Message - More Questions About Architectural Ethics

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Posted by  Richard Ellmyer on January 13, 2003 at 00:15:09:

HAP Breaks Sixty Year Commitment
On December 20, 2002, in a startling and disturbing new development, the Housing Authority of Portland sent a revised Hope VI grant to HUD announcing that it would SELL perhaps as much at 25 acres of the 70 acre Columbia Villa to developers. This is the first time since the Villa's creation as war time housing in 1942 that HAP has chosen to sell portions of this publicly owned property.

Selling houses is one thing. Selling public land is quite another.
At no time during the last two years has the subject of actually SELLING land at Columbia Villa been part of any public discussion. Selling this public property after sixty years of ownership is a monumental shift in public policy without any public hearings or input. This new development at the back end of a more than two year process would clearly rate very high on the outrageous scale.

What gives HAP the right to sell our public property as less than market value?
"HAP may choose to accept a lesser return or discount the sale price of lots to homebuilders."* What makes HAP think that the citizens who own this public land would endorse the sale of their property for less than market rate especially during a time of soaring budget deficits at every level of government? Is Portland City Commissioner Erik Sten, liaison to HAP, willing to "enhance" his reputation by supporting another tax-payer money-losing scheme? Doesn't the city of Gresham and every other municipality in Multnomah County have a right to participate in decision making regarding this unprecedented public land sale by HAP?

Beware of TV mobster Tony Soprano's HAP Scams
"The nature of the relationship between HAP and the selected homebuilders will be negotiated on an individual basis."** Multnomah County Commissioner Serena Cruz's City Council campaign contribution list reads like a who's who on the HAP board of directors and staff. Serena has married into one of the most politically connected, wealthy developers in our state. She has the economic resources to abandon North Portland in a minute and move to Dunthorpe whenever she has children that need to go to a good local public school. Imagine the behind closed doors "negotiations" her husband and father-in-law might have with project manager and "Portland Old Boy Network connection" Tuck Wilson. ... After all wasn't Tuck hired for his political savvy and connections?

Hugh Grade School Pops Up In HAP Plan
Another incredible surprise unveiled in the Grant revision were plans for a new 750 student elementary school*** which would replace Clarendon and John Ball schools. Local inquires reveal that neither teachers, students nor the parents at any of the affected schools, or almost anyone else for that matter, seems to know about these plans dreamed up by the "highly acclaimed" Portland Public School administration. (Candidates for School Board take note)

A group of North Portland realtors was recently asked to imagine their answer to a common question about the local elementary school being asked by would be home buyers in the Portsmouth neighborhood in the near future. "Oh yes. Portsmouth has only one yet very large elementary school located in the heart of Oregon's largest low-income housing ghetto. But don't worry, your children won't be stigmatized. We're changing the name from Columbia Villa to New Columbia so no one outside the neighborhood will notice. And relax, there's no need for you and your kids to be afraid. We've added three more on site full time Portland Police Officers to the two that have been keeping a lid on things since Don Clark, former Multnomah County Sheriff and HAP director started taking public safety at this government compound seriously."

The Library That Won't Go Away
At a December 18th public meeting a HAP architect was asked why a Multnomah County branch library was STILL in the Hope VI grant revision. He didn't know. Multnomah County Executive, Diane Linn's office CONFIRMED once again that there is not now nor has there ever been a commitment to site a branch library at Columbia Villa or fund such a library by Multnomah county. So why does this uncommitted unfunded library keep appearing on HAP's plans?

In a candidate's debate Tuesday Oct. 22nd, Multnomah County Commissioner Serena Cruz took full credit for bringing a Library as part of her contribution to the $200 million Columbia Villa remodel project. To gain what she thought would be some electoral advantage Serena Cruz lied to us in a public debate. Obfuscation by public officials is unappreciated but tolerated. Flat out lying by a politician is a serious violation of public trust and not to be tolerated. Is Serena Cruz responsible for this continuing library deception at HAP? Your call.

We Just Can't Find It
While Diane Linn's staff did confirm that $4 million of the $8 million which HAP has listed as a contribution to the Villa remodel project was a bogus library contribution, they were, however, either unable or unwilling to explain the authenticity or even the budgetary existence of the remaining $4 million. Considering that it took her office twenty-five days to discover that it didn't have a copy of the Hope VI grant application it is not surprising that they couldn't find the four million dollars that went with it.

More Questions About Architectural Ethics
Is including a plan for a library in an official public grant document ethical if it is widely and public known that no library has been approved or funded for the site in question and that by including a library at Columbia Villa the architect will contribute to the impression of a done deal which will inflame part of the community because this is a highly controversial issue?

Is it ethical to include a plan for an elementary school in an official public grant document if it is widely and publicly known that almost none of the parties of interest in the community have been consulted on the matter and that by including a school at Columbia Villa the architect will contribute to the impression of a done deal which will inflame part of the community because this is a highly controversial issue?

Is it ethical to include designs for houses on public land which is to be sold to developers in an official public grant document if it is widely and publicly known that the client has not discussed the matter or received an official endorsement from the governments or citizens which have a right to claim an interest in the distribution of that public property and that by including these designs at Columbia Villa the architect will contribute to the impression of a done deal which will inflame part of the community because this is a highly controversial issue?

Kulongoski, New Oregon Governor, Wants Us To Trust Government
When candidate Kulongoski was first introduced to this issue more than a year ago he appeared concerned and promised to discuss this matter in depth at a later date. He never once mentioned the state's public housing policy and the significant commitment in financial and human resources to this massive project in social engineering during his campaign and has yet to fulfill his commitment to give it his serious attention. A responsible Republican member of the Oregon House from Salem has expressed more concern in this matter of state sponsored ghetto building than Democratic state senator Margaret Carter, who has shown no interest for two years in this project which is in her own district but not her own backyard. Kulongoski and Carter are both ignoring North Portland and taking North Portland Democratic voters for granted. Even after redistricting North Portland is still part of Carter's district and the state of Oregon.

Ted, if you don't start paying attention to this issue now we won't be calling it New Columbia, we'll be calling it Kulongoski's Ghetto or perhaps to share the credit the KKK Ghetto for Kulongoski Kitzhaber and Katz.

* Hope VI Grant Revision December 2002, Section 7 page 1 paragraph 7
** Hope VI Grant Revision December 2002, Section 7 page 1 paragraph 5
*** Hope VI Grant Revision December 2002, Section 15 School Options

Richard Ellmyer
Portland, Oregon

President, MacSolutions Inc., a Macintosh computer consulting and web hosting service located in the Portsmouth neighborhood of North Portland since 1984.
Staff advisor to former state senator Bill McCoy and former Multnomah County Commissioner Gladys McCoy.

For more detailed information on the controversial $200 million Columbia Villa remodel project go to: .

Articles related to this subject by and about Richard Ellmyer
Community activism - Getting involved to make a difference by Gayla Whitman, The Review of North Portland, September 13, 2002.

Columbia Villa faces transformation by Gordon Oliver, Oregonian, July 24, 2002.

Zoning issue handled badly by Richard Ellmyer, Portland Tribune, July 9, 2002.

Measure tips balance away from citizens by Richard Ellmyer, Portland Tribune, May 7, 2002.

People, like gardens, need help to act right by Renee Mitchel, Oregonian, March 13, 2002.

Housing boon or blight? by Cristine Gonzalez, Portland Tribune, October 9, 2001.

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