Un-Spinning the Costs of Occupy

By David Newhouse


Photo by Paul Cone.

The City of Portland claims that Occupy Portland has cost the City $1.29 Million in police overtime and $100,000 to repair Chapman and Lownsdale Squares.

Umpqua Bank has pledged $25,000 as their donation to the cleanup, and other donations bring that up to $32,000, so if the parks’ estimate of $100,000 is accurate, donors have reduced the city’s cost to $68,000.

To put these numbers in perspective, $1.29 Million is less than .8% ( eight-tenths of one percent) of the City’s $169 Million annual police budget for 2011-2012,  and $100,000 is just .09% (nine one-hundredths of one percent) of the Parks and Recreation Budget of $113 Million. (FY 2012 adopted budget.) In other words, less than 3 days of police expenditures and less than one-third of one day of the Parks and Recreation expenditures, before including the donations noted above.

The City’s claim that Occupy Portland is responsible for the additional police presence ignores their own responsibility for managing resources responsibly.  As the Occupy marches held on November 19 and 20 demonstrated, the massive police presence was totally unnecessary, and in fact, was a key factor in the violence and unrest that occurred on November 17.  To blame Occupy for the bad management and over-reaction of the Portland Police Bureau is bad form.

We have yet to see a report that describes how much of the money to be spent on restoring the previously occupied parks is money that would normally be spent on maintaining those parks.  Also, we have not seen a comparison of expenses related to restoring Waterfront Park or any other park after large events are held there.

If the mayor truly supports the ideals behind our movement, he should not present these costs without context.  The costs claimed by the city are figures without perspective, a common ploy in exercising spin.

Yes, the Occupy Portland movement has cost the city money, as do many unexpected events, such as weather emergencies and other natural disasters.  But a large part of the purported $1.29 million in Police expenditures is a result of the Police Bureau’s poor judgment and over-reaction to a nonviolent protest, and at least one donor has already contributed substantially to the cleanup, and others may be forthcoming. Our nation is facing an impending financial crisis of unparalleled proportion, and Occupy Portland is a response to that emergency.

  12 comments for “Un-Spinning the Costs of Occupy

  1. S
    November 23, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    I am wondering what the comparison is for the cost of the OWS movement has been compared to what big corporations and government have cost us. I have a feeling that in comparison the cost of the movement is minimal to what we have already paid to the corporations.
    I am a tax payer and I don’t care how much money the movement costs me. I feel this is a good investment and would much rather my money go towards a good cause that will benefit the multitude rather than the self appointed chosen few.
    It does them no good to preach about the cost of this movement to me because I know that corporate greed is costing trillions more then the movement. The state of the economy and the lack of improvements is enough to prove it to me.

  2. November 23, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    What is quite interesting is that there are signs everywhere that the Portland Parks & Recreation is trying to seize this opportunity to make a long-awaited renovation, instead of just “restoring” the parks to a pre-Occupy condition. For instance, the PP&R intends to replace all the metal benches, which could use just some re-painting. I am not sure about the extent of this over-inflated estimate, almost starting to sound like a proverbial golden toilet seat of the Pentagon.

  3. faciLITator
    November 23, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    Additional perspective on “bankster spin” re: Umpqua Bank’s $25,000 (see Umpqua Holdings Corporation): http://money.cnn.com/news/specials/storysupplement/bankbailout/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umpqua_Holdings_Corporation (notice as of 11/7, Umpqua had not paid back it’s “bail-out” and “Umpqua sells residential real estate loans that it originates into the secondary market.” I wonder what their foreclosure/re-write rate is. I hope I’m wrong but those don’t look good.
    $25,000 is chump change p.r. for Umpqua…where are donations from USBank, BofA, Chase, Wells Fargo, etc.?

