Molalla’s TEAM for Economic Development Bites the Dust! It’s ILLEGAL!

(Update: 1/24/2013 Business owners who want a refund for TEAM (EID) funds should write a letter asking for their money back to the City Manager of Molalla. Take the letter to City Hall and ask for a receipt or mail with proof of delivery service.  Business owners may be entitled to recover not just the last two years of “improperly” collected funds but perhaps an addition five years for a total of seven years TEAM (EID) was in existence. The City of Molalla needs to proved that the original first five years represented a “proper” use of an EID. That is starting to look doubtful.)

Look out! An unlucky black cat has clawed out of its bag in Molalla!

Trouble waiting to happen in Molalla! The black cat of bad luck for TEAM has clawed its way to daylight!

Another truth about a big failure in Molalla has come to light.

Molalla’s much detested TEAM for Economic Development, an Economic Improvement District (EID: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/223.112 ) , was “improperly formed” in 2010. I’m guessing TEAM will bite the dust!

b bite the dust

Let’s cut to the chase: “Improperly formed” = ILLEGAL! But will the zip our lips City Council or the Interim City Manager come out with the details about  the RIGHTS of the beleaguered business owners  to recover the money they were FORCED to contribute to the “improperly formed” EID?

No! That would mean that they would anger the TINY HANDFUL of good old boys and girls who have controlled TEAM from the outset. That would mean that business owners in droves would storm City Hall and demand their ILLEGALLY COLLECTED money back!

Some of Molalla’s elected officials are gleefully colluding behind closed doors with the elitist TEAM board and their paid propaganda shill to write a “plan” to try to jam through a new incarnation of TEAM. Good luck on that! Given that businesses IN BUSINESS don’t need phony TEAM and can opt out of any new EID, that will leave a handful of large property owners to fund their own little club.

If you have hundreds of acres of contaminated brownfields and empty commercial dirt to pimp, you need TEAM. If you have greedy dreams of garnering public money grants to “help” you with your speculative dreams, you need TEAM. The rest of the merchants will run screaming for their money back and will choose the opt out if – and that’s a huge IF – a new EID can be formed.

No wonder the owner of this dioxin leeching brownfield wasteland wants TEAM to help him market it using funds ILLEGALLY collected from unwilling Molalla business owners!

No wonder the owner of this dioxin leaching brownfield wasteland wants TEAM to help him market it using funds ILLEGALLY collected from unwilling Molalla business owners!

And did I mention that the vast majority of the good old boys and girls who push TEAM’s  “us first, us only” agenda don’t live anywhere near crumbling Molalla? They take their money and run to better quality of life in rural estates or in high-end Lake Oswego! They are thrilled to grab money from a struggling city but they sure won’t consider living in decayed Molalla or spending their money here.

The previous TEAM propaganda shill “director” collected about $50,000 a year from the “improperly formed” EID and took her paycheck to live and spend in SE PDX. Cool trick if you can get away with it: take the money from a depressed town that can barely keep the store doors open and spend it somewhere nice up in Metro!

Are you getting the absentee slum landlord picture yet? Maybe the TEAM board can have a fund-raising campaign and wear these for fun:

Molalla's Slum Lords see the city residents as marks with money in their pockets - money the Slum Lords want to get!

Molalla’s Slum Lords see the city residents as marks with money in their pockets – money the Slum Lords want to get!

And when the LOL hearings come to try to approve a legal TEAM, the Slum Lords can pass out these bumper stickers:

We'll know who support TEAM when we see these on the Slum Lord cars as they drive out of town to their better quality of life somewhere else homes!

We’ll know who supports TEAM when we see these on the Slum Lord cars as they drive out-of-town to their better quality of life somewhere else homes!

Where did this “improperly formed” TEAM nightmare come from? You guessed it:  a City Council that failed in 2010 to do its homework to ensure they were voting for an EID that conformed to Oregon State law. I can’t imagine a City Council anywhere that has more talent for ignoring state laws and ordinances than the Molalla City Council. This is just part of a long, long, long line of failures to dig deeply for FACTS before a vote that risks public funds on nonsense.

