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As CRC rumbles forward, major advocacy groups sit on the sidelines

Posted by on February 28th, 2013 at 11:34 am

“I heard from a number of people who have expressed concerns about their [legislative] priorities if they were to speak against the bill.”
— Mara Gross, interim director of Coalition for a Livable Future

The Columbia River Crossing project took a big step forward when HB 2800 easily passed the Oregon House this week. But while the project has made a lot of noise lately, major environmental and transportation advocacy groups have stayed quiet.

The bill will likely be voted on by the Senate next week (March 4th) and then Governor Kitzhaber is expected to sign it into law (unless he gets nostalgic and has a change of heart).

As this snowball has gathered size and speed, I have become intrigued by the deafening silence about it from our region’s major environmental, land-use, and transportation advocacy groups. Groups like the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, 1000 Friends of Oregon, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, the Oregon Environmental Council, and the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Meanwhile, the relatively small opposition has been led by volunteer grassroots activists with little to no budget and a few organizations pulled together by Coalition for a Livable Future, an umbrella group that has just two policy-related staff. At a house party on Tuesday hosted by CLF and the Facebook-based group Shut Down the CRC, they celebrated a paltry $1,000 fundraising goal to help pay someone to work the halls of Salem to stop the bill.

Not a priority.
(Graphic: CRC Urban Design Advisory Group)

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), a group with 5,000 members and 14 full-time paid staff, says they don’t support HB 2800; but they’re not working to stop it. The last time the BTA urged action against the CRC was in 2011. Since then, they have been quiet about the project.

The Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) is arguably the largest and most powerful environmental non-profit in Oregon with seven paid staffers and 5,400 members statewide. They’ve been all but silent about the CRC since 2010.

1000 Friends of Oregon, with its 5,000 members and 10 paid staff specializing in land-use issues, has not worked to oppose the project since 2011.

The Oregon Environmental Council has 18 paid staff members and over 13,000 dues-paying members. A search for “Columbia River Crossing” on their website comes up empty.

The Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club is the nation’s largest at 7,500 members. There is no mention of HB 2800 on their website and the last time they raised concerns about the CRC project was in 2008 (links to PDF).

These groups (and others) could form a formidable front against the powerful lobbyists and political insiders pushing for the project. Each one of them on their own has large member databases and deep connections in Salem. Just imagine what they could do if they came together with their millions of dollars in annual revenue and nearly 30,000 paying members.

Would their advocacy be enough to sway votes in Salem? Why aren’t they doing more to oppose HB 2800, which sets in motion a mega-project that will have vast financial, infrastructural, and environmental consequences? Those questions have been on my mind for a long time. With new momentum for the CRC via HB 2800, I felt it was time to try and find some answers.

Mara Gross of Coalition for a Livable
Future (in 2008).
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Looming in the background of my work on this story were accounts from several sources that leadership of the Oregon House and Senate have muzzled dissent to HB 2800. Both freshman legislators and advocacy leaders, sources say, have been told directly that if they oppose HB 2800, they will pay for it. For lawmakers, that could mean withholding future campaign funding and support from party leaders; and for advocates, that could mean their current legislative agenda would not move forward.

When asked why she thinks many major advocacy organizations have not come out to publicly oppose HB 2800, Mara Gross, the interim director of Coalition for a Livable Future said, “I heard from a number of people who have expressed concerns about their [legislative] priorities [if they were to speak against the bill].” Another source, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “There are a couple groups that have been told explicitly that their priorities will be on the chopping block if they oppose the CRC.”

In that environment, it’s not hard to see why some groups might be hesitant to speak out.

BTA Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky told a reporter last year that “His group and others are planning a full-court press to try to derail the CRC by pushing for a referendum on the funding measure expected in Oregon’s 2013 legislative session.” Here we are in the 2013 session and the BTA is not working against that funding measure at all. When asked about their silence on HB 2800, Kransky confirmed that although they do not support the bill, they are also not devoting any resources to stop it. “Our legislative agenda,” Kransky wrote via email, “is based on our strategic plan and is focused on safety for all users of the roadway by; reducing neighborhood street speeds, improving traffic safety cameras, and dedicating funding for bicycle projects.”

