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Posts published in “Day: February 28, 2009”

The contractors

As governments look at cutbacks this year, only a part of those cutback will be in the form of direct employees and line items. A lot of government work is contracted out, and it will get a close look too.

So consider the story out of Tacoma about that city's contract with The Orion Partnership of Issaquah. This week the city council evidently is taking a second look at the deal with Orion, for an amount of around $300,000, about half of the overall business it is doing with the firm.

What does Orion do? According to the Tacoma News Tribune, "George Orr III and Kathleen Ryan, the Orion consultants, have helped city officials design and facilitate meetings with large and small groups that are aimed at making city government more efficient. For example, they helped city officials organize the huge two-day meeting of city employees that led to the Safe and Clean initiative, a program aimed at cutting crime in half in 14 months and generally sprucing up the city. City officials cannot pull off such large-scale events without outside help, [city manager's analyst Mary] Morrison said."

Hmm. Without offering any kind of view of Orion (we have no reason to think it doesn't do solid work), we would suggest that hard-pressed Tacoma taxpayers may be a little concerned - under the current circumstances - about experienced city officials, executives and managers unable to "design and facilitate meetings with large and small groups" on their own.

Multnomah’s Republicans

Just by way of bookmarking this story out of the Oregonian, about those forgotten political people - the Republicans of Multnomah County. Yes, they're there, and actually in considerable numbers, about 75,000 registered as such.

It's just that they're so heavily outnumbered (more than 3-1, with the gap growing rapidly in recent years).

The story's a good read, for the historic perspective and the viewpoint of a group too seldom acknowledged.

Tamarack’s closure

It was the first substantial new ski resort development built in the United States in 23 years. There may have been reasons no one else tried to do what Tamarack Resort tried to do. Certainly, though word now of its impeding closure stands to be buried in the avalanche of rotten economic news, the resort's troubles came well in advance of the nation's economic troubles. The causes may be related, but the problems at Tamarack were specific, too, unto itself.

We should be clear here: The closure, slated to March 5, may or may not be permanent. But it seems the decision came not from the Douglas Wilson Company, which has run the operation for some months, but rather that of a judge. So no one knows what may happen next, other than that the results are likely to have a lot to do with however much debt is involved.

It always looked a little problematic; the concept seemed to revolve around Bogus Basin crowds paying Sun Valley rates, a formula that never seemed (here anyway) very promising, however pretty the landscape may be (and that it surely is). The Idaho Statesman reports, "As of mid-February, skier visits were at 27,000, leaving the resort with an operating deficit of $304,000 as of Jan. 23, more than the $133,555 deficit anticipated two months ago by Douglas Wilson." Yeah, some of that is recession-based, but still. Once you sell off the real estate - that being the easy part, and even that not easy any more - how does it pencil out?

A lot of people will be puzzling over that for some time to come.