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Council passes landmark funding proposal; Romain will refer

Posted by on January 30th, 2008 at 6:00 pm

[Updated: 7:26pm]

Romain strikes again.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

Earlier today Portland City Council passed Commissioners Adams’ Safe, Sound and Green Streets funding plan.

The plan would be a huge boon to bicycling in Portland, with nearly $30 million (out of $400 million total) going toward bike safety improvements. But don’t start the celebration yet…

The Willamette Week is reporting that, in a surprise move, Oregon Petroleum Association lobbyist Paul Romain will seek to gather signatures and refer the proposal to the ballot.

In the weeks leading up to the Council vote, seeking to thwart opposition and the threat of referring the proposal to the ballot, Adams struck what was thought to be a workable compromise with Romain. Adams staffers working on the proposal believed they had a firm agreement from Romain’s group that in light of the compromises they would not attempt the referral effort.

Now, like a “punch in the gut” as one source just referred to it, Romain has switched course and has told the Willamette Week he will move forward with the referral effort.

Romain and his daughter Danelle Romain are partnering up with a coalition of opponents.

Here’s more on that coaltion from a press release posted at OregonWatchdog.com:

“The coalition includes small convenience stores including the Korean American Grocery Retailer Association, the Taxpayer Association of Oregon, Oregonians for Prosperity, gas station owners, transportation critics Jim Karlock of Saveportland.org, Craig Flynn of ORTEM, among other groups and citizen activists…and also including aerial support from radio host Victoria Taft (featured on KPAM 860) and radio host Lars Larson (featured on KXL 750).”

Some familiar names in that list (wow, this is shaping up to be a battle royale).

Check out Nigel Jaquiss’ coverage at the Willamette Week for more details and stay tuned for more on this story.

UPDATES:
More coverage of this story:
Portland Mercury
Portland Tribune

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Comments
  • DJ Hurricane January 30, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Paul Romain and his constituents don\’t care about the health and safety of Portlanders. All they care about is their own private profit.

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  • nuovorecord January 30, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Romain doesn\’t seem to care about personal integrity, either. I had a feeling this was going to happen.

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  • BURR January 30, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    what a lettuce head

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  • Carl January 30, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Shocking!

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  • Torfinn January 30, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Holy crap what a lack of integrity!

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  • Elly Blue January 30, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    If anything good comes of this, it\’s an opportunity to reach out to members of the business community who may not understand the importance to their clients of safe, green streets.

    We can all contact the forces behind this and let them know how we feel and that we\’ll base our purchasing decisions on where their organization stands on this initiative to improve our streets.

    According to the WW:

    - Seven-11 is one of the main businesses behind the refferal. I\’m a customer and plan to contact them.

    Paul Romain\’s organization is the Oregon Petroleum Association. Their web site lists several sponsors and members who must have customers who read this blog — Chevron, several carwashes, oil suppliers, law firms, and home security companies.

    Businesses do listen to what their customers tell them, and you\’ve got nothing to lose by speaking up.

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  • Daniel (teknotus) January 30, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    There is nothing I ever want from a convenience store that I can\’t buy somewhere else. I\’m all for boycotting them. I also drive ocationally, but I really don\’t have to in this city. I could easily go without buying gas for a while.

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  • joeb January 30, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    I am not going to like the spin on this. The real lack of integrity is in deferring and increasing the future cost of this much needed funding. But Romain will certainly find a deceptive way to his sell his opposition (think Measure 37) and smear Adams.

    In “The Audacity of Hope”, Barak Obama interviewed Warren Buffet about tax breaks for the wealthy. I wish I had the quote, but the gist of Buffet’s response was that he expects to pay higher taxes to cover his utilization of America’s infrastructure, public education, constitution, laws, etc that have made him the third richest man in the world. I’m no expert on Warren Buffet, but there is other evidence that the guy has integrity. Too bad the oil industry can’t find a shred of it except to promote their “integrity” with false advertising.

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  • Matt Picio January 30, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Why am I not surprised that Romain didn\’t follow through and honor an agreement? And I\’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that Portland is the first major US city to pass and implement a Peak Oil strategy.

    The old adage is still true: follow the money.

    Daniel (#7) – unless it\’s after 10pm. They serve a necessary function in the community, whatever we might think of them otherwise.

