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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"Mazziotti, party of two?"

The Oregonian frets a lot about its comics pages. Whenever it's thinking about replacing a comic strip, it goes into this extremely agitated state, in which the public editor and other bigwigs strut and cluck around trying not to upset the cranky old grandpa's whose favorite cartoons are about to be banished.

But some of the funniest material in the O isn't on the comics pages -- it's on the front page.

Take today's expose' on Portland Development Commission director Don Mazziotti's expense account. Man, that is some seriously funny stuff.

Here's a paper that isn't around when the state's U.S. senator is forcing his tongue down young women's throats in the elevators of the Capitol. The news organization that somehow misses the boat when the mayor of Portland is gettting it on with his staff member's 14-year-old daughter and reportedly fathering an illegitimate child or two with other women. The paper that still can't figure out that Frank Gable probably didn't kill Michael Francke. But even the O knows how to kick a mortally wounded animal. Thus, out it goes to read all the receipts detailing The Don's taxpayer-financed Perignon lifestyle, and run a story about it two days before he leaves office on the business end of Mayor Tom Potter's wingtip.

And gee, guess what, Mazziotti has blown lots of money in questionable ways, even admittedly misrepresenting the nature of one little $166 night on the town in Bend. Shocking -- shocking!

But truly amusing.

There's all kinds of dirt in the story, which is very well done for what it is. In addition to the mystery Valentine's Day dinner in Bend (two regular entrees plus a Wellington, all supposedly in the company of a "city lobbyist" -- except that the lobbyist says she wasn't there), The Don's been spending all sorts of taxpayer dough wining and dining his own staff, including bashes at Wilf's. He and Marge Kafoury, the Portland city lobbyist, have been out for dinner seven times on the PDC's dime, including a $126 blowout at Bluehour down in the Pearl in February. Then there are 10 meals listed with one Gianna Lupo, a local realtor of the female persuasion who's running something called Little Italy Development LLC. Wyman Winston, Mazziotti's deputy, whose apparently limited skills have required many tens of thousands of dollars of management coaching, chowed down with The Don 10 times, with the average meal tab running $107.

O.k., so what? The craziest thing is the fact that, on top of all the free food and booze Mazziotti's gotten reimbursed for, he's also, for the last two years, collected from the PDC an additional $1200-a-month "expense stipend," for which he doesn't have to submit, and hasn't, any substantiation at all. According to the O, this was approved (partly retroactively, of course) by a simple memo from Matt Hennessee, the PDC's chair. No mention is made of any approval by the PDC board. That's an extra 55 bucks per workday, supposedly "to conduct the business of the PDC." All with a stroke of Hennessee's pen.

Regular readers, you know whom this reminds me of. Of course, the fattest cat of them all -- the guy who got both The Don and Reverend Matt their PDC positions. Their mentor, Neil of Oz. The same guy who had no problems billing taxpayers for a personal limo ride or two for himself when he was a "consultant" to the shadiest of "quasi-governmental" operations down at SAIF. It's obviously the same m.o. You wonder what else was going on besides the heavy meals and lots of cocktails at places like Bluehour.

At the end of the article, Mazziotti admits that he didn't see his $1,200-a-month "stipend" as an expense allowance at all, but just another $15,000-a-year salary increase. If that's so, can he keep it? I wonder if anyone in city government will have the guts to try to make him pay it back.

Even better, I hope that the bright young people at the Internal Revenue Service and the Oregon Department of Revenue fought through their tears of laughter and read the story all the way through. If I were they, I know whose tax returns I'd be looking at tomorrow.

Comments (16)

It's the right wing anti-taxer's fault.
Right b!X?

No, it is not.

It's corruption which the anti-taxers want stopped.

Imagine the fast and loose environment which has Mazziotti doing this, Harris the "coach" apparently with him (as he visited the same establishments flush with PDC cash), deal for their pockets Tracy Smith and Winston along for the money train and this is PDC management.