Non-conforming land use plans? City Council voted YES for years, wasting a fortune!

Budgets that entered each year in deficit, contrary to State laws? City Council voted YES!

Retention of  (to be polite) incompetent City Manager, fake planner and lawyer full of bad advice for far, far too long? City Council voted YES!

Form an EID that fails to follow the Oregon ordinance? City Council voted YES!

Defeat a Noise Ordinance because a handful of Buckeroo Animal Abuse Festival Rodeo promoters don’t want regulations? City Council voted YES! Backwater Molalla NEVER puts quality of life ahead of the “needs” of good old boys to make money!

Tell lies and try to hound the only decent City Manager out-of-town overnight? The City Council went behind closed doors and took a stab at leaving the city with no manager! Luckily, the City Manager was ethical and refused to be bullied!

Tell the truth and the whole truth about details of  the “improperly formed” EID? City Council, TEAM and Interim City Manager are SILENT.

In fact, some  elected “leaders” work with TEAM to try save it. They sit in on TEAM propaganda planning sessions to decide what message to dribble to the public to try to mollify resistive business owners who have wanted OUT of TEAM for years. Who cares if the voters and the businesses who oppose TEAM don’t know all the facts when insiders on the City Council have personal businesses interests and want to push TEAM back on the community?

Remember: the theme in Molalla is always to steal from the poor to give to the rich!

In Molalla, it’s always about keeping the whole truth under wraps so self-serving insiders can push that “steal from the poor” agenda.

And certainly the City Councilors, Mayor or Interim City Manager would never have the guts to write an op-ed to explain ALL the facts about “improperly formed” TEAM (don’t you love “improperly formed” as a euphemism for “ILLEGALLY FORMED”?) to the community. They never had the guts to do that in the  past. But the shit will hit the fan as word spreads about ILLEGAL TEAM and the potential for refunds.

This motto must hang in Molalla's City Hall to keep the truth cat in the bag. The good old boys and girls certainly don't want the truth to get in the way of their control of the City Council.

This motto must hang in Molalla’s City Hall to keep the truth cat in the bag. The good old boys and girls certainly don’t want the truth to get in the way of their control of the City Council.

It’s been fascinating to work with the investigator for the Oregon State Board of Accountancy. I filed a complaint about Molalla’s pathetic audits and have been extremely impressed with the interest the investigator is taking in all the sleazy past practices in Molalla – past practices that brought insolvency.

The most stunning statement from the investigator is his assertion that the responsibility for accountability ALWAYS rests on City Councils. City Councilors are elected to protect the electorate, period. There’s no excuse for not FULLY UNDERSTANDING what they are asked to approve.

The Board of Accountancy  investigator has ended his interviews with me with the wistful statement “I sure hope things get better in Molalla someday“.

Get it: “SOMEDAY“. He’s been looking in-depth at Molalla’s records past and present and he clearly knows Molalla is still a house of cards.

Don't miss the pun:  We are all "MAD" here!

Don’t miss the pun: We ARE all “MAD” here on some level!

Here’s a clear and honest account of the rights of the business owners now that ILLEGAL TEAM is out of the bag. Why didn’t the Council have the courage to spell it out for the people? Why did a disgruntled business owner have to be the one to produce this honest list of the rights of those who have been forced to fund the ILLEGALLY CREATED EID called TEAM?:

  • “For those of you who haven’t heard, the City of Molalla is revising the Economic Improvement District. The 2010 renewal was handled improperly, and the City has been improperly collecting funds since that time.If you own commercial or industrial property within the EID zone, PAY CLOSE ATTENTION to the information coming to you from the City and from TEAM regarding the revision/renewal. Key points you should be aware of:
  • 1) The City has to present you with an actual plan for how they intend to use EID funds. “Economic improvement” isn’t specific enough.

    2) You have the choice to opt out. If you do this in writing, the City *cannot* collect EID taxes from you. If 33% of owners opt out, the EID fails and no one pays.
  • 3) If you run a home-based business, you are exempt from the EID – it is for commercial and industrial property only.
  • 4) The EID tax you are charged must be based on the assessed value of your property. The two-tiered flat fee the City was charging is improper.
  • 5) You may be entitled to a refund of EID taxes paid since 2010. (Keep in mind that, if you wrote these expenses off in your own tax returns, a refund would require you to re-file your taxes for the affected years.)
  • Please convey this information to property owners within the EID.”