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  • Daniel (teknotus) January 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    That 7-Eleven contact form is crap. There is no \”Other\” type of statement, so you can only fill out a bogus report.

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  • Stripes January 30, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    What a load of c**p. Council bends over backwards to try to accommodate the petroleum lobby, and their response is to promptly do an 180 degree flip?

    This leaves a pretty nasty taste in my mouth.

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  • Robin January 30, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Well I guess that means people are doing the right thing if lobbyists are getting angry.

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  • Axe January 30, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Boy, Romain is such a scumbag.

    I\’m all for writing and calling the businesses who are working against the funding to let them know we\’re pissed. The more the merrier!

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  • Matthew January 30, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    The next time Romain, (or the OPA) need anything done in the city, I\’m expecting that the city will remember this… It seems likely that Romain may be stand to lose pretty much everything by doing this…

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  • trekxc January 30, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Romain=douche bag

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  • Elly Fanclub January 30, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Elly Blue is my hero…

    Elly — Thanks for continuing to provide good ways for activists to express their concerns directly to the public and business. I would guess that even more than a few phone calls, corporations like 7-eleven would respond more to a national press story than individual phone calls.

    I can see the story now: \”Local action highlights that 7-Eleven once one of the greatest sponsors of bicycle racing in the US now opposes local effort to develop safe bicycling routes in bike-city-USA-Portland, Oregon.\”

    Elly — please help us figure out a way to communicate this issue with direct action….

    Until then… I\’m gonna have to start making my own slurpees

    Jonathan — I remember when you were first starting this blog and a issue that you covered with a Starbucks employee got the attention of headquarters. Any idea on how we can do this on this important issue?

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  • steve January 30, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    It is 400 million dollars folks. I would be grateful for the chance to vote on this plan.

    Though probably not for the reasons that Mr Lettuce head wants to.

    This is simply way more money than I want to trust \’Sam the Tram for mayor Adams\’ with.

    Remember also that most of this money is going to be gobbled up by (overly high)salaries and beaurocracies.

    Read the line by line costs. It stinks of a big fat boondoggle.

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  • steve is a troll that hangs with Karlock January 30, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Steve, you\’re may be ready to vote for more dead people so you can save $4.54 a month! I\’m not. Don\’t sign the petition. Don\’t let people like steve help the gas companies stop this huge investment in safety and bikes in Portland.

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  • Randy January 30, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Thanks for the update Jonathan. We know the petrol is passe. Gasoline pollutes. It pollutes. We want clean air and healthy vibrant people so we promote quiet and zero pollution vehicles.

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  • Peter W January 30, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    #16:
    >Elly — please help us figure out a way to communicate this issue with direct action….
    >Until then… I\’m gonna have to start making my own slurpees

    Maybe thats an idea! Get a bunch of people together with some bike powered blenders and provide free slurpees to people about to enter 7-11. While they are eating a free slurpy they can be informed about the issue and convinced to not buy from 7-11.

    The most important reason to do that is that is that it would make a great news story, and bring awareness to a huge number of people.

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  • Zaphod January 30, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    This makes me livid on so many levels I don\’t know where to begin. Instead of describing the kind of person Romain might be I\’d rather direct my energies in a more positive way.

    What is the most effective use of my time to fight and win this? First, I want to see this legislation passed. Second, I want this guy to get what he deserves.

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  • Elly Fan Club January 30, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Peter W –

    I love this idea — 7-11 slurpee actions

    when do we start…

    I was also thinking of putting hot dogs on my spokes over a barbeque — kind of like the rottiserrie\’s with the couple week old dogs that are in most 7-11\’s

    Anybody want to do something on Friday — the 7-11 at Sandy/82nd has a 7-11 and is one of the high crash intersections that would be addressed with funding from the Safe, Sound and Green Street proposal…

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  • Metal Cowboy January 30, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    I love the blender/slurpee by bikers in front of 7-11s idea. As a former newspaper reporter and editor I can say I would have jumpedd on this story. Who wants to help organize something like this – I can commit to amassing cyclists in front of my neighborhood 7-11 – which happens to be less than 100 yards from my doorstep. I kid with people that I could be gut shot and still crawl out for a gallon of milk – of course I won\’t shop there for a myriad of reasons, current issue being one of them. For the record, I have never been gut shot so I don\’t actually know if I could make the crawl, plus, would I really be interested in milk at a time like that?

