Voters Slap Down CRC & C-TRAN, But Will It Matter?

by lewwaters

As disappointing as the November 6, 2012 elections are, both locally and nationally, a bright and shining result is in the resounding defeat of Clark County Public Transportation Benefit Area Authority (C-TRAN) Proposition No.1, the latest effort to force Clark County residents to cave to the demands of Portland, Oregon and accept their financially failing light rail into our community and run a Bus Rapid Transit line down Fourth Plain Boulevard.

Although the actual vote dealt solely with voting on paying for operations & maintenance of the line from Portland’s Expo Center to Clark College & BRT, for now, it is also widely known that voters saw it as a proxy vote on the project itself, since we have repeatedly been denied the promised vote on whether or not we even wanted it.

Even 3rd Congressional District Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler stated her support hinged on the vote of the people in regards to this measure.

At last count, the effort to add more sales tax is going down in flames with a vote of 56,407 (43.38%) wanting to approve the measure and 73,609 (56.62%) solidly rejecting the measure. That is a stunning defeat for CRC & C-TRAN considering half of the county is denied even voting on the measure, voting being restricted to the gerrymandered sub-district established back in 2005 after another stunning defeat of a C-TRAN tax increase in 2004.

Even though voters has once again thrown a roadblock in the way of the Columbia River Crossings boondoggle folly, we read in the Columbian’s coverage of the measure’s defeat where Mayor ‘Teflon’ Tim Leavitt continues to ignore the will of voters by claiming the result “only confirms that voters do not support raising sales tax to pay for light rail. Now it’s up to local leaders to find another way to pay for the operations cost,” adding, “I think it’s imperative to continue to move forward.”

Scott Patterson of C-TRAN echoed a similar position with, “Clearly, what the vote tells us is that voters said no to a sales tax increase. Now it’s time for C-Tran and the board to take a close look at the results and weigh potential next steps.”

In other words, the hell with you voters, we’re going to do as we please.

Seeing the measure going down in defeat, proponents released Plan ‘B’ early the very next morning, November 7. Identity Clark County, a conglomerate of well to do business and community leaders advocating this boondoggle and the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce had both withdrawn their support for the sales tax increase, obviously realizing voters opposed such an increase and in lieu of a sale tax increase voted for by the people, opted for some other means that will likely once again, go around voters and force them to pay for this project anyway.

According to the Columbian, the Plan ‘B’ proposal would “use eight revenue sources to collect at least $2.9 million in 2019. The biggest of those sources — reallocating savings from no longer sending bus routes No. 4 and No. 44 across the Columbia River — accounts for about $1.2 million, according to the group. Other sources include charging for use of CRC park and ride facilities, a “windfall” of extra sales tax revenue from CRC construction, and a fare surcharge on light rail, or “light rail toll.”

If you recall, another sale tax increase was won in 2011 solely to give C-TRAN more tax dollars to preserve existing service and yet, here we read they will now propose cutting existing service of buses that they so desperately had to have just last year.

The previous intention of building three parking garages that would offer free parking to users to climb onto light rail to take their money out of our community and spend it in Oregon is also in jeopardy as reality sinks in that those garages might not be able to be free after all.

And adding a surcharge, or “light rail toll” as they list is the exact opposite of what they have been using to entice people to ride the light rail line, avoiding the upwards of $8 tolls each way over the bridge.

Completely ignored is that the very same voters who just rejected a sales tax increase will be the very same voters impacted by Plan ‘B’ but likely not permitted to vote on it.

Pretty slick, huh?

Two days after the election, we are told of a group of incumbent and just elected officials banding together proposing a redesign to make it more palatable to voters and overcome the numerous deficiencies seen to date, inadequate clearance over the river, uncertain funding, questionable financial practices, misleading the public on the eventual cost, lying that light rail is required to be included and more.

The Columbian was sure to include a copy of the statement issued by these officials, including the names of all who signed on to it. Their statement includes, “A redesign will take more time, but significant delays to the project already appear inevitable. We know (a bridge replacement) cannot succeed without our support, and that what we’re proposing will take a lot of hard work. … Once there is a project alternative that has the support of Clark County citizens, we will put all of our resources into making the bridge project a reality.”

That is about as sound of a position I’ve heard yet, design something feasible and that the voters will support.

As can be expected, ‘Teflon’ Tim Leavitt chimes in with, “There has been over a decade of planning with literally thousands of public comments and thousands of hours of community volunteer and elected representative effort. Yet, these supposed conservative representatives are, in this letter, thumbing their nose at our public and their involvement, (and) rejecting the return of our federal income taxes right back into our community. … I’ve had enough of this nonsense.”

This from the very Mayor who blatantly lied his way into office by proclaiming strong opposition to tolling the new bridge and flip flopped almost immediately after winning the election. The same Mayor who proposed silencing critics of the project by cutting off the microphone before city council and now restricts when people make speak. The same Mayor who has repeatedly denied voters a chance to voice their opinions on the project by a vote on it.

And he has the audacity to cry that he is tired of this nonsense and accuse others of thumbing their nose at the public?

