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Governor Brown reverses veto threat: The SW Capitol Hwy project is safe

Posted by on August 15th, 2017 at 2:40 pm

We did it!

You raised your voices. Oregon Governor Kate Brown heard them. And she has changed her mind.

The Governor just announced she will not go through with her threatened veto of over $2 million in funding for the SW Capitol Highway project. The project will build a crucial biking and walking connection between Multnomah Village and Taylors Ferry Road that the neighborhood has worked for since 1991.

Here’s the official word via a letter from the Governor’s office (full PDF of the letter here):


The Governor’s veto threat caught everyone off guard. This past week we’ve reported on a slew of current and former legislators who were simply baffled at the decision.

This issue spurred us to send our first-ever direct action alert email to our list of supporters (paid subscribers, advertising partners and financial contributors). In addition we encouraged readers both here on the blog and on our social media channels to contact the Governor and let her know she’d be making a huge mistake with a veto.

I was very encouraged by all your respnoses. And I’m even more encouraged now that Governor Brown took them seriously and made the right decision.

A lot of people swung into action behind the scenes, making phone calls and writing emails to help us make this happen. I’m grateful to all of them as well.

The combination of information and inspiration can be a very powerful thing — and today is another amazing testament to that.

Thank you!

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

  • rick August 15, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Yes ! Great news for a north / south place of SW Capitol !

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  • Adam
    Adam August 15, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    I’m honestly surprised. Thanks for listening to reason, Gov. Brown.

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  • Toadslick August 15, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Between this and that awful PSA being shut down, that’s two victories on the same day!

    Thanks for all your hard work, Jonathan. Two more reasons to be a BikePortland subscriber.

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  • rick August 15, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Cleaning the stormwater, too, for both Woods Creek and Tryon Creek !

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  • stummer August 15, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    How about vetoing funding for the museum of gas guzzlers, World of Speed?

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    • rick August 15, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      Yeah, don’t they get tax dollars somehow ?

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      • Nohaven August 15, 2017 at 10:17 pm

        It’s the personal car collection of the family that owns Columbia Sportswear. They don’t need our money.

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        • rick August 16, 2017 at 7:02 am

          I thought Jonathan Maus or somebody else showed a link or list of tax dollars going to them within the past week.

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          • stummer August 16, 2017 at 1:19 pm

            Yup, it’s in this bill. 50k going to support the personal car collection of one the richest families in the state. So when the government says they have no money for schools or roads, here is an example of pure government pork. I’m a pretty liberal person and not anti-government, just anti-stupidity.

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  • Mike Sanders August 15, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Good. But the other side of this is the possibility that she might veto similar prijects in the future funded mostly wuth Lottery money. That’s something to keep an eye on. Meanwhile, this project needs to get off the ground.

    President Trump had a press conference about infrastructure today. He unveiled a flowchart that shows what it takes to get a highway project built. He cited 29 separate approvals needed to get a project going, plus numerous environmental impact statements and other dkcunents. (Not including state and local requirements.) “One agency can hold up a project for years,” he claimed. He issued an executive order calling for streamlining the process so projects can be built and jobs can be created built ASAP. His discussion of the flowchart made no mention of consideration of alternate transportation options, like ped/bike paths, light rail, and streetcars. You need to reprint that flowchart in light of the possibility that he may try to kill environmental laws in order to get new highway projects constructed. He’s clearly obsessed with making highways the focus of the infrastructure discussion. Something to pay attention to, especially his belief that environmental impact documents are unneeded and the requirement to have them is designed deliberately to hold projects back a decade or more.

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    • wsbob August 15, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      “Good. But the other side of this is the possibility that she might veto similar prijects in the future funded mostly wuth Lottery money. That’s something to keep an eye on. …” mike sanders

      I think Gov Brown’s announcement, partly was an advisory to legislators to, in future, get the projects they’re working on, correctly included in the bill appropriate to the project. The legislators should not have been, as this webog’s owner-writer describes them…”baffled”, by Brown’s initial plan to veto the project.

      They should have foreseen the problem that might occur by putting the Capitol Hill project into a wrong budgetary bill. Had they done so, it might have saved a lot of time and worry about the project possibly not being funded.

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    • Chris I August 16, 2017 at 10:24 am

      Those environmental impact barriers are especially onerous for mass transit projects that will reduce overall CO2 emissions. Eliminating them for highways but not for mass transit is outrageous, but not unexpected from this administrations.

