Vancouver Faces Lawsuit Over CRC, Legislators Step-Up Opposition: Corrected

by lewwaters

Light Rail HellEven though the announced “Clash of Titans” did not occur last evening, thanks to reminders by Mayor Tim ‘the Liar’ Leavitt who would not allow the efforts of citizens to place a petition on light rail, invalidated under fishy circumstances, on the ballot, such a Clash may yet occur in a courtroom.

As previously announced at CRC Petitioners Put City on Notice, CRC opponents have contacted Tim Eyman, known for advocating on behalf of citizens statewide and who called in constitutional attorney Stephen Pidgeon.

Attorney Pidgeon sent the city a “good faith offer” to void litigation over the questionable rejection of many signature on the petition.

Levitt’s actions scoffed at the offer resulting in Tim Eyman sending an email last evening to the Mayor and Council members informing them to expect a lawsuit due to their rejection of the good faith offer.

As we would expect, the Columbian coverage is sympathetic to the CRC and Mayor Leavitt with their article Eyman: Light rail foes to sue city.

City Attorney Ted Gathe, husband of pro-CRC 49th Legislative District Representative Sharon Wylie, is reported to have contacted Stephen Pidgeon with claims of “factual errors” contained in his letter of “only nine signatures were invalidated because of an error in how the petition circulator filled out the affidavit,” and “duplicate signatures were invalidated by the County Auditor [Greg Kimsey] solely on the basis of RCW 35.21.005(7), which you yourself point out has not been invalidated by any court.”

The lawsuit would challenge that state law based on a 1977 State Supreme Court ruling, SUDDUTH v. CHAPMAN that states that in the case of duplicate signatures, the first signature must be counted and not disqualified along with any subsequent duplicate signatures.

A lawsuit could easily have been avoided had Mayor Leavitt merely allowed citizens to have vote on light rail being extended from Portland, Oregon that has been promised numerous times, never to be granted.

But Leavitt chose to ignore the offer and as Mr. Eymen said in his email last evening to the Mayor and City Council, “It is your failure to listen and respond to Vancouver’s voters that forces us to say, with sincere regret, see you in court.”

Petitioners need your generous help in raising the $20,000 needed to cover Stephen Pidgeon’s expenses and if you are able to help, please contact Debbie Peterson at

Legal Defense for Stop Light Rail Initiative (Stephen Pidgeon)
c/o Debbie Peterson
PO Box 872204
Vancouver, WA 98687

Legislator Opposition

As well know now, after a decade of planning and over $160 Million poured into somewhere, the called for and agreed upon design of the bridge is too low for adequate river clearance of river traffic, being initially set at 95 feet.

This prompted the US Coast Guard to caution the CRC that they would not approve a permit for building the bridge due to the inadequate clearance if an application were to be made.

Since then efforts to ‘mediate’ the clearance have resulted in the CRC coming up with a clearance of 116 feet, still lower than the other bridges upriver, the I-205 bridge at 144 feet, the Bridge of the Gods in Skamania County at 140 feet, and the Hood River Bridge at 149 feet of clearance. The current I-5 bridge offers 178 feet when the lift span is raised.

The inadequate clearance is due to the CRC and Portland, Oregon insistence that Portland’s financially beleaguered light rail “must” be included or Oregon will not agree to a new bridge, light rail being unable to climb a steeper grade.

Clark County voters rejected light rail in 1995, leading to Oregon dangling a new bridge including light rail to force Clark County to accept their folly.

Washington 17th Legislative District Senator Don Benton, a Republican has opposed this extortion by Portland in holding a new bridge hostage to their whims and was recently joined by 18th Legislative District Senator Ann Rivers, also a Republican to propose a bill to block light rail, calling it “unacceptable” for a number of reasons,” and blocking “spending any of the state’s money for the project’s construction as long as the project includes light rail.”

With pro-CRC light rail Democrats holding the majority in the House, the likelihood of the bill ever being approved is unlikely, but legislators have gone a step further now.

