The Unraveling of the CRC Continues

by lewwaters

A society whose citizens refuse to see and investigate the facts, who refuse to believe that their government and their media will routinely lie to them and fabricate a reality contrary to verifiable facts, is a society that chooses and deserves the Police State Dictatorship it’s going to get.” – Ian Williams Goddard

The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along, paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return.” – Gore Vidal

The Columbia River Project, known by the acronym CRC, is once again scurrying around acting defensively as more light is shined on the project. Just like cock roaches scurry away when a light is shined on them, pundits supporting the boondoggle project are lining up and making excuses for the latest revelation on the project, potentially violating public meeting laws and deliberately discouraging public involvement.

Acclaimed Forensic Accountant Tiffany Couch, of Acuity Group PLLC in Vancouver sent out her latest report last evening, along with exhibits that include internal memos from the early days of the project citing discouraging public input.

The announcement said,

“After conducting an in-depth assessment of various documents, conducting public records requests, and analyzing comments made during public meetings, Ms. Couch has identified areas of concern with regard to a decision making body called the Project Sponsors Council as well as potential violations of the Washington State Open Public Meetings Act.”

At issue is a memo from Marcy Schwartz/CRC that has in its body,

“The approval of the locally preferred alternative by the PSC would trigger individual agency public hearings. Each elected official body (Board of Directors, Commission, City Council, and so on) would take action, presumably to endorse the locally preferred alternative recommended by the PSC. The PSC members would be entrusted to make the other decisions on behalf of their fellow elected officials with no need for public hearings or individual agency endorsements.”

“The decision meetings would be open to the public, but only minimum legal notices would be provided and no display advertising would be placed. We would not encourage public participation.”(Emphasis added)

Bearing in mind that the Columbian remains wholly in the tank for this project, their article includes comments from former Clark County Commissioner Betty Sue Morris who was part of the groundwork initiating the CRC and a participant in its earlier days.

Morris says, “I don’t recall that there was an effort to keep it secret or behind closed doors or anything like that.”

Considering the secretive nature we have observed so far with the CRC, one wonders just where she was.

Ms. Couch has released reports in the past after finding questionable practices pertaining to the CRC and was even the subject of  a lawsuit filed by David Evans and Associates, the largest recipient of funds from the CRC to date when records were sought of what the funds they received were being paid for, later dropped.

Earlier reports finding questionable accounting practices were marginalized and largely covered up by a WSDOT “independent” internal audit, even though they admitted they would need to change some of their practices.

Vancouver businessman and County Commissioner candidate David Madore has written of the unraveling of the CRC as well as hiring Acuity Group to audit a document dump he received under a freedom of information act request.

A previous post covered the possibility of this boondoggle violating the High Capacity Transit Act with citizens not being given an opportunity to vote on whether we even want this project.

Instead, local elected rulers opted to bypass citizens and instead allow us to vote on w=how we will fund the Operations & Maintenance of the extension of Portland, Oregon’s financially failing light rail into our community after we voted it down more than once.

The effort to just do an end run around voters was revealed in the Willamette Week article, The $2.5 Billion Bribe and remains ignored by both the Columbian and the CRC.

Discussing the CRC with 3rd Congressional District Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler recently, she said to me,

“No one has checked this group at all, the CRC group and the supporters and the Project Sponsors Council.”

Adding that I would like to see a Justice Department Investigation of the project, she added,

“We’ve been doing everything we can to make sure and we talked about trying to get some kind of Inspector General Investigation.”

After some small talk she added,

“I have to tell you there are really very, very powerful, I haven’t even found them all out, but there are very powerful interests pushing this project and I think it is going to drain our economy.”

Many of us can see through the elected rulers’ smokescreen and know it is going to drain our economy. It has already cost taxpayers over $160 Million and they haven’t been able to design a bridge with adequate clearance for river traffic, opting to “mediate” with the U.S. Coast Guard in hopes of gaining approval for an inferior design.

Ms Herrera Beutler has spoken with Ms. Couch more than once and no doubt has received a copy of this latest report.

The Columbian and the CRC will undoubtedly continue their campaign of marginalizing serious concerns people have over this boondoggle.

But the information is out there and freely available.

We all need to hold Congresswoman Herrera Beutler’s feet to the fire demanding she keep calling for an Investigation into this whole project and anybody concerned with it.

In the meantime, we all need to support candidates willing to take a critical look at the CRC and shine light on the cock roaches. Candidates like David Madore and Don Benton, two of the most outspoken and Debbie Peterson, Carolyn Crain, Eileen Qutub, Liz Pike and Tom Mielke, all of whom see there are serious problems with the project.

Keep the light on and keep the cock roaches scurrying.

14 Comments to “The Unraveling of the CRC Continues”

  1. That Jaime Herrera will DO NOTHING is the main reason I oppose her continuance in office.

    She’s had two years to do something. And she has accomplished zilch.