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  • pat h January 30, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    Paul Romain, Attorney at Law

    707 SW Washington, Ste 927, Portland, OR 97205
    Phone: 503-226-8090 Fax: 503-227-0351
    Email: promain@teleport.com

    Danelle Romain

    707 SW Washington, Ste 927, Portland, OR 97205
    Phone: 503-226-8090 Fax: 503-227-0351
    Email: dromain@teleport.com

    President
    Jim Jones, Jones Oil

    PO Box 429, (650 15th SE) Salem, OR 97308
    Phone: 503-399-9563 Fax: 503-588-0584
    Email: jim@jonesoil.com

    Vice President
    Molly Brady, First Call Heating & Cooling

    1650 NE Lombard, Portland, OR 97211
    Phone: 503-231-3311 Fax: 503-286-5194
    E-mail: mbrady@firstcallheat.com

    Secretary-Treasurer
    Karmen Bresko, Estacada Oil Company

    PO Box 639, Estacada, OR 97023
    Phone: : 503-630-4163 Fax: 503-630-2202
    E-Mail: karmen@estacadaoil.com

    PMAA Representative
    Jim Jones, Jones Oil Co.

    PO Box 429, Salem, OR 97308
    Phone: 503-399-9563 Fax: 503-588-0584
    E-mail: jim@jonesoil.com
    Immediate Past President
    Tom Freeman, WSCO Petroleum Corp.

    2929 NW 29th, Portland, OR 97210
    Phone: 503-243-2929 Fax: 503-243-7874
    Email: tomf@wscocorp.com

    Write the ass-hats and tell them what you link about their current activities in Portland.

    This link is a p prefilled email with all of the addresses

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  • Former 49er.. January 30, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Damn, I hate petrol and I strongly dislike people like Romain that crawl around our city. I\’ll be fighting this referral every step of the way.

    I was considering replacing my old furnace recently with another gas furnace. However, actions like this give renewals like wood and solar the edge. Just another reason to erase petroleum from our lives.

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  • Tony January 31, 2008 at 3:14 am

    So much of the focus on this proposal has been Romain versus Adams and all or nothing in terms of the funding package.

    I think this is unfortunate because any requests to adjust some of the shortcomings in the package have been basically shut-out during all the political maneuvering on both sides.

    I was the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN) representative on the stakeholder committee for this package. Like most of the organizations represented on the stakeholder committee, NECN is not opposed to the core thrust of the package: we need a local dependable revenue source to address our local transportation challenges.

    However NECN has voiced concerns about some of the package details and formally requested some adjustments be made to the program to address some of the imbalances on both the expenditure and revenue assumptions. Here is what NECN requested and why:

    1. Equitable Allocation of Funding by District: The Safe and Sound Streets package will result in hundreds of millions in tax revenues being collected from Portland residents and businesses through a local city tax. All funds raised by the City through the
    local option city tax should be equitably allocated to the city\’s neighborhood districts based on share of city population.

    2. Oversight Committee and Neighborhood Representation: Project, priorities, and funding levels may change during the life of this plan, as such ensuring this equitable allocation occurs should be the purview of the envisioned oversight committee and this allocation scheme should be a legislated requirement. The oversight committee should include representatives from each neighborhood coalition.

    3. Small Business Discount and Credit, Low Income Business Discount:
    The residential side of the tax proposal has a low-income discount component, and this makes sense to ensure that the tax does not negatively affect the working poor. A similar logic should be applied to the business side of the tax. Small businesses need time to grow. Many small businesses are owned and operated by local residents and many of these business owners only enjoy a modest return from their business. The impact of a tax that is hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year on these small businesses could be devastating.

    In light of this, the following changes are suggested:

    1) Tax Relief Period: The first five years of life of a small business are the most critical. To minimize the impact of this tax during this critical incubation period it is recommended that no tax be levied during the first two years of operation and that the tax be phased-in over the next three years.

    2) Low Income Discount: Businesses that are owned by persons receiving a low-income discount for the residential street tax should not be levied a business tax. Ownership must be documented and equal to more than 50 percent of the business.