Eight legislators have signed a letter calling on the US Coast Guard to reject the CRC height proposal of 116 ft.

Contained in the letter is,

“The proposed clearance of 116 feet prevents many of our current waterway users from continued use of the river and severely restricts the possibility of any future growth. This impact will be felt for the next 80 years.”

The letter further states,

“the CRC Final Environmental Impact Statement states… that navigation conditions cannot be made worse than existing conditions if the CRC project designs are to receive permitting…”

As noted in the letter, decreasing the clearance to just 116 feet, making it the lowest bridge would severely limit current river traffic.

It is refreshing to see 17th Legislative District Representative Monica Stonier, a Democrat that I have been critical of joining with eight Republicans, state Sens. Ann Rivers, R. 28th; Don Benton, R. 17th; and Curtis King, R. 14th. State Reps. Brandon Vick, R.; Liz Pike, R. both from the 18th; Paul Harris, R.17th; Charles Ross, R. 14th; and Norm Johnson, R. 14th.

Being the lone Democrat signing the letter may set her on a path to retribution from 49th Legislative District Representative Jim Moeller, a staunch support of the CRC known for throwing other Democrats under the bus if they opposed what seems to be a pet project of his.

CORRECTION: It is now reported by the Columbian’s Stevie Mathieu, “The letter Kurt Hammond, the House Republican Caucus’ public information officer, sent The Columbian yesterday contained an error. It listed Rep. Monica Stonier as a signer of the letter, but Hammond told me today that she actually did not sign it. I’ve updated the article to correct that error.”

In spite of our rejecting Portland’s beleaguered light rail in 1995 and growing citizen opposition to it, the powers that be have forged ahead, ignoring the people every step of the way and telling us basically that it is a done deal and we better get used to it.

With a lawsuit now pending and nine eight legislators urging rejection of the current mediated design, it would appear to me that the notion of it being a done deal is grossly exaggerated.

Maybe it is the likes of Jim Moeller, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart and others who need to get used to the idea that citizens are fed up being ignored and our rights trampled on by elected officials.

It is they who need to get used to the idea that our opposition is not going to disappear and that demand a workable, more affordable bridge project without Portland’s financially troubled light rail.

6 Comments to “Vancouver Faces Lawsuit Over CRC, Legislators Step-Up Opposition: Corrected”

  1. Time to get another case of popcorn ready while I pull up a chair.

  2. Interesting that Vancouver City Attorney, Ted Gathe, would zero in on a perceived minute factual error in Mr. Pidgeon’s letter. A pedant will do that.

    A pedant will look at an initiative petition signed by 3,000 registered voters in a small city like Vancouver and rule that the effort fell 32 votes short of forcing a vote by the people on whether they want to pay for a $10 billion light rail project.

    A pedant will apply the letter of a clearly unconstitutional statute and say his hands are tied by that statute.

    A pedant will claim that it was the County Auditor who voided the voters’ rights – not him.

    A pedant will not exercise discretion unless doing so will achieve his own desired end.

    A pedant will not apply the rules of liberal construction, or look for intent, if it means the people get to accept or reject what is being foisted on them by their government.

    A pedant will always say “my hands are tied.”

  3. In November 2012, voters rejected light rail when the question of whether to raise the sales tax for light rail and Bus Rapid Transit was posed to the CTRAN district voters in Clark County. No to light rail and BRT was the answer.

  4. This is more of Leavitts attempt to minimize the voices of the people who aren’t willing to help the “cabal” realize their financial goals.
    Does he ever care about what the people want, or want to give them a chance to voice their opinions through the vote process? Heck no! This takes matters out of his control and he freaks because of it!
    Notice that Leavitt has missed some Monday City Council meetings of late? He feigns sickness but is well enough to work at his day job! Just another example of Leavitt’s inability to fact up to the public!

  5. Vote him out people! Just vote him out… find a few good people and let’s get them to run! We can make it happen.

  6. This petition is important because the self-interested think that since Prop 1 failed they can fund light rail from City coffers and by-pass C-Tran voters.

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