Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Our way or the highway, er, bike path

Yesterday, Max revealed yet another example of the arrogance of those in local government.

Speaking to the City Club of Portland, Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder made it clear he is willing to hold the entire region's economy hostage in the hopes of killing anything resembling a project intended to help those of us who need automobiles to make a living.

Even though a new bridge over the Columbia River will likely include light rail and unprecedented bicycle access, environmentalists are coming up with any excuse they can dredge up from their playbooks to stop the bridge. It will increase sprawl, they whine, and greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the spiritual leaders of the local environmental religion is Rex Burkholder. Even though Burkholder is said to be in favor of this bridge, read what Max noticed. According to Burkholder:

If the concerned partners [e.g. the City of Portland and Metro] do not like what they see [regarding environmental issues], they have the power to stop the project.

Speaking at the Portland City Club about the project on Friday, Burkholder noted the city has to approve several land-use plan changes for a new bridge to be built. And Metro will have to amend its Regional Transportation Plan for the project to be funded, he added.

“If you don’t agree [with our concerns], we won’t help you get it,” Burkholder said of the project’s principle partners, the Oregon and Washington departments of transportation.

If you don't do it our way, we're taking our toys and going home. Tough cookies for those of you stuck in traffic every day, even though we get tax revenue from your jobs in Oregon. Quit whining if you're trying to bring needed goods and services up and down I-5 every day and can't get through the city in a decent amount of time. And don't you dare suggest we have to pay more because our congestion increases your delivery costs.

There was another example of this government arrogance last Friday, but it was a little more subtle. Portland Mayor Tom Potter and City Commissioner Randy Leonard asked:
Who has final say over the project, and how do we make sure that the project doesn't get built without Portland's concerns addressed?
In other words, since Portland thinks it's the biggest player in this project, our concerns should be paramount. How do we make sure that everyone acknowledges that undisputed fact, and how much of a tantrum do we need to throw in order to get our way?

Never mind the city of Vancouver and its factual concerns about crime coming across the river on MAX. Never mind the thousands who commute to jobs in Oregon every day (and who pay Oregon income taxes). Never mind the region's role as a partner with the states of Washington and California in making sure the I-5 corridor is open for business.

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