Kranksy added that the BTA is, “Faced with strategic choices on where to put our resources” and pointed me to their current policy statement on the project (links to PDF). That statement, dated January 2011, doesn’t oppose the project. Instead, it outlines a list of design goals it must reach in order to get the BTA’s support.

“My perspective… is that we didn’t do a great job of movement building over the course of the last two to three years and we probably should have been doing that… It’s embarrassing.”
— Jason Miner, executive director 1000 Friends of Oregon

The leader of the OLCV, Doug Moore, said his group hasn’t taken a position on HB 2800. Ground zero for the OLCV’s political action is their “Salem Watch” newsletter distributed through the 40-member Oregon Conservation Network. The newsletter tracks legislative bills and states the OCN’s position on each. The February 18th newsletter — which came out the same day as HB 2800 got its first of two hearings in front of a joint legislative committee — listed four bills on the organization’s “Hotlist.” HB 2800 wasn’t one of them. However, it was listed as one of five bills under the heading, “On our Radar.” The OCN position on the bill was stated as, “Watching carefully.”

When asked why his group hasn’t done anything to oppose HB 2800, Moore said it just hasn’t “become the focus” of the OCN community. This was a recurring theme in my research for this story. There’s a sense that for some reason, Oregon’s many environmental activists and advocacy groups have never been able to coalesce around CRC opposition. Moore said he’s only been at the organization over a year so he doesn’t have the perspective to understand why they aren’t doing more to oppose it. Moore said that while his group isn’t officially taking action, he has personally expressed concerns about how the project would “reduce investment in alternative forms of transportation.”

Two years ago, 1000 Friends of Oregon was actively raising questions about the CRC and pushing for an alternative plan. Their former leader Bob Stacey, now a Metro councilor, remains an outspoken critic of the project. On February 18th he testified against HB 2800 in Salem, urging legislators to reject the bill. But Stacey’s former organization has been silent about the project since 2011. I spoke to their current executive director Jason Miner yesterday. “My perspective at this point,” he shared, “is that we didn’t do a great job of movement building over the course of the last two to three years and we probably should have been doing that.”

Miner had hoped that movement would rally around an alternative design proposal for the project. “We oppose the big bridge and the highway widening,” he said. The main focus of their advocacy was to put out a different vision, which was something Miner believed “There could have been a coalition behind.”

Two years ago, 1000 Friends was in talks to unite with other groups including the Coalition for a Livable Future, but that effort never materialized. “I think the community was fractured over the years… We worked on it and we didn’t come up with a single coherent voice.” Looking back, Miner feels like the failure to agree to an opposition strategy is “embarrassing.”

Like other groups, Miner said 1000 Friends is opposed to HB 2800. If they’re opposed, I asked, are they taking any public stance against it? After a long pause, Miner said, “No. I can’t think of any active organizing that I’m aware that we are doing.” Similar to the BTA, Miner said 1000 Friends simply hasn’t been in the lead in opposing the CRC and that they have other priorities. He also said they’ve worked behind the scenes to support the Northeast Coalition of Neighbors in their lawsuit against the project.

While Miner said that while 1000 Friends hasn’t gotten any threats from Salem power brokers about opposing HB 2800, he believes, “That conversation is going on out there.” He’s heard legislators describe being pressured for support for the bill from Speaker Kotek’s office. “They’ve said; ‘This is important to the speaker.'” Having the Speaker of the House push legislative priorities is a standard practice. I have no proof that that pressure went above and beyond the usual.

For citizen activists like Scott Lieuallen, who views the CRC as a “monstrosity,” the silence from these groups is notable. Lieuallen is a member, former staffer, and uber-volunteer for the BTA. He says he’s confused as to why the BTA doesn’t take a stronger stance against HB 2800. “I’m disappointed. I don’t know why that is. Maybe they have some good reason for not doing it. What I do know, is that I don’t see them taking a stand. I wish I could tell you why. I wish they would.”

