Waste Watch Report:

Oregon overpaid welfare recipients by $15 Million!

Millions overpaid to welfare clients
Oregon’s Food Stamp program overpaid clients $15 million between 96-99, according to the Federal Government. A state audit showed $200,000 in benefits were going into the pockets of the caseworkers or their friends. One caseworker alone routed $19,000 to herself. Some welfare clients had their cases, financial data and social security numbers posted on the agency website by accident. Some caseworkers made up clients. Many of the problems stemming from the Health and Human Services were initially brought up in 1991 and have since been ignored.Oregon State Audit 2001

Public Employees see the world
In one year Public Utility Commissioners traveled to Armenia, Brazil, Hungary, Latvia, Portugal, Romania and Zambia at a cost of $212,073 to taxpayers during the same time Oregon was facing an energy crisis. The Fairview Public Works director came under fire for charging $853 of charges on his gas card for non-work related projects. All while the director currently receives $200 for use of his vehicle and $6,475-a-month salary. Statesman Journal 3-13-01 & The Oregonian 8-21-01

Something fishy about Marine Center
At the Hatfield Marine Center, 47 of 49 charges turned up to be for personal purchases by the store manager. The manager claimed the mis-spent purchases were later reimbursed to the store through a personal check. The manager was unable to produce a canceled check to state auditors. A week later, the manager changed his explanation and said he made the $800 reimbursement to the store in cash. No cash receipt was able to be discovered. Later, an unnumbered loose-cash receipt was produced. The audit found other examples of mis-use of funds such as: $1,377 in missing cash from the till; a dozen customer checks that took six months to deposit; employees cashing their checks at the bookstore cash register, and cash register tapes were missing for several months.State Audit HMC 2001

Police prank gone wrong
A police sergeant and seven Beaverton police officers are in trouble for a prank on their fellow police colleagues. The officers decided to scare fellow officers on a late night stakeout of a local business known for burglaries. One officer posed as a burglar and walked out of the watched building with a cardboard box, while another banged on the police car. The incident caused one of the surprised officers to draw his gun on the suspects. The officers involved are under discipline for the incident.

Holding your hand with government hand-outs
Oregon is the new testing ground for a new tax credit. The US Dept. of Ag. is giving 500 needy seniors vouchers, worth $100 each, to use specifically for farmer markets and roadside vendors. About $1.5 million dollars of taxpayer funds is being used to fund the project in Oregon. Eugene Register Guard 6-15-01

50 escaped inmates
Over 50 inmates have escaped the prisoner work program in Salem during the past two years. Fortunately, most of the inmates were caught. Statesman Journal 3-27-01

Baseball "Pork"
The city, along with key investors, poured $50 million into renovating the aging civic stadium. The flush of money helped pay the chief partner a quarter million salary, and the city stepped in to subsidize the wages of the food vendors so the Park could qualify for the city living-wage rule. Since its grand opening, the Park has been a colossal flop. Instead of rosy profits for the city in the first year, the city is now looking at $8 million in the red. Within a few weeks after the park opened, partners were already looking for a way to get out, and the baseball and soccer team were looking to leave.

It must be noted that the original park plans were made behind closed doors. The Mayor even signed an secrecy agreement that prevented fellow councilors from seeing the park’s projections before opening. Such deals are made behind closed doors to avoid scrutiny by taxpayers and the public, who would not appreciate a good financial deal when they see one. This and other insights on the folly of the PGE park can be found in a special expose by the Willamette Week (WW 10-03-01).

Portland Post Office abuses free parking privileges

Free is not good enough!
The Portland Post Office has been taking advantage of its free parking privileges. The city offers Post Office vehicles free parking for the life of the meter. The Willamette Week uncovered as many 18 postal vehicles are violating their time limits on any given day, helping to net scores of tickets every day. The Post Office employees have chosen to ignore paying the tickets at a cost of $45,000. So terrible at paying their parking tickets that many meter maids have stopped issuing tickets helping to balloon the estimated cost to taxpayers at $150,000. Willamette Week 11-8-01

Designer affordable housing?
The Housing Authority of Portland was approached with a low-income housing project featuring the design of world-renowned architect, Frank Gehry. Fortunately this idea, which would have cost $6 million more than the average low-income housing project, was rejected.The Oregonian 11-1-01

A million for trolley art
The cost of the new light rail art project is $1.2 million and will be spread throughout 10 stops. The art projects will cover such topics, as the healing power of light and nature, and the importance of water.The Oregonian 10-5-01

Health inspector spreads gossip disease
The local Lane Co. Health Inspector told her husband about health violations at a local BBQ restaurant. The husband, the town fire chief, sent out e-mails to several executives warning them not to eat at the restaurant. They in turn forwarded it all over town. The email warning contributed to a drop in business at the restaurant. Like other restaurants the minor violations were fixed in a few weeks, but suffered a steep drop in patrons nonetheless.Eugene Register Guard 9-25-01

Paying you to stop driving
Washington County spent $125,000 to buy 210 Tri-met passes for its employees to help meet the state requirement of reducing employee driving by 10%. The county buys the annual passes at $595 each and re-sells them to their employees at $25 each.The Oregonian 8-24-01

$400,000 SDC for new store
Sherwood City Council has slapped a new Target store with a $400,000 Road Improvement Fee. The fee is part of the city’s new ordinance aimed at limiting the number of cars visiting a store and making such stores pay for improvements at the site.The Oregonian 8-22-01

Youth start early on government freebies
Tri-met has cut in half the price for a bus pass for students, in response to a protest by a youth activist group called Sisters in Action for Power. The group was only half pleased, because they wanted free passes for all youth.The Oregonian 8-14-01

School math doesn’t add up
Last year, faced with a shortfall, the Portland Public Schools considered massive layoff of teachers. Taxpayers who already pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, came to the rescue by passing a $78 million bond. Nine months later, Portland Public Schools demanded $20 million more or they will lay off 170 teachers.

$15 million loss
The Portland Water Bureau billing problems are projected to reach $15 million in losses from their new failed computer system.

Fines for poor gas sales
The state has been spending almost a million dollars a year making sure self-service gas stations serve enough gasoline. Last year the state handed out 13 violations averaging less than $100 each. This issue was taken up the legislative session.Statesman Journal 3-14-01

AFS recommends dumpster diving
Lane County Adult and Family Services came under fire for giving welfare applicants a controversial book called 1001 Ways to Stretch a Dollar. The book of tips included tips on how to search dumpsters, both residential and business.

Government Success Stories:

TAO would like to acknowledge the great innovation and hard work of our public servants that are redefining their workplace and helping save taxpayers money.

˜ The Dept. of Administrative Services saved taxpayers thousands by opening up the state surplus property auction system on Ebay.

˜ The Dept. of Human Resources saved taxpayers $7 million by prosecuting fraudulent claims of disability. One woman who claimed that she was wheel chair bound, was videotaped lifting her chair into a truck and carrying it up several flights of stairs. The Asian Reporter 4-3-01

˜ The Oregon Student Assistance Commission has announced a 42% decline in the default rate for its student loan borrowers. Statesman Journal 3-28-01

˜ The Siletz community came together to build a skateboard park that is being touted as one of the best designed in the country. A local tribe donated $45,000, the city donated the land, and the skateboarders themselves raised $5,000 for the rest. This provides a great example of building a skatepark without using taxpayer dollars like other cities have done.

Become a Taxpayer Watchdog for only $9.00!!!!

 

Taxpayer Association of Oregon -PAC

Po Box 23573, Portland, OR 97281

info@oregonwatchdog.com

(503) 603-9009