Suck It Up, Oregon. Bail Out Light Rail Yourself

by lewwaters

CRCAs we see more and more Washington citizens and businesses joining in opposing the Columbia River Crossing light rail project, the desperation seen from Oregon in wanting to tap into our tax dollars to bail out their folly of light rail increases.

From Governor Kitzhaber’s proclamations published in the CRC mouthpiece Kitzhaber: Without light rail, new span across Columbia is history and Kitzhaber: Removal of light rail will kill CRC project to now an editorial in the April 25 Oregonian, Hey, Olympia: Suck it up and help build the CRC demanding we just ‘get onboard’ and do as they say.

Kitzhaber’s call showed that the calls of “decrease congestion,” “unsafe bridge” and “improve freight mobility” have been nothing more than lies and reaffirmed what this blog and several others have been saying for several years, light rail is the only factor driving this project.

And now the Oregonian Editorial Board jumps in with “suck it up?”

The OEB says, “Olympia, it’s time to listen to your new and smart governor, Jay Inslee, and pony up your share.”

Would that be the same Jay Inslee that came to Vancouver to encourage a carefully selected and orchestrated small group of CRC supporters to “increase the decibels” a couple weeks ago, calling on them to drown out concerned taxpayers? The same Jay Inslee that disrespected and blew off a Vietnam Veteran twice, while his aide tried to silence that Veteran from asking a pertinent question?

And of course, Sen. Don Benton (R 17th) is attacked in the screed for his many years of opposition and exposing the truth about the CRC as they claim, “It’s also time to ignore the righteous self-celebrations of a Vancouver senator who this month posted on his website that he and others handed U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood his hat,” ignoring that LaHood’s trip out here was to coerce our legislature to “suck it up” and get on board, ignoring any and all citizen concerns.

As we have come to expect, the lies surrounding this money grab are also brought in when they claim, “The present spans lack the capacity to do the job. They are seismically unsafe. And their narrowed lanes are implicated in a high incidence of accidents.”

Of course 6 through lanes lack the capacity to handle enough traffic. But how does spending upwards of $10 Billion (after bond interest and anticipated cost overruns is factored in) to give us 6 through lanes increase capacity? It doesn’t, only more bridges will accomplish that and of course, Oregon refuses to allow more bridges between the two states, even though they constructed nearly a dozen bridges across the Willamette River to provide access between Portland and Downtown.

Seismically unsafe is another canard. While the bridges are aging, CRC itself has shown they could be retrofitted to today’s seismic standards for a fraction of the cost of the light rail project.

Additionally, we have seen that a “2009 ODOT study released said that during the biggest quake that everyone is afraid of (the ‘Cascadia Subduction Zone’9.0 quake), there would be massive damage along Hwy 101 (5 completely destroyed structures, and 35 extensively damaged structures for a total bridge repair/replacement cost of $684 million) but very little damage to I-5 in Multnomah County (zero completely destroyed, zero extensively damaged, and only $8 million in repair costs).”

As for accidents, while there are several accidents, most occur along Oregon’s narrow freeway approaches to the bridge, not on the bridge itself. Of course, they blame the bridge as they are within the so-called CRC benefit zone. Oregon knows their narrow lanes area problem and last I heard, may address that someday, like around 2030 after sucking Clark County dry of funds to bail out their financially failing, $1.6 Billion in unfunded liabilities TriMet & light rail system.

They also claim, “It’s time to look beyond the late-coming doubters of the Columbia River Crossing, the vocal minority in Vancouver that irrationally fears the arrival of Portland crime via light rail, the few who insist the CRC will bankrupt two states and kill jobs and leave Clark County in hollow ruin” showing just how much they do not pay attention.

“Late coming doubters?”

Hardly. This blog was established back in June 2008, nearly 5 years ago. Of the 4 posts written in the first month, two were against the CRC and light rail. And I would be considered a latecomer then as several other people were speaking out against it long before.

It is a flat out lie to state that we who oppose the CRC are a “vocal minority.” Every single measure we have been allowed to vote on concerning funding light rail has been defeated, by large margins. The powers that be refuse to allow another vote of the county and even within the gerrymandered sub-district, funding for light rail operations & maintenance was soundly defeated just last November.

If we really were a “vocal minority,” there would have been a vote, if for no other reason than to just shut us up.

Even the Columbian’s recent effort to create an aura of support for the CRC and light rail feel flat as of the 400 targeted for calls, focusing heavily on zip codes expected to show more support, they could only muster a very slim margin showing support, leading pollster Bob Moore to state, “This is not an overwhelming margin for the CRC,” along with “If there’s an economic development component, it’s not getting out there in the bloodstream.”

It is also very disingenuous of supporters to denigrate “the few who insist the CRC will bankrupt two states and kill jobs and leave Clark County in hollow ruin.”

It is disingenuous because none of the supporters, from Governor’s Inslee or Kitzhaber to 49th district Rep. Jim Moeller will address the efforts of Oregon Rep. Caddie McKeown’s claim made of how she supports the project, knowing the bridge is too low and will interfere upriver businesses ability to ship some of their larger projects downriver, meeting with and encouraging those same businesses to pack up hundreds of good paying jobs and relocate 200 miles away in Reedsport, Oregon.

That not only sticks us with the expense of the light rail project, paying for operations and maintenance from Portland’s Expo Center inside Oregon, paying off what few freeway improvements will happen inside Oregon, but it is taking jobs and revenue away from Washington at the same time, should they relocate.

And adding insult to injury, we see Moeller pushing to “mitigate” the expense of their moving with our tax dollars!