    3) Credit for Residential Tax Payment: A business that is owned by a Portland resident paying the residential fee should be able to reduce their business tax by the amount paid at the residence.

    I was unable to attend the council meeting today – unfortunately I don\’t have enough flexibility in my work schedule to attend daytime meetings. Does anyone you know if any of these requests were incorporated into the package that was adopted today?

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  • Steven J. January 31, 2008 at 3:44 am

    What\’s actually surprising is y\’all didn\’t see Adams knew this could happen.

    I\’ve lived in the heart of this city for the last 18 years, watching the council extol this sputum.
    Safety doesn\’t drive this city.
    Greed and the illusion of power does.

    \”Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder\” – George Washington (1732-1799)

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  • BURR January 31, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Judging by the low quality of most of the bike Infrastructure the city puts out on the street, I would have to agree that safety is often the last thing on the city\’s mind. the illusion of safety appears to be the actual goal.

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  • Nelson Muntz January 31, 2008 at 8:51 am

    What a complete scumbag this jerk lawyer, er…lobbyist is! Looking at the proposal, it appears that the vast majority of the money will directly benefit…wait for it…CARS!

    Cars get better quality road surfaces, safer bridges, etc. and bikes also benefit. I can\’t believe this tool wants to hold the whole thing up because a few percentage points will benefit human powered transportation.

    Well we can play rough too! Just show some images of the horrible Minneapolis bridge disaster and ask voters, \”What if this were the Sellwood or Ross Island at rush hour? Big oil and their covenience store buddies evidently think a few hundred deaths is worth the extra pennies profit made on gasoline, cigarettes, and beef jerky.\”

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  • DaveA January 31, 2008 at 8:55 am

    This doesn\’t surprise me in the least. Romain claimed that his group would support a .14 increase in gas tax to match Washington state\’s gas tax in the next state legislatures session. What do you want to bet that he\’ll be in Salem to oppose any increase when that topic is brought up?

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  • Mike Perrault January 31, 2008 at 8:57 am

    @ Tony #26

    I think you are right on target with your ideas. I\’m sorry this argument has become over politicized and has over shadowed your needs. Do you have any suggestions on how we could help implement the SSGS policies? Maybe then we could amend them to include your ideas?

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  • joeb January 31, 2008 at 9:00 am

    IMO, I\’d rather get it done. Going to vote on this is fine, if somebody like Tony #26 can layout the facts for voters (including the facts about how much this will cost 7-11, New Seasons or Walmart). What I don\’t want to see is a big deceptive ad compaign backed by corporate money.

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  • Kyrstin January 31, 2008 at 9:14 am

    I have two bike blenders and would be delighted to help with this! Lets talk :)

    bikeblender (at) g mail (dot) com

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  • tonyt January 31, 2008 at 9:23 am

    So here\’s a question for you policy wonks out there.

    Can we offer up a counter referral?

    Can we get signatures to put an initiative on the ballot that will essentially do the opposite of what Romain is trying to do?

    Could that force him back to the table?

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  • Slick January 31, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Don\’t turn this into a case of not doing what\’s right because of the pursuit of perfection.

    Tony in #26 is an example of this. He writes a long list, copied from some letter he sent some time ago. Did you catch the last sentence? \”Does anyone you know if any of these requests were incorporated into the package that was adopted today?\”

    He\’s raising doubt about concerns he\’s not even sure exist. Instead of finding out the answer, he\’s raising public doubt. This is who you think can get past the oil companies?

    Even if they\’re not in the proposal, isn\’t there something to be said that a decision has to be made at some point: does the funding help those most in need more, or does it help those who don\’t have as many needs as much as those who have more? That\’s the philosophical question Tony raises. Should Irvington and Concordia get as much help as East Portland?

    Joeb, you think that Tony is going to have time to beat back the well-financed corporate attack machine of the gas companies, tobacco companies, and so on, when he doesn\’t have the time to know if his concerns are in the proposal? Get ready for a well-financed corporate ad campaign.

    Don\’t let the perfect get in the way of the achievable. The oil companies are very happy about our pursuit of perfection.

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  • dennis January 31, 2008 at 11:09 am

    I don\’t have a bike blender, but I\’d be happy to take a shift at the pedals!

