Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Light Rail Can’t Fix Stupid

Light Rail HellAmidst audible groans and moans, the Columbia River Crossing light rail project died as the Senate Coalition majority gaveled the end of the second special session in Olympia, having defeated a last minute effort by Democrats to force the $10 Billion Transportation Bill to a vote.

Years of scheming, planning, fearmongering and wasting over $170 Million went up in smoke as proponents saw the bill that would have funded the CRC light rail project and other mega-projects around the state dissolve, due primarily to proponents steadfast refusal to listen to voters and taxpayers who have been rejecting Portland, Oregon’s light rail forced upon them since 1995.

The anger coming from elected officials in support was immediate and continues, many vowing to keep pushing the project in one manner or another, others just lashing out in angry outbursts directed at Washington State Senate Republicans who actually listened to and abided by the voices of those who elected them.

Continuing the false narrative long promoted by proponents, Oregon Governor Kitzhaber released a statement saying in part, “I am extremely disappointed that our legislative partners in the Washington State Senate failed to address the clear and present safety and economic need for this essential I-5 bridge.”
Yet, he is also who let it be known that he would kill any hopes of a new bridge if it did not include Portland’s financially failing light rail system being extended into Clark County.

He has yet to address how extending light rail improves bridge safety or helps Clark County’s economic needs, since it was seen early on that Clark County would foot the lion’s share of the projected Multi-Billion expense of construction and operations and maintenance of the light rail extension from well inside Oregon to the short distance proposed into Clark County.

Inslee 002Washington State Governor Inslee, who earlier traveled to our community to encourage proponents to “increase the decibels” and drown out concerned voters and taxpayers voices issued this own statement saying, “I’m beyond disappointed in this inaction. The failure by the Senate’s Republican-led majority to act on the transportation plan stops us from making important investments in maintaining and preserving our roads and bridges and ensuring the safety the public deserves.”

We are among the states with the highest gasoline tax now and Gov. Inslee wished to jack up that tax by another 10.5¢ per gallon, tax bicycle sales over $500, increase license fees on cars and more to fund his ‘pie in the sky’ plans to cave to Oregon’s demands.

And like Gov. Kitzhaber, he too does not explain just how a short light rail extension does anything in regards to “preserving our roads and bridges and ensuring the safety the public deserves.”

Moeller GlareRepresentative Jim Moeller (D. Portland / Vancouver), famous for suing constituents to have their votes invalidated when he doesn’t like the outcome and for seeking ways to bypass voters completely to impose his socialist will and tax increases upon them showed his own mini-meltdown with “I’m very disappointed in the shortsightedness of some of my colleagues on this CRC issue. They simply failed to embrace the simple fact that transportation is about investing in the future. It’s about jobs and families and businesses and public safety” and “I will oppose any package that the state Senate proposes doesn’t include funding to begin anew on the CRC… Because the aging, outdated and dangerous bridges are still there and need for their replacement hasn’t changed.”

Yet, he too went along with the “no light rail, no bridge” meme promoted by Oregon, basically placing the very bridge he deems “unsafe” hostage to a financially failing and often unreliable light rail system from another state.

A couple days later, Moeller ranted, “As expected, there will be many an arm-chair engineer who will have their bridge ‘alternative’ ready. And as usual, they refuse to deal with the facts. Regardless, the only real culprit in this tragedy is the Washington Senate Republicans. It was them who refused to deal with the House Transportation Package,” completely ignoring his own refusal to support constituents and fellow legislators who have for several years opposed Portland’s light rail bring forced upon them even though he later wrote, “First, we must reach a compromise for the state to move forward. Secondly, Clark County must get something other than just a chance to pay more gas tax. And finally, salvaging some part of 10+ years of planning and efforts on this bridge is also important otherwise it truly was a waste to the both Oregon, Washington and the feds.”

Again, ignoring his own refusal to even consider accommodating constituents who have voted against light rail and any measure perceived to fund light rail since 1995.