Why do community members have to do the work to get the TRUTH OUT? Will the City Council ever have the courage to admit their mistakes? Will they ever work for ALL THE PEOPLE?

REST IN PEACE TEAM.  We’ve heard the propaganda lies for enough years and seen the non-results:  ever-growing inventories of empty, crumbling storefronts and piles of money spent trying to peddle worthless brownfields and hideous commercial lands that no one in their right mind would develop. Phony stories from TEAM’s paid shill about a glowing Molalla future that NEVER COMES! And a bunch of business owners HATE HAVING TO FUND TEAM!

Most of all, we’ve seen that the Control Freak City Council continues on its tired old secretive path. The Council seemingly never understands that honest, accountable and transparent government depends upon informing the public and trusting them to use their awareness to inform elected officials how to proceed. Here’s the chart that will NEVER hang in Molalla’s City Hall:

Less control of the message means more control by the people! It's likely never to happen in Molalla!

Less control of the message means more control by the people! It’s likely never to happen in Molalla!

Engagement is a dirty word in Molalla. We’ve already seen that the Council isn’t aware, given the horrific bad choices that keep coming down the pike. People who question are censored or hung up on by elected “leaders”.

Molalla’s failure is its inability to accept MARKET FORCES: tiny, depressed, decayed, far from Metro, low quality of life Molalla isn’t part of the recovery. Let the poor Molalla businesses struggling to survive keep their profits. Let TEAM bite the dust!

TEAM SUCKS!

This TEAM R.I.P memorial would fit right in all over Molalla - maybe TEAM can regroup long enough print posters to post on all the empty lots, brownfields and blighted, empty storefront windows.

This TEAM R.I.P memorial would fit right in all over Molalla – maybe TEAM can regroup long enough print posters to post on all the empty lots, brownfields and blighted, empty storefront windows.

Letter to the editor in Molalla Pioneer published August 2012  ( in response to a glib interview with TEAM’s “director”):

If TEAM’s empty promises, insider trading, street fairs and glib propaganda were economic drivers, Molalla would be the land of milk and honey by now. Sadly, no matter how many “I’ll fix it” TEAM stories the Pioneer publishes, it’s clear that modern market forces aren’t favoring off the beaten path, insolvent Molalla.

If TEAM faced the stark reality that business developers demand ready to go infrastructure, need to locate on major transportation hubs and seek communities with sound finances and great quality of life, it might at least garner a glimmer of respect. It borders on the immoral when you realize TEAM has spent decades taking money from struggling local businesses to churn out nothing but trite, feel good slogans.

TEAM’s incessant drumbeat about the Forest Rd is a clear example that TEAM only represents the interests of a small group of inside traders who think they could personally benefit if the public risked “studying” the financially and environmentally impossible bypass to dioxin contaminated brownfields. The laughable Forest Rd was on the draft economic summit agenda TEAM recently presented to the City Council, along with the false assumption that TEAM could summon the County contract planner on the city’s dime.

TEAM took a grant from Clackamas County Soil and Water, promising that at least 50% of the “farmer’s market” would be produce vendors, but the first three markets had zero produce. When will TEAM wake up to Oregon’s thriving agricultural economy and focus on a winner for a change?

The only “economic development” produced by agencies like TEAM are salaried propaganda positions and incentive give always to developers at the expense of taxpayers. I wrote recently to Governor Kitzhaber to decry a decade of Molalla’s grant abuse; wasted public “donations” total over one and a half million dollars (https://oregonfirst.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/molalla-still-doesnt-understand-that-reality-bites/ – scroll to bottom for detailed grant list).

Molalla, choked with empty, archaic buildings, has no walkable downtown supermarket, yet so-called TEAM for economic development continues to snivel about totally out of scale baloney like a truck bypass. Local businesses forced to fund the TEAM boondoggle are getting ripped off. Molalla’s blighted downtown provides stark proof that TEAM is a loser.

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