Would action by the likes of the BTA, OLCV, Sierra Club, and 1000 Friends of Oregon have made a difference? “If they’d taken a lead,” said Noecker, “I have no doubt that we wouldn’t be in the position we are in today. They ask for people’s money, then they sit on the sidelines while activists no money at all have done all the real work against the CRC. This is a serious breach of trust.”

In speaking with advocacy leaders, I’ve heard many excuses for not opposing HB 2800: a lack of resources; a lack of urgency from their members; a lack of agreement on exactly how to oppose it (“There’s so many things to not like about the project, how do you begin to unify around this thing?” is how one person put it); a sense that there’s a better chance to kill the project in Washington; conflicting stances on the project from board members (BTA board member Val Hoyle is an Oregon State Rep who voted in favor of the bill), and so on. The one that stood out to me was a sense that the CRC is so big and the political power behind it is so strong, that resistance is futile.

Meanwhile, grassroots advocates, with their small numbers, small budgets, and limited political clout, have not given up. CLF and Shut Down the CRC have three more house parties planned in March. They’re targeting Oregon Senators with phone calls, urging them to vote no, and making as much noise about the project as they can. They have to be loud to get noticed — and to make up for the silence of the major advocacy players who continue to sit on the sidelines.

For activists like Scott Lieuallen, that’s unfortunate. “When does anyone break ranks,” he wonders, “and point out that the emperor has no clothes?”

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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dwainedibbly
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dwainedibbly

Cowards!

I think the next time any of these groups wants my money, I’m going to sit on the sidelines, too. Mrs Dibbly is canceling memberships as I write this…

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Jonathan, thank you for continuing to cover this mess, especially since other advocacy groups, as well as the media, seem afraid to touch it. AND thank you for covering the fact that others aren’t touching it! You’re performing a really valuable public service.

Nick
Guest
Nick

This just makes me feel sick and disillusioned.

I sure won’t be voting for Tina Kotek again.

Schrauf
Guest
Schrauf

Some of these groups realize that it is too late in Oregon, and it has been for a long time. The fight is in Washington – between the dismal budget picture and lack of support in Clark County for anything with light rail or tolls, that is what will stop the current version of the CRC.

Focus on breaking the weakest link in the chain.

Jacob
Guest
Jacob

Jules Kopel Bailey is sitting in the most progressive seat in our state’s legislature, and he is supposedly an environmentalist, even gettinga wards from OLCV. This is a joke. Jules needs to be primaried by a real progressive, and OLCV, 1000 friends et al, need to grow some courage. They will never see another check from me again.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

I finally renewed my BTA membership this year, but I won’t again. I won’t be giving money or time to any of these groups if they don’t have the foresight and stones to fight against what could be the largest environmentally detrimental thing to happen to my neighborhood in years. I’m giving my money to the NRDC.

Justin
Guest
Justin

Nice research, Jonathan. This sure reads differently than the coverage of the Mount Hood Freeway struggle.

Allan
Guest
Allan

Just remember that you can funnel your donations to organizations that actually oppose the project

Nicholas Caleb
Guest

Excellent journalism coming out of Bike Portland in the last few weeks. Thanks for telling it like it is, Jonathan. We’re never going to win these environmental battles if we don’t point fingers at the people are too buddy-buddy with the political system to take the necessary measures to succeed.

Hart Noecker
Guest

Thanks for helping name names, Jonathan. It’s time for the environmental groups lying down for the CRC to start feeling the pain.

Carl
Guest
Carl

What might be most useful at this point is a clear, point-by-point explanation of Why People Who Ride Bikes Should Oppose the CRC.

