in Portland. There are lots of reasons, but the main one is I can get around town without driving all the time. I have choices. I can walk, ride a bike, take transit, or drive. I can make a decision based on cost and convenience without being socially engineered into driving my car and exporting my paycheck to Michigan and Saudi Arabia. With gases rapidly making transportation costs the biggest household expense in the United States, Portland is, in this important respect, becoming a more affordable while becoming more livable.

      • Anonymous

        Oh boy – yet another Portland Koolaid drinker? And a public trough feeder at that.

  • This article about sums it up. The city government is forever meddling in people’s lives, adjusting this and that, all in the name of their particular social engineering obsessions. I doubt if any one of these hand-wringing pusses would try to defend
    themselves in a hostile situation of any sort. They are all on the yellow-brick road somewhere over the rainbow.

  • valley person

    I would bet nearly every city in the United States has complaint-driven municipal codes that include lawn maintenance. So why pick on Portland?

    • Because few cities take such an agressive approach, that of encouraging neighbors to snitch on one another. That plus this is a conservative political website and Portland is not.  

      • 3H

        Actually, they don’t have to encourage it.  Neighbors frequently snitch on each other.   Frequently file complaints against their neighbors for the activities of their dogs, noise, abandoned cars, and yes, failure to keep a yard in decent shape.  I can see the value in not having to respond to every complaint about a yard if the determination can be made beforehand.  

        You pick on Portland because it’s not a conservative political website?  Or generally not conservative?  That’s it?  Now there is some depth to that thinking.

      • valley person

        I doubt Portland is any more “aggressive” about it than Dallas or Houston.  I suspect Larry is just finding a nit to pick. Look at his rant about Portland crime, which has been dropping steadily for years. And there is light rail in Pheonix, Salt Lake City, and Houston among other places.

        What we have here is a rant, nothing more. He has no real point and nothing to offer other than not liking liberals. I don;t think I have ever read a positive word about Portland or Oregon from this dude. I feel sort of sorry for him. I mean, if you hate the place that much, take your millions and move on.

        • Jhuges

          This assumes Huss actually lives in Portland. It seems very likely he is a just another conservative ideologue who just can’t stand that there is a place that contradicts his radical conservative worldview.

        • Anonymous

          Actually Mr. Know-It-All, Portland’s Buckman neighborhood was recently profiled as one of the 15 worst neighborhoods in the USA for property crimes. And right on cue, there was all sorts of excuse making from the Portland Police Bureau about that ranking.

          • valley dude

            If you say so. But I spend a fair amount of time in and around Buckman. Its not exactly Escape from New York. You should get out sometimes. 

          • Anonymous

            Sorry Koolaid Boy – but the results are out there. Facts are a bitch aren’t they?

          • valley dude

            Yes. You can say that again. Live by them and die by them. 

      • Founding Fathers

        How true. Portland is not even a liberal website. It’s a city.

  • Jhughes

    Who is Larry Huss? Does he live in Portland?

    Perhaps if Portland wasn’t sending so much tax revenue to pay for the Oregon prison system, the U.S. foreign wars, farm subsidies, and financial bailouts, it would have the funds to do the things Larry Huss complains that it should be doing. But attacking Portland’s spending priorities- set by its elected (emphasis on elected) officials- is a BIG illegitimate distraction from the corrupt and distorted spending priorities of state and federal governments that consume a much larger share of the taxes Portlanders pay.

    It is a little known fact that Portland pays far more in state taxes than it get’s back in state revenue and services. Portland is a state revenue generator. That is not an argument for cutting rural areas off from the state spending they need, but it is sure is a basis for discounting self-styled fiscal conservatives like Huss who try to lecture Portland on its fiscal priorities.

  • Robert Collins

    Try living next door to a couple of people who let their yards go totally out of control and you would probably have a different attitude about this.

    • 3H

      Robert – you’re not following the script:  “Government telling us to mow our lawns!  I can do what I want with my property no matter how it effects everyone around me!”    

  • Aintgotnohome

    I live in the Bud Clark homeless palace, so I get everything for free, including my cell phone. Because I don’t work, I mostly cruise the neighborhoods looking for violations. It gives me something to do, which my counselor said I should have. Man is she cute, too.
    Anyway, this law enables me to feel that I have value in my life.
    The living is pretty good at the Clark. Free WIFI, computer, cell phone, three meals a day, free room, free education, free health care, free counseling, free everything!! And I can stay here forever – no strings attached. I don’t even have to stop drinking!
    This town rocks!!!

  • Sam

    I am thinking of tethering a goat on my lawn so it will always be the right length so nobody will turn me in.

    • valley person

      A sheep is a better bet. Goats are browsers, not really grass grazers. And lamb tastes better. 

      • Charlotte Elliot

        “Just as I am, of that free love

        The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,

        Here for a season, then above,

        O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”

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