    It\’s my hope that the city\’s population will realize that EVERYONE Benefits from more bicyclists. Think about how much more fuel would cost if we drove everywhere. How much more traffic would there be, if we didn\’t brave the weather on our bikes.

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  • steve January 31, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Great job controlling the quality of dialogue on this thread Jonathan. I suppose civility only matters when certain people are being offended.

    That being said, ya\’ll are a bunch of sheep.

    Please go read the actual costs of this bill. This will cause virtually all businesses in town to raise the costs of goods/services.

    Most of the 450 million dollars will be devoured by the mechanism to collect the money. The rest is earmarked for projects of questionable benefit and exorbitant cost.

    I would sign off on hundreds of millions of dollars for bikes and alternative infrastructure any day.

    That is not what this bill is. This bill is a power grab and an extortion to boot. This is going to do as much for our city as out new Tram and our covered watering holes on Tabor.

    Hide and watch sheepies. Though tomorrow you will all be quibbling about helmets and bells. Keep your eyes on the shiny blinkiy lights people!

    Most importantly, be sure to never think for yourself and always frame the discourse with regurgitated sound bites.

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  • el timito January 31, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Wow, Steve, you sound like you need a hug.
    \”Most of the 450 million dollars will be devoured by the mechanism to collect the money.\” How can you even write this with a straight face as if it were remotely true?
    All I can say is Baa!

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  • steve January 31, 2008 at 11:41 am

    How anyone could argue againt letting the public vote is beyond me.

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  • Slick January 31, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Maybe the next kid you run into who doesn\’t have health insurance because of the election these bozos from oil and tobacco just bought can explain it to you.

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  • Matthew January 31, 2008 at 11:51 am

    #39: \”How anyone could argue againt (sic) letting the public vote is beyond me.\”

    Uhmm, lets see, big oil will throw a lot of money at getting this defeated, (much like big tobacco threw money at Measure 50.) Most of what they say will be flat out lies, (if Romain is any guide as to how they act,) and so in order to get this passed, the supporters of this will have to spend even more money explaining that what big oil is saying is a lie…

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  • joeb January 31, 2008 at 11:53 am

    I hear you Slick. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of Tony’s post. But with every group putting in their exceptions, it becomes long, complicated and unattainable. So we end up with a corporate ad campaign and an unreadable Ballot description in the Voter’s Pamphlet. To bad promotion can’t be honest, factual and simple enough to understand.

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  • steve January 31, 2008 at 11:54 am

    So you all know what is best for everyone else. The rest of Portland is too dumb to be trusted to vote.

    Got it, thanks for clearing that one up.

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  • Tony January 31, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Slick,

    Thank you for your comments. You are correct that I don\’t have time to beat back any campaigns or attack machines. Nor is that on my to-do list.

    We need a local, dependable funding option to address our local transportation needs. Neither I nor NECN dispute this simple fact. However I don\’t think it is unreasonable to expect that such a local program should be fair and balanced.

    I respect and understand your \”perfection\” argument. However it seems like the majority of Portlanders recognize that we have a transportation problem and that we need to address it. I don\’t see how addressing the issues raised by NECN – whether now or later – would radically change this equation.

    All the best,

    Tony – from #26

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  • Tony January 31, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Slick,

    Thank you for your comments. You are correct that I don\’t have time to beat back any campaigns or attack machines. Nor is that on my to-do list.

    We need a local, dependable funding option to address our local transportation needs. Neither I nor NECN dispute this simple fact. However I don\’t think it is unreasonable to expect that such a local program should be fair and balanced.

    I respect and understand your \”perfection\” argument. However it seems like the majority of Portlanders recognize that we have a transportation problem and that we need to address it. I don\’t see how addressing the issues raised by NECN – whether now or later – would radically change this equation.

    All the best,

    Tony – from #26

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  • Opus the Poet January 31, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Steve, I think the point was that big corporations like oil and convenience store companies will buy up all the media time and block out opposing views, or even the truth about what the fund is actually supposed to do. Having lots of bucks (that came from us in the first place) to campaign against us, is what most of this discussion is about on the anti-election side.

    Have a nice day.:-)

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  • Jean Reinhardt January 31, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Remember–anti-alt trans people like Mr. Romain want the private automobile to remain the major form of transportation in our country. This means they want our imports of oil to continue at the present high level. This in turn means that they are filthy, rotten Saudi-loving, America-hating traitors who can\’t turn enough of our currency over to some really bad folks. If you love your car, you can\’t really love our country.

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  • Sandra January 31, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    I heard Romain bikes to work. Is that true?

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  • Jim January 31, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    To Steve #39

    I don\’t think the public voting is quite that simple anymore. The \”votes\” now are dollar vouchers where whoever has the most ads and best spin doctors wins.

    This is our system by and large with very, very few exceptions. If you haven\’t been close enough to an issue to see the will of the public perverted by modern dollar driven politics, I\’d suggest buckling up that helmet. It gets ugly and the people\’s choice is anything but \”free\”.

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  • Matthew January 31, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Wouldn\’t the best solution be for the proposal to be withdrawn, split into 100 pieces, (with a different piece for each and every 7-11 and gas station,) and then resubmitted? Romain said that he wouldn\’t challenge that…

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  • Biker January 31, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Chevron. Those guys bugged me anyway – they advertize on those nasty electronic billboards! I\’ve been boycotting them for years. Can\’t help much with 7-11 – I never go.

    Yo, Steve, do you have any idea how little beaurocrats earn? And do you have any idea how much public process costs?

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  • Maureen February 1, 2008 at 7:28 am

    Sandra it doesn\’t matter if Paul Romain rides a bike everywhere he goes. I drive my car sometimes and I\’m not about to fight for bigger highways. The guy is slimy. I heard he paid for legislators to go to Hawaii for one of his alcohol lobby swarees then told the legislators not to report it. What does he have to hide?

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  • Mike February 1, 2008 at 10:59 am

    I emailed 7-11 and their response is posted below. I think it is time for a serious boycott effort of all the companies listed. Start spreading the word.

    Their email:

    Dear Mr. Perrault,

    Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your concerns.

    On the street fee itself, it appears that we will agree to disagree. We are, however, supporting this referral effort because we strongly believe that the people of Portland deserve to vote on this issue.

    If Portlanders decide that the tax should stand, then we will respect their decision and pay our fair share. However, we do not believe that one city commissioner should have the power to unilaterally increase taxes for everyone without a vote of the people.

    Thank you
    7-Eleven, Inc.

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  • wsbob February 1, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Mike, in the letter response from 7-11 you\’ve posted in your comment #53, why is there no name listed as the author of this 7-11 correspondence? Was one not offered?

    7-11\’s following statement:

    \”However, we do not believe that one city commissioner should have the power to unilaterally increase taxes for everyone without a vote of the people.\” 7-11

    …suggests 7-11\’s anonymous speaker is not accurately aware of the extent of Portland city commissioners authority.

    Portland city commissioners don\’t have the power to independently raise taxes for everyone. A commissioner can propose a tax raise, but for a tax raise to be implemented, it has to be approved and voted on by elected representatives of the people.

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  • Mike February 1, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    The email came from Nancy Lear and her email is nlear01@7-11.com if you would like to send her an email. PLEASE EMAIL NANCY LEAR AND TELL HER HOW OFFBASE SHE IS. Let\’s make this decision hurt for 7-11.

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  • JE February 2, 2008 at 1:34 am

    From Marketplace.org Friday, Jan 25th

    \”In Davos, Switzerland, they\’re wrapping up the World Economic forum. Today, the head of Royal Dutch Shell met with Nigeria\’s president to talk about security and oil. Shell\’s CEO is Jeroen Van der Veer. He told his employees something this week that might surprise you: World demand for oil and gas will outstrip supply within seven years.\”

    Most creatures squirm the most just before they die. Watch the petro critters squirm. I5 is gonna make for a nice bike path.

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  • Tony February 3, 2008 at 7:40 am

    To Mike Perrault @ 31,

    Sorry for the delayed response on this, I don\’t get a chance to get on-line as much as I would like.

    The changes requested by NECN did not make it fully into the legislation adopted by Council on 1/31. The adopted ordinances are now available at Portlandonline.com – ORDINANCE No. 181581 covers the oversight committee and ORDINANCE No. 181578 covers the street fee itself. When I posted my original comment on Wednesday they hadn\’t been posted.

