Governor Brown nominates Lee Beyer to Oregon Transportation Commission

Lee Beyer. (Photo: VoteLeeBeyer.com)

Lane County Democrat Lee Beyer is poised to be the next member of the Oregon Transportation Commission. Governor Kate Brown made the announcement as part of a slate of nominations made public on August 31st. If confirmed, Beyer would replace Commissioner Alando Simpson, whose term expires at the end of this year.

The five-member OTC is the most powerful transportation decision-making body in the state of Oregon. They are in charge of the Oregon Department of Transportation and tell the agency how to implement their policies and which projects to fund.

Senator Beyer, 74, lives in Springfield (near Eugene), has been a member of the Oregon Legislature since 2011 and has been involved in politics for nearly four decades. Sen. Beyer has also been a key figure in transportation policy at the state capitol. As a co-chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation he was a leading proponent of House Bill 2017, a major transportation funding package. Beyer is also a co-chair of the Joint Interim Committee on the Interstate 5 Bridge.

In 2013, Beyer voted in favor of funding for the ill-fated Columbia River Crossing and is an ardent supporter of its successor, the I-5 Bridge Replacement Program.

Seen at the Bike Town Hall on Saturday. (Photo: Taylor Griggs/BikePortland)

Also in 2013, Beyer said taxicab drivers should have the same exception to the cell phone law as police officers do. When bike advocates sought an expansion of bicycle funding on the 50th anniversary of the Bicycle Bill in 2021, Beyer said there just wasn’t enough money to do it. “It is not that the state is not supportive of bike paths,” Beyer said. “We would like to do more. Our primary responsibility however, is maintaining the freight and intercity traffic routes.”

Late last year, Willamette Week noted that Beyer was the sole Democrat to donate to the gubernatorial campaign of Betsy Johnson, a former state senator running as an independent. “I think she could make a good governor,” Beyer told Willamette Week.

Beyer’s nomination must be confirmed by the Senate Rules Committee, but a date for that meeting hasn’t been finalized.

Transportation advocates seem poised to mobilize against the decision. Portland resident and Chair of Bike Loud PDX Kiel Johnson, was seen riding around Saturday’s Bike Town Hall event with “Reject Lee Beyer for OTC” scrawled across a sign attached to the rear of his pedicab.

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Michael Andersen
15 days ago

Pretty disappointing. Just to add a bit to Beyer’s resume, he was also among those who shot down this very modest apartments-near-transit bill last year, in the face of the argument that it would undermine public support for mass transit. https://www.sightline.org/2021/04/07/good-transit-is-pointless-when-people-cant-live-near-it/

soren
soren
15 days ago

It’s telling that there is no criticism of Kate Brown in your comment.

Who appointed Beyer?

Which governor made freeway expansion a pillar of her campaign and subsequent tenure?

Are the tiny reforms championed by free market urbanists progress or are they sheepdogging for the democratic establishment?

Boyd
Boyd
15 days ago
Reply to  soren

Isn’t the criticism implied by the fact that brown nominated him to a statewide transportation policy leadership position?

soren
soren
13 days ago
Reply to  Boyd

This recent tweet from a close colleague of the OP who is also an influential climate activist and mentor of the the mainstream youth climate movement is an example of this “implied criticism”:

comment image

IMO, liberal democrats still see the climate crisis as just another political “trade off” instead of as the moral imperative of this era.

maxD
maxD
15 days ago
Reply to  soren

Thank you Soren! Acquaintances keep telling me Kate Brown is climate advocate- what a joke!

Chris I
Chris I
14 days ago
Reply to  soren

Who should we vote for?

rob
rob
15 days ago

Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was…

Brandon
Brandon
15 days ago

Why do we have people in charge of transportation that aren’t experts or even have some educational background in transportation?

RipCityBassWorks
RipCityBassWorks
15 days ago
Reply to  Brandon

Because that’s the only way to get freeway expansion projects rubber stamped? Most people who are actual experts on transportation planning will at least give a thought to pedestrian safety and the environment.

Ed Birnbaum
Ed Birnbaum
15 days ago

I almost can’t believe this. Does it even matter that we have a “liberal Democrat” governor and legislature when people like this control transportation policy at the state level?

James Roe
James Roe
15 days ago
Reply to  Ed Birnbaum

Nope, long past time for people to wake up and start voting Green.

Fred
Fred
14 days ago
Reply to  James Roe

Sorry, James, but we have a two-party system. Everyone who votes for a Green Party candidate is helping to elect a Republican.