As can be expected, Saturday November 10 saw the Columbian feature the article, Build that bridge, CRC backers say alleging that 50 supporters are responding to the earlier call for a redesign.

I say alleges because, unlike when the ten Republicans proposed a redesign, readers are not given either a copy of their statement or the names of the alleged 50, just the names of a handful who now say, “We question the wisdom of those who would ignore a decade of research, discussion and work to build a new I-5 bridge and want to start over. In the last seven years over 1,000 public meetings, open houses and events were held on the CRC and 30,000 points of contact made with the public. To reject the project now is to waste millions of dollars, years of work and disregard the hard work of community groups in Washington and Oregon.”

Maybe they forgot that the over “a decade of research, discussion and work” failed to come up with a proposed bridge design with adequate river clearance in order to gain Coast Guard approval in the permitting process?

Pushing ahead, blindly as this alleged 50 wants to do also completely ignores a host of other problems revealed in the Willamette Week article, A Bridge Too False.

Instead, we see supporters expecting officials to simply “mediate” the bridge height and build it anyway, even though it would require certain river shipping to cut off masts and deck heights, the Army Corps of Engineers dredge would be unable to navigate upriver passed the new bridge and even proposed was making the new bridge a “drawbridge,” which is the very reason given for replacing the old drawbridge design, eliminating the lift aspect of the current bridge that causes traffic to back severely on both sides of the river.

For many years now, troubling aspects of this current folly have been being brought to the attention of local officials and the CRC. All concerns have been swept under the rug as these same officials ridiculed opposition, ignored obvious problems and just kept on marching with their eyes and brains fully closed.

And now, voters have once again sent a clear message that we do not want this current project as designed.

The question now is, will those who have decided they are the communities rulers listen?

Or just keep doing as they damn well please and sticking us with the generations of debt?

12 Comments to “Voters Slap Down CRC & C-TRAN, But Will It Matter?”

  1. Maybe the members of ICC would respond to a boycott of their businesses. If they continue to push a project on the voters of Clark County that those voters have clearly said they don’t want, maybe they should feel the financial pinch a bit. I already boycott The Columbian, I think I’ll start boycotting Burgerville (The Holland CEO Tom Mears is on the Board of Directors, ICC). It looks like Columbia Credit Union is a member too. In that I’m a credit union member, I guess I’ll contact Steve Kenney.

  2. If I read this right, the idiot-politician’s argument in favor of the CRC proposal is, essentially, “we’ve worked really really hard and spent [wasted] a lot of taxpayer dollars, so we need to ‘mover forward.'” That’s a pretty lame reason to waste billions of tax payers dollars on a project the public has repeatedly indicated they don’t want. It’s time to demand an up or down vote of all the people who will be responsible for paying for this dog.

    A good argument for a new bridge can be made, if for no other reason than to eliminate the drawbridge and the associated traffic delays. Where the whole thing falls apart is the requirement that a new bridge include trolley cars.

  3. The question remains, what is the most affordable and efficient public transit option for the population and density of Clark County? The CRC manufactured “need” for light rail seems to be a desire for light rail by the contractors and developers hoping to gain financially from it.

  4. Unfortunately, the Herrera letter was another one of her scams.

    The letter includes items like this:

    While we believe the current I-5 bridge is inadequate and must be addressed, a new direction is needed.
    Well, first, the voters don’t believe that. That this empty suited card board cutout would write this goes back to her self-confirmation of the “Ridgefield Barbie” meme.

    The “current I-5 bridge” is safe… and has the advantage of being paid for. The people do not want to be popped an additional $1200 per month just to go to work.

    “We are concerned that the CRC’s mounting problems are jeopardizing the project’s chance for success, and we care too much about this region to simply let it fail.

    Of course, we actually DO want it to fail.

    What’s needed here is a 3rd and 4th bridge in different locations, one to the west of I-5 and one to the east of I-205. Those could (and likely should) be tolled… and both can be built for less money than the I-5 Bridge/loot rail toll scam.

    i would sacrifice the $150 million that the Leave-it/democrat cabal has already wasted over the $10 billion they plan to waste, every day and twice on Sunday.

    No matter how much lipstick Herrera wants to put on this pig, it’s still a pig, and Herrera’s fantasies notwithstanding WE DO NOT WANT THIS PROJECT.

    “We want this process to move forward, but it’s time for compromise. Rather than issue ultimatums over what Clark County residents must accept, the CRC must produce a design that can earn the support of communities that rely on the I-5 roadway and Columbia River. That is the only way this needed project will succeed.

    Well, the voters don’t. And since there is precisely NO design that will work to unnecessarily replace the I-5 bridge, why she would make this claim is just… bizarre.

    Thanks to this year’s national transportation bill, the federal government has the ability to pay its share of a new bridge.

    Decoded, this means “Thanks to my failure to do anything about this funding because I want this project, the money is in their to yoke the people of my district to pay for this rip off.”

    Because “it’s share” should be the ENTIRETY of THIS scam.

    Once there is a project alternative that has the support of Clark County citizens, we will put all of our resources into making the bridge project a reality.”

    How is this going to be determined?

    And taking it a step further, where is the absolute demand for a vote? Do you see it?

