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Adams releases statement on funding initiative

Posted by on February 6th, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Adams speaking with reporters
after today’s meeting.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

City Commissioner Sam Adams has just emailed (and posted to his blog) a statement about the major turn his Safe, Sound, and Green Streets funding initiative took today:

Dear Portlander,

Today, at my request, city council referred the “Safe, Sound & Green Streets” program back to my office with an expectation that we will refer the program to voters in November 2008.

You have heard from me many times that Safe, Sound & Green Streets will be an important step forward for Portland when implemented. For the first time in nearly two decades, Portlanders will have stable funding to meet basic safety and maintenance needs on major streets.

A program of this consequence should be enacted by a unanimous city council. Until last week, my council colleagues were united in supporting safer streets as a matter of leadership. At council proceedings, transportation staff, community leaders, and all who have participated to date appreciated council’s acknowledgment of the painstaking analytical and public outreach effort.

That effort has earned support from an 89-person stakeholder committee covering a range of transportation interests, the editorial boards of The Oregonian, The Portland Tribune and The Portland Business Journal, and untold numbers of Portlanders who responded to our citywide notices and attended one of the 21 town hall meetings we hosted in every corner of the city.

In addition, we worked in good faith to reach a compromise to address the concerns of convenience stores and the petroleum representatives.

Regrettably, the influence of oil industry representatives has taken its toll. I no longer have unanimous council support to enact the program.

I now propose that city council refer the Safe, Sound & Green initiative to the November general election ballot.

Portlanders can trust that oil industry representatives will embark upon a monumental misinformation campaign. Watch the money: they will spend much more on television ads and other venues to kill Safe, Sound & Green than they would have spent to simply pay their fair share to return Portland’s major streets to working order.

As the champion of Safe, Sound & Green, it’s true that I worry about holding onto the factual high ground during this tsunami of misinformation.

This is Portland, however. Portlanders have a proud history of supporting well-articulated, reasonable investments in their community. It’s part of what makes us the best city in the country. Safe, Sound & Green will save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and–most importantly–save lives.

The general election in November 2008 is virtually guaranteed to ensure the highest voter turnout in the city’s history. As a result, the best possible conversation that engages the maximum number of Portlanders about Safe, Sound & Green will occur over the next nine months. In spite of all the oil industry dollars to be spent, I am confident Portland will prevail.

I want to thank my colleagues for their continued support in addressing the transportation concerns facing our city. And I want to thank all of you.



It’s becoming clear that the major question (and possible battle) will center around when this issue should be on the ballot. More analysis coming tomorrow…

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  • rixtir February 6, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Sam for Mayor!

    And bury big oil in November.

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  • Former 49er.. February 6, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    This is so lame.. Individuals will now have to spend probably more than the street fee would\’ve collected from them in order to fight Big Oil.. The upside is that Big Oil will probably spend heaps of cash and still have to pay the fee. But of course, money isn\’t something they\’re really worried about… it\’s a philosophy of anti-government, anti-community, anti-environment and pro-profit potential at all costs.

    Yet another reason I don\’t own, and will never own, a combustion-engine vehicle again.

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  • Former 49er.. February 6, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    This is so lame.. Individuals will now have to spend probably more than the street fee would\’ve collected from them in order to fight Big Oil.. The upside is that Big Oil will probably spend heaps of cash and still have to pay the fee. But of course, money isn\’t something they\’re really worried about… it\’s a philosophy of anti-government, anti-community, anti-environment and pro-profit potential at all costs.

    Yet another reason I don\’t own, and will never own, a combustion-engine vehicle again.

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  • Dag February 6, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I think Sam wants it on the ballot in November at least in part because he thinks it will help his own chances on the same ballot.

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  • littlevoice February 6, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Dag – actually, Sam probably thinks the fee, which will be fought very, very hard, could actually hurt his chances on the ballot. However, the first time to vote for him is in May during the primary. If he wins the mayoralty in May by winning the primary with over 50%, then what happens in November won\’t matter and he can focus solely on passing Safe/Sound/Green. I bet from his perspective, there\’s less total risk by booting it to November than there is having it all take place in May.

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  • 'jefe February 6, 2008 at 7:17 pm


    Really, is that a bad thing?

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  • Matthew February 6, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Dag: Sam most likely won\’t be on the ballot in November. The only way he would be is if nobody gets more than 50% of the vote in May…

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  • Randy February 6, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Where can I find out about how this proposal will be funded? Biking, I see alot of old/polluting vehicles around town. Will this initiative help get these cars off our roads?

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  • drew February 6, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    KGW has a street fee poll up on their website right now if anyone wants to go add to my \”yes\” vote. Just for the hell of it.

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  • Dag February 6, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    That makes more sense. Then if the oil folks want to campaign against him for mayor, too, it will be more expensive for them.

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  • Bjorn February 6, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    #9 the poll is a joke. The writer says the plan is the result of backroom deals and doesn\’t even mention the public process that produced the plan. He seems to have taken a Sho Dozono press release and reprinted it, no wonder the poll is one sided. A perfect example of why many of us are concerned that uninformed and misinformed voters will negate months of effort to come up with the best plan.


