Molalla’s BROKE: “Empire at the End of Decadence”

It’s time for us to stop lying to ourselves about this country.

America is great in many ways, but on a whole host of measures — some of which are shown in the accompanying chart — we have become the laggards of the industrialized world. Not only are we not No. 1 — “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” — we are among the worst of the worst.

Yet this reality and the urgency that it ushers in is too hard for many Americans to digest. They would prefer to continue to bathe in platitudes about America’s greatness, to view our eroding empire through the gauzy vapors of past grandeur. Empire at the End of Decadence by Charles Blow (New York Times, entire content posted below)

Wow! I love that op-ed! All one needs to do is to substitute “Molalla” for “America” and you have the dire picture here of head in the sand Molalla.

The “leaders” and the greedy land speculators are certainly guilty of  “bathing in the platitudes” of Molalla’s past “greatness” and are guilty of viewing their “eroding empire through the gauzy vapors of past grandeur.”

The ONLY past “greatness” that occurred here was due to the long gone timber resource based economy. Molalla would never have existed without logging – and that’s over here for good.

The current “gauzy vapors of past grandeur” that the city “leaders” still breathe waft from the LONG GONE STUFF IT IN CHEAP housing boom. And Molalla certainly did lead the “Stuff it in CHEAP” pack!

It’s time to stop wafting those “gauzy vapors of past grandeur” – especially since the pathetic Molalla supposed “grandeur” can’t pass muster in the current competitive real estate market in the age of peak oil. Sadly, what was “created” was unprofessional, bottom of the bell curve developer driven junk. That’s not going to fuel a recovery, it is going to drag Molalla further into the abyss as it tries to provide city services for all the citizens it stuffed in without charging proper SDCs and without providing a balance of jobs and businesses. Creating more badly planned, under funded city development will only drive the nail in Molalla’s coffin quicker.

So, on a mini-scale, the “government” of Molalla mimics the “let them eat cake” attitude in Charles Blow’s op-ed.

TEAM pretends it has gained businesses – but TEAM fails to note how many businesses have been lost in Molalla. Most of the lost businesses were of higher quality than the phony ones gained. It is hard to be impressed by a “business” like a hobby bead store (which also seems to be in a store front owned by a family member – can anyone spell nepotism?) or a pawn shop (gentrified into a “resale” shop for the media so it isn’t TOO BIG a sign of urban decay).

Hokey Molalla’s pathetic propaganda attempts last week to put positive spin in the news will surely backfire. The KGW 8 television spot was a hoot: with video of crumbling stores, the ugly traffic on Main Street, and the pawnshop dude, it certainly didn’t look like anyplace welcoming, let alone interesting or affluent.

Look around you TEAM. Pretend you are a stranger driving through town. Quality places attract quality businesses and quality ideas. Molalla is spinning in circles, telling itself that the boom is still on and that growth will save the day. All anyone has to do is to look at the chart posted below to understand that America isn’t booming. And off the beaten path, former resource based towns like Molalla are at the absolute bottom of the American barrel.

All one has to do is to read the chart to see we are increasingly a society of  “haves and have-nots”. Molalla’s greedy and disrespectful “powers that be” had better see the writing on the wall. The failure to manage increasingly limited resources, the failure to accept the reality of geography, the failure to understand the true demographics of this area, and the failure to honor the need for COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT via professional urban planning has created an insular view of the world. That’s going to be impossible to reverse anytime soon.

I wonder what the “marks” – the “just citizens” – will end up doing about it, as they begin to understand that the “powers that be” – the handful of local noxious inside traders and influence peddlers – have ripped them off for the quality of life they deserve? And how soon will the “marks” – the “just citizens” – understand that the rip-off includes greater than average property value losses in 97038 when compared with Oregon as a whole; when you build a low quality city you fall farther in a real estate depression. Numbers don’t lie.  Only time will tell if the citizens wake up in time.

Let’s see – money for long overdue city street neighborhood priorities or a Forest Rd to polluted, industrial swamp land no business in its right mind would buy? Ha ha on the Forest Rd – does anyone pushing that insanty have a brain? When I decried any lottery money going for a phony “study”, the ODOT rep  said “maybe Molalla could use urban renewal money and SDCs to build the road?” We then had quite a little chuckle fest when I mentioned that Molalla has the grand total of $154,000 in urban renewal and $150,000 in street SCDs.

