Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vancouver Council’s Rush to Build “The Bridge of the Tyrants”

If you’re not familiar with the Portland/Vancouver area, you may not be aware of a bridge across the Columbia River known as The Bridge of the Gods. It’s about 40 miles east of the Portland/Vancouver metro area and it connects Cascade Locks, OR with Stevenson, WA. Although the bridge is actually named after a geologic event involving a landslide that temporarily dammed the Columbia River, most tourists assume that the name of the bridge comes from the “heavenly” views one can get of the Columbia Gorge, as you cross the bridge. Considering that The Bridge of the Gods is a two-lane bridge, opened in 1928, its present-day use really is more fitting for tourists than for use as a vital commercial link.

Destined for far broader notoriety than The Bridge of the Gods is what I am hereby dubbing The Bridge of the Tyrants … the $3.6 Billion scheme presently known as the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) Project. According to today’s article in The Columbian, entitled Vancouver council backs cable-stayed bridge design, the latest episode in this tale has Vancouver’s City Council rushing to settle on a final bridge design, due to pressure being applied by the Democrat Governor of Washington, along with the Democrat Governor of Oregon. This, in spite of the fact that the Portland/Vancouver area constituents of these elected officials have not been given the opportunity to determine what, if any, new bridge they favor. In fact, the overwhelming majority of opinions coming from these constituents seem to be opposed to the present CRC scheme and yet these elected officials appear fully determined to have their way in this matter, regardless of the objections of the public.

One aspect of today’s article in The Columbian that reflects the above-mentioned tyrannical determination of current elected officials was the mention of Vancouver’s Mayor, Tim Leavitt and Vancouver City Councilor, Jeanne Harris, as serving on a Project Sponsors Council, advising the governors. As you may recall, Leavitt is the Mayor who opposed a toll bridge when he was running for office but he reversed that position once he was elected. And, try as she may to forget her YouTube infamy for her “Gavel Down!” performance, doing all she could to stifle any comments in opposition to the CRC scheme at a Vancouver City Council Meeting, that’s who Jeanne Harris is and who she continues to be. Being reminded of who these elected officials are should give you a pretty clear picture that they won’t be speaking up in this regard on behalf of the constituents they were elected to represent. If you want any further clarification, it should help for you to know that these same folks were recently successful in marginalizing their fellow-City Councilor, Jeanne Stewart, by removing her from any appointments where she would represent the Vancouver City Council on matters related to the CRC. In a previous article, entitled Revelations from a Town “Brawl” Meeting in Vancouver, WA, I referred to Jeanne Stewart by saying: “Thankfully, (the meeting) also featured a Vancouver City Councilor who I think typifies the very sort of Citizen Leadership our community is crying out for.” I’m sickened to know that, for now, the tyrants who call themselves her fellow-City Councilors, have silenced her voice, boldly speaking out on behalf of her constituents.

Another aspect of today’s article in The Columbian that reflects our elected official’s tyrannical determination is that there was no mention of the U.S. House Transportation Committee’s “Listening Session”, scheduled to be held in Vancouver this coming Monday. I provided an overview about this meeting in a recent article entitled Herrera Beutler Announces: People Will be Heard Prior to “Gavel Down” on CRC Project. In announcing this meeting, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said, “I agree that this issue is huge. We can’t afford to get this wrong. I believe we need a safe bridge that moves people and freight efficiently. Beyond that, I have not had enough answers about what it looks like and how it will be funded. The whole purpose for this listening session is for you to tell us what you want. I want the chairman of the committee to hear from you. I believe we need something, but we don’t need it at any price.” When I posted this article, I wasn’t able to provide details on the specific time and location of the meeting. Even today, Herrera Beutler’s Communications Director let me know that they’re still nailing down final details and that they’re not ready to publicly announce anything until the information is firmed up. However, I want to do all I can to get out the word and to encourage as many Portland/Vancouver area residents as possible to attend this meeting and to do all they can to have their voices heard. So, here is the unofficial information I have on the time and location for this meeting, which will be open to the public:

Monday, February 21, 2011
9:00 a.m to 11:00 a.m.
Vancouver Service Center
1200 Fort Vancouver Way
Vancouver, WA

I’ve begun to wonder if it will take public protests, like those recently seen in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, in order to stop this local tyrannical fiasco. Perhaps we will have to show up at Esther Short Park in Vancouver and in Pioneer Square in Portland with signs reading things like:

Pull the Plug on the CRC

Stop the CRC


Yes 192nd Ave Bridge

FastTrack 192nd Ave Bridge

No Tolls

No Light Rail

Stop the Waste

No More Debt!

Keep FREEways!