    Like

  2. Better to approach Darrell Issa, the Government Oversight committee chairman. He has a link where someone with a bit more info could “blow the whistle” on this project: https://wb-gop-oversight.house.gov/

    I urge readers of this blog to do everything they can to stop this disastrous project from going forward. It will ruin the local economy and will play into the hands of those who would force Agenda 21 down our throats.

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  3. Jaime Herrera is the least of our problems. Even if she were 100% on board with stopping CRC and starting a federal investigation, the proponents of the scam have at least two very powerful senators in their pocket. Cantwell and Tennis Shoes will push as hard as they can to force this upon us. I don’t know where the Oregon delegation stands, but if it has anything to do with ripping of the taxpayer, they’re most likely for it.

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  4. Except she sit on the House Transportation committe and can spike the funding… “two powerful senators” or not.

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  5. Except she sits on the House Transportation committee and can spike the funding… “two powerful senators” or not. (Please pardon my spelling… I don’t WP all that well when I’ve HAD coffee.)

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  6. If you don’t remember that failed mess-o-potamia charade between Representative Peter Defazio and Jaime about six months ago? Remember that one? Believe me, if anyone has any heart burn on this project for the CRC, I have heard it many times from him. And he has more senior leadership than goody two shoes and real.com exec senators from washington state.

    So you have Cantwell, Defazio, Merkely, Murray, Herrera Beutler, Shrader (Yes, he has SW corner of Portland) and Blumenaur. (Yeah, I know he loves every thing light rail.) But I am just listing a few possibilities of federal representatives that could nicely kill this project with a little wet banana policy slipped into a piece of must pass piece of legislation to kill it without much of a word.

    You know guys? IN my near 10 years of watching the CRC Project, I really hardly ever hear Earl Blumenaur talk about this project. Yes, I know he’s a fumbler for transit and other Portland issues, but have you ever hear him publicly say anything?

    (Time for me to do a little “research…”)

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  7. Tiffany Couch was one of the panelists providing information about C-Trans’ proposed sales tax hike for light rail in Clark County. She called out the $900 MILLION Debt of Tri-Met + about $1 BILLION unfunded liabilities for Tri-Met pension and benefits. An Expert Review Panel on the proposed light rail expansion to Vancouver warned that bringing Portland’s Tri-Met light rail into Vancouver “could include C-TRAN inheriting at lease some of the existing TiMet cost structure.” In other words, Clark County could become responsible for some of TriMet debt if voters approve of light rail this November. TriMet is also pushing hard for Clark County C-Tran to pay for all of the light rail expansion, including the portion in Oregon from Delta Park. C-Tran express buses now in use to bring riders from CCounty to Portland are popular, and work well. Why raise the sales tax again to bring in Tri-Met light rail from OR that costs $ MILLIONS to maintain & operate ,with the attached TRI-Met debt , when the existing bus service is working and is affordable?
    C-Tran’s proposition to raise the sales tax for light rail doesn’t serve Clark County as well as the buses do.

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  8. Well I was at the oversight hearing today. I heard that the federal contribution was maybe $400 million and that it was more likely $0 from the highway side of the game aka FDT agency money. I heard that they are probably going to not get the c-tran bill passed and that tolling is the funding for capital expenses in the neighborhood of $6-8 round trip. I heard the tifia funding which is a federal loan itself at approximately 2.98% could be used to leverage the construction loans aquired from other entities and then paid back by us. I heard ridiculous amounts of money being spent in theory out of our pockets for over the next 30 years if not longer. I heard that there are two ways to pay for this through bonding that passes local votes OR through bonding that comes from the general budget & road/gas taxes through legislative votes. IF you DO NOT want this project you now absolutely need to vote for all republicans in your area or we are screwed!!!

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  9. Carolyn, Lew, Kelly, Robert and everyone else. If you would like to see all of the data that was presented at the joint house – Oversight Transportation committee meeting at the Southwest Washington headquarters that Carolyn speaks of in her post, you can find it here:

    Click to access DraftAgenda_CRC100912.pdf

    I WILL WARN YOU! It is very data intensive. I just barely skimmed it tonight. I do plan on re-reading it tomorrow. And I expect that the meeting will be up within the next 48 hours. So if you just wait a little bit, you’ll finally get to see the one TIME they might allow public comment during this whole OTC portion. I just read from either Eric Florip or the CRC_Project twitter account that they only allowed two minutes for public comment. hmm, sounds like the city of Vancouver is getting a little “excessive” for their public comment time?

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  10. So… when are our legislators going to demand accountability? When are they going to demand criminal investigations? When are the electeds who are supposed gto be looking out for us going to demand accountability?

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  11. If we don’t replace a bunch of faces in the legislature, the second Tuesday of next week.

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  12. Now the real question is, will people get off their apathetic butts? OR will you see another season of, same old, same old?

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  13. Nice editorial here from Reflector’s Marvin Case on unknowns in CRC’s tax proposal:

    http://www.thereflector.com/opinion/article_f58a4eb6-172a-11e2-8493-0019bb2963f4.html

    Like

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