CRC & $10 Billion Trans Package Taken Off Life-Support

by lewwaters

I-5 Bridge 02The second special session ended shortly after 6 PM, June 29, 2013.

All of the whining, crying and gnashing of teeth won’t help now, only divine intervention will breathe any life into the CRC and Inslee’s massive $10 Billion Transportation package to be heaped on the backs of struggling middle class voters across the state with a 10.5¢ gas tax increase and other fee increases to fund it.

The Senate Coalition majority held fast and remained unified today as efforts get some to change their minds failed.

An AP report, Wash. Senate leaders decline $10B transpo plan indicated the final nail in the coffin late this afternoon.

The failure of the plan came despite Inslee, who had hoped the bill would be approved this weekend. Business leaders, which have often been aligned with this year’s Senate majority, had also asked for the bill, saying transportation improvements were necessary.

Ted Sturdevant, Inslee’s executive director for legislative affairs, said he has to “go tell my boss” after talking with [Democrat Rodney] Tom about the Senate decision.

“He’ll be disappointed,” Sturdevant said, but acknowledged “I don’t see a path.”

Governor Inslee might be disappointed, but the struggling middle class should feel elated over not facing the proposed increases, especially the 10.5¢ gas tax increase at a time gas prices remain overly high.

I suspect Inslee is not the only one disappointed this evening, having eagerly looked forward to further burdening the middle class taxpayer for a pet project too few wanted, forcing Clark County to accept Portland, Oregon’s financially failing light rail in spite of it being voted down 4 times, once directly and 3 times by proxy.

Mayor Tim ‘the Liar’ Leavitt, “Rep. Jim ‘sue your constituents to invalidate their votes’ Moeller, County Commissioner Steve Stuart, Vancouver City Council members Jack Burkman, Paul Montague, Jeff Hamm of C-Tran as well as Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber are not doubt deep in depression currently trying to figure out what went wrong as they felt they had this all wrapped up against the wishes of taxpayers.

An effort at a silly computer game was also made in an effort to grow support and convince people how the project would ease congestion, ignoring the revelation in an Oregon Supreme Court ruling early last year that light rail was the only reason Oregon agreed to a bridge, a bridge that sucked up $170 Million in studies and couldn’t even design one with a safe clearance for River traffic and requiring efforts to “mitigate” with businesses upriver that would see drastic losses in profits and jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom said he looks forward in the coming months to working with other Senators and coming up with a real Transportation Package that I imagine will actually address our needs to repair and replace infrastructure over funding bloated mega-projects that really aren’t needed at this time.

I suspect the effort will also be one taxpayers can support and that will be affordable, not a ram it down our throats effort we have seen over the years with the CRC.

In spite of a clear indication the bill was dead; Senate Democrats tried the same procedural move as did the Republicans and two Democrats last year, the 9th order, to bring the transportation bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

The effort failed by a vote of 21 to 26, effectively killing the bill for this year.

So what do we do now? We first should rejoice as years of growing citizen opposition, educating the public through outreach, blogs like this one and Clark County Politics, informative websites like Stop CRC, CRCFacts.info, NoTolls.com, Couv.com and the relentless research and work of Sharon Nasset & Jim Karlock of Portland and the meticulous forensic accounting research of Tiffany Couch helped bring us to this day.

Electing reliable people like  City Council members  Bill Turlay & Jeanne Stewart an sending people like Sen. Ann Rivers, Liz Pike, Ed Orcutt and supporting Democrats like Rodney King and Tim Sheldon who broke from the ranks to form a true bipartisan majority put us on a path to making our state better.

The Transportation package already signed by Governor Inslee included “$200,000 for a specialized audit to see whether the project had misused public funds” Sen. Benton said in a news release this evening.

“The CRC project officials spent around $170 million dollars without even getting all the necessary permits – and out of that huge sum, they can’t explain where 20 million dollars went. This forensic audit is going to find out. We owe that to the taxpayers,” added Benton.

Some recommendations that came to me we should take serious;

1). Reassign CRC Staff or fire them.

2). Begin to redefine the purpose and need. Instead of Congestion relief lying at the bottom of the list – it will be elevated to the top.

3). Redefine the study area back to its original boundaries – and even larger – making this a truly regional solution, instead of the narrowly defined Bridge Influence Area that CRC Directors sneakily had reduced.

4). Hire competent bridge builders with predetermined dollar amounts for their wages and a rational list of purpose/needs to begin the process of determining the best new route for our new corridor.

5). With the new route in mind – begin the process for the 4th Corridor. The County/City Planners did this community disservice years ago (1985) when they anointed Light rail as king.

Where we go from here is up to us, the People and we should never again allow a group of elected and appointed individuals to circumvent our votes and our voices to place the needs of special interests above that of the People.

While proponents are licking their wounds and throwing out blame everywhere, a “government of the people, by the people and for the people” reined supreme in Washington State today.

We have several local elections this year and urge you all to do your homework, find out what candidates represent and what their values and plans are. Don’t vote for any who aren’t forthcoming and wish to hide their true intent in vague words.

Above all, remain vigilant against such underhanded tactics as we saw with the CRC. It’s our money they almost took, not their own.