Fire the CRC!

No Bureaucracy!

No Bureaucrats!

Meanwhile, before those protests and before we send Leavitt and Harris off to Vancouver’s version of Sharm El Sheikh, show up ready to speak your piece on this topic (and wave signs like those noted above, if you’d like) at this coming Monday’s critical U.S. House Transportation Committee’s “Listening Session”.


Submitted by Michael Frome (not verified) on Tue, 2011-02-15 19:41.


+-Gary, there are at least some of us who are dead set against any new spending of any sort that is not absolutely urgent in nature. This bridge business is not (to my understanding) urgent. Yes, I've had to commute across it before. Is the thing seriously in danger of falling into the river from decrepitude? If not, we need to make do with what we've got until economic times improve. Which will be a while. Especially in the face of continual profligate boondoggle spending.

What very much annoys me is some of the same people who whistle endlessly about how we mustn't dare make any gov't cuts because Little Timmy will Go Hungry (or some such pabulum) will sit there and defend this kind of outlay without any apparent sense of irony at all.

What I'd like to know is who will be the financial beneficiaries of this ridiculously inflated expenditure of public funds. Which companies, which unions, which PACs funding which politicians. Them and their so-called "prevailing wage". Fie on all of them.

I'm guessing that was the

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 2011-02-16 08:27.


+-I'm guessing that was the same sentiment the people said before the bridge collapsed a few years back in Wisconsin, killing a number of people. Quite frankly why do we keep waiting for a major disaster to spur us to action? Why not get ahead of the problem and actually make an investment in our national infrastructure like Eisenhower did in the 1950s?

Follow the money.

Submitted by Steven J. Nelson (not verified) on Wed, 2011-02-16 11:04.


+-Mike you are right. We need to follow the money trail. Check into the train manufacture's and the design firm's campaign contributions and political entanglements.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Herrera Beutler Announces: People Will be Heard Prior to “Gavel Down” on CRC Project

At her first Clark County town hall meeting since taking office, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler addressed many of the topics that are uppermost in the minds of her constituents. From my perspective, she was successful in doing this for two reasons: (1) Most of the town hall agenda was set aside for open Q&A between attendees and the Congresswoman and (2) It was obvious that she and her staff have been working hard to be well informed on the topics that were raised and to be able to report related progress that their efforts have already yielded.

For my money, the most significant question dealt with by Herrera Beutler was when she was asked her view on the funding and construction of a new Columbia River Crossing (CRC). Considering that the CRC is anticipated to be the biggest public works project in the history of our area, I think it’s fair to say that this was the most significant question dealt with by our Congresswoman not just for my money but for the money of everyone living and working in the greater Portland/Vancouver area. I have to admit that I was very pleased to hear Rep. Herrera Beutler say that she supports a new bridge but that she will take her direction on the topic from her constituents. Especially in view of the “Gavel Down” demeanor of the Vancouver City Council on this matter that says, “We know what’s best for the public, no matter what they’re saying themselves”, this is very welcome news.

Of course, saying that she will take her direction on this topic from her constituents is nice. What is more important is that our Congresswoman was able to point to immediate action to go along with her words. As a member of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Herrera Beutler announced that the committee’s chairman will be in Vancouver on Feb. 21 to listen to the views of residents of the 3rd Congressional District about the CRC project. In making this announcement, Herrera Beutler said, “I agree that this issue is huge. We can’t afford to get this wrong. I believe we need a safe bridge that moves people and freight efficiently. Beyond that, I have not had enough answers about what it looks like and how it will be funded. The whole purpose for this listening session is for you to tell us what you want. I want the chairman of the committee to hear from you. I believe we need something, but we don’t need it at any price.”

Although the specific time and location for this “listening session” has not been set, the related Press Release from the Congresswoman’s office provides the following summary of this meeting:

The Committee will hold similar listening sessions in various regions throughout the country regarding the upcoming transportation reauthorization bill, legislation to authorize funding for the federal share of the nation’s infrastructure projects. The Chairman of the Committee, U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), will be personally facilitating the listening session. Southwest Washington has a direct link to the nation’s transportation and infrastructure planning with Herrera Beutler serving on the Committee.

I’ll be doing what I can to “get the word out”, as soon as I receive the Press Release covering specifics on the time and location for this “listening session”. With that said, I want to start encouraging you now to do all you can to be present for this meeting and for you to encourage as many others as you can to do likewise. Unlike a meeting of the Vancouver City Council, Jeanne Harris won’t be present to shriek “Gavel Down!”, keeping you from expressing your views on this topic. But, if you don’t show up to take advantage of this great opportunity, the effect will be the same.