Friday, September 16, 2011

City to reject JPMorgan Chase's plan for Hillsdale

JPMorgan Chase’s efforts to open a branch here in Hillsdale has received a major blow.

The City of Portland, through its Bureau of Development Services, has informally told Chase officials that the bank’s proposed plans for the branch will be denied. Douglas Hardy in the BDS Land Services office, shared his conclusion with Chase and Hillsdale neighborhood leaders.

While the formal reasons for the rejection haven't been drafted, the bank's proposed "adjustment to zoning" was expected to be found incompatible the City Council-approved Hillsdale Town Center Plan.

The plan, approved in November 1997, resulted from hundreds of hours of citizen volunteer effort.

The Hillsdale Neighborhood Association, which unanimously voted to reject Chase's plans, submitted its formal letter of objection to BDS yesterday.

Chase had wanted to build a building with less than half the footprint required by City code. The resulting extra space was to be used primarily for extra parking.

The Hillsdale TC Plan calls for pedestrian, bike and bus-transit orientation on new projects.

The City’s denial leaves Chase with three options.

1. Proceed with the current proposal, have the City formally reject it and then appeal to a citizen board. If anything, the board seems less likely to approve the plan.

2. Revise the old plan and resubmit it. But Chase is already on record as saying a larger branch won’t work on the site. (Chase’s neighborhood opponents want a large multi-use building on the site, but Chase has maintained that it isn’t in the business of “development” and building a multi-use structure that would have space for other businesses).

3. Drop plans for building a branch on the old gas station site and back out of the lease deal.

My guess is that Chase will take the third course and pull out of the Town Center. It will still have a Hillsdale presence at a nearby branch at the Burlingame Fred Meyer when the shopping center reopens in late October.

If Chase does drop its Town Center plans, the Hillsdale Main Street program must step forward and do what it was designed to do: Revitalize the commercial area, including this vacant site.

Main Street must help the property owner, Wardin Investments, lease the site to a developer sensitive to community desires and aware of the Town Center Plan. A Hillsdale consortium of investors and businesses would be best.

Meanwhile, a group of us have convened to try to attract a credit union to Hillsdale. If we do, we might (note I said “might”) have a source of funds for an investment consortium. A credit union branch might also be an anchor tenant among two or three businesses in the new multi-use building.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One simple layoff could save 200 jobs

It's connect-the-dots time.

Earlier this year we learned that Bank of America CEO Brian T. Moynihan received an annual compensation (pay plus bonus) of $10 million.

On Monday we learned that Moynihan’s bank will be laying off “at least” 30,000 employees over the next two and a half years.

Why is a CEO paid $10 million to run a bank that is forced to lay off thousands of workers?

Why not lay him off and use the $10 million savings to keep 200 workers paid $50,000 a year?

My guess is that the bank could make a few other executive bonus cuts as well to keep on-line workers on the job.

And how many corporate jets does the bank have in its hangers? How many houses does Mr. Moynihan own?

By the way, numbers don’t always illustrate their significance. Let’s do this visually. Here is what $10,000,000 will get you.

One CEO symbolized by...


or 200 workers, paid $50,000 symbolized by...





















Got it?

Now tell me that pay inequity doesn’t cause unemployment.

And don't get me started on hedge fund managers.

Moynihan is pauper compared to hedge fund manager John Paulson, who earned a record $4.9 billion last year. That's 490 times what Moynihan made.

Oh, and these hedge fund managers pay their taxes at 15 percent. I still can't figure out what they do besides move money around electronically. Big deal.

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Monday, September 12, 2011


This site averages around 50 visitors a day even though I have been posting less frequently of late. Who are these visitors? Who are you? (Consider sharing your identity in the comments below)

Most visits come from web surfers who stumble on a tagged topic of interest.

Two posts getting a lot of hits recently have to do with what happens when the word “God” is substituted for the word “Spirit” in familiar quotations — and vice versa.

If you are interested, the posts are here and here.

The ever-popular “tipsy beer truck” post also maintains its following although it clearly isn’t the same as those hitting on the God/Spirit posts.

Those in the know about blogging “success” (whatever that means) might fault the Red Electric for lack of focus. Beer trucks? God?

So what about my summer's lapse in writing? It’s not that I’m running on fumes; it’s just that I’m not sure anyone is particularly interested in what I’ve been thinking or doing of late.

Maybe your life is a lot like mine these pre-Indian Summer days. Scattered.

Oh, today, I went for an invigorating, forested walk with my visiting sister. How did we both end up in our sixties?

I’m going to Fairbanks, Alaska, early next month on Quaker business. Yes, there are Quakers in Fairbanks.

I’m still trying to block JPMorgan/Chase Bank from opening an unneeded branch in Hillsdale ... and I’m trying to attract a credit union instead.

The Hillsdale community held a celebratory and astonishing Paella dinner for 250 on Saturday night. It was a civic, culinary cabal of friends and neighbors.

National politics is mind-boggling and sad. The only thing worse is the horse-race coverage of it. It’s the beginning of a long silly season ... with a lot at stake.

I’m reading “The Gnostic Gospels,” Hemingway short stories and Chris Hedges’ “American Fascists, The Christian Right and the War on America” (Could things be THAT bad?)

Meanwhile I edit, write and publish The Hillsdale News, which saps writing energy and keeps me out of trouble and busy.

Our Quaker Multnomah Friends Meeting continues to amaze. Vibrant, growing, learning, nurturing, challenging.

How different are my two beloved communities: one secular in Hillsdale, the other spiritual yet deeply engaged in the suffering and injustices of the world. In both, we love, honor and respect each other. It’s hard at times. We differ. We make mistakes. We perform heroics despite ourselves. We talk. We look each other in the eyes, the windows to the soul, and connect to our shared humanity.

It’s “nothing to write home about," but, scattered as it is, it seems important to share for whatever truth it holds.

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