And that same ODOT rep said “maybe Molalla needs the study to finally be convinced it can’t afford to build the road so it will concentrate on the 211 corridor”. That’s insane as well, we don’t have an extra  $60,000 of public money to waste to show Molalla what is totally self-evident.

Get the joke, folks? A road with Molalla as lead agency (ODOT won’t touch it with and ten foot pole and the County road funds are spoken for)  would cost at least TWELVE MILLION (likely far more) and Molalla has all of $300,000 ready and waiting. Talk about “wafting vapors of past grandeur” – whatever magic smoke they are breathing at city hall, I want some! Maybe they can market those “wafting vapors” and save us all from REALITY!

Will Molalla “waft” the need for here and now planning – legally defensible PROFESSIONAL planning!  AFFORDABLE PLANNING! – via County contract planning or roll up more HUGE DEFICITS to pay a fake plannin’ dude to continue to ruin Molalla’s future?

Will we continue to have GREEDY merchants and land speculators who are just looking out for their bottom line driving Molalla’s future (more like driving Molalla’s failure) or real community that recognizes slower growth and higher SDCs might begin to provide some needed quality of life fixes?

Those GREEDY, INFLUENCE PEDDLING merchants and land speculators will spin forever  “wishing” for new “marks” – because every demographic and economic sign points to GHOST TOWN MOLALLA. Why would ANYTHING locate here? The budget clearly tells a story of mis-management of PUBLIC MONEY and eyes clearly tell the story of INEPT, UNPROFESSIONAL URBAN PLANNING.

Is anyone ready for the betting pool on how many months till “non-manager” Atkins has to admit the city is BROKE? The 2nd quarter financials were horrific: PLANNING DEFICIT OF $386,523, STREET FUND DEFICIT OF $136,265 AND SEWER DEFICIT OF $174,642. Pick up a copy from city hall and try to read it sometime. Note all the convoluted transfers and the smoke and mirror columns. That’s a lot of fun until there is nothing to transfer but zeros.

Did you catch that the council is lusting over a bigger charge on your vehicle registration fee? After local people helped get the $5 surcharge for the Sellwood Bridge on the ballot this spring, how could the council, with a straight face, even consider endorsing a $40 surcharge so it could get a cut of the taxation without representation action. I’d LOVE to see the council in this political climate endorse THAT giant taxation without a VOTE.

Speaking of taxation without at vote – the never to be self-supporting boondoggle of a pool that saddled city residents with the $5 surcharge on their water bills is exactly what taxation without a vote is. You can be sure Atkins would love to saddle taxpayers with more of that kind of nonsense. Has anyone here ever heard of market forces? If it can’t stand on its own two feet as an economic force it doesn’t deserve to have its doors open.

Maybe the city council needs to learn how to read the twisted budget document? Maybe someone needs to note that the REAL ESTATE BOOM IS LONG GONE – and that Molalla is one of Oregon’s BIGGEST LOSERS? Even a cut of vehicle registration fees won’t ever make up for all those lost years of SDCs.

Read on to understand why Molalla (and Oregon and America) “can’t win the future by ceding the present and romanticizing the past”……


February 18, 2011

Empire at the End of Decadence

By CHARLES M. BLOW

It’s time for us to stop lying to ourselves about this country.

America is great in many ways, but on a whole host of measures — some of which are shown in the accompanying chart — we have become the laggards of the industrialized world. Not only are we not No. 1 — “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” — we are among the worst of the worst.

Yet this reality and the urgency that it ushers in is too hard for many Americans to digest. They would prefer to continue to bathe in platitudes about America’s greatness, to view our eroding empire through the gauzy vapors of past grandeur.

Republicans have even submitted a draconian budget that would make deep cuts into the tiny vein that is nonsecurity discretionary spending, cuts that would prove devastating to the poor and working class.

At the very time that many Americans — and the very country itself — are struggling to emerge from a very deep hole, the Republican proposal would simply throw the dirt in on top of us.

This cannot be. Financing for education and social services isn’t simply about handouts to the hardscrabble, it is about building an infrastructure that can produce healthy, engaged and well-educated citizens who can compete in an increasingly cutthroat global economy.

One of President Obama’s new catchphrases is “win the future,” but we can’t win the future by ceding the present and romanticizing the past.

Here’s a look at how the United States compares with other advanced economies.

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