    Yes, I would like to see these ordinances amended to include the requirements outlined by NECN (other folks can see Tony @ 26 for the details).

    The reality with a program this large – hundreds of millions of dollars, complex, and lengthy (15 years) is that things are going to change. There is nothing in the Ordinances that mandates that the project list viewed at the townhalls are the projects that will be implemented. Ultimately, the SMSF administrator and the oversight committee have a lot of say in how this will actually be implemented.

    A legislative requirement that has the neighborhood representation on the oversight committee be six members – one from each neighborhood coalition area (North, Northeast, Central Northeast, East, Southwest, Northwest) – is still important and relevant.

    The same can be said for a legislative requirement that mandates small and low income business fee discounts in the street fee. Right now the fee structure favors big box retailers and other large business concerns – i.e. the fee per trip is discounted dramatically for businesses that produce a lot of trips.

    The door is not closed on these issues. The ordinances can be amended through council action at anytime.

    Actually now that Ordinance 181578 has been broken into 3-parts, the small and low income business discounts could be incorporated into those new versions.

    BUT I have to say for the record, and I realize that I am in the minority of commenters on this position, I don’t like the 3-part idea.

    I realize that support for this move is over concerns of OPA possibly being successful in 1) getting the issue onto the ballot, and 2) that they will be able to prevail at the ballot-box. However the right to file a referendum petition isn’t limited to any particular interest group.

    I can’t imagine ever being on the \”big oil’s\” side but I can imagine a situation where I am part of a group of concerned citizens who want to refer a concern to all voters.

    Ultimately I don\’t believe that setting a precedent for blocking the referendum rights of any dissenting opinion – no matter how distasteful – addresses the problem of big oil, big box retailers, or developers or whoever having more access and opportunity to shape public policy than the average citizen. Instead, it sanctions council action to thwart initiatives by any citizen group.

    Ok, I will now step off my soapbox. Thanks for listening.

    All the best,

    Tony

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  • wsbob February 3, 2008 at 11:22 am

    \”The same can be said for a legislative requirement that mandates small and low income business fee discounts in the street fee. Right now the fee structure favors big box retailers and other large business concerns – i.e. the fee per trip is discounted dramatically for businesses that produce a lot of trips.\” Tony

    I hope I\’ll be able to look at the fee structure and understand this, because as I understand it now, it doesn\’t make sense to give businesses a tax break because they produce a lot of trips.

    Of course, we want business to do well, but the structure should be set up to encourage them to explore ways to produce less trips while still conducting a thriving business. Perhaps the tax structure could be structured so as to offer business an incentive to do this.

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  • Tony February 4, 2008 at 12:29 am

    wsbob @ 58,

    I think you can figure it out by looking at the fee schedule but here are the basics.

    The street fee for businesses is based on trips but the fee per trip is scaled to demand – the more the business demands the less it is charged for additional trips:

    •The first 10,000 trips cost 1.525¢ ($0.01525) per trip
    • Trips 10,001 – 25,000 cost 1.078¢ per trip ($0.01078)
    • Trips 25,001 – 75,000 cost 0.5008¢ per trip ($0.005008)
    • Trips 75,001 – 150,000 cost 0.253 ¢ per trip ($0.00253)
    • Trips 150,001 – 250,000 cost 0.101 ¢ per trip ($0.00101)
    • Trips 250,001 and up cost $0.00005 per trip

    Based on the fee structure, a business that creates 10,000 trips a month, pays $152.50 a month. A business that creates 250,000 trips a month pays $855.35.

    The bigger business is demanding 25 times more street usage but its street fee is only about six times higher than the smaller business.

    The most dramatic discount is for trips above 250,000. After 250,000 trips, businesses are charged $0.00005 per trip. This means that for every additional 100,000 trips generated the fee increase is only $5.00.

    Your average big box retailer (Fred Meyer, Target) is 150,000 square feet and can easily generate more than a quarter million trips a month.

    Most neighborhood businesses – like you find on Hawthorne, Alberta, and the like – are about 1,000 – 2,000 square feet in size. These businesses don\’t have the capacity to generate more than 10,000 trips per month. This is why I believe the fee structure favors big box retailers.

