Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) 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:
- The Korean American Grocery Retailer Association
- Paul Romain, lobbyist for the Oregon Petroleum Association
- Oregonians for Prosperity (a chapter of Americans for Prosperity)
- gas station owners (including 7-11)
- transportation critics (including Jim Karlock)
- Craig Flynn of ORTEM (a transportation think tank)
- AM radio host Victoria Taft (read the anti-street fee statement on her blog)
- Radio personality Lars Larson (Lars Larson Show)
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.