City of Vancouver Rejects Most Signatures On Anti-Light Rail Petition

by lewwaters

It comes as no surprise, in the ongoing melodrama from the city of Vancouver, Washington, that we now read Anti-light rail petitioners fall short of signatures, to include “Review costs city $31,000,” all in the effort to further denigrate citizens opposed to dragging Portland’s financially troubled light rail across the Columbia River into our community.

That a petition had to even be circulated in an effort to let taxpayers who will see generations into the future stuck paying for the bloated Columbia River Crossing Project is sad in itself. But, as we have seen explained on this blog and others like Clark County Politics, the powers that be, mostly under the direction of Vancouver’s Mayor Tim Leavitt, voters true input is not wanted, just our paychecks.

We read that some two-thirds of signatures on the petition were “invalid.” Further down in the article, we see that what makes them “invalid” is duplication or that some lived just outside the actual city limits.

Missed in this latest effort to deny taxpayers a voice in this boondoggle, is the taxpayer opposition to light rail, shown in how many people who felt they were within the city limits signed the petition.

Much is made of the claimed “$31,000 cost” to verify signatures, but I have to question the veracity of that being an actual cost. Since there were just over 9,000 signatures turned in, how does it cost nearly $3.50 per signature to verify? And, since it is City/County employees doing the verification, aren’t they on the clock doing what we already pay them for?

Of course, the effort there is to give the appearance of how opponents to the light rail are wasting precious tax dollars, after we saw the city pony up put up some $600K to entice the State to give matching funds in order to build yet another park, as the city claims it has no money to maintain the 120 or so other parks they already have.

Tim Leavitt chimed in on it at the city council meeting saying, “The submittal of initiative petitions is not a cheap or inexpensive venture for the public agencies to have to evaluate, particularly in an instance like this when many of the signatures didn’t comply with the requirements.”

Sticking the community for generations into the future with a bill that could reach $10 Billion including interest is no big deal, apparently. Nor is making every effort possible to keep taxpayers from even saying whether or not we want such a bloated venture hung on our backs.

Leavitt and others choose to claim that we should not receive a vote, binding or advisory, because it is on a federal freeway system that services the entire West Coast. According to them, if we get to vote, everybody up and down the West Coast should also get to vote.

But, they don’t mention that all of those up and down the West Coast will not get stuck paying for the project as will citizens who reside in Vancouver and Clark County.

Opponents to light rail will continue gathering signatures for a couple more weeks, emphasizing to people who want to sign that they must live within the city limits of Vancouver, since the petition is aimed at the Vancouver City Council.

Vancouver residents who wish to sign the petition and haven’t yet may visit www.stoppinglightrail.com for more information or go to Harry’s Lawn and Power Equipment ,1912 Main St, Vancouver WA 98660 to sign the petition.

Of course, all of this would be unnecessary if those sitting in their cushioned seats of authority actually believed in the democratic process and asked taxpayers first if we are willing to mortgage our children’s and their children’s financial futures.

Shouldn’t those taxpayers and commuters who will be stuck actually paying the bills have a voice in the process?

18 Comments to “City of Vancouver Rejects Most Signatures On Anti-Light Rail Petition”

  1. “And, since it is City/County employees doing the verification, aren’t they on the clock doing what we already pay them for?”

    The accountant in me cannot let this go by. Your comment presumes that if the time was not spent on the verification, then the cost would still exist. This is only true if instead of doing the signature verification, the employees involved do nothing with the time and the payable hours remains the same. I am sure there are employees that are paid for doing nothing, but this assumption nevertheless makes this part of your argument faulty.

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  2. How about a petition to revoke Vancouver’s City charter? I’d sign that!

    “We, the Undersigned, call on the State of Washington to Revoke the Vancouver City Charter.”

    Tweedledum and Tweedledumber would have to find another way to annoy Clark County citizens.

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  3. I understand your point, John, but just why do we hire and pay city employees?

    Since they are already on the clock, how does it end up costing us more?

    But let’s face it, the inclusion of that little tid bit was primarily to make those opposed to the light rail look bad and wasteful.

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  4. Again, what is really going on here is that the city is using a county agency to do their “bidding” on light rail, all of the county will have to pay for the fiasco, and the city is actively working to keep the residents of the county from having a say in the matter.

    The petition that needs to be circulated is a petition to abolish C-Tran, the monster that is poised to cost everyone in Clarke County billions upon billions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars. It’s the only way the community can have some control over the disgusting politicians that are acting like dictators.