Part of the problem is that the badness of the project is in the details — on it’s surface it’s just an expensive bridge, so there’s little to rally cyclists or pedestrians around, which makes it difficult to build an active opposition. This is, as Jonathan pointed out earlier, entirely intentional on the part of CRC backers.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Guest
Kiel Johnson

the power of the internet for anyone to have a voice and communicate is a pretty new thing and I think a lof of these advocacy groups have struggled with how to interact with these newly empowered, informed, and passionate advocates. In this case it seems like the big groups have said, “these guys are already doing it so I’ll stay out”. But even though they are passionate they lack the political connections. I hope that someday these groups will learn to see facebook groups and house parties not as something working against them or a clear alternative to the more traditional non-profit advocacy group but as something that can supplement their work. That is where the real power of the future is.

Marid
Guest
Marid

If you really want to find out why these groups don’t oppose the bridge you should do a real scientific public opinion poll. I tried to search for such data, but didn’t find one. I would be surprised if private polling has not been done. Say, for example, that 75% of the public quietly supports the CRC. Factor in the amount of money behind the projects supports. Then you know why the project is moving. The opposition has no chance.

I’m a supporter of the CRC and an environmentalist and an off and on BTA supporter. One does not preclude the other.

Ross Williams
Guest
Ross Williams

It reads differently than the mythology of the Mount Hood freeway. By the end a lot of people were on board and they all claim part of the credit for its successful defeat. My understanding of that history is a little different. Like this project, the opposition was from a small number of activists who built a movement that brought all those other groups on board.

Most of the groups listed here at some point took on the CRC with little or no success. I suspect the honest answer from all of them would be that they decided this isn’t a winnable fight. Complaining about that judgment won’t stop the bridge, someone has to show them they are wrong. Until there is a strategy that has some chance of success, it would be foolish for these organizations to pull resources away from other important work for a lost cause.

Its not enough to say “It’s Important!”, you also have to say “We can win!” in a credible way.

bike-max-bike
Guest
bike-max-bike

Apathy, for want of return$, in the face of a great opportunity to be true to their missions certainly leaves egg (concrete?) on the face of Oregon’s once-great environmental nonprofits.

Nonprofits…oh yeah, it doesn’t have to be about the money every time.

So much helplessness, so much torpor, so much complicity.

Wow. Just wow.

michael downes
Guest
michael downes

Kudos Jonathon! Your reporting on this subject has been stellar…..

Timur Ender
Guest
Timur Ender

WELL DONE JONATHAN!! This needed to be said. Don’t get distracted by the heat you get from this story. Well behaved people seldom make history.

RH
Guest
RH

Maybe we can march and put some huge banners on the Failing St Bridge or Skidmore Overpass that say ‘NO CRC’….that could maybe get some media coverage….a lot of people on I5 would see the banners too.

Dmitriy Zasyatkin
Guest

Powerful Journalism! It takes a lot of courage to stand up for whats right.

patrickz
Guest
patrickz

I’ve punched the Recommended button on a few comments about Jonathan’s reporting being outstanding, but I just want to send my 2 pennies’ worth. What a truly FINE job of bringing the issue to light!

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

Perhaps anti-CRC activists can run for BTA board positions. You would get my vote.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

There would be more opposition to the CRC, both in advocacy groups and in the legislature, if there were a coherent alternative that had support from the three major stakeholders (Oregon, Washington, and the feds). Currently, there is no alternative that meets this criterion.

Ross Williams
Guest
Ross Williams

Here is a link to the Coalition for a Livable Future for anyone who wants to DO something about the CRC: http://clfuture.org/involve

Tom Moore
Guest
Tom Moore

It looks like the only environmental advocacy group challenging the CRC is the Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC). NEDC is a partner with the Coalition for a Livable Future and Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods in federal litigation- Earthrise Law Center at Lewis and Clark Law School is handling the case.

Tom Moore
Guest
Tom Moore

Here is a link to the complaint in the federal lawsuit filed in July 2012: http://law.lclark.edu/live/files/11728-crc-complaint

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Four decades ago I worked with Jan Egger’s noise control group at the Oregon Environmental Council. There was another gentleman involved–he shall remain nameless–who treated our very productive efforts as steppingstone access to the heights of political and administrative power. He succeeded brilliantly; years later I heard that he was on the short list to be Administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration. He did not get that position, but did garner mucho clout in Oregon’s corridors of power.

Also, I briefly served on the board of the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, and remember the meeting at which Henry Richmond announced his resignation to found 1000 Friends of Oregon in order to focus on land-use issues.

Both OEC and 1000 Friends have long since become intimate parts of Oregon’s political establishment, and one could argue that such access has enabled them to do a great deal of good. On the other hand, the CRC is the largest environmental and planning disaster ever to emerge in our state. At this crux they are showing that their co-option by powers-that-be and the ego-inflation accompanying, are much greater motivation than adherence to their founding principles.

It is apparent to me that CRC never will be built, if only because the only practical passage between Portland and Vancouver for motor vehicles is a tunnel. The political clout, which has intimidated the Governor and Legislature, emanates from the leadership of a certain private engineering organization, which is a great deal more than it appears to be. That it is entirely incompetent and paranoid bespeaks criminal intelligence and purpose worthy of a James Bond villain.

It is understandable that the weak of spirit have succumbed.

John Kitzhaber is dead meat. So is Tina Kotek. Politics in Oregon never will be the same. Our beloved environmental organizations will be collateral damage.

jeremy
Guest
jeremy

I am completely opposed to the CRC, but I also have to admit that I believe I have a better sense of what it is than most (thank you Jonathan). To this I also have to admit that I am not particularly “fired up” about opposition to it–in large part because it seems that there are so many HUGE problems that need to be overcome before they can actually build it. Last I heard, there is no funding from WA, the coast guard doesn’t approve of the plan, the funding from OR is pretty tenuous…even the house vote was the result of lots of people voting with the knowledge that other benchmarks had to be met before there is any building. So….which is it? Is the project too huge to stop, or too flawed to continue? I don’t know, but I am certain that if I ask someone who is not well informed, the idea of a new I-5 bridge sounds great. Perhaps Jonathan’s writing (along with other journalists) will bring the details to light and that will change the conversation…?

Lisa Marie White
Guest

Thank you so much for this article. The lack of response from these groups has been disheartening, and has placed any and all of my contributions and paid memberships in question.

With expected green house gas emission increases of 35%, the dangers of increased cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets in N/NE, the risk to dwindling populations of sea lions on the Columbia, the complete obliteration of our transportation budget for years to come, all for one poorly designed, poorly planned, ineffective project… there are so many detrimental environmental and transportation equity implications tied to the CRC. These groups have promised to give voice to their collective memberships, and they are failing to do so on an incredibly important issues with long-ranging consequences.

When will we finally hear from them? When will standing for what they say they do, despite risk to political standing, take precedence? I still believe they can step up and do what is right and best for our region, and I hope they do.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Todd Hudson and Marid completely miscaricaturize (I just made me up a new Bushism!) the opposition. Most of us certainly would not cheer if the current bridge collapsed (you’re getting the Interstate Bridge mixed up with another bridge), nor do we want everyone to stop driving.

We just want to stop massively subsidizing driving at the expense of other modes, and that is EXACTLY what the CRC amounts to.

