Friday, February 9, 2007

Bend Bulletin: We Suck.

In a strange twist, the Bulletin reports (Bend councilors say it's time to sue broker of BAT buses) that Bend city counselors are giving The Bulletin "the finger" over its reporting of the Bend City bus fiasco.

During the same debate, some councilors criticized The Bulletin’s coverage of the issue and its editorials on the subject.

Hummel called the editorials “yellow journalism” and advocated giving the paper “the finger.” Friedman said The Bulletin hadn’t done its homework in seeing what other cities spend per mile to maintain buses and how Bend compared. Abernethy said the city hadn’t been treated fairly.

“They’re poisoning the rest of the citizens’ perception of the city,” Abernethy said.

I think this is a case of sour grapes by city counselors that their own incompetence, and old boy network "Boss Hog" style of handshakes & winks approach to running this city is starting to have negative consequences.

Councilor Mark Capell, who was elected to the City Council after the city purchased the buses, said he thought the city should publicly acknowledge where it went wrong and what it is going to do about the problem.

“I think that it is time for the city to step in front of the bus,” Capell said.

Capell said he was tired of getting hammered by the public on the issue.

“It seems like the kind of thing everyone brings up,” Capell said Thursday. “It’s ‘what were they thinking?’ And it’s time to tell them what we were thinking.”

Tired of getting hammered on the issue? Hmmm... next time THINK! We can avoid fiascos like the City buses being lemons sold to us at a 1,000% markup & paying millions to have golf courses rebuilt after the city condemns them.

Listen up City of Bend counselors: Running this place isn't a tea party. A lot of you are in there for your own selfish interests, and not as responsible public servants. Politicians in this town are well known as grifters who use their positions as pure influence peddlers. Grow up or GET OUT! The Bulletin didn't shoot you in the foot, YOU DID!

I'll grant you this, that bus company is a bunch of thieving liars, but the city should have approached this AND ALL OTHER major expenditures with an exacting due diligence agenda. Of course they did not. These lemons ARE NOT the Bulletins fault AT ALL, it's all your fault. ALL OF IT. Getting pissed at them is indicative of complete incompetence.

Capell actually has it right:

“I think that it is time for the city to step in front of the bus,” Capell said.

Then we get a lawyers perspective:

Hummel at the meeting called the company lying crooks. He told the rest of the City Council that the city shouldn’t settle the case and should push for getting “every cent back.”

Surprise, surprise: City counselor Lawyer John Hummel wants to sue. He probably actually has an incentive to screw up deals. Then he can pawn off lawsuits to his buddies and take a kickback. Wonderful. Lawyers, dingos and other cannibals should be banned from city positions... as well as being out in public, or generally existing near humans.

Capells stock has gone up in my book. He didn't have much to start with since builder interests bought & paid for this guy to get elected. But just the same, he fessed up. But John Hummel should be thrown out of office. This litigious nutcase has shown zero remorse for pulling a huge financial boner, and his reflexive instinct is to sue. He should get the finger, and get thrown out of office.


Anonymous said...

Cohen Financial
ATTENTION: Angus Cameron
111 Sutter Street (Suite 950)
San Francisco, CA 94104
E-mail to

Re: Broken Top Club

Dear Mr. Cameron:

As a senior member (#65) of Broken Top Club, with a residence facing the 12th fairway, I'm hoping you can put an end to the concerns being generated by the Club's recent purchase by a nameless buyer.

My vantage point is that, since buying Broken Top property in 1993, my wife and I have looked forward to a day when the Club would belong to its members. Our Portland clubs (Portland Golf Club, Arlington Club, Town Club and Multnomah Athletic Club) were all equity clubs -- for people like us, the norm.

Even so, at Broken Top Club, short of acquisition of by its own members, our interests would be best served by the Club's passing into the hands of knowledgeable new owners with long-term staying power and genuine commitment to operating a premier property. If the Seattle Ghost qualifies, so be it.

Nonetheless, since word of the Club's sale leaked out, members and neighbors have been baffled, insulted, and infuriated by a series of slaps-in-the-face:

* Being told by you that the buyer's identity is being concealed by confidentiality agreement exacted by the seller, at the same time that the seller is telling us that the confidentiality proviso is demanded by the buyer .

* Being confronted by a cockamamie "re-development" scheme that would degrade the Broken Top neighborhood and shatter our way of life.

* Being sent, as the buyer's emissary, a grossly inept and uninformed "marketeer" whose only observable talent is the gift of alienating everyone who is exposed to him. ( * See footnote).

* Discovering a 6'2" blonde (an utter stranger among our members) parading around public gatherings to shell out business cards proclaiming her as Broken Top Club's Director of Sales/Marketing/Public Relations.

Having acquired, merged and sold several companies, I hardly need be reminded that, during many negotiations, confidentiality can be critical. But you don't need a Wharton MBA to figure out that, once the ink is dry, the parties had better start reading from the same page -- aloud -- to all their stakeholders and to the media.

The clumsiness and secrecy attending the Broken Top Club transaction have provoked resentment, suspicion and anger -- in my judgment, needlessly. Before this degenerates into a lawyers' feeding frenzy, the Seattle Ghost might think about shedding his shroud and laying his cards on the table, this time face-up.

John J. Mathews

61745 Broken Top Drive
Bend, OR 97702-1088

* To be perfectly blunt, within hours, the ESP "focus groups," had become widely known as the "f___-us groups."

Anonymous said...

This morning (2/8) I received a phone call from Angus Cameron of Cohen Financial. He stated that my name, as well as Ron Cole’s and ________ (a member who asked to not be identified), had come up in conversations and emails yesterday identifying us as members who are trying to organize an effort to buy the balances of the CEM memberships.

He stated that he wanted to open communications and “get ahead of this” as opposed to finding out about it later. He was very direct and forceful in his questioning regarding our intent. He also said he had heard we’ve hired an attorney.

My fundamental answer was, “we are considering all of our options including buying the balance of the CEM’s”. He pushed for more specifics, but I didn’t provide any more than to say we will be in touch when the time is right.

I turned the tables by asking him a series of questions. His answers are paraphrased here, not exact quotes.

How would the new owners react to an offer to buy the remaining CEM’s? “I’m not sure. Based on this new news of your efforts they instructed me to contact you and open a dialogue on the topic”.

You and the owner’s strategy to date have only created distrust and confusion about your intent. Why was it handled this way and why won’t the new owners identify themselves? “We sent Mike Parker in to present our ideas. We heard the feedback and are working on adjustments to those plans. The owners are a private family and they wish to remain that way. They don’t take an active role”.

You just said the owners asked you to contact us. “They are involved in decisions, but they want to remain private”.

How do the owners feel about the current CEM plan? What are their intentions? “We’ve hired Troon Golf to evaluate the membership plans. They should have some news in the next few weeks”.

Do the new owners plan to honor the CEM plan and turn over the Club and property when 300 CEM’s are secured as defined in the documents? “We have hired an attorney to review the documents and provide an opinion on the CEM plan. We should hear something within 30 days”.

It is inconceivable to me that the new owners wouldn’t have addressed that question during their due diligence, all of the upside potential of their acquisition hinges on that question. “I can’t discuss what happened in the due diligence”.

We’re both business people who have done major financial transactions. You’re saying the owner is waiting until 60 days after closing to find out if a membership structure will hinder their plans? Didn’t they answer that question in advance? “I can’t talk about the due diligence”.

With that we ended the call with me saying we would be in touch if we had more to discuss.

My general feeling is that he was on a fishing expedition.

Mark Powell

Anonymous said...

What does BT dirt have to do with the failed Bend mass transist? Shouldn't Bend shelve the buses if they have already cost almost $150K above and beyond their initial purchase price? Bend should take a step back and redeploy once they get the busses sorted out. A rush to get mass transit and we find this mess.

Anonymous said...

"Surprise, surprise: City counselor Lawyer John Hummel wants to sue. He probably actually has an incentive to screw up deals. Then he can pawn off lawsuits to his buddies and take a kickback."

I assume you have evidence to back up these allegations. John Hummel may not be perfect, but he is a lot more honest than some of the people we've seen in city government. Hound him out of office and see what you get.