  4. Mikeal Slama
    November 23, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Here, Here!

  5. InOccupyWeTrust
    November 23, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    That 1.9 mil would have been much better spent by Portland city government on addressing the real and prescient need for affordable housing solutions that so many freaking people need here. The only gains the homeless have made so far are a distant leaf-composting lot and the privilege of being out-of-sight, again, which of course is the most convenient place for them to be for city leaders who would like to ignore the problem.

    Wake up, Sam. The homeless aren’t going away UNTIL THEY HAVE A HOME TO GO AWAY TO, is this clear enough yet? The Occupation is just a visible form of more of the problems you and well-fed business leaders downtown don’t want to see. We’re not giving up, so settle in for a fight if you want one – we’re just uncomfortable enough to fight.

  6. November 23, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    It is heartening to see this tactic isn’t fooling many people. As long as we exist, there is rope from which greedy power-hungry people hang themselves by. Lately all our actions leave a trail of the establishment apologizing, withdrawing from election races, internal investigations, and resignations. We just have to keep them answering questionsan reacting and talking and one by one, corrupt people fall from positions of authority. 39 days x 250 people who came specifically for receiving food, medical, clothes and having protected sleep without police harrassment has a price tag too that should be deducted from their estimation. TPI and Jails referred people to us and you know what? I’m glad. I met amazing people who happen to be without houses – and I consider these referrals positive proof that an integrated community (not segregating the homeless and mentally ill away from society) with food and shelter was necessary. We had official confirmation of that by the City itself. And yet social programs tended to stay away from camp instead of ignore politics of camp like the Red Cross. It is these people- people who referred and then turned their backs that caused the stigma of overcrowding and problems within the camp. Everyone needs to stop using right to life and right to assembly as their political platform and help the movement with its goals so we can continue this work.and by the way, it’s not the parks or police that will cost the ciy money in the end. It is the lawsuits that are in process now for the deplorable way in which some public employees acted. In, as always, my opinion.

  7. November 23, 2011 at 11:08 PM

    I said the end very unclearly. People like Chief Reese need to stop making a campaign strategy out of opposing our movement which includes the right to life (sleep unharrassed by cops) and the freedom to assemble, and instead, go toward putting positive changes in effect for needs that we sweep out from under the carpet when we take back our rights. Red Cross does not see countries with borders – political friends and foes- they cross the lines during wars and don’t hold aid as a coersive strategy. We had groups that treated camp as the iron curtain. They said they would not cross into the park because it was political and would damage their relationships in the city. But given that Reps DeFazio and Blumenauer endorsed the movement, and the mayor- before Reese’s posturing acted favorably and called for the outside supporters to help us with our problems, and social services were using us as overflow, these people are the ones that caused the problems. If there had been a vested interest in seeing Portland’s Occupy be successful, we could have won over the city and stood up to the rest of the nation’s powers-that-be as we often do. Portland should have been united in this cause but we were betrayed. However, we heard Reese not only withdrew from the race but resigned! Who wants more rope?

  8. Numina7
    November 24, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    …and $31 million for bankster’s son Merrit Paulson’s new Timbers stadium: (http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/stories/2010/02/01/daily22.html)

    Maybe Merrit’s a really nice guy, but those $$ could made a bigger difference someplace else!!

  9. Anne T.
    November 24, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    Great responses. I am very suspicious about the cost estimate, especially $2500 for each bench replaced.
    David Newhouse, I suggest that you submit this to the Oregonian letters. [email protected]. It has to be 500 words for a long editorial.
    Others can send letters to the editor that are 150 words or less. I know it’s mainstream media, but we are getting lots of letters of support published.
    Thank you all.

    • Hanspy
      December 17, 2011 at 12:22 AM

      You know how it works!
      All other contracters told it was 3000 to 4000 a bench, only 1 did it for 2500, so that was the cheapest and got the job.Thats the way ”free” enterprice works:)

  10. November 25, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    Portland-The city that works:for the people employed there

  11. sks
    November 25, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    What I don’t get is how they got the damage numbers into the hundred thousands, when Nick Fish already has said in statements that the damage doesn’t exceed 19,000 dollars.

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