Crazytown blues

It's been a busy time in Real Life 101, but I've been keeping up with the news, as best I can. A couple of related stories caught my eye recently concerning the humanitarian tragedy unfolding on Portland's streets. 

One article was about how our sweetheart of a goverrnor and the chief bobblehead at the county are throwing $2.5 million in new moolah toward trash cleanup in Portland. The money will be handed to Central City Concern, one of the big fish in the deep, wide homeless industrial sea. They in turn will hire recently homeless people to pick up the garbage that other homeless people have left on the streets and in other public spaces. Maybe the workers will even recognize some of their own garbage from before they cleaned up their acts a bit.

It all sounds reasonable enough until you look at the numbers:

People generally work for the program for six months, but their contracts can be extended for up to a year, said Jay McIntyre, Central City Concern’s director of social enterprises.

Prior to the announcement from Kotek and Vega Pederson, Central City Concern had planned for a $6 million budget for the Clean Start program in fiscal year 2024, enabling it to employ 100 people, according to McIntyre. The $2.5 million investment will allow the program to employ an additional 26 people experiencing homelessness in the upcoming fiscal year, along with two additional managers, McIntyre said.

Now, wait a minute. It takes $2.5 million to put 26 homeless people on the street to pick up trash? That works out to $96,154 per worker. Surely the poor souls being hired to do this dirty work aren't going to get paid that kind of jack. So where does it all go? Oh, managers. More overhead at the nonprofit.

It really is time for people around here to start asking seriously whether we would rather have the many minions "working on" the street camping epidemic simply be government employees. Having a legion of nonprofit "executive directors" in the middle, with another legion of government hacks supervising the nonprofits, is wasting money. A lot of money. Maybe all these people should be on the state payroll. Even with their juicy PERS, they would probably represent more bang for the buck. Bring back Nurse Ratched!

Meanwhile, the state health department was getting blasted for mishandling federal mental health funding. To the tune of a half million plus, and that may be just the tip of the iceberg.

The report found that the lack of oversight resulted in the health authority improperly awarding more than $570,000 in federal dollars toward the expansion and remodeling of a residential youth facility in Eugene. Using the money for major building improvements isn’t allowed under the federal mental health grant program, auditors said in their preliminary findings....

It gets worse:

Their review, obtained by the Capital Chronicle in a public records request, shows the agency has failed to adequately inform a federally-mandated advisory council where money for programs to help Oregon’s most vulnerable in communities across the state has gone....

Kevin Fitts, a longtime mental health advocate and member of the volunteer council, told the Capital Chronicle he’s “alarmed” by the findings....

“There may be an awful lot of other issues around compliance and misappropriation we don’t know about because we haven’t had an audit of that,” Fitts said.

Fitts said the health authority needs to do a better job of keeping the council informed and showing it the records necessary to review expenditures of grant money.

Linfoot, another council member, agrees. For years, she said, the health authority treated the council’s work as a “rubber stamp,” rather than a process to get meaningful input.

The council, which has volunteers with full-time jobs, routinely didn’t get grant applications or documents with enough time to look them over, Linfoot said.

“We’ve complained about that for a very, very long time,” Linfoot said. “That was frustrating from that point of not being able to really have our voice heard and do things that we would hope would make services better for people.”

This was Kate Brown's health department, run by a guy she basically pulled out of the motor pool. He's gone now, but the messes he left behind remain.

On that note, I had to laugh when I caught this tidbit at tne end of the trash pickup story:

She also announced that the county had hired a team led by James Schroeder, who briefly served as the director of the Oregon Health Authority before resigning earlier this year, to evaluate the county’s performance in deploying new resources to meet the demand for supportive housing, specifically its performance utilizing money from the Metro Supportive Housing Services measure. The group will then make recommendations for improvement, according to its scope of work.

Schroeder quit the top job at the OHA because the place was so toxic. He was replaced in Salem by the woman who was running the mental health machinery at Multnomah County. Now he's working where she did, at the county. I hope they wave, like the bus drivers do, as they pass each other going opposite ways on I-5. What a place.


  1. The incompetent shall inherit the earth! Only in this case they are very competent at draining the public coffers.

  2. When I first noticed the nonprofit craze, I thought it might be an excellent alternative to a department of government workers. I thought that the expense of nonprofits would end when the project was over and of course a government employee is for ever.

    Shallow thinking on my part. The nonprofits are here for good

  3. The dumb never stops. San Francisco has handed over street policing to ex-cons and now they run the streets gang style. Sort of like having the Hells Angels provide security for a rock concert in the hills- what. could go wrong?

  4. Caring about the homeless can be quite lucrative. Central City Concern had revenues of nearly $110 million in 2021, $114 million in 2020. The CEO got paid $324,000 plus $62,000 in "other compensation." Five other executives got paid more than $200,000 a year, with one more than $300,000 when the other compensation is included. For those who care to learn more, I've posted the organization's 2021 IRS return at

  5. Stayed a night in Prineville on the way to John Day. Everything was so beautiful and clean no graffiti, no trash literally of any kind dining opportunities limited but you can't have everything.


  7. Interesting NYT piece on homeless folks in CA — probably the same story here mostly:


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