    Let me make this clear: Herrera wants the bridge… and light rail… and tolls. The letter says as much if you read between the lines. This public posturing is, again, to get people to believe she gives a damn about them or their positions, which, like the slimeball democrats (Moeller, Pridemore, Leave-it, et al) is all about posturing.

    If that wasn’t the case, the letter would have made demands. As it is, it’s practically so nebulous it can have any meaning you want in it.

    50 or 5000 morons signing a letter that doesn’t reflect the political reality of this region is as worthless as Herrera’s brain. Unless SPECIFICS are laid out, as in:

    “Hi, Guys…. here’s the deal. I am going to spike the federal funding of this massive rip off. You won’t put the project to a county-wide vote, so the people spoke through this election, eliminating those they could who supported this scam; clearly, they do not want tolls, do not want loot rail and… per force… do not want the current safe and PAID FOR bridge replaced for ANY reason.

    If you can’t find at least 2 other locations for additional bridges, which certainly may be tolled to help pay for them, then we’re done talking and this is over. Meanwhile, rest assured that because you have failed to put this project to a county-wide vote and have shown rank incompetence in the process, design and development of this debacle, I will kill any further federal funding for this massive waste of money.

    And oh, yeah…. Tim?

    You’re an asshole.

    Love, Jaime”

    Then nothing has changed.

    Of course, compared to the initial letter, with 10 signatures of everyone elected around here who doesn’t seem to have a “d” after their name, Leave-it’s bitchy little whinefest is worthless. But without specifics as to exactly WHAT is acceptable (Only a 3rd and 4th bridge with no light rail… anywhere) and HOW it will be approved by the people of this county (A county-wide, up or down vote) and what the consequences will be if they don’t go along with it, then Herrera’s letter accomplished nothing and, in reality, changes nothing.

    Nor, for that matter, does that lying weasel Leave-it’s hissy fit as a result. Leave-it works for a bridge-contractor and his obvious conflict of interest should remove him from any vote… or say…. in the entirety of this program. His pig-like bleating on the subject is as worthless as he is… and like Herrera’s posturing, changes nothing.

    Notice that the newspaper seems to be remaining silent about all of this at the editorial level. And they had SOOOOO much to say in the past.

    Wonder why?

  5. Instead of 1200 per month, I meant $1200 or more per year, obviously.

  6. Jaime has sort of moved herself behind the proverbial eight ball now.

    She stated the vote turnout would determine her stand. Not that our spineless Republicans would do anything, if she doesn’t take a stand now, she is revealed as inept as we said all along.

  7. A handful of Democrat elected leaders warn that to redesign the project now would waste $millions and countless hours of special interest input. I guess nobody ever accused elected Democrats of knowing beans about Economics. Those wasted $millions ($160 million) are what is known as “sunk costs.” Sunk costs are irrelevant to decisions going forward.

  8. I wonder if The Columbian’s “Staff Troll”John Laird will write a “Taunt Column” like he did for the presidential elections and chide the city for being so far out of touch with it’s citizens?Probably not, because the A-holes at The Columbian were in the tank for the rejected boondoggle to begin with.

  9. None of them see the boodoggle as rejected. They only see the sales tax increase as rejected.

  10. no momey – no party.WHERE are all the supporters that claimed a “majority” wanted light rail??Did they all crawl back under their rocks?

  11. Jaime said all along a vote of the people was the direction. She really means it. She does not intend to lead us by forcing some one else’s will on us. She will absolutely follow the lead of our votes you guys. We would do really well to vote out Leavitt and Burkman and Harris this fall so that our city council will get a group who are more likely to promote solving problems with the fiscal cliff of the area instead of shoving us even faster toward it by promoting the continuation of the CRC project.

  12. Carolyn – I wish I could really believe that. As someone who has followed local politics as much as many have here for nearly twenty plus years, I have seen the INO type and style manifested politics promulgated here. And at varying levels. I hope she will prove me wrong. But I just don’t feel the same way you do about Mrs. Herrera Beutler.

    A lot of what I have seen from her is been smoke and mirrors PR games that she participated in (remember the old video of federal house transportation both her and peter defazio, senior house democrat representative from Oregon? That sounds like a a junior staffer created or thought up to deflect the growing criticism from varying quarters through her local district? And that criticism is still flowing around?

    A letter from a congresswoman has about as much teeth in my opinion, as the columbian does writing editorials on the subject of the columbia river crossing project. A while lot of political whitewash until you see substantive action. I have heard and seen some things from her but there is so much action left out… And with that, I am reserving my right of judgement til the next election.

    I don’t want to continue to see this from her. As was said by others here, it’s time for her to put up or shut up. One past example is she backed down a year or two ago from a disagreement she has with Tim Leavitt and the C-tran board. And Leavitt just ate her for lunch. That is just one example of our congresswoman not putting her actions behind her words or using letter head of her office as though it was mimeographed pinata, she can continue to hit with a plastic child bat and continue to miss the point of the whole subject facing our community.

    If she had come out some time ago in one direction or another and just told us the truth on the subject, put some action behind her words, I might feel entirely different than what I stated above.

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