Ron Buel
Guest
Ron Buel

Jonathan: Wonderful story. I have to admit that I wrote an e-mail to Willamette week suggesting this story yesterday.
it’s hard not to answer the posters above like Marid and Todd Hudson, who are quite off base and not well informed. But I will stick to giving my answer to your basic question. The Oregon Legislature has two sides that are fairly evenly matched — Republicans and Democrats. Who controls the legislature depends on the outcome of the so-called “swing seats” in which both parties have a chance to win. There are about 20 swing seats in the House, but only about eight in the Senate. These seats are now the subject of the most expensive fights in the general elections in November — more than $1 million spent by each side. The money the Democrats get for these races (its difficult to follow because the major contributors give to sure winners who then give their money to the caucus organizations who run the campaigns in the swing seats) comes from organized labor, both public and private unions. About two-thirds of the contributions for these contested races spent by Democrats comes from labor. On the Republican side, the same thing happens but the major business organizations are the main contributors, and in total, they give more than labor. The Speaker of the House can keep her job (in this case Tina Kotek) only if she pushes labor’s agenda. The Minority Leader, Mike MacLane, can keep his job only if he pushes the business agenda. Same is true in the Senate, with Peter Courtney the President, and Ted Ferrioli, the Minority Leader.
Do you notice that I can explain the situation without mentioning the word environmental organization in the whole paragraph.
What Goldschmidt and Tom Imeson and Henry Hewitt did when they conceived this project, is that they hired two lobbyists with the original $50 million of project money — Tom Markgraf and David Parisi. To get the project through Metro and the City Council, Markgraf and Parisi worked for 2-1/2 years organizing on Hayden Island, and with the powerful labor organizations and the powerful business organizations. So when the project went public in 2008 for votes at the Portland City Planning Commission and at Metro,

Hart Noecker
Guest

What Would Jane Jacobs Do? She’d come to Velo Cult this Tuesday from 5:30-7:30 for the next No CRC ‘house’ party: http://www.facebook.com/events/344318035677789/

Ron Buel
Guest
Ron Buel

when the project went public in 2008 for votes at the Portland City Planning Commission, Portland City Council and at Metro, the organizing work done by Markgraf and Parisi made the outcome a done deal, because the organizations Markgraf and Parisi had organized were the main contributors to the city council and Metro races, and it turns out fortuitously for the project, the same people are also the major contributors to the legislative races. Markgraf was paid by we taxpayers $1,050,000 for his work and Parisi $1.4 million. McCaig simply picked up their contacts and organized forward for the legislature, and made her little $418,000. This brilliant strategy of organizing the main contributors, the special interest groups, on behalf of this massive project was matched in Washington where the public relations and lobbying firm, EnviroIssues was paid $5.4 million through December of 2012 by we taxpayers to organize and lobby on behalf of the CRC.
If you are a legislator in a swing seat, you are going to damn well pay attention to what Tina Kotek and Peter Courtney want you to do, because they ladle out the money in the contested races. If you are Carolyn Tomei or Lew Frederick, who sit in urban seats that are not really contested by Republicans, you have a lot more freedom to vote your conscience than anyone in a swing seat, which they did. It is more difficult to justify the votes of people like Michael Dembrow, Jules Bailey and others who could have voted against the CRC but gained trading chips with labor and leadership for not doing so. If you are Tobias Read, and you didn;t make it at Nike, and you need a job, then perhaps you will lead the fight for this dreadful project, and hope you get a job out of it with business or labor. In that case, I don’t think you should make public service your bet, and, i might add, your constituents should throw you out for not asking a single relavent question in 24 hours of oversight committee meetings, and I did attend them.
Generally speaking in Oregon, progressives are screwed, unless they happen to work for one of the unions. Environmentalists have little or no real power, and they will not so long as its money that matters. They certainly don’t control labor. They certainly don’t control the press — look at who Willamette Week endorsed in the swing seats, for example. And The Oregonian has become an embarrassment to the decent journalists who still work there, as the right-wing publisher and his right-wing editorial page editor push this project on the front page and in their 38th and 39th editorials on the subject since June of 2008, both in the last two weeks.
What should we progressive environmentalists do about this situation. Well, you should pay strong attention to campaign finance reform. You should think seriously about how you get information about subjects like this, and what the community needs to do to have an informed electorate. And give to Jonathan Maus, Barry Johnson, Diane Lund and Michael Anderson, (that’s bikeportland.org, Oregon Arts Watch, The Lund Report and Portland Afoot) for trying to fill the massive void left in the fourth estate in this City and State.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Is this why you split from Neil, Ron?