Now imagine the fast and loose environment this suggest exists with the big boys and millions in tax dollars swerving all over town.

The city auditor better be going gangbusters with his audit. Literally.

"It is not really an expense allowance," Mazziotti said. "It adds $15,000 to my salary."

I'd love to see his tax return to see if he increased his taxable income by 15K - NOT!!!

I always appreciate hubris, especially at the expense of the City Council and taxpayers funding this crap.

Reading that article makes Mr Mazziotti osund like any other psychopath boss I have ever met (i.e. a law unto themselves.)

Even if he spent the entire $1200 a month on legitimate meals and entertainment expenses (a big "if"), since he reportedly didn't submit substantiation to the PDC, he very likely would be required to pay income tax on half of it.

Steve, someday maybe I'll come back to exchanges with you, when you stop pretending that I've ever denied there were actual abuses specific to PDC, or that I've acted like they didn't exist.

I've posted about them. I've mentioned them. I've even made sure to go out of my way to repeatedly mention they exist when I'm trying to discuss the larger contextual issues.

So, when you decide to stop accusingme of not playingi t straight while yourselfnot playing it straight, perhaps I and other will go back to taking you seriously.

Regular readers, you know whom this reminds me of. Of course, the fattest cat of them all -- the guy who got both The Don and Reverend Matt their PDC positions. Their mentor, Neil of Oz. The same guy who had no problems billing taxpayers for a personal limo ride or two for himself when he was a "consultant" to the shadiest of "quasi-governmental" operations down at SAIF. It's obviously the same m.o. You wonder what else was going on besides the heavy meals and lots of cocktails at places like Bluehour.
At least you never had to suffer through 7 years of a Goldschmidt mayorality. An iconoclast such as I knew --just intuitively knew-- that all manner of corruption lurked underneath, but everyone who should have been obligated to be watching for that and taking a look at it --like the Big O-- was in the tank for him, charmed and blown away by his aggressive charisma. As an iconoclast it was much more fun to bash Goldschmidt back then in the 70s, because everybody else was jockeying for the inside position to smooch his starfish. But now it's just boring to bash him, because everybody is bashing him, and all those former starfish smoochers are shocked!, just shocked!!! at what he did, and when you point out to them that they used to love him, they either go real quiet real fast, or they really pile on with the bashing. But mainly they just go real quiet. And they won't tell you what they're really thinking. Either way, it's just not as much fun anymore.

What's important is that you don't ever get any discussion about a prevailing political climate that can and obviously does foster, promote, enable, cover for, and apologize for a sociopathic perv like Goldschmidt (and even after the fact minimize his behavior --remember the O calling it an "affair"?), all because it is believed that the uber wunderkind is a visionary and a kindred spirt, never comprehending that the creation of that illusion was the major part of the sting. The grifter knows that once he gets the mark to believe in him, to trust him, to be in awe of him, the rest of the game is a cakewalk.

And another thing: I say that none of it would have been revealed --not ever-- were it not for the convergence of two related things. First, there was the general perception that since he left the governorship Goldschmidt had gone over to The Dark Side, motivated only to amass as much lucre for his own self as he possibly could, and that he had chucked all of his former idealistic views and quests for the Greater Good. This eroded some of immunity from criticism that Goldschmidt had enjoyed for his whole career. Second, and as I say, related to the first, was his support for and involvement with Texas Pacific Group. By throwing in with Texas Pacific Group and seriously frustrating the city's efforts to take over PGE (or any other public power scenario), Neil crossed an unforgivable line. To most local progressives and activists, PGE is the embodiment of evil, and has been a favorite target for the last 35 years. They have been patiently waiting all these years for a chance to kill PGE any way they could. And these same progressives and activists consider public-owned, government run utilities to be like the Holy Grail and Shangri-la rolled into one. So here they were, on the precipice of achieving that great and long-awaited victory, and here comes Goldschmidt, completely on the wrong side, thwarting it. That not only made him no longer one of them, it made him the enemy. And they began talking. And they brought him down.

