We’re all familiar with the term, Kangaroo Court meaning “a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted.” Maybe it is time we also applied it to townhalls by elected officials who have no intent to listen to constituents and instead seem to think they have to sell us on a defective project the majority of their constituents’ have indicated they do not want.
A Townhall is supposed to be an “informal public meeting where everybody in a town community is invited to attend, voice their opinions, and hear the responses from public figures and elected officials about shared subjects of interest.”
But as we continue to see, many of those elected officials appear reluctant to listen to constituents areas of concern in Washington State 49th Legislative District, especially where the overly ambitious Columbia River Crossing Project is concerned.
Long cloaked in secrecy and with cotton stuffed in their ears, the CRC is being exposed for what it is by the diligence of numerous citizens who see the corruption associated with it, the poor design, the excessive expense, the destruction of jobs well into the future and an expense that is likely to leave Clark County Washington reeling for decades, economically. All so Portland, Oregon can force their financially failing light rail a very short distance into our community and assume some portion of their $1.6 Billion in unfunded liabilities.
Citizen concerns have been ignored, they have been yelled at, demeaned, denigrated and ridiculed by elected officials at City Council meetings when they tried to voice their concerns. At one point, the mayor even tried to silence critics by disallowing citizen communication before city council unfavorable to the CRC supporting council.
Throughout it all, citizens remain undaunted and began pushing back by electing some new representatives and although still a minority, their effectiveness in voicing citizens concerns has been apparent.
Citizen sponsored groups have been set up while highly qualified, educated and credentialed citizens poured over documents finally received in a massive dump through a Freedom of Information Act request. One citizen, a successful business owner went to the length of hiring a private forensic investigator to audit the finances received in that document dump, paying them out of his own pocket.
Others banded together combining their talents to ferret through a multitude of reports and documents. These efforts have revealed questionable accounting, bypassing laws, unsound engineering and more as it became apparent that the sole reason behind this project is to force Clark County into accepting Portland’s light rail, against their will.
Slowly but surely, the tide began turning as more and more, citizens saw what was happening and stopped falling for the disinformation associated with the project over many years. In an email received today from one such citizen group, CRCFacts.info we read the conclusion,
“Our relentless exposure of irrefutable facts has caused increasing reflection by the CRC advocates—and many are jumping ship. If you know anyone that has just been going along with this CRC group-think–please help them escape. If you are involved in an organization that is supporting the CRC–work with them to get the facts and break free of the political and business interests that have unduly influenced them. Please help others get informed to help stop the CRC–and then transition to an open and rational planning process.”
Seeing citizens eyes opening and the losing of dictatorial powers over citizens isn’t setting well with the ‘in the tank’ elected officials, especially the three Democrats elected to represent the 49th Legislative District. And this is where my application of a “Kangaroo Townhall” comes in.
I also received another email today from Rep. Sharon Wylie, married to Vancouver’s City Attorney, Ted Gathe who advises the Vancouver City Council on matters pertaining to the city.
The Wylie email announces what they refer to as a “Townhall” this Saturday, March 16, 2013 to “Let’s talk about the CRC.”
“There is a lot of misinformation out there about the Columbia River Crossing Project. But we have to decide the future of our area, so it’s important that we all learn as much as possible about this issue.”
There is an element of truth in her claim, but not stated is that it is she and her fellow ‘in the tank’ officials that continue to spread that misinformation.
This Kangaroo Townhall is not designed to be a two-way communication of constituents and elected officials. It is designed to be a one-way seminar trying to overcome and discredit citizens who have shined light on the lack of transparency coming from their ranks.
The list of invitees to speak consists of only pro-CRC speakers, unlike townhalls held recently in other surrounding communities where officials representing both points of view were present to respectfully present their views and reasoning.
As was shown at the post CRC Gets Professional Marketing Campaign Support , proponents are getting desperate as they see it all slipping away and citizen opposition growing.
But it isn’t only citizen opposition growing as we see previous efforts to impose tolls on a still struggling middle class for this project declared void and requiring to be redone by the legislature, a legislature that now has seen a power shift in the State Senate with more willing to scrutinize this questionable project.
Another nail in the CRC’s coffin is being reported as we read Coast Guard: More info needed on CRC bridge height where the poorly designed bridge height, creating the lowest point for river traffic clearance on the river is still unable to obtain the needed permit to begin construction from the US Coast Guard due to that height issue. In their haste to hurry up and obtain permits before citizen opposition and outrage over took them, they apparently left out a lot of needed information.
A Kangaroo Townhall desperately trying to rebuild support where none exists will not “mitigate” that. Last minute websites with catchy graphics that delete contrary comments is not going to build support. Spreading more disinformation will not win the day.
It is time to pull the plug on this CRC fiasco, launch a criminal investigation of all concerned, prosecute if warranted and start over with something the people will support, afford and will want.
It is time to tell Portland to go suck eggs and keep their near bankrupt light rail and $1.6 Billion in unfunded liabilities on their side of the river. We do not need to bail them out at the expense of our community.