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The City Council’s Expensive New Toys

Stephan BurklinQuickPoint!

[audio:QuickPoint 7-15-09.mp3]

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Portland’s Rose Quarter is like that small-scale battery-operated car your parents gave you for your fifth birthday. It provided amusement, provoked envy and secured your happiness for a full two weeks; but now it sits abandoned in your family’s basement.

If Portland were a single-family home, then Pioneer Square would be its living room, Tom McCall Waterfront Park its front lawn, and the Rose Quarter its unsightly basement.

Despite bright promises, economic revitalization around the Rose Garden Arena has failed to take place. Empty restaurant tables, vacant hotel rooms, and unused conference centers make the Rose Quarter unattractive.

What does the Portland City Council propose to do? Drop the old toy for a new one: a baseball stadium. And with a new task force considering plans to tear down the Memorial Coliseum, they may get what they want.

Instead of making long-term investments into public safety or education, the Council prefers to fritter away taxpayer money on wasteful projects. Leisure activities are, no doubt, important; but can we justify cutting police patrols to build another stadium? The Rose Quarter can be put to good use; but if Portland wants another fleeting distraction, the heap in the basement is only getting bigger.

Stephan Burklin is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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