Sunday, March 04, 2012

Who Is Really The ‘Puppet’ John?

The Columbian’s political page editor, John Laird, known for his acerbic and outlandish editorials every Sunday has shown he knows how to push the community’s buttons over the years. A staunch liberal apparently, he has shown himself to support and promote just about anything liberal Democrats desire. About the only time he has shown himself to be agreeable to a Republican or conservative point of view was when they crossed the aisle to adopt the Democrat point of view.

Like most liberals I have spoken to, his idea of “bipartisanship” or “Compromise” appears to be when conservatism is abandoned and liberalism embraced. It never seems to cross in the other direction in his editorials.

But I was somewhat taken aback to read his Sunday, March 3, 2012 editorial, ‘Puppet’ accusations don’t always hold up to scrutiny where he is defending Republican first term Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wa. 03) against frequent allegations of her just being a “puppet.”

In the political sense, a puppet is “a person, group, government, etc., whose actions are prompted and controlled by another or others.” Many of Herrera Beutler’s actions do give that impression to conservatives. From her time in the Washington State House of Representatives where she co-sponsored and twice voted to approve a bill that would have forced child care centers into union to crossing the aisle to help Democrats raid the last $120 Million from the state “Rainy Day Fund,” claiming she did it to prevent further tax increase. Taxes increased anyways.

She has shown herself to be an “establishment Republican” more so than a conservative Republican. Hence, many label her a “puppet” doing the bidding of others to retain her “cushioned seat of authority” at $174,000 a year salary plus generous benefits.

That John Laird spent an entire editorial in defense of young Jaime indicates to me that even he considers her more of a “liberal” Republican than a “conservative” in spite of his claim of her being “almost squarely at the ideological center of the House.”

But, even though Jaime is the main subject of his editorial that is not what glares back at me reading it.

John Laird has long labeled people critical to the current Columbia River Crossing project, those of us seeing that the process is severely flawed, too costly and that it won’t solve the problems that is claimed to solve as “Hounds of Whinerville,” “BANANA Bunch (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything)” and “ankle biters.”

To John Laird, we are all just a bunch of know-nothing hicks holding back progress if we dare speak out in favor of a more affordable project, oppose light rail from Portland, Oregon or favor a project that might actually solve the traffic congestion problems seen on the I-5 corridor.

John Laird and the paper he works for have been largely in support of the current design project that has cost us over $140 Million so far without a single shovel of dirt being turned. Questioning the veracity of the CRC immediately relegates you into one of his favorite classifications listed above.

But lo and behold, what has been coming out lately?

We saw the release of forensic accountant Tiffany Couch’s independent audit of CRC finances that raised several troubling questions and almost immediately dismissed by many supporters with state officials countering by claiming a quick review of her excellent work by those inside of the Department of Transportation as an “independent review.”

Around the same time, we were treated to several articles and op-eds in the Columbian and the Oregonian to bolster support of the project. As we have seen, it has primarily been the Willamette Week’s Nigel Jaquiss in Oregon who continues publishing the ‘straight scoop’ on this costly mess.

Even though analysis has shown a major flaw in the projected funding for the project, tolling the bridge, it continues full speed head.

Even the recent revelation from TriMet’s General Manager Neil McFarlane on costs to the union employees being more than the system can handle have not raised the eyebrows of supporters like John Laird.

Enter the Willamette Weeks Nigel Jaquiss again revealing just what many of his claimed all along and have been ‘gaveled down’ and ridiculed, an Oregon Supreme Court ruling included that all along, the project has been a vehicle to manipulate Clark County into accepting Portland Oregon’s financially failing light rail.

I have to extend credit to the Columbia for this latest revelation, but now we read that in spite of years of being told, CRC cannot obtain an “essential permit” from the Coast Guard to begin construction as the design of the bridge is too low for proper river navigation.

On top of that, simply raising the bridge any higher runs into problems with the FAA as they have their own requirements for height restrictions due the bridge being in the flight path of both Portland International Airport and Pearson Airfield in Vancouver.

These are many of the very problems we that have been labeled “Hounds of Whinerville,” “BANANA Bunch (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything)” and “ankle biters” by John Laird have been complaining about.

John needn’t be worried about Jaime Herrera Beutler being called a “puppet.” That comes with the territory of attaining higher office and if she can’t handle it, she can always step down. We cannot just step away from what the CRC is ramming down our throats, though.

No, what John Laird should do is take long look in his mirror to see the real “puppet” as he keeps deflecting legitimate concerns over this boondoggle called the Columbia River Crossing project.

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