Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 18th, 2007 at 9:58 am
Last Friday, City Commissioner Sam Adams told the Portland Tribune that he has decided to not refer his Safe Sound and Green Streets transportation funding initiative to voters. Instead of including the proposal in the May primary elections, Adams will seek approval directly from City Council in January.
The funding proposal includes new street maintenance fees for homeowners and businesses, $24 million for bike boulevards and other safety improvements, and seeks to address a $422 million street maintenance backlog.
When the Tribune asked Adams why he decided against a vote he cited that Multnomah County and the City of Portland have conducted an extensive public outreach process and that polling has shown substantial support for the idea. “It’s a question of leadership” he told the Tribune.
Roland Chlapowski, Adams’ transportation policy staffer, says that the public will get to vote on the Multnomah County part of the proposal, which seeks an increase in vehicle registration fees.
Chlapowski also cited the defeat of Measure 50 (a tobacco tax to pay for children’s health care) as an example of what can happen when powerful special interest groups sway voters. In the case of Measure 50, the Big Tobacco lobby spent $12 million on an advertising campaign that many say helped defeat the measure.
Not surprisingly, Adams’ decision has sparked a range of reaction, many of them critical, in the comments of the Tribune article.
If City Council approves the proposal, which seems likely, the City will be ready to start processing the street maintenance fees by July 2008.