Friday, January 27, 2012

Weatherization and a State Bank, in a Mayoral Race

I see a weatherization core in the politics of a mayoral campaign in Portland, Oregon. Our sitting mayor, Sam Adams, escaped recall thanks to voter lethargy, after lying to avoid losing his election in 2008. Our city has suffered malaise through his term. Sam Adams has wisely decided to not seek reelection, creating an early vacuum for a good array of candidates to move in.

I attended two rallies in the Portland mayoral campaign, last evening, January 26th. The first was in promotion of candidate Eileen Brady. The best part of that event was a talk by Paul Hawken, surprising in the clarity of a call for an Oregon State Bank, as a channel for keeping finance through our savings, local. Off Wall Street. Not gone to who-knows-where and maybe doing ourselves harm. The State Bank is a central focus of the new Oregon Working Families Party, and did not fare well in the Oregon Legislature 2011 session. I bet it is not a matter of passion, to Eileen Brady. Paul Hawken will remain an honored adviser, and will not expect much environmental or finance innovation through Portland's Mayor, whoever is elected. 

I left the staid Brady event after an hour, for more-urgent attendance at a Jefferson Smith Party, a really joyous event. The Smith campaign makes no promise on the State Bank issue, yet it was Jefferson Smith who stood up for a State Bank, at a major Working Families Party event in Portland, February 1st, 2011. That attendance has earned my loyalty, to my State Representative. I was generously given opportunity to speak up in a Smith Town Hall Meeting in my neighborhood, on March 30th, 2011, before the dawn of the current mayoral opportunity. I will work very actively for the election of Jefferson Smith, to nurture whatever seed I have planted in a weatherization cause. 

At the Eileen Brady event, I also wanted to study a relationship between Ms. Brady, and endorsers present, Jules Bailey, and Derek Smith, the City of Portland employee who elevated himself to run a new private business spending public funds for weatherization, Clean Energy Works Portland (now Clean Energy Works Oregon). More on this below. 

I have my own view on utility of an Oregon State Bank, and see it has not before been posted here. It is as stated here in a May, 2011 email response to yet-another customer who declined my weatherization bid, for lack of up-front savings:

I imagine a radical escape from commercial banking, serving weatherization. A new Oregon State Bank could shuffle money for the work. The work with rapid payback gets done, and draw on the savings commences, in sustained higher utility bills or other repayment contract, with closeout at house sale. The contractor could draw from a liabilities account as needed, maybe leaving a lot in a retirement account. I  see the important things we must do to survive, getting harder with each new catastrophe. This could apply not only where large energy savings are possible, but  where hazards risk house destruction, as with faulty wiring or a failed roof.

By chance yesterday, I stopped in at the Portland Metropolitan Workforce Training Center a facility of Portland Community College. I remarked to an attendant, that  I work as a business owner in weatherization, with skills hard-won. Would someone talk with me? I had a wonderful half-hour meeting with the center's Director. We confirmed that no training is happening at the Center.

I reported that none is happening through money funnel Energy Trust of Oregon, per their online calendar

I find no credible training in weatherization, anywhere except ECONTC. A well-meaning person in Portland, seeking to participate in "green" activities for needful employment, is abused in this. The cost now is $2995 for forty hours of dreadful misguidance, paid always by our federal or state tax dollars in some foolish grant. Some of the "BPI Certified" wannajobs do find work, in the abuse of home owners.

BPI certification and resolve to do weatherization "performance-based" are prerequisite of contractors who align with Clean Energy Works Oregon, CEWO, the only hope in Oregon for home owners who NEED the up-front financing of work that was promised in Oregon's HB2626 of 2009, feather in the cap of Rep. Jules Bailey, and should-be pride to the State of Oregon, that surpasses our first-in-USA Bottle Bill. CEWO takes taxpayer money justified by HB2626, and hands it out in big piles, usually to those with no need, and always with spillage to the privileged play-along contractors. I do better work always, than any of those on the take. My customers are never punished where I am not in the program, but very often my bids fail because work is not affordable. People just stay cold in Winter, with loss of productivity and consequence to health.

I think such status-quo inaction with weatherization is common. Federal stimulus money never made it out, thanks to BPI greed in trying to rig programs.

Oregon might yet lead the nation in weatherization, not subvert it through energetically supporting Home Performance With Energy Star. Really finding the public financing, and sending it where it really is needed, is key. For this, we need our State Bank. Every state might need a similar bank. We need to see weatherization and home preservation in general, as suitable investments in a State Bank portfolio. Portland might move the ball some, in wise selection of its next mayor.

No comments: