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Who’s behind the street fee opposition?

Posted by on January 31st, 2008 at 1:33 pm

The decision by a coalition of business groups and lobbyists to oppose Commissioner Adams’ Safe, Sound, and Green Streets transportation funding package (which passed City Council yesterday) has sent shockwaves through City Hall and bike advocacy groups in Portland.

Given what’s at stake and who’s involved, this is without a doubt the most important transportation-related issue our city has dealt with in many years. Mayor Potter’s decision to un-fund the Bicycle Master Plan, which resulted in widespread concern and saw the community come together in unprecedented numbers, looks minor in comparison.

On one side, folks see this proposal as an imperative solution to making our transportation system safer for all road users, yet others see this as an unfair tax that is only needed because PDOT has mismanaged their finances on other “expensive, non-car projects,” and that the entire thing is the result of “political games” and “backroom dealing” designed to keep the proposal away from voters.

I’ll have much more to report on this in the coming days and weeks, but for now I want everyone to be informed as possible about the people behind the opposition effort and the ongoing media coverage of the issue.

From all reports, the primary group behind the referral effort is the Oregon Taxpayers Association (OTA). On the “Stop the Portland Street Tax” page of their website, the group’s president Don McIntire expresses why he’s against the proposal:

“The city has mispent millions of tax dollars on the tram, street cars, light rails and other expensive non-car projects and have neglected roads all these years. Taxpayers are now being punished for the city’s problems.”

An OTA statement lists the other groups and individuals involved in their coalition. They include:

With both sides set to gird for battle, Adams’ mayoral run hanging in the balance, and the political drama and connections of the opposition with Adams’ sole competitor Sho Dozono, the media is paying close attention to this issue.

There is already extensive coverage coming from the Oregonian, the Willamette Week, the Portland Tribune, the Portland Mercury, and others (not to mention interesting and revealing reader comments below each story).

To help you stay informed, I’ve started using a bookmarking tool to collect all the stories and information resources I feel are relevant to this issue. Check out the “Street Fee News and Info” links in my sidebar and visit the Street Fee Newswire page for the latest stories.

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Comments
  • Mmann January 31, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Don McIntire – there\’s a name we haven\’t seen for awhile. Should have seen that one coming. These are folks with a lot of experience with voter referrals and \”tax rebellion\” and should be taken as seriously as a heart attack. Problem is, does the side in favor of the Safe, Sound, and Green Streets proposal have the deep pockets to do battle if it comes to a vote? This is troubling.

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  • Jim January 31, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Do you think it is wise to adopt the name of \”Street Fee Newswire Page\”? Isn\’t the language of Lars, Victoria, and Romain what we\’d like to avoid?

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  • kg January 31, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Where does Don Mcintire live, last I heard he was living in Gresham. How about Lars and Romain? If they don\’t live in Portland then it isn\’t any of their business!

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  • Dave January 31, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Has Sho Dozono weighed in on this thing yet?

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  • temp bob January 31, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Great question Dave

    I\’ll double my donation to the BTA if they can get Sho put his name against the referral…(I likely will still vote for Sam).

    I think big oil has given Portland a chance to show how special this place is — it won\’t be easy but we can cement Portland as the all time bike leader if the bike community shows big oil/big lobbyisst that they can\’t rule our world

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  • rixtir January 31, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    I\’d rather we show them the door.

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  • BURR January 31, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    It\’s really no surprise that there are no bike racks at any Plaid Pantry stores or at any of the independent Korean convenience stores in town either. Well, except for the brand spankin\’ new bike oasis at the Ladd\’s Addition 7-11, which the 7-11 certainly didn\’t pay for.

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  • Matt Picio February 1, 2008 at 12:04 am

    Wow, Victoria Taft actually took time to single out the Zoobombers for her tirade. Because, you know, $5,000 is a lot of money when talking about the city\’s $34,000,000 surplus.

    I guess that shows you exactly how much influence the Zoobombers have over this town. Wow!