Joining Moeller’s smoke screen and anger over voters and taxpayers winning one, fellow Democrats from the 49th district, Rep. Sharon Wylie and Senator Annette Cleveland chimed in with “It is easier to kill legislation than to build a future together. We came here to do what is right for our collective future. That may not be easy or always popular. The need to repair our infrastructure will still be here later and it will only get more urgent and expensive” from Wylie and “I am saddened today that not all of us in the Legislature are willing to be partners in the prosperity of our state. The very foundation for this prosperity is investment in our state’s transportation infrastructure…. The short-sightedness of refusing to invest in this state’s future will have repercussions for generations to come.”

Both women also ignore constituent opposition to light rail and mask their desire to impose ever increasing taxes and fees on an already struggling middle class as an “investment” and not the burden it would have been, considering Clark County has seen over four straight years now of double digit unemployment.

There too, neither woman has ever made any effort to actually lay out the benefit to Clark County citizens who would have been stuck in increased traffic congestion for at least eight years to build a new bridge to carry light rail since there is no other alternative bridge to cross the river except for one a few miles upriver.

Apparently displaying complete denial that the tax increase Democrats promoted is now dead, Sen. Tracy Eide, whose district sits some 150 miles north of Clark County, felt the need to chime in with “we still have until September to meet the deadline for paying Washington state’s share of the CRC. I hold out hope that those who have stymied the project so far will realize the stakes and join with the governor and us in moving our state forward in everyone’s best interests.”

Apparently she also refused to peek at the tea leaves to see Clark County voters have steadfastly opposed and voted against this boondoggle project she promotes as “in everyone’s best interests.”

Do voters and taxpayers not matter to Democrats at all unless they cave to their demands?

Far from it only being elected Democrats upset over taxpayers opting to retain a little more of their paychecks in order to care more for their own families, a handful of citizens, Democrats too, added their outrage in stronger terms in Letter to the Editor submissions to the Lazy C.

Roy G. Wilson wrote on July 6, “If the Columbia River Crossing is really dead, it is the people of Vancouver, Clark County, and Washington state who are the real losers. Apparently they are being governed by losers.”

Ryan McAbel added the following day, “Can you believe the stupidity of the Washington state Senate? They are a bunch of overpaid blithering idiotic baboons that couldn’t find their own brain if they had a map and a compass…. I’m going to laugh my head off when in three years’ time if the old bridge collapses and they all look stupid.”

Former Democrat School Board candidate Bob Travis said, “Hopefully all you anti-CRC types are on the rickety old bridge when it collapses and you can swim you’re dumb selves back over to economically isolated Vancouver.”

Called on his vitriolic outburst by me, Travis added, “Light rail just works Lew. It makes sense. Perhaps that’s why you sheep can’t handle it. The leader of the whiners talking about whining? That’s too funny, even for Facebook! Not a sore loser at all Lew, because those of us that can see beyond today, the progressive thinkers, haven’t lost-we suffered a setback. As did Vancouver and Clark County.”

Yes, as usual, those of us who cherish our independence, freedom and liberty and stand up against the Socialist Democrat efforts to strip us of them are just too dumb to see what is really good for us.

Writing for the Oregonian, Elizabeth Hovde added her op-ed, Without the CRC, get used to being stuck on this bridge, never acknowledging the real congestion problem is not the bridge itself, but poorly planned and maintained freeway structure in Portland.

She laments on the opposition to light rail, “we need to get the problem-solving about a river crossing away from political fights that mimicked on-the-ground wars between light-rail supporters and detractors,” “And given our region’s love and hatred of light rail, a replacement bridge should devote something less costly and less permanent to a crossing for a commuter option. Then should Vancouverites be smart enough to choose group transit, great. If they don’t, we don’t have an empty, expensive mass-transit component taking up a lane that dictated much of the bridge’s design” and “A continued light-rail fight is only good for providing material to ‘Portlandia’ and other spoofs about where we live.”

Again, ignoring that the main opposition is voters and taxpayers in Clark County and joined by several who live in Oregon, evidenced by a half-hour press conference held in January 2012 by 15 speakers and officials from both states.

