Key senator speaks out on Governor’s veto threat as voters flood office with concerns

Posted by on August 11th, 2017 at 10:13 am

Pressure is building on Oregon Governor Brown to reverse her threat to veto a long-awaited infrastructure project in southwest Portland. In the past two days readers of BikePortland have helped spur dozens of phone calls and emails to her office. Our community’s voices are helping buoy efforts by legislators who are urging the Governor to reconsider.

Here’s where things stand…

Senator Devlin plans to hand-deliver a letter to Governor Brown today.

I spoke to veteran Oregon State Senator Richard Devlin yesterday. The SW Capitol Highway project borders his district and according to other legislators I’ve spoken to in recent days, he’s the main champion of the project.

Devlin told me he plans to hand-deliver a letter to Governor Brown today. I’ll post that letter once I receive it from his office.

While he said he and Brown have a good relationship, her veto threat came as a complete surprise. “The arguments made publicly so far by the governor have very little rational basis,” Devlin said. He also thinks this could very well be a case of the governor simply being unaware of the background and importance of this project.

“I think if she went out and talked to the people she would have a much different understanding of the project,” Devlin added. “Is it a project of statewide significance? No. Is it a crucial regional project? Probably not. But for the 30-40,000 people around that area it’s a very important project.”


Screen grab of our action alert. Read it here.

Is there a chance she’ll change her mind? Devlin said he’s “Hopeful she can find a path to reconsider.” He also urged people to contact her office and share their opinions. “I would hope as many people as possible would get on the record. That’s all we have left at this point… to try and get as much feedback to her as possible.”

Yesterday I sent out BikePortland’s first-ever action alert to our list of about 700 subscribers and donors. I’ve gotten a ton of positive feedback about it and according to the stats so far, about 60 people have clicked over to the governor’s contact form to share their opinion. The action alert has also been shared on Facebook, Nextdoor, and so on.

Thank you to everyone who read, acted, and shared our message.

We have until Tuesday to tell Governor Brown she shouldn’t veto this important project. If you haven’t contacted her yet, please do so. Her office phone number is (503) 378-4582.

For more background see our other coverage this week or check out the action alert.

UPDATE, 11:28 am: Congresssman Blumenauer has written Governor Brown urging her to change course on the veto threat:

Dear Governor Brown,

I am writing regarding your stated intention to veto Section 83 of House Bill 5006, providing $2,050,857 for City of Portland SW Capitol Highway safety improvements. Your veto would be unprecedented in undermining more than two decades of planning and work on this much-needed project, continuing to put in jeopardy the safety and accessibility of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists on SW Capitol Highway. As a former City Commissioner for the City of Portland in charge of transportation, I am very aware of the tremendous need for these improvements.

While you can give accolades to the overall transportation package that was passed during the legislative session, the suggestion that the SW Capitol Highway has not been appropriately vetted or carefully considered is completely false. The Portland City Council adopted the Capitol Highway Improvement Plan in 1996 after years of neighborhood advocacy and community involvement. The City was finally able to secure funding of $8 million for the project in 2016 after voters approved the Fixing Our Streets funding program. The project’s completion hinges on the State of Oregon’s investment of $2 million. This project was carefully vetted and considered on its own merits by both chambers of the legislature. To imply otherwise is misguided and wrong.

I urge you in the strongest terms possible to prioritize the safety in the SW Capitol Highway corridor and rescind your veto threat for Section 83 of House Bill 5006.


Earl Blumenauer
Member of Congress

UPDATE, 11:58 am: More pressure building. All five members of Portland City Council – including Mayor Ted Wheeler – have sent a letter to Governor Brown urging no veto:

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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Andrew MargesonRoger AverbeckwsbobrickJohn Liu Recent comment authors
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Time to fight back.


Thanks for your advocacy on this, Jonathan! These improvements have been cooking for SO LONG it’s kind of mindblowing the Governor would veto it. I remember discussing improvements to SW Capitol at a town hall meeting not long after we moved to SW in 2003.

