Note to “Jennifer”: Thanks for pumping up readership – now maybe more of the duped and beleaguered citizen taxpaying “investors” of Molalla will start to learn the truth about the horrible and wasteful “leadership” in Molalla! Otherwise, have a happy head in the sand life!
The march toward truth has started as the Federal Census begins to release FACTS. Today it is State and County figures – and in 2011 the Waterloo of individual city figures will be released.
I now have a wonderful working relationship with a fantastic census official in the Seattle regional office. After years of bad customer service that one experiences coming out of the City of Molalla it is a true joy to link with public officials who understand how to work with the public that funds their work! All I can say is “WOW!” go Team Census!
If you dare to read or even to listen to the facts, the financial future for states, counties, and cities is looking scarier by the day. The numbers that are starting to pour out of the Federal Census are, you know, the REAL COUNT, the one that didn’t involve fake Molalla “planner” Potter filling in all the blanks.
I’ve been reading wild stories about cities that are bankrupt. What do you do about fire and police, let alone over-paid city employees like fake “planner” Potter, when you have no money to pay the bills? How long can a city like Molalla cover up deficit spending on planning garbage?
I guess Mayor Clarke is a prayin’ on that one?
Many states are facing junk bond status. Sunday’s story on 60 Minutes profiled New Jersey’s desperate financial mess; I have posted that story and link below. Ironically, today’s list of the richest 10 Counties in America included 3 Counties from New Jersey. Even being home to 3 of the top ten Counties in America can’t save New Jersey from financial ruin – and rest assured, Clackamas County (or any Oregon County) was not in the top 10.
Yesterday the Federal Census office in Seattle forwarded me a list of links. Most fascinating was the profile of City of Molalla. The Feds estimate that REAL population of the City somewhere between 7,105 and 7,590 – a far cry from Potter’s inflated figures. Most telling were the important years 2007-2008 when most Oregon cities posted very modest gains or even lost population. That’s the year that incompetent (or desperate?) Potter didn’t bother to fact check before he posted his whooping 5.8% gain. That fake “fact” might have been accepted by PSU census but it obviously wasn’t believable to the Feds.
More alarming facts are posted about Molalla in the 2005-2009 tables. The average mortgage in the city is $1,614 – and the Feds say that 53% of mortgage holders, 64% of renters and 28% of residents in Molalla with no mortgage spent 30% or MORE of income on housing. That’s frightening in today’s economy.
Oops! Those nasty Molalla cost o’ livin’ figures are a somethin’ else for Clarke to be a prayin’ about!
Those numbers point to little to no expendable income and the obvious danger of people trapped in upside down mortgages. The 64% of renters forced to pay more than 30% of their income on housing in Molalla would point to a need for more AFFORDABLE housing in the city. One wonders how any bank could look at those figures and sign on to loan developers money for any more over priced housing here? I’d be wiping any “high end” ideas off the slate.
And to put another nail in the “Molalla’s growing” mantra, a whopping 75% of city residents have to commute to work – and the AVERAGE COMMUTE TIME is a hideous 33.7 minutes each way. Of course, Molalla is also damned in the statistics because of its huge dependence on CARS – the census data lists the amount of public transportation users in the area as just about nil.
Double – or triple OOPS! – for Backwaterville Molalla! Pray a harder, Clarke! Pray for an oil well to gush to fill them commuter cars! Or maybe we can get a Prius plant so 75% don’t have to waste a huge chunk of the day in cars.
I hope it is dawning on the foggy minds that claim ridiculous inflated economic growth possibilities for Molalla that the future is focused on the need to REDUCE dependence on cars – and Molalla has zero ability to do that, given its geographical isolation and its distance from freeways and centers of commerce (read METRO and read BIG CITIES, and I-5 and I-84).
DLCD has hired a person to help facilitate planning for green house gas reduction for Oregon’s major cities. Fake “planner” Potter said it would “take too long” to factor in global warming into the city’s plans – too bad, that’s what the future dictates and, as usual, Molalla is left in the dust of progress.
Talk about DEADWOOD MOLALLA: I’d be putting the signs out on the freeways pointing “This way to the 19th Century in Molalla”. At least there would be a truthful promotion hook for a change! Maybe dress up Clarke and his band of good ole speculatin’ boys in loggin’ outfits – they could keep sawin’ down the same tree over and over, telling stories about them wars and them fun days of “buildin’ houses” for an economy! And how about a tour of the old Floragon site for an economic reminder of FAILURE?
As far as the monopoly that is “our” phone company (which, incidentally tried, with the City, to kill the County broadband grant because it feared competition! Nice work, MCC – I hope the County broadband kick-starts all kinds of COMPETITION!), there is bad news from today’s census release: more than half of households with people 25-29 years old have NO LANDLINE. So what can dear MCC plan to sell in the future? Maybe “our” phone company can join with city “manager” Atkin’s wife and work to influence peddle in DC to try to kill important grants for rural areas – like they tried and failed in the case of the important Clackamas County broadband project?
