That the Columbian Newspaper has long been in the bag for the Columbia River Crossing, to include Portland, Oregon’s financially failing light rail is a given well known in our community. Regardless of what shortcoming, irregularity, questionable practice or failing of design is revealed, you can bank on them spinning it to continue support and trying to build citizen support.
We have seen this over the several years since Clark County first rejected extending Portland’s folly across the Columbia River into Clark County in 1995 by a wide 2 to 1 margin.
They have editorialized against just about every single candidate for public office who doesn’t support CRC with light rail as well as endorsed some very marginal, inexperienced ones who do support it, as we saw last year in the campaign between incumbent now former County Commissioner Marc Boldt and successful businessman, David Madore.
Madore won in a landslide, Clark County citizens knowing his staunch opposition to light rail and desire to see the CRC brought under control.
With Madore and incumbent Commissioner Tom Mielke also winning his bid for reelection, the County Commission now has a solid conservative majority with two of the three Commissioners holding views critical of the CRC and light rail from Portland, leaving only Democrat Steve Stuart as the lone supporter on the Commission.
Just days before being sworn into office, Stuart and Boldt, both supporters of the CRC and light rail component faced a matter to dedicate $200,000 of our tax dollars to the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) to help them fund their goal of raising $5.5 million through 2017 to fund their annual operating budget. CREDC claims to “…stimulate job creation and investment in the region…” and “…ensuring the county’s environment and high quality of life…”
CREDC has also claimed support for the CRC, evidenced by a February 9, 2007 letter where they state in part, “The Columbia River Economic Development Council supports the CRC staff recommendation on the range of alternatives to be advanced for further analysis in the Columbia River Crossing Draft Environmental Impact Statement.”
To date, every recommendation coming out of the CRC has been with light rail from Portland, the sole reason the bridge is even being proposed to be replaced and as we now know from the Willamette Week article The $2.5 Billion Bribe, “The massive Interstate 5 bridge and freeway project is a ‘political necessity’ to persuade Clark County residents to accept something they previously didn’t want—a MAX light-rail line from Portland to Vancouver.”
In simpler words, since we in Clark County rejected Portland’s folly in 1995, the governments of both states are going to ram it down our throats and hand us the multi-Billion Dollar bill for it anyway.
And as seen in the February 2007 letter linked above, with the support of CREDC.
Going back to the $200,000 in tax money for CREDC, Mr. Madore, preparing to assume the Commissioners seat raised the angst of the Columbian and CRC/light rail supporters by requesting the County Commission to delay voting on the expenditure until he was seated on the County Commission.
Stuart and Boldt ignored the request and rammed it through in a lame-duck session, Commissioner Mielke voting no, bringing out the usual slate of commenters to condemn any action in agreement with the majority of voters on this issue with their derogatory and denigrating comments.
Accepting the widely acknowledged fact that the defeat of Proposition 1, a measure to fund light rail operations & maintenance by a sales tax increase was in fact a proxy vote on light rail itself, since we have been denied another direct vote on light rail in spite of campaign promises of we would, Commissioners Mielke and Madore responded to voters desires and halted the payment to CREDC in a letter, Commissioner Stuart refusing to sign or even allow his name to be on.
Immediately, the usual slate of proponents wishing to ram this boondoggle down taxpayers throats deluged the comment section with accusations of “extortion,” “bribery,’ “breach of contract” and “Terrible, terrible move” by CREDC Board member and Mayor of the nearby city of Washougal, Sean “I’m not really a Police Officer, I just play one when I speed down the highway’ Guard, who cautioned, “Extortion is not a great tactic, just as bribing the smaller communities turned out to be a bad and illegal tactic.”
Tell that to the feds who continually withhold highway funds if a state does not knuckle under in some matters, Mr. Guard.
Or any of a number of legislators who withhold their vote on a bill unless they receive a vote for another bill they want rammed through. You know, Sean, much like threatening to cut bus service if voters do not approve tax increases and City Council’s elect to threaten to cut Police, Fire and Medical and any host of number of services if they are not given the tax increases they wish by voters.
Funny how Mayor’s don’t seem to ever condemn that sort of “extortion?”
Commissioner Mielke said, “We’re supposed to represent the people, we have been put in a very awkward position” [by the expenditure].
Previously Commissioner Madore said, “Voters said No to Light Rail in November. We betray those voters if we use their own taxes to lobby against themselves. The CREDC is doing exactly that with their long track record of urging our legislature to fund light rail even though it will kill hundreds of Clark County jobs.”
In the time since news broke of curtailing the expenditure to CREDC and showing just how much the Columbian remains in the tank for light rail, today alone sees three attempts at denigrating the County Commissioners standing up for voters.
We taxpayers know that our community does not need light rail. We do not have the population for a line designed solely to drain our community of our dwindling tax dollars to be sent to Portland, Oregon to help bail them out of their growing $1.6 Billion debt and encourage more spending of our people’s money in their city instead of our own.
We have been lied to that light rail was a requirement of the federal government to receive federal funding for a portion of the project and now know that buses could easily satisfy any requirement of transit systems on new bridges (remembering Mayor Sean Guard’s accusation of ‘extortion.’)
We know that construction of the bridge will displace several downtown businesses along with their jobs. We know that the tolls added to the bridge will not fully fund repayment or operating expenses and that our population is way too small to even consider such an extravagant project.
We also know that we elected David Madore and reelected Tim Mielke to do what they can to curtail the out of control draining of our tax dollars funneling into CRC, in excess of $160 Million so far and that they are unable to even come up with a design adequate to gain Coast Guard approval of the project due to the “must have” light rail component that reduced river traffic clearance under the proposed bridge.
That the Columbian and some other businesses continue with efforts to force this upon us after we have clearly stated we neither want it nor we want to pay for it is to their own detriment.
Because we also know that we are the very customers they rely on to purchase their products.
This blog fully supports County Commissioners Tom Mielke and David Madore, applauding them for listening to acting on behalf of taxpayers.