Ron Buel
Guest
Ron Buel

One more little connect-the-dots item about The Oregonian. Its largest advertiser by far is Fred Meyer, which is now owned by Kroger. Fred Meyer also happens to be the largest importer at Rivergate, with its trucks coming out Marine Drive to get on I-5 and go to the warehouse in Clackamas County. At the second Monday hearing in the legislative hearings in the joint committee on the CRC, Fred Meyer executive Matt Hoffman testified on behalf of the CRC, complaining that his trucks sitting in the congestion on Marine Drive and I-5 costs the company $50,000 a year. i respectfully submit that this is a rounding error for the 133-store chain, and not worth Mr. Hoffman’s time in driving to Salem and back, whatever his position with the massive Kroger chain. Fred Meyer is also an active participant in the Portland Business Alliance, where Christian Anderson, Publisher of the Oregonian sits on the board of that big biz group. It is out of such trivial connections that this massively idiotic project, the largest public works project in the history of the State, is borne and caused to survive, and yes thrive, despite its numerous flaws and the incredibly botched and bungled leadership it has received.

Ron Buel
Guest
Ron Buel

Why should the enviro organizations care about the CRC? Air pollution and air toxics, climate change, peak oil, endangered salmon runs, sprawl in Clark County, alternative transportation finance. The list goes on and on. I am not supporting any more enviro orgainzations beyond CLF, who has been a true leader in sussing out what the real problems are that need to be addressed.

maxd
Guest
maxd

This seems like a coherent alternative to rebuilding the bridge, but doesn’t address the massive amount of freeway expansion:
http://couv.com/issues/clark-county-today/cct-peterson

was carless
Guest
was carless

Don’t forget, the environmentalists, most of whom live in Vancouver and commute to Portland via I-5, drive cars too!

They are as tired of sitting in traffic as anyone else, apparently.

sd
Guest
sd
Evan Manvel
Guest
Evan Manvel

Give money to CLF. Give money and volunteer with Bike Walk Vote. Build the organizations in line with your values.

Ted Buehler
Guest

Excellent journalism by Jonathan.

It is strange, given the region’s strong history of alternatives to freeway expansion, that the silence on this one is so deep and broad.

Ted Buehler

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Want to keep CRC enhanced traffic out of neighborhoods?
Toll all southbound exits $2.00.
No matter how far you travel on I-5 the toll costs the same; this incentivizes drivers to do ALL of their southbound travel on the interstate. Commuters have to guess whether or not it is worth it to pay the toll twice if they jump out of the traffic jam only to find that the surface streets are slower.

Also, in support of this strategy, we need to make the arterials surrounding I-5 as pedestrian and bike friendly and high speed traffic unfriendly as possible.
As long as the “hole in the air” remains unaltered for the well funded freight interests we should be able to pull that off.

Douglas K
Guest
Douglas K

87,213. That’s how many valid signatures would be needed to put an initiative petition on the ballot to repeal HB 2800 after it’s signed into law. The law was passed as an “emergency” measure to prevent a referral to the voters. But that won’t prevent an initiative that simply repeals the law.

Collecting 87,213 valid signatures is something a coalition of grassroots activists can do. Every single powerful argument against the CRC can wind up in the Voter’s Pamphlet. No more insider games – it would be up for a public vote. And just how popular will the project be outside the Portland area — particularly among downstate rightwingers who want to kill anything with light rail attached?

One problem I see with a repeal petition (as opposed to a referral) is the confusion that probably will arise from the “yes means no” nature of the vote. Yes, we want to stop it vs. no, we want to build it.

Brian Willson
Guest

Thanks for staying on this topic, revealing the lack of advocacy by the environmental groups, and provoking this discussion.

To me, it is just astounding that as a people, as a species, as portlanders, we just cannot come to grips with the reality of global warming largely due to our insatiable consumption of a lifestyle based on burning carbon.

Instead of experiencing our carbon dilemma as an emergency needing a Manhattan-like effort to move quickly to a non-carbon-based economy, necessary for perhaps some of us to survive past about the year 2040, as a body politic we are still promoting business as usual, expanding infrastructure that facilitates burning more carbon for ever more car and truck travel rather then less.

Instead, we could be dramatically accelerating an already bike-friendly city in such a way so as to promote a 10-fold increase in biking as a radical alternative, while increasing, not decreasing, bus service.