Nigel Jaquiss, the Willamette Week reporter who broke the child rape story, basically admitted that he was doing a story on Goldschmidt's power and ability to ram through the Texas Pacific Group - PGE deal, interviewing and talking people on all sides of the issue, and the story was inexorably going in the direction of marvelling at Goldschmidt's overwhelming influence, when someone took him aside and explained to him that Goldschmidt had some serious skeletons in his closet, and then pointed him in the right direction to find that story.

Just ask yourself this: If Goldschmidt had been on the "right" side of the PGE matter, if he had been a strong advocate of the city takeover of PGE, or some other public power scenario, or if he had just in some manner helped those folks do that instead of being an obstacle on the other side, does anybody think that The Story would have stayed anything but buried? Neil's personal greed did him in. Coveting the lucre blinded him to who had been carrying his water, enabling his vices, and keeping his secrets for all those years, and they would have continued to do those things for him if he had just not forgotton who they were and who he was.


my comment grew too large

Jack's Misdirected Energies; Following the Lead of The Big O, As Was Their Plan

Simple conclusion:

Send the tax man after Mazziotti, ha. A lot of good, and misdirection of energies, that will do. Don't get tangled in the minutia of minutia. Go UP the chain of intensity not down. The tax inquiry will NOT lead, as an investigatory tool, to revealing additional people and other connections in the web of deceit in the house of corruption. It is piling on just as the Big O is claimed to be doing.

OK, so here's what I can't figure out. In the business world, it's true that one of the ways things get done is that people take potential customers out for dinner and drinks. Fine.

But, usually it's the guy who wants the other guy's money who pays the tab. Since PDC is the one with the bucks that the developers want, shouldn't it be the developers picking up the tab - not the other way around?

Of course, from an ethics-in-government perspective, it would actually be quite impressive to see a PDC guy pay for his own meals when dining with a developer - but I just can't see paying for their meals too...

Kari you are spot on. When I pick up a lunch tab on the company dime, I'm sitting with a customer, not a vendor. The fact that it was working the other way on this deal is proof positive of the "let's milk the taxpayer" mentality of PDC and their chosen developers.

I really don't think sending this guy to a tax audit is a waste of time. You have his admission and if the idiots at the Snoregonian cna find about his abuses, then there must be a landfill's worth of stuff below the table.

At least, I would expect more from the IRS than an auditor that PDC hires in terms of finding something. Remember Capone finally got busted for tax evasion. Besides it might actually be a warning for all of the would-be kingmakers in government.


I have less accused you of something than observed you dance around with your "yes and no" nonsense on whether Urban Renewal skims of basic service general fund dollars, ludicrous notion that "anti-taxers" or the "legislature" are responsible for PDC abuses, and now your twisted play that Mazziotti shenanigans are a message that government should not be run like business.
What's clear is your bias and attempts to obfuscate just about all wrongdoing by our local leadership.

South Waterfront should have yanked people like you out of your dizzying and irrational allegiance to the status quo. But it did not. The ongoing push for the boondoggle Convention Center Hotel should cause even more concern. But it apparently does not. No, you're stuck in your blame dance and spin mode.

The PDC has proven to be exactly what the Mazziotti approach demonstrates. It a free for all frenzy of fast and loose treatment of the public dime and interests.
The Tracy Smith trading bucks and contracts for salary increases, the Harris "coaching" racking up over 600 hours at $200.00/hour and other activities spells at minimum a total ethical collapse.
The growing misadventure schemes by the PDC through the clouded Urban Renewal program is ripe with conflicts of interests of unequaled proportion.

You have become part of the cloud machine, making it more difficult to develop the cohesive and united opposition so many of these terrible decisions demand.

I don't care if you take ME seriously. It's the seriousness of the shakedown, payoff, rigging, cover up, waste and unethical and effective lawlessness around here you need to wake up to.

So get over yourself and your distaste of everything which may have been discussed on Lars Larson or by someone else you hate.

