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Liberty resigns from Metro Council: Stacey will apply for vacancy

Posted by on January 3rd, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Bike to Work Day in Lloyd District -5
Liberty at a Bike to Work
Day event in the Lloyd District
in May 2009.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Big news at Metro this morning with the announcement that councilor Robert Liberty has resigned.

According to Metro, he is out effective January 15th to become the executive director of the Sustainable Cities Initiative at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Liberty has served District 6 since 2004 and was the council’s most outspoken critic of the Columbia River Crossing project.

The resignation leaves a vacancy on Metro Council. With less than two years remaining in Liberty’s term (which runs through January 2013), his seat will be filled by appointment. The Willamette Week reports that Bob Stacey — who very narrowly lost an election in November to become Metro Council President — plans to apply for the vacancy.

CRC Rally-113
At an anti-CRC rally in April 2009.

In a personal statement, Liberty recalled his position on transportation policy that clearly hints at the CRC project (which he called a “monster” that should be “left behind”:

I worked hard to reform transportation decision-making, from the project level to the regional system level. My views did not always prevail, but I believe I have raised awareness. Perhaps in some modest ways, I prepared the ground for the reforms that I am confident we will have to make in a world of financial and environmental limits.

Liberty’s announcement comes just 24 hours before Metro will swear in newly elected Council President Tom Hughes. Given Liberty’s strong belief in smart growth and opposition to the CRC project (which Hughes supports), some have speculated that Hughes’ presidency is what made Liberty move on. Here’s what the Metro statement says about that:

Metro Council President-elect Tom Hughes, who will be sworn in Tuesday, said he was stunned by the announcement. It also puts another wrench into what Hughes had hoped would be a smooth transition period.

“This just sort of adds to the turbidity,” Hughes said.

But he rejected the notion that the board will be without a voice for smart growth now that Park [another councilor who is leaving] and Liberty are gone.

“I don’t see other members of the council being less supportive of good planning and land conservation,” Hughes said. “It changes by degrees, but I don’t think the emphasis on environmental protection and good land use planning is going to be completely lost.”

Metro will have one week of public comment prior to their announcement of Liberty’s replacement. That announcement will come no later than February.

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  • Spiffy January 3, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    so Bob Stacey can be counsel and president at the same time? that seems odd…

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    • Facts, maybe... January 3, 2011 at 2:09 pm

      Stacey wouldn’t be President of Metro. Hughes will be, but Stacey almost beat Hughes. Think it will be good balance to have them both.

      Liberty and Stacey are virtual clones on the issues, so if Stacey gets the seat, there will be no noticeable difference.

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      • Spiffy January 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm

        oh right, my eyes got lost there… as long as we get to keep Bob Stacey around it’s all good… (:

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  • Hart Noecker January 3, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Here’s hoping any and all METRO replacements are as anti-CRC nightmare as Bob Stacey.

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  • Joel Batterman January 3, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I still remember the time I came up behind a bicyclist at some neighborhood intersection in Southeast and realized it was Liberty, scrupulously putting his foot down at the stop sign.

    In a time when elected leaders too often show contempt for the law, not to mention the public good, Liberty is truly a man of honor.

    His departure down the valley is Portland’s loss, but I wish him well. I have to admit that he reminds me slightly of Obi-Wan Kenobi; with luck, the relocation will simply make him a more powerful advocate for sustainable urban transportation than we can possibly imagine.

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  • spare_wheel January 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    “scrupulously putting his foot down at the stop sign”

    not a legal requirement in Oregon.

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    • Steve B January 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm

      true! also, not a Portland Police priority. If you gun through a stop sign however, you’re likely to face reprimand (and a $230 ticket!)

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    • Matt D'Elia January 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm

      Doesn’t make Joel’s point any less valid.

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  • Gregg Woodlawn January 3, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    I rode recently along with Robert Liberty recently and I got a chance to thank him for all of his hard work.

    Damn. Can you imagine if Liberty stayed, David Bragdon was still around, and Bob Stacey joined in somehow- what a team that would have been!

    I still can’t believe that Tom Hughes won the election. :(

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  • Jim Lee January 3, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    But can he do a track stand?

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  • Spencer Boomhower January 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Many thanks to Councilor Liberty for his work at Metro, and on the CRC issue in particular. His departure will leave Metro wanting for a strong voice on that issue.

    Bob Stacey is an excellent choice to fill the vacancy left by Robert Liberty. It’s hard to imagine a better choice.

    Today I happened to run into Bob’s volunteer coordinator at the coffee shop, and she made an interesting point: if Bob was to take over the seat, that would mean all three Metro President candidates would be serving on the council. That would say something about Portland politics; a very positive something, I’d say. All three ran solid campaigns, and all three bring unique and valuable qualities to Metro (despite two of them taking, to my mind, the wrong side on the CRC debate). These qualities could complement each other in a way that strengthens Metro.

    If anyone can let us in the general public know how to best encourage the Metro Council to vote in Bob Stacey, please do.

    And best of luck to Robert Liberty in his work on the Sustainable Cities Initiative!

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  • Matthew Denton January 3, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Liberty is great, he is everything I could hope for in an elected leader. (And of course, I hope that Stacey gets the job, unless they can find someone even better.)

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  • Lisa G. January 3, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Please give us a heads-up on the public comment deadline.

    Thanks.

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