It seems that we are somehow deeply committed to suicide, or more accurately, ecocide. Isn’t this strange and almost unbelievable?

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

I can see that the tone of BikePortland in regard to the CRC opposition may have something to do with the lack of broad consensus and results. The previous article stated that the CRC, State of Oregon and State of Washington were actively participating in deception, obfuscation and outright lies. Really!? This frothy diatribe had the same persuasive power as the “truther” or “birther” complainants. The failure of this venue, which on so many issues strives to be objective, to give credence to the reasons for the CRC, distances its readers from a broader understanding of the issues and ultimately an understanding of why their opposition is getting no traction. This blog is an echo chamber in a fish bowl repeating itself to the same cast of characters who heartily and loudly agree into the blog. Clearly the methods employed by the CRC opposition are not swaying those who are undecided or influencing those who just don’t care.
Part of the anti-persuasion is to package red herrings in their arguments. One still hears about bike facilities being eliminated from bridge. Not true. Same with Light Rail. The pending catastrophes brought on by global warming are wrested on the construction and use of this structure. While global warming is fact, construction of the bridge and its use only nibble at the edges of this problem. More good would come by initiating a carbon tax. That would inspire the marketplace to favor renewable energy and electric vehicles. The sprawl issue (which is certainly a drag) is a lifestyle choice for which holier-than-thou urbanites deride suburbanites. Good luck persuading Vancouver house fraus and office men that their lifestyle is a dance with the devil. Again, however a carbon tax would again inspire more dense development. Regarding the notion that the large structure destroys neighborhoods and divides Vancouver, Um there is already an interstate freeway there dividing the neighborhood and the impact areas are (for the most part) already no-man’s lands of parking lots. The notion that it is a pork laden jobs program has some credence, but I don’t see that jobs are a bad thing, especially when they result in a product that over the long term will facilitate greater connectivity, commerce, safety and efficiency of travel. Will the neighborhoods suffer from bypass traffic at the Rose Quarter? Yup, but they already do, so that is something that will not change.
It appears the supporters of the Bridge and freeway widening actually represent the broader population. Everyone knows it is tremendously expensive. Everyone knows it is flawed. The reasons for supporting it, despite its shortcomings must be pretty overwhelming but you won’t read about it here.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Maybe what we need to push this discussion along is a catastrophic, humiliating military defeat in the Middle East to show us that there is no future in murdering people so as to steal their oil for our misguided transportation policies.

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

Both freshman legislators and advocacy leaders, sources say, have been told directly that if they oppose HB 2800, they will pay for it

…have been told directly by whom? Colleagues? Campaign contributors? Men In Black?

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

At Tuesday’s Stop the CRC house party, I subscribed to monthly giving to the Coalition for a Livable Future, https://secure.clfuture.org/donate.

I have just now cancelled my BTA membership (email to greer@btaoregon.org).

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Who needs tolls?
Eliminate ALL the subsidies and tax breaks that petrochemical and farm ethanol producers get.
Then those “market forces” the tea baggers are so proud of will show them that the entire range of densities between thriving dense urban and rural farmland only exist because the federal government has been financially supporting the sub-urban paradigm since post-WWII for fear of falling back in to the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

You make oil, and by extension all automotive fuel use, expensive and everyone will be BEGGING for good public transit in well crafted dense urban cities.
As long as we artificially support transportation costs we encourage sprawl and require more roads so the sprawl can grow.

This is the USA’s chief product: unsustainable suburban sprawl.

Hart Noecker
Guest

In rereading Gerik Kransky’s carefully worded response, I’m curious if he thinks he’s successfully avoided the question. It would seem to be a huge issue of credibility for him to say the BTA was going to bat against the CRC in 2013. Did he outright lie? Or did the BTA throw him under a bus on this?

Ross Williams
Guest
Ross Williams

Perhaps its time to revive Sensible Transportation Options for People (STOP), the organization that fought the Westside Bypass in Washington County. That was a done deal in 1990 too.