It seems there is hardly ever a city council meeting in Vancouver that we don’t hear of BRT, LPA, CRC, LRT, C-Tran or any other maze of abbreviated acronym for any number of projects favored by Vancouver Mayor, Tim Leavitt and 4 other members of the city council, Jack Burkman, Jeanne Harris, Bart Hansen and Larry Smith.
Rarely do we hear relevant questions coming from any of them as to just how they expect citizens to pay for all of these “pie in the sky” projects apparently believing each is the only thing citizens will be paying for.
Public hearings have all of the appearance to be shams, held only to satisfy a legal requirement to allow citizens to speak while those same citizen concerns remain ignored by the cabal as they ram full speed ahead with little or no clue on just how these many projects favored by the council majority will be paid for.
Only two council members seem willing to get down to the nitty gritty of asking how such projects will be paid for with both, Jeanne Stewart and Bill Turlay being kept in a minority as the rest come across as their minds being firmly made up to forge ahead long before any public hearings are held.
We saw this again at the Monday May 21, 2012 council meeting where the council once again approved yet another Locally Preferred Alternative, this time for the Fourth Plain Bus Rapid Transit System proposed.
Once again, we saw a majority of citizens express concerns only to be ignored while the few who spoke favorably of the project were listened to.
One such speaker, Forensic Accountant Tiffany Couch who has exposed several concerns with the finances of the Columbia River Crossing Project, spoke of similar concerns over questionable numbers being presented that do not add up as well as concerns over claims of funding from the federal government “COULD,” not “will” account for “up to 80% of the expense.
Others expressed concern over the safety record of the lengthened “articulated buses” planned for the project that has seen most other cities abandoning their use.
Council member Jack Burkman expressed that “the federal application process means that a locally preferred alternative must be chosen in order to get in line. The city council can change its mind down the road if it thinks things are too shaky.”
The bolded sentence is of importance as we have seen with the other “locally preferred alternative,” Light Rail dragged over from Portland’s financially troubled MaxLine has been seeing several “shaky” moments with the members of the Leavitt Cabal serving on the C-Tran Board unwilling to give citizens a promised vote on paying for operations and maintenance or deviating from the plan to force light rail on Clark County.
Council members Turlay & Stewart, standing up for citizens, voted against the new LPA citing it was “fiscally irresponsible” to proceed without a clearer picture of financing.
One idea heard for paying for the first LPA, Light Rail is Voters might be asked to approve light rail head tax where every business owner would have to pay a $1 per employee tax every month along with cutting bus service across the Interstate Bridge.
The Cabal knows another sales tax increase is not favored by citizens and is “exploring” other means to fund Light Rail looking to circumvent voters if at all possible.
At a time we are seeking business growth in the community, adding yet another tax is the opposite of what ought to be done. Council member Jeanne Stewart drove this point him as she said, “So we’re going to go to the voters and ask them if they think every employer should pay. How is this better for business? That’s the tax they’ve done in Portland, and Portland has not done well.”
That citizens remain opposed to the Light Rail Locally Approved Alternative doesn’t enter Leavitt’s mind.
As Leavitt’s Cabal seeks to hang yet another albatross around the necks of taxpayers, we see they also favor yet another property tax increase “to create a metropolitan parks district to preserve and enhance Vancouver parks and recreation services.” The levy would add “53 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value” on homes within the city limits. Apparently, taxpayers are viewed as mere ATM machines to the cabal.
Returning to the concerns over more and more taxes to pay for pet projects, it is also distressing to see governor candidate, so called Republican Rob McKenna expressing a favorable view on a tax package “to fund the state’s multi-billion dollar transportation needs.”
McKenna believes tolling and raising gas taxes must remain on the table while his Democrat opponent, Jay Inslee declines to express a definitive stand at this time. Given Inslee’s congressional record on tax increases, it is safe to assume he would support hanging any number of taxes on our backs to ensure projects in the Puget Sound area remain funded at our expense.
Formation of a “Transportation Benefit District” remains a possibility in order for the cabal to add more gas tax to our gas even as we already see some of the highest gas tax in the nation as well discussions of adding $20 to car license renewals have been heard.
There seems to be no end to the creative ways the state, county & city can come up with to confiscate more and more of our hard earned tax dollars for projects we could do without for the time being.
Although not the sole official leading citizens towards insolvency, Tim Leavitt is at the helm after lying through his teeth to get elected in 2009 by falsely claiming to fight tolls across the new bridge.
Former Mayor Royce Pollard, defeated by Leavitt, upon hearing of Leavitt “evolving” view on tolls expressed sentiments felt by many as he said, “I want to puke.”
I am firmly convinced Leavitt will go down in city history as one of the most inept Mayors ever elected, the “Jimmy Carter” of Vancouver, provided the city will able to survive his term.