    If you have any questions, go ahead and post it I will respond as soon as I am able.

    All the best,

    Tony

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  • wsbob February 4, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Tony, thanks for posting those figures. My thought upon seeing them is to wonder why they that have formulated this funding plan would incorporate into the plan, a rate structure that awards a lower rate to business as trip volume rises.

    This is the opposite of what it should be. Why should business support mass transit, or bikes, when more car trips is the thing that will work to provide business with a tax break?

    If the lower trips generated figure truly does correspond with that of smaller businesses, no wonder they\’re upset with the plan. I understand that the Paul Romain coalition\’s efforts did factor into getting a compromise revision to the plan that would give small businesses such as convenience stores a separate classification/lower rate, but haven\’t read the specifics.

    Fundamentally though, the fact seems to be that the Safe, Sound, and Green Streets funding proposal unwisely rewards business for generating more trips on the very streets and roads the city is struggling to find money for improvements and maintenance.

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  • steve February 5, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Ya\’ll are being to rational and thoughtful.

    This bill has the word GREEN in it! And it is for bikes! It mentions them and everything! Why do you hate BIKES!

    The guy who passed this bill wears silly glasses just like ME! We don\’t need to think about this stuff, cause we elected someone to do it for us!

    Big Oil wants to stop this cause they hate BIKES! Did I mention BIKES!

    I have not thought about this bill, attended any meetings, or even read it. But, this is my passion and the cause of my life right now!

    If you do not support this, you hate Portland and Bikes!

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  • DJ Hurricane February 5, 2008 at 10:28 am

    That\’s correct, steve.

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  • Tony February 6, 2008 at 5:52 am

    wsbob @ 60,

    The trip fee rates are from the ordinance that was adopted on 1/31 and they are the same rates included in the 3-part version of the street fee ordinance that may be adopted today.

    I agree that this rate structure seems counter-intuitive. When it was presented to the stakeholder committee both Chris Smith and I suggested the same thing you are outlining, i.e. the trip rate should increase the more trips you generate not decrease.

    With regard to incentives to businesses to reduce demand on the street system, a related challenge is the Green Discount plan as it is currently structured.

    Businesses that offer commute trip reduction benefits to employees may receive a significant street fee discount. However many businesses that will enjoy this discount are required to offer these kinds of incentives under state regulations (State of Oregon Clean Air Act Implementation Plan – OAR 340-242-0010 – 340-242-0290).

    As with the reduced trips fees for more trips, providing a discount to a business for something it is already compelled to do seems counter-intuitive.

    With regard to the discounts negotiated on behalf of convenience stores and other businesses, it is a little hard to divine the full picture at this point. All of the background information on the street fee has been pulled from commissionersam.com and safeandsoundstreets.com.

    I do know that the trip generation assumptions for the following SIC business types were adjusted down, I just can\’t tell you by how much:

    Restaurant Fast Food
    Store Convenience
    Service Station Fuel Only
    Service Station w/Store
    Convenience Stores
    Gasoline Stations with Convenience Stores
    Other Gasoline Stations
    Limited-Service Eating Places
    Convenience Food Store

    As before, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to post it and I will respond as soon as I am able.

    All the best,

    Tony

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  • wsbob February 6, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Tony, thanks for providing additional explanation of this aspect of the Safe, Sound and Green Streets Proposal. There\’s some reassurance knowing that at least an awareness exists of the value and importance of incorporating \’drive less\’ incentives into funding plans like this.

    Right at the moment, I don\’t have an idea of what the best way to form such an incentive into the proposal might be. Never the less, it seems very important and worthwhile to have one, both as a means of reducing congestion and wear and tear on streets, but also as a means of drawing the public into greater participation in the overall effort to achieve those objectives and help make streets safer in doing so.

    Additional note: the budget outlay for the Sound and Green Streets Proposal has been removed from the Sound and Green Streets website you listed above, pending resolution of the referral threat. I\’m not sure where people can get that information now.

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  • Tony February 6, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    wsbob,

    You are welcome.

    I am also at a bit of a loss as well as to when, how or if any thoughtful adjustments may be made to the fee structure. But there has been no shortage of surprises, so who knows?

    All the best,

    Tony

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