Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CRC Funding on the Chopping Block?

A coalition of 4 advocacy groups calling themselves “Green Scissors 2011” has issued a report identifying programs that they see as “wasteful or environmentally harmful” and are recommending to the recently formed super commission to cut funding. Page 18 of the report lists “Columbia River Crossing” at the lower cost of $3.6 Billion saved.

In reality, we here in Clark County know that if cut, much more than that will be saved.

The coalition comprised of Taxpayers for Common Sense, The Heartland Institute, Friends of the Earth and Public Citizen has no personal stake in these programs and recommends over more than $380 billion in wasteful government programs the commission could cut.

Green Scissors main webpage states,
“Since its inception in 1994, the Green Scissors Campaign has fought to make environmental and fiscal responsibility priorities in Washington. The campaign seeks to eliminate subsidies and programs that both harm the environment and waste taxpayer dollars. By making these cuts, the federal government can save money for priorities including deficit reduction.”

Obviously not a conservative coalition, they still see the need for reining in over spending by Washington D.C. and it appears this is the first year they include the CRC in their crosshairs.

The report lists no specific reason the CRC is included in this year’s recommendations and it is far from the only program listed. We also see oil company tax breaks, tunnel projects and alternative fuel subsidies recommended to be cut.

Debbie Peterson, former candidate for the house in Washington State 49th legislative district says in a comment left on the Columbian article pertaining to this recommendation,
“There are numerous reasons for this project being eliminated, ranging from poor original bridge design, to lack of NEPA process, to huge intrusions on the fragile Hayden Island environment (36 square blocks), to the 20 historical Vancouver homes that will be negatively impacted, to the loss of 89 businesses (and who knows how many jobs that represents!) to the fact that IT DOESN”T SOLVE THE TRAFFIC CONGESTION PROBLEM.”

Debbie does her homework and is one of the more well-informed opponents to the CRC.

I’m not getting too elated as I have strong doubt that the chair of the commission, our own Sen. Patty Murray, who has continued to funnel Millions of our tax dollars down the CRC hole, will even consider it. Any who have been following the CRC for any length of time knows the main reason for replacing the aging I-5 bridge is to accommodate extending Portland’s MaxLine light rail into our community, whether voters and taxpayers want it or not. In fact, we haven’t even been in the equation as the ruling class continues ramming this down our throats.

Murray is on record as urging business leaders and elected officials to get behind the CRC and to deal with the ongoing controversy over it.

To date it has been mostly Washington conservatives opposed to light rail and who are supportive of a third of fourth bridge between the two states opposed to this project. Our complaints have been over funding, being denied a voice in it again, after defeating 3 measures on light rail at the ballot box, paying tolls and the lion’s share of the expense of a new bridge and freeway improvements in Oregon and seeing over $140 Million spent so far on “studies” with nothing to show for it.

David Madore, the owner of US Digital in Vancouver and a critic of CRC recently hired a forensic auditor to audit CRC’s finances and brought to light some questionable accounting. The Columbian recently informed the community of concerns the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council has over CRC funding, also shared by the Oregon State Treasurer.

Prior to that, Oregon’s Willamette Week brought up their own concerns over the CRC.

As I said above, this recommendation from Green Scissors is not a death knell to the project and I have serious doubts that Democrat Patty Murray will listen to them, but is refreshing to see a liberal group with no personal stake in this to see the project as “wasteful or environmentally harmful” and join our call to cut our losses and stop this madness.

We simply cannot afford to continue funneling hard earned and scarce tax dollars into the abyss of the CRC any longer.

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