(Photo © J. Maus)
The Portland Mercury’s Matt Davis is reporting that House Representative Jules Bailey (D-SE Portland) places blame for the demise of the Idaho Stop law on the way the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) handled the departure of Karl Rohde.
In an update to a story published yesterday on the Mercury blog, Davis reports that Bailey, the bill’s main sponsor, said there was a “little bit of a disconnect” when Rohde was let go by the BTA and that it created “enough of a lag” that Bailey (and others) decided to “let it go and try again next season.”
Rohde was let go by the BTA right in the thick of battle for the Idaho Stop Law. (Rumors have swirled as to why Rohde was fired. He has told me that he’s disappointed to have lost his job. The BTA won’t comment on personnel matters.) The law failed to make it out of committee and theories are flying as to what caused its demise.
One of the theories is that the intense negative backlash directed toward legislators that supported the mandatory bike registration bill made them so upset that they took out their anger by opposing the Idaho Stop bill. (Both BTA Executive Director Scott Bricker and BTA Legislative Committee Chair Doug Parrow have perpetuated this theory in the local media.)
But Bailey disagrees. The Mercury reported that, “it has not been his experience that the bill failed because of citizen opposition to the bike registration bill.” Here’s more from the Mercury:
“I felt like we had some pretty good momentum on this…But there was a change in staffing at the BTA, and there was a little bit of a disconnect on this during that period, when resistance to the idea really solidified.”
“[Rohde] was really working it hard in a way that legislators don’t really have the time to do,” Bailey continues. “There was enough of a lag that we decided to let it go and try again next session.”
Shortly after Rohde was let go, I spoke with BTA legislative committee member Bjorn Warloe. Warloe said he was “surprised to hear he [Rohde] was fired.” When I asked Warloe about what (if any) impact Rohde’s departure would have on the Idaho Stop effort. Warloe said that he felt Rohde was “committed to the issues and was doing a competent job, so to fire him in the middle of the session was a mistake.”
“If it was just a difference of opinion about how Karl was doing his job,” Warloe said, “I wish they would have decided that next fall.”