You live here. Start helping to break the status quo grip instead of strengthening it.

So . . . what does this have to do with whether the developers of South Waterfront should be excused from covering the sewer infrastructure bill?

Paging a tightwad at the PDC

It is a distraction that gives the illusion of being diligent.

The last outside audit for PPS found a problem with expense accounts too. But that was all they found. There was nothing else to find. The auditors of the PPS and the City of Portland, and others, enmass turn away from the biggest heist that faces the public today; that of pretending not to be responsible for their decisions that result in subsequent demands by the Public Employees Retirement Board to cough up money for the private interests of so-called public servants for past work at the direct expense of the ongoing public service for which government exists. The individual boosts in anticipated retirement lump sum payoffs for Tier-One teachers in PPS that resulted from the most recent contract deal are individually as great as the Don's funny money expense account. The method of deceit is to pretend not to be able to measure the subsequent PERB demand, all the while knowing that it is measurable today. At least with the Don's funny money account it was measurable today without the creative level of delay as is applied to all things pension related.

Paging advocates of accountability. We need one set of state laws to cover all investment trusts, inclusive of pension trusts both public and private so as to be compatible with the equal privileges and immunities clause. We need one set of state laws to cover all sorts of things in the economic realm. The liberal application of grants of authority to entities like the PDC (or via labor negotiations) to negotiate special deals are no less at variance with the demands of the equal privileges and immunities clause than if the deals that are made where etched into the statutes, with the beneficiaries fully named right there in the statutes.

The problem is a systemic one where every person tainted with the color of public servant is fully authorized, by statute (but not the constitution), to convert the government into their own personal piggy bank. The checks they write to others are often larger than the ones they write to themselves, which is why they are allowed -- by these others, the outsiders -- to write themselves checks. It is institutionalized corruption, without which the lobbyist laws would not be needed and why the lobbyist laws themselves are a distraction all by themselves; to give the illusion of accountability.

(Geez, I need to go for walk . . . )


You took the words right out of my mouth; why would the PDC pay for a vendor's meal? Developers should be wooing the PDC, not the other way around.

Moreover, the PDC shouldn't be influenced by vendors in the first place. All major projects should be decided by an objective committee.

Steve Schopp:

If you have "issues" with b!X, why don't you take them up in personal email rather than on Jack Bog's Blog.



Chris said----"ll major projects should be decided by an objective committee"---

How about a committee such as the
South Waterfront Urban Renewal Advisory Committee?

Check this out. And it's all presumably perfectly legal.

Rick Saito gave at least $1000 to Randy Leonard's campaign. (haven't checked other campaigns)

No big deal, really.

Rick Saito became chairman of that SoWa UR advisory committee.

Rick Saito is also the owner of Group Mackenzie (Architects/Engineers) who, my sources say, does frequent work for the City and PDC.

Chairman Saito/Group Mackenzie also have their offices and a large parcel in South Waterfront.
Thus benefiting form the multiple South Waterfront zoning giveaways by the city.

Other SoWa property owners/interests were aslo on the advisroy committee and stood to gain finacial windfalls with the approval of the sweeping zoning changes.

Chairman Saito/Group Mackenzie are now scheduled to move into the Holman Building which is owned by the PDC. A building which the PDC could sell for a handsome profit today. Instead they are going to spend another $3 million renovating it. (side note, PDC buildings pay no property taxes)

There is your objective committee, Portland Style.

I don't have issues with b!X
I have them with his position on the issues relevant to this discussion and certainly relevant to any hope of future remedy or reform.

His telling me he isn't taking me serious or your telling me to take my beef elsewhere is the stuff of BlueOregon or b!x's Communique.
Not here at bog, where discussions are open, frank and unleashed by host.
Something which may explain the elevated numbers of posts here versus the few and declining posts on those other blogs.
I may be pushing the edge with frequent posts but I'll rely on the host himself to govern my participation.

In other news, PDC has selected Bruce Warner as its new executive director. On the OLive page now.


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