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  • wsbob February 7, 2008 at 12:37 am

    The KGW story/street poll associated with the poll that Drew #9 and Bjorn #11 refer to( not exactly lying, but certainly misleading by way of failure to report and include in this story, other details about the long lead-up to the funding plan\’s creation, community meetings and outreach, stakeholder committee involvement):

    \” Portland road tax proposal headed to voters

    06:02 PM PST on Wednesday, February 6, 2008

    By KGW Staff

    The Portland city council on Wednesday wiped out a new street maintenance fee they passed just last week — now it\’s headed to the voters.

    The decision was the result of weeks of back room negotiations, deals were made and unmade all with the upcoming mayor\’s race as a backdrop.

    Voters will decide whether to raise their own water bills to pay for road improvements.

    The idea for the fee was driven by Commissioner Sam Adams. It would raise $464 million over 15 years, raising the average water bill by about $4.50 a month. Adams said he was frustrated by the delay.

    \”As Transportation Commissioner I know on what a regular basis how people are killed on our streets, and injured, so the delay makes me sad,\” he said.

    Adams will propose putting the measure on the November ballot, the same one that will have Adams as a candidate for mayor.

    Adams said the fee increase needs unanimous support on the council. Mayor Tom Potter changed his mind and now wants a ballot measure.

    Adams’ opponent in the race, businessman Sho Dozono, also favors letting voters decide on the fee increase.

    (KGW Reporter Randy Neves contributed to this report) \”.

    Randy #8, maybe you already found info about the funding plan, but if not, go to \’safeandsoundstreets.com\” or look for one of the links to that website, that Jonathan Maus, editor of this weblog has included in some of the articles he\’s written.

    This objectives of this initiative aren\’t directed towards removing noxious motor vehicles. The initiative, generally, is a street improvement and maintenance funding plan. I believe the money comes from a fee that will be attached to Portland residents and businesses water bill.

    The rate structure for businesses is based on how many vehicle trips their particular business generally generates. In that respect, the fee might have been structured in such a way as to encourage businesses to conceive of ways to have their business be less dependent on motor vehicles. As far as I know, this hasn\’t been done so far.

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  • Moo February 7, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Don\’t fret…the NY Giants did it under unbelieveable odds…and according to a quick t.v. news survey, it\’s 89% of voters against the initiative now- but too early for most to even know what it\’s about. Takin\’ it to the streets!

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  • Peter W February 7, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Oil companies and gas stations will oppose any fee or tax that effects them – and they will gladly spend more money fighting the fee then paying it. The main reason for this is probably that they worry about the \’domino effect\’: if Portland passes the fee, other places will get the idea that it is possible and will attempt to pass similar fees.

    Also, if we raise the gas tax just once, they worry that we will raise it again.

    For those reasons, I\’m guessing there will be a lot of misinformation coming at us.

    Unfortunately, it looks like Big Oil will get a helping hand from Corporate Media, as evidenced by the KGW propaganda which as written leads the reader to believe that there was absolutely no public involvement in crafting the \’Safe, Sound and Green Streets\’ fee.

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  • tonyt February 7, 2008 at 9:46 am

    OPB had a ridiculously short piece on this on the radio this morning that completely left out any mention of Paul Romain and the part he played. It simply magically happened.

    \”(Adams) hoped to get it through the city council with unanimous support. But Mayor Potter now says he wants it to be referred to voters.\”

    They played a decent sized quote from Adams, but without the context of knowing what actually happened, it was useless.

    That\’s it! A huge, incredibly important local issue squeezed beyond recognition into 30 seconds. They spent more time than that describing the OPB grocery bags that you get if you become a member. Pathetic.

    Jonathan, your reporting on this has been head and shoulders above that of the mainstream media.

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  • toddistic February 7, 2008 at 10:22 am

    as a cyclist I\’m just trying to \”pay my fair share\” for road maintenance

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  • Matthew February 7, 2008 at 11:20 am

    To vote in the KGW poll, you have to register for their site. And I think that poll simply says a lot more about people that register to vote about issues on a TV station\’s website, than about the population in general.

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  • Bryan February 7, 2008 at 11:57 am

    tonyt (#15) – That\’s par for the course for NPR stations, they\’re regionally- and nationally-focused. That\’s why I support community stations like our own KBOO. I haven\’t heard much talk about Safe, Sound & Green there either, but then again I\’m not around to listen to their news in the AM or PM…

    BikePortland has really been my primary source of SS&G news – thanks for your hard work, Jonathan!!

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  • Ken February 7, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Sam Adam\’s conduct in this whole affair has been very revealing — showing he\’s not suited to lead the city. At every turn he\’s denigrated his opponents personally, instead of arguing with them on the merits. It\’s uncouth and not leader-like at all. It\’s convinced me to vote against him this May (and this fall, if necessary). Portland can do a lot better than this.

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  • Jeff February 8, 2008 at 6:51 am

    I disagree with you, Ken. I think the deigration has not been against his opponents, but their disingenuous actions.

    Perhaps, Ken, you are already backing someone else?

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