I guess all them prayers couldn’t kill County progress – did Atkins, MCC “leaders”, and Clarke have a secret prayer group that chanted “Dear god, please don’t let there be competition for our pathetic monopolistic telephone company. We don’t care if those remote areas ever get broadband because we want to CONTROL THE MARKET”? I guess that cooler heads realized that COMPETITION IS GOOD when it comes to technology – or wasn’t god listening to the good old boys that day?
Finally, the City “leaders” might want to gather round a pitcher of cheap beer in one of our numerous sleazy taverns and cry about this FACT: today’s census release says that American is experiencing the SLOWEST GROWTH OVER A DECADE since the Great Depression.
Pray for babies, Clarke – maybe you can build some more Section 8 ghetto housing, based on that “Motel 6” Stone Place model. But no! DLCD cleverly backed Molalla into a corner by “fixing” the codes! I expect that Stone Place Section 8 barracks-style development won’t fit no more. That is pretty funny – fake “planner” Potter and the good old boy developers will have to follow model codes with clustered development and – drum roll – GREENSPACES! We don’t like no green nothing in Molalla! Dear god, help!
It looks like fakeout expert Potter better dim down those future population numbers and economic growth forecasts, doesn’t it? But he probably can’t do that because he can’t write a report himself – in spite of hogging down over $70,000 a year fake “planner” Potter has to HIRE out his report writing to EXPENSIVE CONSULTANTS AND LAWYERS! There’s nothing the public loves more than paying twice or three times for BAD ADVICE!
And speaking of dimming down, one wonders how long puny shrinking Molalla can afford to employ a fakeout expert, let alone maintain full city services in light of the coming crunch? As states crumble, counties crumble and there are already many accounts of cities ready to close services due to lack of funds.
Get ready for a wild ride, Molalla. Clarke is praying while “Rome” burns!
I’m glad new voices will soon join the City Council. They’ll have their work cut out for them and we’ll just have to wait and see if ethics, accountability, and truth can win out. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
If you can stomach it, check out both posts below – the second is a grim picture of the 2011 prospects for the housing market – time for Mayor “we built houses” Clarke and the good ole boys to pray BIG TIME on that one!
The Huffington Post | William Alden First Posted: 12-20-10 09:57 AM | Updated: 12-20-10 11:06 AM
The future looks bleak for state and local government budgets.
Even as states struggle to cut services, many could soon be in the position of New Jersey, California and Illinois, facing billion-dollar deficits that, unlike the Federal deficit, must be filled. And there’s no easy way to repair the budget: When local governments’ problems worsen, it becomes more expensive to borrow money. New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who has ruthlessly slashed funding for state programs, might soon see other states following his lead, 60 Minutes reports.
The debt markets tend to punish the weak. When municipal bonds seem risky, investors demand higher yields, forcing already strapped governments to pay more for loans. The higher cost of borrowing spurs yet more borrowing, the Wall Street Journal notes, creating a vicious cycle for local government budgets. If the local governments default in large enough numbers, the bond markets could spread the pain to healthy governments as well, initiating a large-scale crisis, the WSJ notes.
“The first words out of my mouth are usually an apology,” Illinois comptroller Dan Hynes told 60 Minutes.
The state is six months behind paying about $5 billion in bills, Hynes said. States across the nation face a similar squeeze. California is looking at a $19 billion deficit. New Jersey will face a $10 billion deficit next year, 60 Minutes reports.
Christie has carved more than a fourth from New Jersey’s budget. In addition to slashing education funds, he infamously killed a tunnel project, which many said would have been a boon for state’s economy.
“The bottom line is I don’t have the money,” Christie told 60 Minutes. “I can’t pay people for those jobs if I don’t have the money to pay them.”
In September, prominent analyst Meredith Whitney, who made her name predicting Citigroup’s troubles, compared municipal governments to banks pre-crisis.
“The similarities between the states and the banks are extreme, to the extent that states have been spending dramatically, growing leverage dramatically,” Whitney said in September. “You borrow from future dollars to benefit the present, basically generational robbery.”
Bond markets can exacerbate the problem, as investors help push state funding costs up. “It’s a downward spiral,” George Rusnak, national director of fixed income for Wells Fargo, told the WSJ.
In her 60 Minutes interview, Whitney issued an even more stark summation of the crisis. “It has tentacles as wide as anything I’ve seen,” Whitney said. “I think next to housing this is the single most important issue in the United States, and certainly the largest threat to the U.S. economy.”
WATCH New Jersey governor Christie on 60 Minutes:
Financial Columnist, Market Commentator
Posted: December 20, 2010 10:04 AM
Imagine sitting on a four-legged stool and one of its legs suddenly collapses. Or, put another way, let’s say one of the key organs in your body stops functioning. Obviously, you’re in trouble in either case.