Hovde almost hits on the problem in her op-ed with the ongoing distress over light rail, but stops short of acknowledging it is Oregon’s Governor who steadfastly refuses to budge and is determined to force taxpayers into accepting their light rail, even though voters and taxpayers have repeatedly rejected it, leaving us no choice but to demand the entire project be killed and start over without the light rail component that required a new bridge be built with unsafe clearance for river traffic and ignoring that one-fourth of all bridge collapses in America since 1940 were caused by collision from water craft.

The Lazy C, the Columbian, the so-called ‘newspaper of record’ for the community, should be teetering on the brink of bankruptcy again, given their efforts to denigrate potential subscribers opposed to light rail, labeling us “Hounds of Whinerville,” “Ankle Biters,” “Cockroaches,” and “Banana (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything” by editorial page editor John Laird.

Then too, this blog was among those leading the way in exposing the Lazy C’s efforts to ignore or cover up discrepancies’ and questionable practices by the Columbia River Crossing project.

The Willamette Week seemed to be the only media source willing to engage the CRC properly with numerous articles written and published by Nigel Jaquiss.

Couv.com began with many exposés as well, but seemed to fall towards more of what I refer to as “fluff issues” along the way.

The demise of this seriously flawed project was also due to several others who joined in much later. It was truly a community, citizen led effort.

Throughout it all, none of the proponents ever addressed just how their claims of an “unsafe bridge,” “easing congestion along the I-5 corridor” or “improving freight mobility” were to be improved by extending Portland’s unreliable light rail about one mile into Clark County and at a cost of $3.4 Billion before any interest on bonds were to be added or that Clark County residents could end up stuck paying $8 each way to cross the bridge, that would have added nearly $2,000 a year in expenses to the estimated 60,000 Clark County residents who work in Oregon, our elected officials failing to adequately attract jobs to our community.

Light rail would have done absolutely nothing to change the driving habits seen daily as some whip across several lanes on the bridge to make the Hwy 14 exit or to get across a few second sooner.

It would do nothing to widen or increase the ability of Portland’s narrow freeway to accommodate the increase seen over the years in traffic.

Governor Inslee not too long ago, encouraging a skeptical Cascade Bicycle Club to support the CRC lamented to them, “We move a lot of freight, but we do not move a lot of freight by bicycles. A new bridge is the only way to keep the I-5 corridor moving.”

Somehow it escapes him that the light rail he joins Gov. Kitzhaber in demanding does nothing to move freight either which is indicative of how the “debate” was promoted on false pretenses, claiming unrelated reasons and trying not to mention this was solely a light rail project all along.

Even though defeated, proponents have vowed to begin anew, Jim Moeller saying, “We need to start again. The next plan has to engage the general public better, has to be more inspiring, less utilitarian, something that people want to leave behind … for their children, or their children’s children” completely ignoring that he took the lead in is shouting down citizen concerns, demanding light rail be included and furthering the false premise of the bridge may collapse any day.

Also ignored by Moeller and Vancouver’s Mayor Tim ‘the Liar’ Leavitt is the many alternative plans proposed by citizens as well as bridge engineers such as the Third Bridge Now, Common Sense Alternative and another proposed by Bridge Architect Kevin Peterson in 2010.

To that end, all are invited to come out to the Academy, 400 E Evergreen Blvd, Vancouver, WA 98660 on July 11, 2013 from 4:30PM - 9:30PM for an open house and information meeting by the Economic Transportation Alliance.

If Jim Moeller is being honest in his call for “The next plan has to engage the general public better, has to be more inspiring, less utilitarian, something that people want to leave behind,” he and others will hopefully attend, get back in touch with constituents and learn what we want, what we will support and what we have to propose. Far from being the “arm-chair engineers” he accused us of, we are all concerned citizens who want to see our community thrive, prosper and not be used by Portland, Oregon to bail them out of their estimated $1.6 Billion in unfunded liabilities.

Republican State Senator Don Benton says, “The main lesson I hope that government bureaucrats have learned from this is, you should listen to everybody from the beginning. The CRC has been less than honest with people about facts, about deadlines.”

But above all, we are citizens that fully realize, light rail can’t fix the stupid that has been being pushed off on us for so long.

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