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  5. I’ve said that this particular petition drive was misguided from the very start, and should have had more organization from the very beginning. The Revised Code of Washington State lays out very clear guidelines for these petition drives and if you don’t even try to comply with the rules from the beginning, then you should not be surprised by the outcome. In any case, the City of Vancouver said as soon as a copy of this petition hit the desk of the City Attorney that it would not bind City Council nor slow down light rail or the Columbia Crossing Project in any way.

    This has been a text book Wild Goose Chase from the very beginning.

    Now that this effort has finally been closed, perhaps we can get around to a discussion of exactly what a proper petition drive should look like, if one is even needed, how it should be run, and most importantly, what it should say.

    In my view, whats needed is reform and restraint at C-Tran and RTC. Both are trying desperately to play Trimet/Metro/Portland over here in Clark County, and whether anyone likes it or not, we live in Southwest Washington, NOT North Portland. At this point, I believe that the most effective petition campaign that can be mounted in Clark County would be a drive to form an elected Board of Directors of C-Tran. Another would be a recall petition and election for any politician who votes to ignore the clear will of the people, and that includes failing to ask for or being so cocky as to assume they already know what the will of the people is without a binding vote.

    We have been playing “The Emperor has no clothes” with the Columbia Crossing Project and the light rail, bike and pedestrian accomodations that take precedence over every other design criteria for the bridge, except the needs of the actual users of the bridge, namely automobiles and river traffic. Vancouver’s civil “leadership” acts like everything with the project is just peachy, and the Columbian backs them up on it. Hell, the Columbian deletes or hides comments in opposition to these policies which makes the problem worse.

    The story on the Oregon side is so different as to be in another world at time. Portland’s attitude is that they simply will not pay a dime for what they percieve as “Clark County’s commuter problem” and the State of Oregon has no plans whatsoever to cough up the initial $600 Million in cash they need just to get started. Their legislature is concerned enough to listen to people like Tiffany Couch and others who have been raising the alarm, but not over on this side of the river.

    Our legislature has been busy enabling Vancouver City Council to find ways to raise money by moving around the voters and avoiding asking questions they do not want to hear the answer to. Enablers like Jim Moeller, Craig Sizemore, Royce Pollard and many many others have laid out the path that Tim Leavitt is currently traveling with such confidence. A hustler like Leavitt cannot function like he does without plenty of help from other people, and who is to stop him?? Larry Patella?? Debbie Peterson??

    We need a new game plan Boys and Girls. Its time to start playing hardball back, because that has been the game the pro-loot rail forces have been playing all along. When someone decides to get serious they will have my wholehearted support, but as long as we continue to pussy-foot around and taking ill advised half-measures that accomplish nothing, then I’ll continue to bide my time and hold my own counsel.

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  6. And Lew, I’m not trying to be provacative here, but what’s with this “us” business??

    Last time I heard, you don’t have a dog in this fight because you don’t live in Vancouver…

    Has that changed..??

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  7. 1. All of the folks who live in Southwest Washington will be burdened with tolls and related delays when driving across the new CRC. In addition, during construction all those using the freeways, approaches, and bridges will be burdened by the inherent delays caused my a multi-year construction project.

    2. Clearly, the cost of verifying signatures is part and parcel of the services government must provide. The progressives who established the rights of initiatives and recall (as they exist) more than 100 years ago felt that it was a necessary reform to enable the citizens to encourage their government representatives to make decisions more in keeping with the will of the electorate. It is disingenuous to complain about the expense required, as it is a fundamental process of government. Allowing participatory democracy and/or representational government has certain costs associated with it. This type of governance can be awkward, inconvenient, and expensive, but it is far preferable than the alternative — a dictatorship. Those who complain about the costs are clearly more upset with the opinion the petition expresses — but rather than address the real concern, they wish to deflect the conversation to irrelevant costs. That way, they can avoid addressing the real issue.

    If Mayor Leavitt REALLY cared about the opinion of the voters, he’d call for a vote on the CRC and abide by the wishes of the voters. Funny thing is, politicians will use voters to justify the things that they want, when the vote goes their way (e.g. the California High Speed Train that has gone insanely over the budget that voters approved) and they will fight the voter’s will with every trick they can muster when they want to push through a boondoggle.

    Follow the money.

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  8. Bob, even though I am not located physically inside the city limits, I too will be on the hook for paying for it. Hence, the “us.”

    As I said to Leavitt, we may not have a vote in city elections, but what he and the city council does also affects those of us just outside the city limits.

    Much of our shopping ends up inside the city limits, so we must also pay any sales tax increases. If I choose to go to Portland or through it, I too will be stuck paying the toll once imposed.

