The Marketplace of IDEAS: not welcome in Molalla!

In a place like Molalla, where there is NOTHING to sell – not houses, not goods, not jobs, not GOOD INNOVATIVE education – we can add “debate” to the list of what doesn’t sell here. The “marketplace” of IDEAS isn’t welcome in Molalla. To make a long, sad story short, the supporters of sprawl and now the supporters of a WHITE ELEPHANT MIDDLE SCHOOL absolutely refuse to accept counter input. It is funny – because as voting time nears, if the only “we need/we want” reasons for the sad backward looking free babysitting monument to educational failure are “it will make people want to live here”, “it won’t cost more taxes” and “it will help the kids learn” then the bond measure is in for a resounding defeat once the FACTS are presented to the public.

First, in terms of “they’ll come if we build it” here is yet ANOTHER damning study about demographic trends. Young families AREN’T INTERESTED in backwater towns (in this study called “edge” – but to call Molalla “suburban” or “edge” is a total reach, given the huge commute necessary for working families to live here). quote:

“Infill vs. suburbs. Road congestion, higher energy costs and climate change concerns combine to alter people’s thinking about where they decide to live and work. It’s a fundamental shift.

The lifestyle cost-of-living equation starts to swing away more dramatically from bigger houses on bigger lots at the suburban edge to greater convenience and efficiencies gained from infill housing closer to work. These homes may be more expensive on a price-per-pound basis, but reduced driving costs and lower heating/cooling bills provide offsets.

And time saved avoiding traffic hassles moderates stress and enhances productivity. Two-hour commutes reach a tipping point with higher energy costs and near-in suburbs will do well especially if they link to business cores by mass transportation.

Empty nesters and later-marrying echo boomers continue to flock to cities and urbanizing suburban areas. For aging baby boomers, infill apartment or townhouse living means less upkeep and better proximity to cultural and entertainment attractions.

The young singles crowd stays closer to the action, too – they don’t need to worry about finding the right suburban school district for children.

As 30-something couples have kids and consider schools, more will orient to infill locations and less edge – increasing numbers of suburban school systems will lose advantages as tax bases falter.

Source: Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers, Emerging trends in real estate 2010, October 2009, page 32.The entire report is available at

In case you missed it – here is the DEATH KNELL for any “if we build it, they will come” argument for anything to do with growth,  giant oversized for the REAL DEMOGRAPHICS  school buildings, or ridiculous urban reserve “needs” in Molalla. Note that this study (like the many others I have presented and quoted for over three years to the “plannin’ bozo commission”, in letters to various papers, and now to the head in the sand parents) is done by REAL PLANNERS and REAL ECONOMISTS – not faith-based, think positive greedy short-sighted backwoods Molalla “me firsters”:

“As 30-something couples have kids and consider schools, more will orient to infill locations and less edge – increasing numbers of suburban school systems will lose advantages as tax bases falter.”

That “tax bases falter” brings us to DEATH KNELL #2 – the coming tax compression and property tax adjustments that will kick the bottom out of funding for education PROGRAMS. Buildings don’t teach and the public has limited capacity (especially here in “we always vote NO FOR TAXES” Molalla) to agree to more operating bonds. It will be truly sad for the “kids” if this silly WHITE ELEPHANT hogs the public good will with a “yes” – because as the years go by and the tax base sinks, there won’t be any money or good will coming from the voters when the cry of “we need more money” goes out for educational programs. I hope the “kids” enjoy having one teacher for 40-50 kids (it is already 40 per teacher in Newport High School this year – it is another backwater that can’t get good funding).

The Portland Tribune is running a front page alarm about Oregon’s goofy tax limitation measures and something called “compression” that happens when true market value on real estate starts to match tax assessed values – something that is rapidly occurring in our foreclosure filled market. It will trash tax funding on many levels, including school funding. Couple “compression” with the growing numbers of citizens asking for property taxes to be adjusted DOWNWARD and you have another perfect storm for a coming serious lack of school tax base revenues. But hey – it’s Molalla and it NEVER accepts the truth, right? Molalla would rather “invest” in a pile of building materials (and make an architect rich!) than bide its time to ensure the kids get EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS.

Oh – we forgot about DEFLATION ALSO: as everything – real estate, services, building materials, land  – SINKS in value over the coming great RECESSION (OR DEPRESSION!) decade, only head in the sand Molalla would suggest it is a good idea to “invest” in a 33 MILLION BOONDOGGLE before we find the bottom of the deflation cycle.

The “it will cost more if we wait” baloney won’t fly – we defeated the 2006 37 MILLION school – and now since we “waited” the proposal is down to 33 MILLION. Let’s “wait and see” how low we can go as DEFLATION hits hard in the coming decade!

It must be nice to be a clueless “me firster” – I can’t imagine living like that. I care enough about “kids” to see the dire financial future writing on the wall. With AFFORDABLE, coming innovations like more charters and virtual learning opportunities, and the PROVEN trend of working families running away from backwater bergs, maybe we need to think about the REALITY of the coming GHOST TOWN MOLALLA?

Or, I guess when the District has empty coffers for EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS maybe they can PAWN the WHITE ELEPHANT MONUMENT TO FREE BABYSITTING at that new downtown symbol of how far and how fast Molalla is falling. See you at the “CA$HCO”  quick cash “business” for some low rider fun! I really like all the gold lettering on the windows – that’s a  great DEADWOOD touch, don’t you think? People at the 4-way can get a gander of how things are going here as they read the “PAY CASH ” signs in the pawn shop window. It’s ALWAYS about getting into someone’s pocket in Molalla, isn’t it? What CAN we sell? Who CAN we rip-off? Seems with Section 8 coming to an apt. near you TEAM might be running out of marks!

Hey Atkins and TEAM: when are you going to BRAG in the Oregonain about the great new CA$HCO PAWNSHOP? I think some photo ops of broke citizens pawning their watches to make rent (or to try to ward off foreclosure) would be in order. That’s tell all those families there is hope on “Mainstreet”!

Speaking of “low rider fun”, last night gifted, innovative teacher and author Matt Love gave a reading in PDX and talked about his nasty experiences with “mainstream” education. Though Love is a high school journalism/English teacher he has little respect for most union, tenured teachers. His funniest observations were about “physical education teachers who weigh 350 lbs, government teachers who don’t vote and history teachers who don’t read history”. He included himself in his early years as an “English teacher who didn’t write” but then took time off to write before returning to teach. He now teaches at Newport HS and noted that the BUILDING is worse than the most horrible fast food dive – but the students and programs are FAR BETTER than the “high-end” places he taught in PDX, including West Linn, Wilson HS, and Hillsboro High. He was very clear that BUILDINGS DON’T MATTER – teaching does. He said that the demographics have fallen so low in the Newport area that students are living in RVs in the woods with desperately poor, out of work parents. The Newport school system is SO BROKE it is facing 40 students to a teacher!

Read the writing on the wall, Molalla – there is a coming funding snake pit and “if we build it” we will ENDANGER future educational programs and sap the District with a FAR TOO LARGE FACILITY in times of a shrinking school census. Think about it –  is THAT what you really wish for “the kids”: a half empty fancy WHITE ELEPHANT and no funds for TEACHING? Nice “plans” parents – don’t say I didn’t warn you!

See you in letters to the editor – at least the general public here is grateful when they get FACTS instead of faith-based “think positive” baloney! At least the “Marketplace of IDEAS” is always welcome in the free press!

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