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    • matt picio August 26, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      “But the other side of this is the possibility that she might veto similar prijects in the future funded mostly wuth Lottery money”

      Which she *should* – those types of projects are not what lottery money was intended for, and not what the voters voted for when the lottery was permitted in the State of Oregon. I wholeheartedly approve of returning lottery money back to its intended use, and to taking additional funds from that source and using them to benefit the poor who are disproportionally impacted by the lottery.

      The real issue it that this project, and future ones which are crucial, are not making it into the dedicated funding plans like the Transportation Package. Solving that problem requires Oregon’s advocacy community to keep better tabs on Salem, on local and county projects, and to actually attend meetings, which by and large the Portland advocacy community sucks at. I served on the Multnomah County bike/ped committee for 6 years, and recruiting people to serve was always like pulling teeth – and getting the public to show up for meetings on anything was practically impossible. Ditto for the Clackamas County advisory committee, and to a lesser extent this happens very frequently in the city committees and the state.

      The few of us who serve, and show up for meetings, and actively try to recruit others sometimes manage to serve for 10 or 15 years, but most of us burn out after 5 – and there’s good reasons for that. Oregon transportation advocates, and all Oregon cyclists, need to start showing up at these meetings (and at city council, and in front of the legislature) and helping to drive the official agenda – because that’s where the work gets done, and that’s where funding happens.

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  • Charley August 15, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    I do not recall reading, in any of this coverage, that the source of her misgivings was that the funds were appropriated from lottery revenues. (I did not know that this was funded by the lottery, either). I think that’s an important point, and one that I’m surprised to learn only now.

    It seems to me that she was right to question that appropriation: not that the project was bad, but that the project might have deserved funding from ODOT’s normal funding mechanisms.

    I guess all is well that ends well.

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    • wsbob August 16, 2017 at 5:52 pm

      “I do not recall reading, in any of this coverage, that the source of her misgivings was that the funds were appropriated from lottery revenues. …” charley

      A fuller explanation to the public about her reasoning might have been good in the initial notice that she was planning to veto this project. The implication seems to be that the legislators are supposed to know that it’s the transportation budget that transportation projects are supposed to be funded from, and that the Governor prefers funding be done this way.

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    • wsbob August 17, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      Sorry I don’t have the link, but after I posted yesterday, I browsed the Oregonian for the 16th, in which there was a fairly good story about the governor’s veto reasoning, and with a small number of quotes from legislators about their reasoning for not having included this project in the transportation budget.

      What I gathered from all of that, is that the legislators seem to have known that Gov Brown did not want to fund the Capitol Hill project with a separate bill drawing on lottery funds…but they went ahead and tried that gambit anyway. It’s kind of annoying to me that they tried to do that. Wasted a lot of people’s time, and money, and threatened the project’s chances of being funded.

      Some of Devlin’s remarks about Brown on her initial plan to veto, seemed a bit much to me, thoughtless at least, maybe outright rude. It would be great if some of the legislators that are doing it, would cut back on the pettiness, and got a little more serious and focused on doing a better job.

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  • Stephan August 16, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Thank you Jonathan for keeping the conversation constructive! I think it made a big difference. We could have easily slipped into a negative spiral that would have let nothing.

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  • Matthew in Portsmouth August 16, 2017 at 9:12 am

    What Gov. Brown’s message says to me is that legislators had better fund road projects out of road related taxes. If the motoring public want more money for roads, we have to be prepared to pony up more road taxes to pay for them. I think that is fair enough. Remembering that most local roads are funded at the county level, so this only applies to state funded roads.

    I am guessing that any state legislator that wants to come up with a new interstate highway project will have to state from the get go that funding it will require an increase in the state gas tax. Not a bad thing.

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  • mh August 16, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Perhaps we can use this to remind Gov Brown and all our legislators that, because we can’t use gas tax dollars for such needed projects, that we’re always trying to figure out creative ways to finance them. Bake sales, anyone?


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  • I wear many hats August 16, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Well done Jonathan! Your reporting is fueling the activists. This was the first time I contacted the Governor, and I’m glad I did. Keep up the hard work. Its making our city a better place to live.

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  • Mike Gilliland
    Mike Gilliland August 16, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Bravo! Thanks for letting this not slip through the (pavement) cracks!

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