Most PPS buildings have lead paint somewhere, facilities director says

As the fury over tainted water supplies dies down, Portland Public Schools board member Steve Buel says he doesnt want the district to forget about lead paint dangers.

Facilities and Asset Management Senior Director David Hobbs says it could cost about $870,000 to remediate the 20 worst sites for lead paint in PPS. Hobbs says most of the districts buildings are older than the 1978 ban on lead paint.

Yes, from the age of our buildings, we do have lead paint in our buildings, Hobbs told the school board, June 21.

So, how many buildings you think we got lead paint in? Buel asked Hobbs.

They are doing that assessment as we speak, board chair Tom Koehler responded.

The district spends $125,000 annually on lead paint abatement, according to Hobbs. They have also received a $50,000 grant for the last several years from the Portland Water Bureau for lead paint abatement.

The schools covered by this years grant will be: Applegate, Chief Joseph, Duniway, Irvington, Sacajawea, and Whitman.

Buel said he was disturbed that this wasnt a higher budget priority.

Maybe we need to go borrow a million dollars, he said. But we should be taking care of these particular sites. Theyre just too important to not do.

In order to borrow money, the school district would need voters to approve a construction bond. As reported by Willamette Week, Hobbs said the total cost to repair all the environmental dangers including asbestos, lead, seismic upgrades, radon, etc. at PPS tops $400 million.

No one knows if theres lead paint in MESD buildings

The agencies in charge of three older school sites for children with disabilities and other special needs say they do not have any lead paint test results on file.

Multnomah Education Service District says it does not have any lead paint test results for any of its six school sites, but three were built after the 1978 lead paint ban.

Parkrose School District, which leases two schools to MESD, has a 15-year-old program to paint over any peeling paint, but has not tested for lead paint in that time. Albertina Kerr, which leases the Wynne Watts school to MESD, did not have any paint test results. The lead tests on its water came back below federal action levels.

Shasta Kearns Moore

In 2011, Adams officially launched Maine Coast, which is based in York, Maine. Since then, the business has grown to about 36 full-time workers and shipped nearly 6 million lobsters last year.

One of the biggest challenges in growing Maine Coast occurred early on when Adams was trying to borrow money to start the business.

During 2010 and 2011, Adams found banks were skeptical about lending money to a company they viewed as a start-up seeking cash in a tough economic time.

But a local bank took a chance on him -- to the tune of a $1.5 million loan. Adams chipped in another half million dollars, and in December, he brought in an investor, who owns a fifth of the company.

Now Adams has his eye on expansion. A second location will open next week on the Boston Fish Pier, helping Maine Coast serve last-minute orders from customers via Bostons Logan Airport and capture wholesale distribution sales in the Boston and southern New England areas.

Adams, who made a conscious decision to avoid micro-managing employees and to delegate responsibility, credits his success to having a strong team and extensive industry knowledge.

His time as a low man on the lobster totem pole also helped him relate to other people in the industry.

It was hard manual labor, but I enjoyed it, he said.

While larger loans are often taken by farmers pre-season, the potential losses of not being able to access credit during the season are the highest.

Its not often that you see debt investors clamoring for government spending.

But with the news that Treasury rates in the United States have hit all-time lows, thats exactly what the bond market is telling investors and Washington it wants, according to Bond King Bill Gross.

Gross in his latest investment outlook published on Wednesday takes aim at a familiar target, central bankers, for what he argues is a faulty understanding of the global economy. The Federal Reserve has said that it believes it will raise rates again this year. Their thinking appears to be that the falling unemployment rate will soon cause overall prices to rise because more competition will cause wages and ultimately overall prices to rise. Gross likens Feds attachment to this model of the economy to worshipping a false idol.

Instead, he argues, central bankers should realize that what is ailing the economy is an overall lack of growth in credit or the expansion of the money supply that comes mostly in the form of increased bank lending. Credit growth which has averaged 9% a year since the beginning of this century barely reaches 4% annualized in most quarters now, Gross writes. And why isnt that enough? Well the proofs in the pudding or the annualized GDP numbers both here and abroad.

Gross points to sluggish economic growth across the developed world as evidence for why credit is not growing fast enough. If more credit were being created, the economy would grow faster. But the reverse could also be true: If the economy were growing faster, private banks would be eager to lend at a faster clip than they are today, which is one reason why economists are increasingly calling for fiscal policy as a solution to what ails the economy.

Gross acknowledges as much, writing:

To be fair, the fiscal side of our current system has been nonexistent . . . Until governments can spend money and replace the animal spirits lacking in the private sector, then . . . meager credit growth shrinks as a future deflationary weapon. But investors should not hope unrealistically for deficit spending any time soon.

But if deficit spending is the solution to a global economy beset by slow growing populations, high levels of consumer indebtedness, and slow productivity growth, why does Gross lead his letter with attacks on central bankers? Despite Fed officials loathing of getting involved in partisan battles, Janet Yellen and her predecessor Ben Bernanke have clearly advocated for more short-term fiscal stimulus, paired with long-term debt reductions to get the economy growing again.

In fact, there is nothing contradictory in believing that there is a long term relationship between the unemployment rate and inflation and also realizing that what is truly hurting the economy is a lack of credit growth. The bond market, which is collectively paying the US government, after inflation, to borrow money over 10 years, would be best served if the Fed invested that money in things like infrastructure and education that would increase economic growth and therefore government revenues. As former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers wrote Wednesday, in a world where interest rates over horizons of more than a generation are far lower than even pessimistic projections of growth, traditional thinking about debt sustainability needs to be discarded.

Bill Gross is also calling for more government spending, but his advocacy is buried beneath 1,000 of words of contempt for the thinking of central bankers. The reason that investors should not hope unrealistically for deficit spending is because there is no understanding among politicians and voters for the need for higher deficits, due in no small part because of the advocacy of Gross colleagues on Wall Street.

If Bill Gross were to follow the bond markets lead and advocate more forcefully for a bigger government role in righting the economy, he might have less reason to be so pessimistic.