Saturday, June 18, 2016

Don't worry, the millennials will fix it.

I DID try to get in touch with several city officials (the mayor, the city council and a few others) regarding my unbridled growth concerns.  Some months ago I asked HOW we are going to pay for all this unbridled growth.  It takes a long time to pay for the new services that growth requires (schools, utilities, roads, etc.).  Portland already has a serious debt situation with PERS, which is the name of the Oregon pension plan.   I am concerned that this unbridled growth will overwhelm us with debt.   So I asked how we are going to pay for the phenomenal growth.

I got no answers to my emails to the council except one auto response.  I had to fill out a form to contact the mayor.  A woman who works in the mayor's office called to vet my request.  She works for the mayor as a policy adviser and identified herself as a millennial.  When I expressed my concerns, she was quite dismissive.  I never got to talk to the mayor and the woman who called me doesn't answer the phone so I guess I didn't pass the vetting.  But I hear it is difficult to get the city's attention these days unless you are a developer.

The mayor's policy adviser doesn't like other big cities however, she is sure that the millennials can grow Portland without those big city problems.  She said the millennial generation is so innovative that they will fix all the problems that earlier generations caused (said with pride and a sneer at the end).  When I asked her to name three innovative things  the millennials have done, she named Apple Computer.  I told her they didn't get that one.  She said well, they were doing the coding today.  She had no other innovative examples.

She said the people of Portland don't like change (said with a tone of dealing with difficult children).  She thinks it is fine if more homeless move here; we will just raise taxes so everyone gets a slice of the pie.   She doesn't believe we have a problem financially supporting PERS but she IS annoyed her parents got a better PERS retirement than she will.   It was clear that those of us who pay the bills do not matter.

I told her a little humility might get her further and if she wanted to know about innovative, she should study Tom McCall but she didn't even know who he is.  I haven't found anyone else in Portland who doesn't know who he is, especially if they grew up here (as she did).

I was depressed and did not sleep that night.   I am having trouble dealing with all this.  I love Portland.  I love the innovative people who really do live here, the ones who put making things first and money second.  The ones who can't afford to live here anymore and are becoming homeless or moving away.

And as for what I think about millennials.  I don't think they live in the real world, just on their phones.


Vicki W said...

I feel your frustration.

Susan Scholes said...

Maybe there's a citizen's coalition that shares your concern.
It's too big to go it alone.