    Gabe, Nickey, Carl, Phil, April, everybody – keep up the awesome work!
    (I\’ve only been to 2 \’bombs, so all those who I forgot – sorry!)

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  • tess February 1, 2008 at 7:02 am

    BTA and you 5,000 members — please don\’t let Sho get away with the following \”political\” response summarized in the Oregonian blog today…

    [The following is from The Oregonian – Mapes on Politics: http://blog.oregonlive.com/mapesonpolitics/2008/01/dozono_on_street_fee_public_sh.html

    All very Portland nice, particularly since Dozono didn\’t open up with any shots at his main rival, Commissioner Sam Adams. Instead, he amiably told reporters that Portlanders are looking for change. How does he plan to do that? he was asked.

    \”I am the change,\” he replied. \”My background is quite different as an outsider.\” He said he\’s had more business experience than the City Council has had in a long time.

    What about Adams\’ street tax, which now looks like it is going to be referred to the ballot?

    \”I do support safe streets,\” he replied. \”I think it\’s good to be safe, green,\” he replied (which echoes Adams\’ description of it as the \”safe, sound and green streets\” package).

    However, Dozono added, \”What it did show the the citizens, though, that the whole process was more about backroom dealing. I think I would prefer that the citizens would have a choice to vote on this from the beginning.\”

    That said, Dozono added that he hadn\’t decided yet how he\’d vote on the $464 million package if it comes to a vote.

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  • Maureen February 1, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Sho is finally on the record on this. Apparently, he\’s a mush mouth who doesn\’t believe in public process.

    21 town hall meetings, a citywide mailing, informative inserts into every neighborhood newspaper in the city, an 89 member task force that should have been larger if Romain hadn\’t dropped out, public polls, etc, etc, etc. And he calls it a \”backroom deal\”. If that\’s not enough public process to get to a point where city council can make a decision, when does he think he\’ll ever be able to decide anything?

    If he doesn\’t value the input from all those who showed up to participate, why would anyone participate in any public process when he\’s mayor?

    Then he goes on to say he\’s not sure how he\’d vote on it if it makes it to the ballot! Sho wants to be mayor and he can\’t pay close enough attention to this issue to know which way he thinks it should go? He \”supports safe streets\” but isn\’t sure how much. What a great way to sho leadership.

    The quote is on Mapes on Politics in the Oregonian http://blog.oregonlive.com/mapesonpolitics/2008/01/dozono_on_street_fee_public_sh.html

    from that article…. What about Adams\’ street tax, which now looks like it is going to be referred to the ballot?

    \”I do support safe streets,\” he replied. \”I think it\’s good to be safe, green,\” he replied (which echoes Adams\’ description of it as the \”safe, sound and green streets\” package).

    However, Dozono added, \”What it did show the the citizens, though, that the whole process was more about backroom dealing. I think I would prefer that the citizens would have a choice to vote on this from the beginning.\”

    That said, Dozono added that he hadn\’t decided yet how he\’d vote on the $464 million package if it comes to a vote.

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  • Alan February 2, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Jim is right – steer clear of \”Street + Fee\” for the Newswire title. That frames the question as purely about taxes, which it isn\’t. We all want roads and we all want safe roads. At the very least, work \”Safe\” in there somewhere.

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  • James Bernard Lee February 3, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Forgetting about me? I\’m Sam\’s competitor too. Filed for Mayor well before him and long before Sho.

    Know a hell of a lot more about bikes than either! Build my own wheels and got a couple of OBRA medals on them to boot.

    Sam knows squat about bikes and less about how to ride one safely on city streets. If we want to see more of us run over by garbage and by concrete trucks his \”plan\” is just the thing.

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  • T.J. VanSlyke February 8, 2008 at 9:45 am

    I just gave Paul Romain at the OPA a pleasant phone call and voiced my concern. Hopefully, if anything, this will show that we have a voice on the matter. I encourage others to do the same.

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