Columbian Caught Sandbagging CRC Reports, Says Red Flags “Not Newsworthy”

by lewwaters

It is well known in our community that the newspaper of record, the Columbian is wholly in the tank for the Columbia River Crossing Project and forcing Portland, Oregon’s financially ailing light rail into our community. We have all seen how they minimize red flags raised, such as the Coast Guard’s refusing to sign off on the design due to insufficient river traffic clearance and even comments left by supporters that barges and ships that may require more than 95 foot clearance, such as the Columbia River Dredge, should cut down their masts or whatever extends higher to clear the light rail planned to be hung underneath the new bridge on a lower level.

Recent revelations by forensic accountant Tiffany Couch of Acuity Group LLC has indicated, through her independent audit of hundreds of documents several red flags, including a potential violation of state law, huge cost overruns potentially not be handled properly and even Millions on cost appearing in CRC documents that appear to be marked to fund expansion and improvement projects inside Oregon, several miles outside of the CRC Transportation area.

This blog covered the first of the three reports released so far here and here. Additional coverage can be found at Couv.com as well as looking through Clark County Politics, both of whom have given the CRC as much critical coverage as I have, if not more.

Where you are unlikely to find critical coverage is within the pages of the Columbian, where you would expect to find it in a responsible newspaper.

Knowing that the Columbian is in the tank for the CRC, I was still shocked at just what extent they go to in order to just ignore critical information revealed about the CRC.

Friday, October 12, 2012 saw Ms. Couch send out her second of four reports on what she is uncovering in her independent audit. Copies were sent widely, this blog, Couv.com, Clark County Politics, a few others and of course, the Columbian.

Seeing no mention of her extensive research appearing in the Columbian,  thinking “the delay was due to the fact that the Columbian was giving the CRC an opportunity to write a huge rebuttal,” would be a reasonable expectation.

In a discussion with Ms. Couch it was relayed to me that she received a call back from someone down at the Columbian that told her, concerning her second report that they would not be reporting on it because “it would make David Madore look too good.”

As you know, Madore is who is funding this independent audit out of his pocket as well as is a candidate for County Commissioner, trying to replace Commissioner Marc Boldt, who sold out conservative voters who twice elected him when he jumped wholly behind the CRC and forcing Clark County taxpayers to fund it, after blocking our voices on it. The Columbian endorsed Boldt for reelection recently.

Calling back to the reporter covering such issues and hearing, “it was ‘old news,’ and ‘wasn’t newsworthy and didn’t think [they] could run anything on it,” Ms Couch replied, “so cost overruns, federal and state violations, duplicative work, a $50M contract at $131M is not news?”

Earlier today, Wednesday October 17, 2012 Tiffany received another call from the reporter informing her that they would not be running the “old news,” she informed the reporter, “That’s fine. I guess I’ll issue my 3rd report.”

“3rd report? You have a 3rd report – what’s it about” asked the reporter on the phone.

Ms. Couch replied, “It’s about over $50 million in projects for TriMet in Portland.”

“Oh I’ve been working on that since last week since it was brought up by the legislators during the CRC meeting,” says the reporter to which Ms Couch responded, “Oh really, since last week huh? Where do you think the legislators got the info?”

“So I should wait for your report then” asked the reporter who received the reply, “yes, I would wait for it – we’ve been doing research for months and you can use whatever you need.”

Within 30 minutes Tiffany received a call from a state senator that the Columbian reporter “has called her, asking for documents about the TriMet projects and saying ‘he’s doing a story tonight’.”

Likely seeing that once again local blogs beat them to the punch on this third report, Ms. Couch received an email this evening at 7:01 PM saying,

“Just wanted to let you know ahead of time how we’re handling this one. We’re using our own reporting for the article itself, but I’m also going to post your full report with our story online, with an additional refer in tomorrow’s paper. Thanks again.”

After sitting on the information for days and hearing that Ms. Couch had a third report to release, somehow, magically I am sure, they discovered what blogs have been saying all along and posted on their online site moments ago, Oregon CRC upgrades raising questions.

As is always expected, the effort once again is to minimize what was uncovered with,

“Those extras, totaling more than $50 million, aren’t new additions. Both are included in the project’s sprawling Final Environmental Impact Statement, widely released last year. They were also mentioned in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement published in 2008. But the two upgrades — benefiting two Oregon structures well outside the CRC project area — have flown largely under the radar as the $3.5 billion plan continues to lurch forward.

CRC plans tie the work to the light rail extension, saying the upgrades would be needed to handle extra train traffic generated by the project as part of the regional transportation system…”

Precisely how upgrading the Steel Bridge across the Willamette River downtown Portland ties to dragging their light rail into Vancouver generates “extra train traffic” is not addressed. Nor is how expanding a maintenance facility in Gresham, Oregon, well over 10 miles outside will see increased train traffic is also not mentioned.

Just blindly accept it because, well, they say so.

Also not addressed is why, since they claim it was “widely known,” were they silent on Clark County having to pay for projects well within Oregon, outside of the CRC Transportation area.

Either they did not know or if they in fact did, they sat on it hoping we would not notice how our tax dollars are being drained from our community to be sent to Oregon to squander while we struggle to keep a fire station open and elected leaders like Tim Leavitt, Marc Boldt, Steve Stuart, Jim Moeller, Sharon Wylie and other supporters seek ways to separate us from more of our money.

We have to ask, though, given that the Columbian now claims they “aren’t new additions” and have been known since 2008, as well as the reporter saying to Ms. Couch that they had been working on the story since last week, just how I that local blogs covered it first?

The Columbian’s article opens with, “Here’s something you may not know about the Columbia River Crossing.”

Followers of local blogs already knew that and more.

11 Comments to “Columbian Caught Sandbagging CRC Reports, Says Red Flags “Not Newsworthy””

  1. Yes, Lew… And a bunch more was known for some time. Thanks for the update on this…

    Like

  2. It’s true the Columbian won’t report accusations against their pets until an official investigation is launched. No Pulitzers here thank you very much.

    Like

  3. The democratian rarely reports information damaging to their petsd, their projects or any other part of their agenda.

    Such is why referring to them as the “cancer on our community” is actually to do a disservice to cancer cells everywhere.

    Like

  4. Deleted, off topic

    Like

  5. Coward. I know…deleted, off topic.

    Like

  6. You were warned.

    Deal with it.

    Like

  7. Greg Owens, your ignorant, insulting rhetoric is not appreciated anywhere you post it.

    Like

  8. Lew – did you notice your comments (and the reporter’s as well) on the article have been removed?
    http://www.columbian.com/news/2012/oct/17/ore-crc-upgrades-raising-questions/

    Like

  9. I see them when I click on the link, Josef.

    There was a short time the other evening I couldn’t see them, but I have been able to see them ever since.

    I think it is facebook problem, though.

    Like

  10. Josef & Lew – I would like to confirm for you that I have been having problems with and there has been talk of facebook having network problems over the past few days…

    Like

  11. Hey Greg – to put the final point from my own view point and only my own. I personally don’t care to read your rhetoric and baseless claims, here, there or at the columbian.

    If you want to have a go, why not create your own blog? And start posting there and allow your own commenters to say and do what they want?

    Like

Leave a Reply. Comments are moderated. Spam & off topic comments will not be approved at Blog Author's discretion. THIS IS NOT A FREE SPEECH ZONE!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: