Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Sky-High CRC Light Rail Crossing Project - A Most-Important Public Forum

The Portland/Vancouver community is being given a marvelous opportunity to be enlightened and to be heard on the topic of the proposed CRC Project … the biggest public works undertaking in the history of the community. This event is entitled Bridging The Gaps. It’s scheduled for Saturday, June 4th, from 1pm to 3:30pm, at the LifePoint Church Campus – 305 NE 192nd Avenue – Vancouver, WA 98607.

The key elements of the agenda for Bridging The Gaps are:

- Expert presentations on the proposed CRC Project, Light Rail and practical alternatives.*

- Elected officials, presently involved with the proposed CRC Project, have been invited to discuss the project and to debate the issues.*

* Event organizers are encouraging citizen participation and questions throughout the agenda. To assure ample time for this, a Community Interaction time is being made available following the formal agenda, from 3:30pm to 4:30pm.

The proposed CRC Project is for a single bridge, replacing the current I-5 Bridge across the Columbia River, connecting Northwest Portland and Southwest Vancouver. The embedded YouTube video makes it apparent that there are folks in the community who view the cost of this scheme as outrageously sky-high. Considering that this cost is over 10 times as much as the cost of the I-205 Bridge that connects Northeast Portland with Southeast Vancouver and that many in the community believe that two additional bridges make more sense than one replacement bridge, the value of the opportunity that Bridging The Gaps offers seems pretty obvious.

Specific Bridging The Gaps agenda topics include:

Transportation Priorities / New Bridges

Spending Accountability / Funding / Oversight

Citizen input / Vote / Transparency

Confirmed expert panelists are:

Joe Cortright, President and Principal Economist for Impresa, a consulting firm specializing in regional economic analysis, innovation and industry clusters. Regarding the proposed CRC Project, Cortright has said, “The region needs to take a closer look at this mammoth project which would require us to go deeply into debt, tie up the region's limited financial resources for decades, and … there is little evidence to suggest that the bridge will achieve its primary purpose.”

John Charles, President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, a public policy research and educational organization that focuses on state and local issues in Oregon. Charles’ summary on the proposed CRC Project is, “Among the hundreds of projects we’ve seen, the current CRC proposal stands out as a doozy, throwing staggering amounts of money at a wasteful, ineffective plan.”

Paul Guppy, Vice President for Research of Washington Policy Center, an independent, non-profit, non-partisan think tank that promotes sound public policy based on free-market solutions.

Tiffany Couch, Founder of Acuity Group, a forensic accounting firm.

Elected officials invited to participate as panelists include:

Jaime Herrera Beutler – U.S. Representative (WA-03)

Peter DeFazio – U.S. Representative (OR-04)

Tim Leavitt – Mayor, City of Vancouver, WA

Sam Adams – Mayor, City of Portland, OR

Tom Mielke – Chairman, Board of Clark County (WA) Commissioners

The real VIPs are:

Not just Very Important Participants, in fact the Most Important Participants are the citizens of the Portland/Vancouver community. Bridging The Gaps can only be of worth, if YOU show up. Please do.

Monday, May 16, 2011

High-Stakes Redistricting Meeting Set For Vancouver

On Thursday, May 19th, from 6pm to 9pm, the Washington State Redistricting Commission will be holding an informational meeting and public hearing at the Hilton Vancouver. Frankly, The Columbian’s May 12th article on this does a fairly thorough job of describing both the purpose of the commission and of this meeting. After reading this article, however, I felt that there was one key aspect deserving of much more attention … the importance of citizens attending this meeting, to get involved in this process.

To illustrate “the importance of citizens attending this meeting, to get involved in this process”, let me start by asking readers from the Vancouver area how they think the Republican Governor they elected in 2008 and the Republican U.S. Senator they elected in 2010 are doing for them? Of course, my question is facetious … in spite of the fact that Clark County voters preferred the Republican candidate for Governor in 2008 and the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010; in both cases the statewide vote put the Democrat candidate in office. That’s the way it’s been for voters in Southwest Washington and that’s how it’s likely to be for some time to come. Typically, voters in the more heavily populated Seattle/Tacoma area, who tend to be more Liberal Democrats, determine the outcome of statewide elections. That may indicate some need for reform in statewide election processes but, for now, that’s the way it is. With that in mind, assuring that U.S. Congressional Districts and State Legislative Districts are laid out as fairly as possible, to result in election outcomes that are truly representative of voters in their respective communities, has added significance for voters in areas like Southwest Washington. That’s what this coming Thursday evening’s public hearing is about … laying out the way Washington’s congressional and legislative districts will look for the coming decade … and thus “the importance of citizens attending this meeting, to get involved in this process.”

As the result of growth in population since 2000, a 10th U.S. Congressional District is being added to Washington State. Of course, adding this 10th district will impact the layout changes of the current nine districts. Since Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District is 15.2% above its target population, a district-size reduction is anticipated, to allow a portion of the current district to become a part of the new 10th Congressional District. Some reports state that this will make the 3rd Congressional District more of a Republican-district than the Swing-district it has been. My caution to Conservative Republican voters in Southwest Washington is to be on guard for Gerrymandering politicians using this as cover to allow them to set up the new 10th Congressional District as another sure-to-be Democrat-district. You already have zero (0) representation in the U.S. Senate. A 10th U.S. Congressional Democrat-district will only further diminish your being represented at the Federal level.

The State Legislative District in Southwest Washington that I see as meriting the closest watch during redistricting is the 49th. This district is approximately 2,500 below its target population. That means the area covered by this, currently; Democrat-district must be increased. Of course, Democrats will be OK with Gerrymandering this district to keep it as Democrat as possible. Voters in Vancouver should remain alert to this and insist that the 49th district is laid out as fairly as possible, to result in election outcomes that are truly representative of voters in that community.

Although I’ve focused here on redistricting considerations for two districts that I see as being particularly important to voters in Southwest Washington – the 3rd U.S. Congressional District and the 49th State Legislative District - the Washington State Redistricting Commission is responsible for completing their work as it applies to 10 congressional districts and 49 legislative districts. That magnifies the significance of this work and it amplifies my call for “the importance of citizens attending this meeting, to get involved in this process.”


Hopefully your process will

Submitted by Jeffery Reynolds on Mon, 2011-05-16 19:21.


+-Hopefully your process will be more bipartisan than Oregon's.

Oh who am I kidding. Buckle up.