On all kinds of scams. Hillary Borrud and Gordon Friedman (former Emerald reporter) have the latest one in the Oregonian:
When state and federal officials approved $8 million in taxpayer financing for a Southern Oregon sawmill project, they did so on the premise the investment would bring back jobs. But officials greenlighted the project despite warning signs the plan to retool the mothballed mill was likely doomed to fail.
Sure enough, even with the expensive taxpayer-provided upgrades, the reopened Rough & Ready mill operated for less than 20 months before shutting down for good. Its equipment has been auctioned off, the land sold and the promised jobs only briefly delivered.
The failed project was overseen by Portland environmental nonprofit Ecotrust.
… Ecotrust officials are accustomed to rubbing shoulders with influential people in Oregon. The city of Portland rented space in its headquarters building. In 2014, Kitzhaber urged that the group be awarded the tax credits — and even tossed in a $1 million largely forgivable loan from a pot of taxpayer money under his control.
The former governor, who is working to regain career credibility after an influence peddling scandal led him to resign, is now getting help from Ecotrust. It has inked a four-month contract with him to work on an opaque economic development and natural resource management project called Salmon Nation. Ecotrust would say only that the group is paying him “his standard hourly consulting fee.”
… To qualify for the maximum amount of state tax credits, Ecotrust needed to show that upgrading the Rough & Ready sawmill so it could reopen would cost at least $8 million. Ecotrust’s application to Business Oregon showed half that cost would be to acquire land and construct a building — even though the same three-page application showed the mill was already situated on a 300-acre site with an existing 35,000-square-foot sawmill.
Acquiring land and buildings from Rough & Ready’s owners only to give them to an entity 99 percent owned by those same people is not an upgrade eligible for a state taxpayer subsidy, Nia Ray, director of Oregon’s Department of Revenue, informed Ecotrust. Tax credits should never have been awarded for that purpose, she said.
Yet Business Oregon signed off on the subsidies. Buehler, the spokesman, said Ecotrust’s application didn’t provide enough detail for officials to spot that problem.