No, any way we look at it this is very bad deal for Clark County. It holds no advantage to us and only will be there to send more of our people to Portland to work and spend their money, bring few, if any, back to our side of the river.

We have the words of Jim Moeller to show as he advocates ending the sales tax exemption to Oregon residents when he said in comments, “Vancouver and Clark County in general is not ‘destination shopping’ for Oregonians. They can get better selection and convience in Oregon.”

He is also inadvertently showing, as many of us have said, that Clark County residents and commuters will carry the burden of paying the lion’s share of the expense for this Oregon light rail project.

Bottom line, while they proclaim how good this deal is, how beneficial it is for us, how necessary it is for us, it should easily sell itself on the merits.

Instead, we see bullying, strong-arming, lying, secrecy and coercion being used to force us to accept it.

If it really were that beneficial to us, supporters would not be forced to rely on such tactics.

It’s time for Oregon to “suck it up” and fix their own problems without draining what little revenues we have left.

11 Comments to “Suck It Up, Oregon. Bail Out Light Rail Yourself”

  1. Talking won’t do any good now – you need to let Benton know you support him, and back his play. He’s probably feeling like his ass is hanging out there just about now.

  2. We’re wise to them, Martin.

    Rule 11: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.

    Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals

  3. TriMet debt about $900 MILLION, PLUS unfunded liabilities of over $1BILLION. CTRAN with no debt stands to inherit the “cost structure” of TriMet if TRIMET light rail is extended into Clark County. The OR governor and mouthpiece for him at the Oregonian don’t respect the WA state law RCW 81.104 that gave Clark County CTRAN voters the right to vote on light rail, and the result of that vote, 56.51% of voters REJECTED the proposition to extrend TRIMET light rail into Clark County, WA in November 2012. If this is a shared venture, OR must respect WA laws and citizen’s vote.

  4. C-Tran managers claim they will not expose us to the $1.1 billion in unfunded pension and benefits liabilities owed to Tri-Met operators. They expect to negotiate with the Tri-Met operators to drive their trains onto Clark County’s $10 billion light rail system for salaries only – no benefits. Good luck there. Just who is holding all the aces?

    “Should the extension go through as planned, C-Tran would essentially hire TriMet train operators to run the system on C-Tran-owned infrastructure, Patterson said. But that doesn’t mean C-Tran would end up on the hook for TriMet’s ongoing financial troubles, according to Hamm. A “tentative agreement” now in place states that C-Tran’s obligations would not include unfunded pension liabilities or unfunded benefits owed to TriMet employees, Hamm said.”

  5. Benton is sunk in concrete on this deal and bullet-proof. It’s just another sign of how desperate they are.

  6. “C-Tran managers claim they will not expose us to the $1.1 billion….”

    Tri-Met operators are union members. The union will not agree to contracts that don’t tie C-Trans (that is, Clark County Taxpayers) to their pension and benefit schemes.

    So far, Washington has been somewhat lucky in avoiding union pushed excessive pensions and benefits packages that have put California’s cities and counties into a fiscal disaster. The nasty system is that unions will provide generous support (cash and “volunteers”) to get their politicians elected. Then the politicians, beholden to the unions, will funnel taxpayer money to the unions. That is what has ruined California, Illinois, New York and other states. Washington (state) is in similar danger, but has not (yet) been so dominated by the unions that we’ve gone past the tipping point. Accepting the CRC with trolley cars will bring this disastrous system into Clark County until the tax payers are bled dry.

  7. It has long nagged at me that these people have a vision of becoming everything New York could have been, or LA. Way down their list of considerations is how the native peoples think of their plans, that indeed they would not approve if told, thus requiring the subterfuge employed. Moeller’s “tricks”. The respect for what our ancestors hope to build, or why they came, is garbage to them. To them I say we have something unique yet to contribute to the family of humankind. Something beyond their cold formulations. Something that includes God and the far side of Wonder.

  8. Speaking about our local bird cage liner…I find it quite interesting how suddenly, my ability to share opinion has suddenly been silenced with NO explanation. Could it be because of my staunch opposition to the project in its current LPA design or could it be a glitch? Funny how the web editor didn’t see any issues. hehe…yeah, right! Convenience??? Sure seems like it. Only time will tell.

    Suspicions tell me the promoters are pulling out all the stops in attempt to silence as many people as they possibly can…including this little plebe of a citizen…just one little voter. Yeahhh…like that’s going to happen!!!

  9. YESSS!!! GOOD NEWS!!! The Washington State Legislature has settled on the transportation budget and as of now…no $450 million to waste on Kitzy’s little pet project. Even though Tiffany’s forensic audit wasn’t enough for the state Legislature, at least now…they’ll have an official audit done, knowing they’ve got to follow in Tiffany’s footsteps and cannot try to hide anything!!! The best part of this approval…very little funding to go into the project till the USCG makes their decision and it sure appears that they’re not in a hurry to give in to the pressure of Kitzy, Moeller and of course…LaHood.

    In my opinion…the voters of SW Washington have won THIS round, thanks to those in the state legislature who have truly listened to the people…especially Senator Don Benton since day one. Also… I am proud to be a part of the forever-growing group of taxpayers AND voters who have tirelessly battled against the unfair taxation/tolling/fees and the strong arm bullying by those in political power who think they have complete control of the people.

    The fight still isn’t over, but this is definitely something worth celebrating!!!

  10. The Oregon governor’s staff refused to confirm or deny that he had lately taken to screaming at the reset button, while pounding his fist like on the ole wack-a-mole as more and more supporters jumped ship fearing a collision with the lower deck.

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