Behavior around 1059 Willamette suggests habitual abuse of the public trust
Eugene Oregon: City Manager’s Office and Mayor undermine community effort toward economic equity and participation.
Dear City Council,
Today you will no doubt approve going forward with transferring 1059 Willamette to the private concern of Miksis/ de Chase. This action follows a 50 year trend in privatization, led famously by Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s under the banner of “trickle down” economics. The policies of privatization have lead to social decay through deinstitutionalization, environmental damage, and a vast transfer of wealth from the public sector to the private.
That transfer of wealth has always been led by racism, where economic “opportunity” has been given as “carrots” to the rich and the white, under the premise that it is the white male patriarchy only who will solve the community’s “problems.” That is essential a “colonial” attitude. However, those problems, then — in the 1980's — and now have always been the same — poverty, which is only accentuated by the racist wealth transfer that has been the policy of the Federal, State and Municipal governments.
Privatization has led the an economic white supremacy that found exceptionally dangerous outcomes in President Trump’s rise to power. He used money earned through “development” to find a platform of racial hatred that fueled a violent white supremacist movement. He used his platform to target “enemies” cast as “monsters” (including Mike Pence) in a process called “stochastic terrorism.” He turned federal troops against protesters in Portland. He attempted with his followers to subvert the constitution of the United States.
The world, I hope, changed when we all witnessed the murder of George Floyd. We saw state violence against a targeted community run amuck. I would have hoped Eugene Oregon might also reflect some change in direction. I see clearly that you will not.
I puzzle over this place. This town is suppose to be a “democratic stronghold.” And yet, you support, advocate for, and advance racist and classist economic policies “carrots” like 1059 Willamette and racist and classists policing policies, “sticks” like your Community Safety Initiative.
These actions are led by the City Manager’s Office and you, City Council, seem all too willing patsies. I grew up in a democratic household, son of a single mom, feminist, and scientist in New York in the 1970’s. I see now that while you call yourselves Democrats, you are actually a party of Republicans who advance the economic white elitism of Republicans.
You seem to operate on a system of “plausible deniability.” After you received a community supported letter in opposition to your economic racism, Mayor Vinis began a propaganda campaign against the organizer, my partner. I have heard that Vinis even sent a memo around to Council.
I’d told my partner after she “shocked” council with her letter, that she’d be personally attacked, called an ad hominem attack. I also told her that the coalition would be attacked in a campaign of divide and conquer. I even wrote a satire on the subject, which turned out to be prophetic.
The City Manager’s Office assisted, the Mayor playing “bad cop” and the City Manager playing “good cop.” It was a disgusting abuse of a platform, but of course it worked. The Mayor sewed the seeds and undermined a community alliance with her contacts, precipitating, among other things, the resignation of President of Eugene’s NAACP.
Propaganda campaigns are always dangerously thin, but they work because of human beings propensity toward “confirmation bias.” You want to believe it, basically. You are dupes, but dupes to your own biases and prejudices.
Anyway, I don’t expect that anything I write you will do any good, honestly. My analysis tells me you have some major corruption issues tied to land graft. Unfortunately the system of graft you have in place here in Eugene runs exactly counter to the movement toward greater economic egalitarianism. That does not bode will for Eugene’s future.
I said I would do some work on the micro issue of the value of 1059 Willamette. It is just one little piece in your overall manipulation by the City Manager’s Office and Mayor, but I hope it might serve as an object example.
The City Manager’s Office writes, “There is some confusion about the value of the property that would be transferred to the the development team.” I bring up this question specifically because the City Manager’s Office does not clear up that confusion.
I wrote you that the city suggested that the valuation by Duncan & Brown is correct. That is $680,000. In doing so, they are also saying that the valuation by the Public Office charged with the valuations of properties throughout the county was wrong to the tune of $6.22 Million.
I contacted the Lane County Office of Assessment and Taxation on this $6.22 Million error attributed to their poor methodology and protocols. While their response seemed to provide the same “vague cover” that the City Manager’s office used in their response to Answer #15, I pushed back for some specifics.
In sum, my questions center on my supposition that the Lane County Office of Assessment and Taxation DID NOT have a $6.22 Million error, even though the City Manager’s Office suggests that they did. In my estimation, when the City Manager’s Office suggests that their valuation by Duncan & Brown is the correct value and the Tax Office is incorrect, they are purposely lying to you, City Council in order to influence your “vote” on the 1059 Willamette project.
While the City Manager’s Office is suggesting that both of these numbers are “values” we actually have two very different platforms for evaluation. One is a tax assessment determined by averages. That will be fairly accurate with some acceptable margin of error. It is the method used for thousands of properties in Lane County. For this methodology to be suspect would be a disaster for the Lane County Office Tax Office. They are also a public “bench mark.”
The Duncan & Brown “value” I suspect is a Residual Analysis. While the Tax Office assessment is based on a “wide” base average, a Residual Analysis is the most narrowly focused evaluative tool. It is used to determine the viability of a SPECIFIC PROJECT.”
To understand, it is as if I analyzed the value of my small house and sub-sized lot as a cattle ranch. The analysis would return the need to “demolition” the house on the property, for a loss and suggest that it was worth a staggering negative number, because of the potential “loss” in my specific project. Understand?
A Residual Analysis is what returned a “negative appraisal” of -$8 Million for Riverfront. It is a document that is meant to influence you that the Riverfront has a negative value and that it is in your/the communities interest. Here is Amanda D’Souza in a May 18 email on the Riverfront:
“Duncan & Brown Real Estate Analysts completed an appraisal, technically a Development Residual Analysis, of the Steam Plant property as of June 4, 2019 based on the development proposal for the building, per contract #2019–02017. The report concluded the residual calculation of the property to be negative $8,330,000.”
I contacted Amanda D’Souza on the “valuation” of 1059 Willamette. I asked her if she would release the “appraisal” to City Council. Here is what she wrote in return:
The Duncan & Brown appraisal calculated the “as-is” value of the site for redevelopment, including the demolition and asbestos abatement costs, to be $680K. The appraised value is included in Council’s work session materials, and is included on the website and published FAQ. The appraisal complies with reporting requirements set forth in theUniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, and with the Code of Professional Ethics and Standards of Professional Practices set forth by the Appraisal Institute. The appraisal is exempt from disclosure pursuant to ORS 197.345(6) (information relating to the appraisal of real estate). Therefore, the appraisal will not be provided. (email 6/8)
I wrote back,
Right. But how did they calculate it? As an appraisal with comps or within a residual analysis? Sounds like residual, since appraisal would not be based on a demo of the building. Can you confirm?
As of this morning, I have not heard back. I don’t question that Duncan & Brown’s Analysis meets professional standards. What I question is the ethics of representing a “Residual Analysis” as an appraisal to City Council.
I asked pointedly that the Duncan & Brown “appraisal” be released to the City Council and the public. D’Souza, as above, stated “the appraised value is included in the Council’s work session materials.” As per law, she notes the actual document is “exempt from disclosure.” And, “therefore the appraisal will not be provided.”
I’m going to note: she seems to be saying she will not provide City Council with the document from Duncan & Brown, and yet she seems to ask that you make a decision regarding the transfer of the property without having seen the appraisal with the City Manager’s office “low ball” valuation.
In all, I find the behavior around 1059 Willamette to suggest habitual abuse of the public trust.