What will Happen if Citizens Vote Down Light Rail Maintenance Funding?

by lewwaters

Citizens being promised a vote on bringing Portland, Oregon’s light rail a short distance into Vancouver, Washington has been an ongoing controversy for years. Citizens were promised a vote on whether or not they were willing to pay an increased sales tax to fund operation and maintenance. Promises of a vote have been broken and the project is moving ahead.

One council member, Jeanne Stewart speaks out on the broken promise.

The rest seem to approve of a citizen vote being denied.

Of note, Mayor Tim Leavitt trying to silence Ms. Stewart towards the end. Tim, if you will recall, remained spineless in September 2010 when fellow Council Member Jeanne Harris was ranting “gavel him down” concerning a citizen comment.

The promised vote on funding operations and maintenance of light rail appears to be postponed while council and C-Tran gerrymander a “sub-district” for the purpose of the vote. In such a vote, only citizens within the sub-district would allowed to vote on the tax increase, but citizens in outlying areas of the county, who won’t be allowed to vote, will be forced to pay the tax when they came into town for store purchases of entertainment.

Addressing that with council member Jack Burkman in a facebook message Sunday, June 26.

He replied,

“It sounds like you and I disagree on people in outlying areas having the right to vote on taxes in Vancouver. They choose to live outside the city, yet shop inside the city – a choice, not a requirement.”

“Taxes collected inside the city are part of the overall cost of accessing the city’s shopping and entertainment.”

Three other council members, Pat Campbell, Bart Hansen and Larry Smith are running for re-election. Not one has expressed concern over citizens being denied a vote on this project or the funding of it, only Ms. Stewart, who was ousted from her seat on the C-Tran Board for standing up for constituents with the full approval of the 3 incumbents.

Three times voters have voted down light rail in measure either directly related to or perceived to relate to approving light rail into Clark County.

In 1995 it was a direct vote that was defeated by a 2 to 1 margin.

A state-wide Resolution Bill 51 for transportation improvements was seen largely as a back door approval for funding light rail and was rejected state wide in the 2002 general election.

Clark County voters defeated a sales tax increase in Proposition 1 in the general election in 2004. Part of the statement against in the 2004 voters pamphlet read,

“C-Tran contributed $3,000,000 out of the $65,000,000 cost for I-5 HOV lanes. Now Clark County Commissioners can ask taxpayers to raise car license fees for additional tax dollars; possibly paving the way for light rail.”

“C-Tran paid over $3,000,000 for light rail studies. Portland owns the MAX gravy train. Washington taxpayers will pay a percentage of Tri-Met’s total transit costs even if only one inch of light rail crosses the river; more Clark County taxation without representation!”

In 2005, it was brought back and passed with a gerrymandered sub-district.

Until the county-wide vote we was promised is held, I will vote NO on anything even remotely related to C-Tran and hope more citizens join me.

It is time city council, county commission and all others appointed to this boondoggle realized they are elected to represent, not dictate.

If they cannot abide by citizens desires, they have no business in office.

After all, aren’t we a government “of the people, by the people and for the people” all of the time, not just during campaigns?

21 Responses to “What will Happen if Citizens Vote Down Light Rail Maintenance Funding?”

  1. I actually get sick to my stomach when I hear dishonest bureaucrats speak. I wish Jeanne Stewart had opened with her question, without the meandering preamble, then hammered for an answer. She should have interrupted that dissembling woman when no answer was forthcoming and demanded an answer.

    I support Light Rail but I’m so disgusted by the people involved that it makes me suspicious. When things don’t make sense it’s usually because they’re nonsense. Something stinks.


  2. I’m surprised that the 3 council members up for reelection continue to thumb their noses at voters.

    Will people wake up?


  3. This is enough to gag a maggot Lew. Someone counts on a bunch of you being senile and repeatedly pulls your chain on this issue without lifting a finger when it comes time to do anything:



  4. Yes Pat, you made a small call for a vote 3 months ago.

    What have you done since? Where have you been in supporting or pushing forward on that vote? Why did you not stand with Jeanne Stewart last evening, if you truly support a vote?

    Actions speak louder than words.

    And, on the senility thing, don’t forget Pat, you’re older than me 😉

    Now, go attend to your gagging maggots.


  5. I agree, something really stinks. Gag a maggot? Wow.


  6. Speaking of gagging a maggot, Pat, your failure to force the issue is inexcusable. That you said SOMETHING, ONE FRICKING time, is no accomplishment.

    That you have failed to require a vote on all of this monstrosity of waste, that you have failed to condition your support on ANY of this unless there is a COUNTY WIDE vote shows how worthless you and your positions are.



  7. And, after Jeanne Stewart expressed herself over citizens being “duped,” what did Pat Campbell do?

    Did he agree with her?

    Did he join her in condemning no vote?

    “Councilman Pat Campbell said he’s satisfied with the Final Environmental Impact Statement and is sold on the project.”
    “‘You just gave me more confidence that we’re doing the right thing and the right steps are being taken,’ he said.”


    Where was the call for a vote, Pat?


  8. I live in the city and I will vote against any C-Tran funding and the three political dipsticks up for reelection. My wife and members of our family, as well as the families around us will all vote against funding and the incumbent city council members. We are disgusted with the actions of the city council and weasel Tim Leavitt.

    The politicians are obviously seeking political suicide and they will get their wish in spades.


  9. Mister Campbell: According to what we read in your suggestion on the Columbian article, you requested a citywide vote. With all due respect sir, it isn’t just the citizens of the City of Vancouver who only will be affected by the crossing and tolls as well as light rail and sales tax increase. The problem with your suggestion lies within the mentality that it should only be a citywide vote. Try to think outside the box…I mean, city limits, sir.