    While this particular petition might be limited to the actual city, since it addresses it to the city council, the outcome affects us too, even though we are denied a voice in it.

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  9. One reason we don’t have the right of initiative in Clark County today is that in 2011, the Clark County Commissioners said they were for a county charter, and placing it on the ballot. The charter could have introduced right of initiative. Some commissioners then reneged after months of meetings. Right of initiative in the county would allow a county-wide petition that all could sign. Citizens have repeatedly asked Clark County Commissioners for a vote on light rail or the CRC for the last few years, and none has been scheduled. More important than the right of initiative are elected officials that are responsive to the public, and prudent with tax dollars. Citizens have a choice this November for 2 out of the 3 Clark County Commissioners, and that vote can’t be delayed by political shenanigans. David Madore is running for Clark County Commissioner for the east district, and clearly believes citizens should get to vote as proven by supporting the Vancouver petition to allow a vote on light rail. He has also researched the Columbia River Crossing Light Rail project, and exposed irregularities in the no bid contract and mark ups as well as the data upon which the CRC project is based upon. http://www.couv.com has a section on CRC for any interested citizen.

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  10. I’ve actually heard Democrats say that if Oregon doesn’t come up with their half of the money then Washington will just need to carry the whole load.

    Literally, dudes, I support a new bridge and mass transit (light rail if it made sense), but I can never put my finger on where the decisions are coming from for CRC. Don Wagner (Democrat), the engineer who used to run the project, seemed a reasonable man but he was eased into retirement when we wouldn’t lie about the project. Portland might be calling the shots but they seem antagonistic? Leavitt ran on an obvious lie – who set him up to it? Why did Steve Stuart change his spots and offer a resolution for a vote? (Did he call for a “county wide” vote or not?) Every Republican member of the legislature is against light rail but they haven’t offered a piece of legislation to defeat it? I just can’t figure this out?!

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  11. In the Portland Mayoral race, there appears to be only one candidate who is raising questions about the CRC project. Jefferson Smith, while not saying “no” to the project, indicates that he has some serious questions regarding funding and possible cost overruns (duh…it’s a Democrat project. Of course there will be cost overruns). He appears to be a typical Portland liberal, but at least he’s asking the questions. Eileen Brady thinks the project should be scaled back, but not eliminated. She includes light rail as a necessary component of the project. She also want to introduce “congestion tolling” (in addition it appears) to tolling the bridge itself, so guess who gets to pay for that? Yep, Washington residents working in Oregon. “we obviously have to take a very serious look at congestion tolling to reduce south bound I-5 traffic at peak hours near the Rose Quarter.”

    I couldn’t find a CRC position statement on Charlie Hale’s site.

    http://jeffersonsmith.com/transportation-answers/whats-jeffersons-position-on-the-columbia-river-crossing/

    http://www.eileenformayor.com/2011/09/28/crc-needs-real-leadership-now/

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  12. I feel the need to chime in here. On the county wide charter issue we must pay attention to the fact that the charters voted on before were very scary. The last one which I saved on my computer was voted down thank god. It put into place a secondary board of commissioners who then ahd a right to start appointing positions which are currently elected positions. It even went so far a to make the “chairman” of the board the only mandatory elected position in the long run. Amazingly one they were all elected the first time they could pass new ordinances and policies including the fact that the appointed board would be the ones in the future to elect the chairman each four years. Basically after it was institued the charter would have allowed for an almost permanent dictatorship here in Clark County. A total setup for really really crooked officials. I could not get behind such a charter movement in light of the existing political liberals and Identity Clark County’s influence in our community.
    Secondarily I am not sure that the county commissioners can put a measure on the ballot since the C-tran is a sub-district of the greater spanse of the county and not strictly held within their entire jurisdictional purview. I guess that is a question for Brent Boger or some other legal mind to answer.
    The other note everyone might consider is that Craig Pridemore’s vacated seat is up for grabs. The candidate Annette Cleveland is a liberal lobbyist coming at us with the Columbian Newspaper being her first job locally and a part of the CRC political action committee. A loud proponent of the lite-rail project she already boasts the endorsement of city councilman Jack Burkman and the likes of Identity Clark County not to mention Elie Kaasab. This senate position is vital in changing the course of politics in the 49th and the core of Vancouver City. We need to fight for this seat and win. We need a responsible and ethical, non lobbist, non liberal candidate to step forward. Candidates must post by May 18th at 4 p.m. their filing with Greg Kimsey’s office. I will help so please… let’s find someone!

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  13. Sorry about the typo’s

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  14. Comment deleted

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