Who Mitigates on Behalf of Taxpayers?

by lewwaters

Light Rail HellEven though once declared dead by both Governors of Washington and Oregon, the zombie-like specter of the Columbia River Crossing light rail project continues to have new life pumped into it by those very Governors along with deep pocketed special interests hoping to reap millions on the backs of a struggling middle class taxpayer.

And one of those special interests is our own local newspaper of record, the Lazy C who has blindly supported the project since its inception and helped cover up many of the shortcomings as well as ignored concerns expressed by citizens.

We saw this as it became known the proposed replacement bridge to cross the Columbia River was to create a choke point for river commerce by an insufficient height, providing only 98 feet initially, upped to 116 feet later, still far lower than the current 178 feet when the lift spans are raised.

Instead of seeing the folly, considering how much commerce travels under the bridge, officials merely decide to ‘mitigate’ with the three manufacturers likely to be affected the most, Oregon Iron Works, Greenberry and Thompson Metal Fab.

Greenberry and Oregon Iron Works were reported to have reached agreement some time ago and just last evening, August 29, 2013 the Lazy C reported the final mitigation agreement had been reached with Thompson Metal Fab.

We now read that this effort to pay off those businesses with taxpayer money will amount to at least $86,000,000, all so they can build a replacement bridge capable of carrying Portland, Oregon’s financially failing light rail a short distance into Washington State.

Still pending is a US Coast Guard decision on permitting of the low height bridge, expected to be released around September 30.

Also ignored is citizen opposition, citizens steadily being denied a vote on the project itself and defeating every single measure put forth to fund operations and maintenance of the unpopular light rail.

Gov. Kitzhaber

Gov. Kitzhaber

Since the Washington State Senate Coalition Majority listened to citizens of Clark County and did not pass a massive tax increase to fund the Washington portion, what led both governors to declare the project dead, Oregon’s Governor John Kitzhaber has come out with his decision to just “go it alone.”

While that shifts responsibility for all payment squarely on the backs of Oregon, Kitzhaber is meeting opposition now from the Oregon Senate as we read Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney saying, “you can’t just unilaterally build a bridge into another state” and “he’s not supporting an Oregon-only Columbia River Crossing without some signal from Washington’s political leaders that they’d accept the plan.”

Governor Inslee will no doubt give that signal, but he too can’t go it alone and must have the support of the legislature to fund or approve it.

Representative from Washington’s 49th Legislative District, location of the Washington Side of the bridge project and staunch, blind supporter of it, Jim Moeller (best known for suing his constituents to invalidate their votes when he doesn’t like them) issued his usual snarky comment on the finalizing of the mitigation,

“At last! And the last mitigation agreement to be signed is now for the proposed Oregon project. Of course, all of the mitigation costs will now fall on to Oregon State. Washington has not allocated any money for this project since July 1st. But why let the facts get in the way of a good conspiricy? Somehow, the conspiricy theorists will figure out just how the Washington taxpayer is really going to pay for the whole bridge including light-rail! Right fellas!”

Moeller, in keeping with his anti-constituent habits, also ignores that every one of those funding measures defeated were defeated within his district as well as he keeps maintaining, “I believe the majority of my district (49th) support light-rail.”

Moeller GlareMoeller also opposes letting the citizens have a say with a vote directly on the project and relies instead on “Since the best we have is the poll conducted by The Columbian that showed overall support for LTR.”

Of that poll he relies on to give his view a distinct majority we read, “Clark County residents are deeply divided on the Columbia River Crossing, with neither supporters nor opponents claiming a clear majority of public opinion, according to a scientific poll commissioned by The Columbian earlier this month.”

For this reason, opponents have called for allowing Clark County voters to have a direct vote, supporters of the project opposing a vote, ostensibly fearing another defeat as was seen in 1995 when the proposal went down in flames by a two to one margin.

It is also largely known that Oregon doesn’t have the money to fund this project, expressed last year when the Oregon legislature passed a funding measure without a clue on how to raise the revenue.

This has raised the eyebrow of Oregon State Treasurer who says the CRC staff is “going to have to make a great leap forward in a short period of time to provide legally adequate and reliable information to the Treasury and the people of Oregon,” indicating the probability of their not being able to do so.

All of this boils down to how can Oregon fund this boondoggle nobody really wants. They can’t raise taxes or fees inside of Washington and Oregon taxpayers have expressed their displeasure with paying more taxes to replace a functioning bridge.

Kitz BullyWith the obvious answer of making Washington taxpayers fund it, since it seems the main reason to even extend their financially troubled into our community is to access more funding from Washington taxpayers to help with their $1.6 Billion in unfunded liabilities, not only would Oregon get the receipts from light rail fares, which I believe they would have all along, they will have to impose tolls on both the new bridge and the existing bridge to the east on their side of it, forcing Washington taxpayers to pay to go to jobs they have in Oregon where they already pay Oregon income tax and have no voice.

Businesses that stood to lose money were mitigated and offered Millions of taxpayer money.

Who now will mitigate on the behalf of struggling taxpayers?

4 Comments to “Who Mitigates on Behalf of Taxpayers?”

  1. Realize that the “mitigation” means relocating the industries that regularly build extra tall “things” … Oregon has the ulterior motive of recruiting these businesses to move to Newport, where there is 133 feet clearance under the Bridge. (Coos Bay could also be in the running, as their bridge has 150 feet of clearance.)

    So the mitigation would likely benefit Oregon at the expense of Clark County losing 3 important providers of industrial jobs.

  2. The need to spend money, to give union workers jobs is at the heart of the folly. The grease that makes the wheels turn is money to burn on reelection and rejection of the basic needs of transportation and mobility in the Metro Area. May every politician involved in this rot in hell, and if they don’t believe in hell, may they get tossed into a third world prison and forgotten by everyone like spittle in hot dust.

  3. Or maybe Portland’s ports which are accessed prior to the bridge eh?

  4. The Port of Portland has a project in mind that appears could accomodate the displaced businesses, at taxpayer expense of course. http://www.portofportland.com/WHI_Home.aspx

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