19 Comments to “CRC & $10 Billion Trans Package Taken Off Life-Support”

  1. CRC MIssing $20 MILLION? The missing funds should be returned to the taxpayers immediately, and any remaining CRC funds returned to the legislature to maintain and preserve transportation infrastructure. Reportedly CRC still has $MILLIONS of our money to be used however they want, including lobbying for the CRC!!! No report has been issued to date on how much has been wasted on lobbying for the CRC in WA, OR, and the other WA.

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  2. This is great news. Starting over with a fresh look, along the lines you spelled out would be a benefit to ordinary citizens and taxpayers on BOTH sides of the river.

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  3. Just want to send you a big HUG to you Lew all the way from Spokane! Your spot on reports, factual, biting but quality journalistic writing kept us all informed, and put pressure on legislators to think long and hard before going with this boondoggle that would have affected all taxpayers in the state. Please thank those others who worked tirelessly as well….now….go remain vigilant. Glad you are on the wall sounding the alarm if necessary.

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  4. Thanks Cindy. I am but one of many down here that has been fighting this for a long time.

    We have more battles to fight so we can save our state and we will fight them.

    Thanks again for your support and kind words.

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  5. And… many of us left-leaning, active transportation supporters here in Portland are also rejoicing tonight! We hate urban freeways gutting our neighborhoods as much as you disdain light rail.

    We can both agree that (especially with scarce resources) this counter-productive boondoggle was a poor transportation investment.

    We can do it better.

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  6. Lew, thanks for the mention. However I could not have made much contribution without the work of Randal O’Toole, Tom Rubin, Wenedll cox and a host of others who appeared at the American Dream Coalition conventions. They form the foundation of my web site. Videos of many of these folk on it at: http://www.portlandfacts.com/adc_videos.html

    Thanks
    JK

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  7. Jim & Dan, yes there are just too many people involved who put aside difference often and came together to oppose this ill-thought out project.

    Certain people will point fingers and try to blame a few select elected officials, in an effort to score political points, but this victory is one from the people who banded together.

    And yes, they can do better with a project that truly serves the needs of the people.

    So thanks to all, even if I don’t know your names.

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  8. A deep breath and then… pick up the sword again and stay vigilant. The next move is around the corner. Greed refuses to cede to logical functioning freedom loving American citizens so like Lew said, vote for tomorrow!

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  9. Oh Carolyn…you must’ve been reading my mind!!! That sigh of relief (for now) will be brief but was well deserved after the battle we just fought regarding the crossing project. I certainly hope Senator Don Benton pushes for that audit and also pushes for any criminal charges should any evidence of criminal wrongdoing surface.

    You know when I first heard of the Columbia River Crossing project, it honestly sounded like a proactive design…TILL I refused to read the “advertised propaganda” supported by those who had financial interests in the project. Shows what big money can do to the people, ya think???

    Anyways, it took maybe an hour of time online and attending community meetings to find out just what it was they were trying to slip by us…and it truly made me ill. I’d seen such corruption and backroom dealings on television shows…even heard about it in cities back east or down south, but I never thought good ol’ Vancouver and Clark County citizens would have been caught up in one of the worst criminal actions displayed not only by local businesses involved, but by local/state/national leadership in government…of all time. The stacks upon stacks of misinformation hid the truth and as I’ve said from day one that the truth shall prevail…AS IT HAS!!!

    At least us Clark County/SW Washington residents as well as residents of Multnomah County who put our foot down and said “Ah HELL no” by vocalizing our disdain for the worst design of special interest…to the point, that it took folks such as a local business leader to step up to the plate and spend his own hard-earned money. It took people like you and me and everyone else who used our rights as citizens of this fine nation to shout out…to take the heat so to speak, to be condemned, chastised, browbeaten…to stand up for what we believed in, in order to truly open up the eyes of the people who were oblivious to the situation.

    And our job STILL isn’t done. As Lew said…there’s still many more battles to fight. It isn’t over till it’s over. Now it’s time to get the safe crossing we truly need. Maybe beginning with retrofitting the I-5 Bridges is a good start!

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  10. To EVERYONE who has taken time out of their personal lives in order to fight one of the poorest representations of government leadership (right there with WPPSS), I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please keep vigilant!!!

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  11. You’re welcome Goldie! Many hours were spent by many people and we could not just quit when told to. It was too critically important to protect the future options for our transportation dollars. I for one think I will rest today… maybe have a margarita and lay in the hammock for a change. Tomorrow will be here soon enough.

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  12. Sounds like a good idea, Carolyn. You deserve a day to yourself! You’ve been working double time for how long, now??? Lew Waters and Jim Karlock…that goes for you as well!

    Maybe we all need OUR day!

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  13. As of Sunday @ 11;45 AM, no reaction from The Columbian’s editor Lou Brancaccio, or John Laird on the CRC’s demise. Has anyone checked the ER? Maybe their heads exploded……..

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  14. The Third Bridge idea, next to the BNSF RR bridge, has the best chance of addressing traffic concerns, IF it connects all the way to US 26. It can utilize mostly existing ROW’s. A West Side Bypass freeway—similar to the I-205—would be way too expensive. Also for an east side crossing, Camas to Troutdale is a much shorter jump than the 192nd Ave proposal.

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  15. but you and Kelley the toughest of the bunch, Lew – take a bow, gentlemen.

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  16. Spot on, Ron Swaren!!!

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  17. I suspect that Brancaccio is somewhere quiet, having a nervous breakdown probably drinking alcohol and eating “brownies” with his Valiums.

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