You can say the same thing about the economic ravages from the ongoing hell in housing, which, because of the heavy media focus on quantitative easing (namely QE2) and Obama’s tax cut fight, has been swept under the rug amid the renewed wave of economic enthusiasm.
But it’s not something to casually ignore. In this case, the present housing picture could be scarier than The Picture of Dorian Gray or one of those ghost-filled haunted houses in the amusement parks. In fact, based on the risks, we could be talking about the scariest housing situation of them all.
Why so? Because current trends show that housing, a critical leg of the economic stool, is getting increasingly shakier. In turn, that means 2011 could produce a renewed wave of housing dousing, dangerously threatening the vigor of the widely expected economic recovery that most economists tell us is a sure thing.
Speaking of the recovery, the stock market is displaying a lot more zip, with ma and pa now buying the Wall Street story that the economy is starting to hum again and that 2011 should be better, maybe considerably better, than 2010. Indicative of this belief, last week, according to West Coast liquidity tracker TrimTabs Research, investors went on a buying spree, snapping up $2.9 billion worth of U.S. equity mutual funds, the biggest weekly inflow this year. Clearly, if they’re committing their capital, they see better economic times ahead.
But try spinning that better times scenario to any of the following New Yorkers. They’ll laugh in your face, such as two elderly women, who, despite freezing temperatures in the mid 20s a few days ago, were forced to sleep in the street below the Manhattan Bridge. Or for that matter, a well dressed, well groomed couple in their 60s (the woman was wearing one of those $2,000 to $3,000 sheepskin coats) who refused to pay for a prescription in a Manhattan east side pharmacy catering to an upscale clientele. The bill was $100. “That’s $6 a pill; I’m not going to pay,” the woman screamed. “I need the money more than the pills.” And then she and her companion turned around and walked out. Or a dry cleaning store that recently opened its doors on Sunday (the first time I’ve ever seen that in New York City). Or the growing number of New Yorkers now charging taxi rides under $5.
But let’s get back to housing and housing services, which, according to the National Association of Home Builders, accounted for 15.1% of the economy in the past quarter. At the moment, housing — which the experts have said time and again over the past two years was on the verge of a meaningful rebound — is still an economic bad guy, currently diminishing GDP by a minus 1.4%.
If you’re looking for any near term improvement, don’t hold your breath, suggest several keen housing eyes. For example, Florida investment adviser Harry S. Dent, Jr., notes that despite minor improvements in mortgage applications for purchases and pending home sales, there is still no sign the housing markets will recover to anywhere near normal. This means, he says, banks are going to have to put more of their backlog of foreclosures on the market and get real about writing down bad loans.
Taking it one step further, Dent contends “the mortgage and banking crisis is coming back.” It’s just a matter of when, he says, speculating a likely timing is between late 2011 and mid 2012. But before that, he worries, the financial markets should start to react months ahead, probably between early and late summer of 2011.
David Rosenberg, the chief economist of Gluskin Sheff, a leading Canadian wealth money management firm, also raises questions, noting that U.S. housing starts are the quintessential leading indicator for economic activity and “right now it is going absolutely nowhere.”
Madeline Schnapp, TrimTabs’ research chief, likewise strikes an ominous note, telling me “the housing depression is unlikely to end before 2013.” Documenting this warning, she cites the following deterrents to a housing recovery anytime soon:
- As of October (the latest month for which data is available), 7.04 million households were not current on their current mortgages, up 1% in the past two months.
- 25% of mortgage holders or 6.2 million are under water, meaning they owe more on their house than it’s worth.
- Housing prices are at risk of declining another 20%, putting more homeowners under water and more into foreclosure.
- Recent documentation flaws are keeping foreclosures off the market, but foreclosures currently account for 25% to 40% of all housing sales. Without a foreclosure inventory, sales will continue to decline, taking housing prices with them.
- The unsold housing inventory, visible and shadow (foreclosed or seized homes held by banks that have not yet been put on the market) stands at 6.2 million units or a 1.5 years’ supply.
- A recent backup in mortgage rates to 4.83% from 4.17%.
- Between 2003 and 2007, 40% of all new jobs were in some way related to housing.
To Schnapp, the message is clear. It means, she says, the economy has to grow with a shattered leg.
Factor in, as well, she points out, $140 million of state and local government budget gaps over the next two fiscal years (July 2010 through June of 2012)–which will put about 1.4 million or more jobs at risk–and she argues that Wall Street’s economic exuberance is way overdone.
Her 2011 outlook: a lukewarm, muddle-along economy, accompanied by an uninspiring stock market confined to a narrow trading range (1,100 to 1,350 in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index).
My take on all of this: If you buy a house at the asking price or one of those supposedly dirt-cheap housing stocks that some brokerage houses are pushing like crazy, maybe it’s time for you to rejoin the real world.