Did you coordinate the BP action with SW Trails? I received an action alert from them the same hour I got the one from BP.


SW Trails worked on that newsletter quickly. This section of SW Capitol Highway is so critical, especially because it is a north-south route in that area.

John Liu
John Liu

My message sent to Gov Brown via her webform:

“I’m asking you to reconsider your veto of Section 83 of HB5006. I applaud your careful scrutiny of public spending, but this particular project has been thoroughly studied, planned, and budgeted since 1991, and has enjoyed strong public support for decades. This project will greatly improve the safety of Oregon residents who commute to work and school by bicycle on the SW Capitol Parkway. Almost all of the funds for the project have been secured from local sources, and through bi-partisan support from the Legislature, HB5006 will provide the last needed funding for this 25-year community effort.”


Thanks !


“…“The arguments made publicly so far by the governor have very little rational basis,” Devlin said. …” bikeportland

Seem likely that saying things like that, is not going to help. Sounds like a very thinly veiled insult directed at the governor. If not an insult, why Devlin seems to think he’s got to take such a high handed tone, is hard to figure. I read Devlin’s letter to the governor. In that letter, he lays out a rough guide as to how items…I’m assuming he means ‘project items’…for legislative bills are looked at and worked on in legislative committees and sub-committees before items are included in the bill to be presented to the full legislative body to be evaluated, etc, and voted on there.

He does not in his letter, provide a timeline for when the Capitol Highway project, or any of the other three projects the governor is reportedly planning to veto..were included in the bill and presented to the full legislature for evaluation and vote. Doubt about the four projects having been before the full legislature for an amount of time they should have been, seems to be the governor’s central point.

Andrew Margeson
Andrew Margeson

If you think that is insulting, I can only conclude that you don’t follow national, state or local news at all. There is no ad hominem attack in Senator Devlin’s letter and he in fact emphasizes that he neither takes the Governor’s veto statement personally, even though it is extremely critical of his work, nor intends his response personally. What follows is a substantive and detailed rebuttal of the Governor’s statement.

Senator Devlin worked hard to fund an important community project and it is clear that it was thoroughly vetted.

After years in politics, I will tell you what I surmise happened. The Governor reacted angrily and decided to punish a legislator from Southern Oregon who she thinks double-crossed her. Our project was identified for veto as a way of trying to create the perception of balance.

Roger Averbeck
Roger Averbeck

My comments sent to Governor Brown on 8/10/17, also posted on a different article about the issue:

Dear Governor Brown,

I am writing in opposition to your planned line item veto of the Capitol Highway project within HB 5006. The $2 million funding for Capitol Highway is needed to provide critical safety improvements in the segment of Capitol Hwy between Taylor’s Ferry Road, crossing Barbur Blvd and I – 5 to Huber St, within the complicated set of intersections known as the West Portland Crossroads. The crossroads are the connection for SW Portland residents to many local businesses; the Barbur Transit Center; Multnomah Village Business District; Markham Elementary School, Jackson Middle School; and PCC Sylvania. The Capitol Hwy fund will leverage ODOT’s $3 million ARTS (All Roads Transportation Safety) project in the crossroads, currently in preliminary design phases.

SW Portland Community members have supported safety improvements in the West Portland Crossroads for many years. Much study and vetting of the Crossroads has already occurred. The Crossroads were studied by PBOT’s 2012 Barbur High Crash Corridor Plan; Portland’s 2013 Barbur Concept Plan; ODOT’s 2015 Barbur Road Safety Audit; Portland’s 2016 Transportation System Plan update, Portland’s 2016 Vision Zero Safety Plan; and Metro’s ongoing SW Corridor Light Rail Plan. Clearly this congested set of intersections and I – 5 freeway ramps needs safety improvements that cannot wait until the SW Corridor LRT is built in 2025.

Please do not veto the Capitol Highway project in HB 5006. Thank you very much for your consideration.