  10. Looks like I’m on the bandwagon voting no on any C-Tran funding request Jack and Lew.


  11. After the nearly seven plus years I have been involved with the columbia river crossing project and its politics, if that vote comes up in my district, I will be voting no. I just happen to live north of downtown and will probably fall into the special Transit Benefit District that Jim Moeller got passed in 2009 so the city can cut the voting district down from Clark county down to a small subset in the Southwest or West side of Vancouver to vote on the subject.

    All who may be reading this comments. With the way the law is written the city cannot forgo creating this special TDB here in the city in 2011. As soon as the bell hour hits January 1 2012, that district will be created in the November 2012 or early 2013 ballot. If it does not pass, its just an advisory vote, the politicians can always ignore the results and still put light rail on to that bridge.

    Remember, this vote is “advisory” and they still could stick it to us. OR the state could via the governor or the secretary of the dept. of transportation for washington could just say its essential transportation link of this bridge and it gets put in.


  12. What I’d like to know is this. If it is only a select district that would be voting on funding for the LRT/BRT maintenance and operations funding, would it only be that select district who would see the increase in sales tax? Also, what control would our local government have on the issue if any, should they decide to annex more neighborhoods into the city? Would they be able to increase the district for sales tax benefits for MAX and BRT or would it take yet another vote? After all folks, the two proposed levies are not the only ones in this project. Ten years down the road is yet another already-scheduled request.


  13. As I have pointed out before, Goldie, a tax passed in only a select sub-district is a tax on people that were denied a voice in it. People in outlying areas of the county must come into town to shop or seek entertainment and will have to pay the increased tax.

    I mentioned this to Jack Burkman and received the reply I quoted, which I interpret as basically “tough.”

    It is also my understanding that once annexed, you will pay all taxes that the city pays, no additional vote.


  14. Well Lew, it’s always a learning process for me. In my lack of awareness of political science, I don’t understand the mentality of raising taxes in order to improve on a transit service that for the most part does not have full ridership except during peak hours of the day only and can somehow miss transfer times 90% of the time which clearly shows it’s dysfunction…or to encourage support for a dead-end light rail to nowhere? Just how many people are they thinking will come from Portland to attend Clark College, to watch a football game at HBHS or to take in swimming lessons or craft lessons at Marshall Center? And who is it that actually wants the light rail and why…and who is this light rail extension actually benefiting??? It’s obvious there’s more bicycles and motorcycles/mopeds on the roadway and traffic flow has drastically dropped since 2005 yet the entire project is based on 2005 figures? Where’s the sense in all of this?

    Also, why hasn’t it been addressed that the I-5 Bridge, a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places is being redesigned in a manner which is not consistent with the Federal Highway Administration’s evaluation and approval? It’s not supposed to look like the Marquam Bridge yet that’s all that goes through my mind when I see the picture. Maybe that’s why there’s no current federal tax dollars in the game to replace the bridges.

    Poor design fundamentals, poor planning…that’s the demise of our fine city and we’ve witnessed the issue for years yet the powers that be have put their hands over their eyes, their ears and their mouths and are going ahead…even though folks like Mr. Campbell have gone ahead and accepted that it’s the right thing to do.

    The dumbing down of America.


  15. Best I can tell, Goldie, it’s more about diverting our money to select peoples than actually improving any transportation.

    The only solution to the congestion is more access, more bridges across the river.


  16. I’d think more jobs on our side of the river would cut the commuter traffic over the bridge.


  17. That suggestion was made when Oregon passed their measures 66 & 67, Goldie.

    Some of our elected officials saw it more as approval to follow suit and raise taxes over here.

    Others gave lip service to enticing them to relocate here.

    Too few actually tried.

    But you’re right, jobs on this side is what is really needed. Why should our citizens tax dollars go to Oregon and not Washington?


  18. Lew & Goldie ~ I remember the best answer to your question to Jim Moeller about the Measure 66 & 67 was? Lew you should have it on the tip of your tongue?

    I am absolulely in my power to vote against Jim this year. I think there needs to be a change in the 49th District. And yes Jim, I DO live in your Downtown District, I also SHOP in the same grocery store when you are in town.

    And did you know that Jim is also on the state house of representative transportation committee? Do you both see where this is going? Someone hasn’t learned there lesson and Jim is playing us.


  19. Tip of my tongue, Jeremy? LOL, I saved it.

    “Thanks for your email. Yes! I saw the wonderful election results last night from our neighbors across the river. Although, we clearly differ on the two measures effects on small business, one thing we do agree upon, this is a great opportunity for Washington!

    And what a victory! This was not just another liberal Multnomah County election result but a state-wide repudiation of the failed fiscal policies of conservatives that the only way to create prosperity is to cut taxes and shrink government services. Clearly the voters understand that simply cutting taxes and basic government services like education cannot continue and have any semblance of public education – the hope for our future, or other essential services for our elderly or disabled.

    Although we have a very different tax system here in Washington we (like Oregon) will look at targeted tax increases (along with cuts and efficiencies) to help fund the basic building blocks of prosperity like education and public health and freight mobility. We will focus on rebuilding the economy and the creation of jobs in Clark County and across Washington by keeping our eye on the ball and the basics that gave us the prosperity to start with.

    Finally, this was a great opportunity to affirm that progressive taxes on the successful and the wealthy is supported by the public when the voter knows what the taxes from the two measures will be used for.

    Thanks for writing Lew, please write again.

    Rep. Jim Moeller”



  20. If that does not give you ammo Lew and Kelly, remember that for your blogs August through the November election. 🙂

    Oh that is right Christine just killed off mid-term elections for this year and next, so now you will get to vote in your caucuses of your party level because she wonderfully did THAT for you?!?!



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