Portland just had to have streetcars; more "green" cred to brag about. Problem: that technology is 19th century, and nobody in America even builds streetcars anymore. So they bought some from the Czechs for about $2 million a pop, laid some rail and strung some wire, and they were in business!
But then they wanted to expand their "system", and they wanted federal tax money to blow. But that money comes with a "Buy American" caveat. And it all goes even further downhill from there:
So Oregon’s congressional delegation and lobbyists persuaded the Federal Transit Administration to give Oregon Iron Works $4 million to build a prototype streetcar. The company used plans purchased from the Czech manufacturer of Portland’s streetcars to effectively produce a replica of those cars.
The contract was awarded in February 2007, and the car was slated for delivery 18 months later. It didn't happen until four years and one month after scheduled delivery, entering "service" in September of 2012. And it still doesn't work. It was taken back and just returned for testing two days ago.
The council needs to spend more money for streetcar oversight because United Streetcar's only vehicle, known as the prototype, has had a number of problems since it went into service in September 2012.
The best, most concise overview of this idiocy is here.