I know Green Party candidates especially enjoyed the eight years of the George W. Bush presidency.

James Roe
James Roe
14 days ago
Reply to  Fred

I don’t know how you could look at any state on the West Coast, or have lived through the wildfire events over the last few years, and come away with the conclusion that Democrats are a solution to any of our problems.

And parties come and go, you can Whig the Democrats if enough people get over their learned helplessness.

You may be comfortable watching living conditions slide while corporations get whatever they want from government for another 30 years, but I’ve been watching it since the 90’s and I’m over it.

 
 
14 days ago
Reply to  James Roe

This line of thinking is extremely dangerous, and it’s exactly why we ended up with Drumpf instead of Clinton in 2016. I certainly don’t agree with all of the Democrats’ party positions, but the only realistic alternative right now is a party that has jumped on the full-on fascist train. Any vote at the federal or state level that’s not for a candidate with a realistic shot at winning is in effect a vote for Republican fascism.

Do you want to see a full abortion ban passed at the federal level in the not-too-distant future, all active/public transportation funding pulled, and (most terrifyingly) the end of all elected representation? Because if the Republicans win thanks to people not voting for viable alternatives, this is exactly what you’ll see.

James Roe
James Roe
14 days ago
Reply to   

People have been pushing some variation of “this is the most important election of your lifetime” to get people to vote against their self interests for those same 30 years.

It would have been better to make a dirty break from the Democratic party in the 90’s, but today would be better than tomorrow.

There’s never going to be a good time to do it, but by the same token without real pressure from the left, which comes from being willing to vote for left candidates Democrats will never stop chasing people like Jennifer Rubin and Bill Kristol.

It would only cost about 20 billion dollars to end homelessness nationally according to HUD, we’ve sent over 50 billion to Ukraine in the last 8 months.

You get what you vote for, and I’m done voting for 1980’s Republicans.

And as for the rest of your statement, you should reflect on the fact that you’re essentially advocating for a protection racket, not a political party.

“Those are some nice rights you have there, be a shame if anything happened to them.”

 
 
14 days ago
Reply to  James Roe

Pressure them in primaries. Vote for the progressive candidate who cares about your values there. Then they will have a real shot at winning the general election. In the past two presidential elections I voted for Sanders and Warren respectively in the primaries, but then still voted for Clinton and Biden in the general. Continue to put pressure on your representatives once they’re actually in office, and vote against them next time in the primaries. That’s what I’ll be doing if someone from the progressive side challenges Biden in 2024, or if someone with AOC-like policies runs for office somewhere where I can vote. I’ll support them then, but if they lose the primaries I’ll still vote for someone with a shot at actually winning.

And I want to see change but I’m also a realist. I recognize that sometimes I have to hold my nose and vote for someone who shares some but not all of my values, rather than insist that every candidate has to be perfect and in the process getting nothing useful done. And I also recognize that there’s a true threat to democracy on the far-right that takes first priority over any other issues right now. Never let perfect be the enemy of good.

James Roe
James Roe
13 days ago
Reply to   

Pressuring them in primaries is meaningless, particularly in states like CA, WA, and OR.

A $15 minimum and a public option didn’t even survive Biden’s first 90 days despite Sanders being the second most popular candidate for two election cycles in a row.

If you want change you MUST be willing to vote for other parties.

Damien
Damien
13 days ago
Reply to  James Roe

I appreciate your comments, James. Coming to grips that voting for the lesser of two evils is only a rational strategy if you pretend the next election is the last one, but long term leads inevitably to greater evil is tricky for many. Downright offensive for some (I expect dwk to blow a gasket when they catch this thread).

From further up in the thread:

Any vote at the federal or state level that’s not for a candidate with a realistic shot at winning is in effect a vote for Republican fascism.

This argument’s emotionally insidious, but logically vacuous (and self-defeating, in the long term). A vote for X is a vote for X. A vote for Y is not a vote for X. Neither is a vote for Z. Etc.

I haven’t made up my mind for governor yet, but I suspect none of the three contenders actually represents my views (or, say, would pick a different sort of person for this OTC position, if even a different person at all), and if that remains the case after consideration, none of them will get my vote.

soren
soren
13 days ago
Reply to  James Roe

It would have been better to make a dirty break from the Democratic party in the 90’s, but today would be better than tomorrow.

There’s never going to be a good time to do it, but by the same token without real pressure from the left,

Comment of the week.

Watts
Watts
14 days ago
Reply to  Fred

we have a two-party system

…with 3 viable candidates to replace Gov. Brown.

Sadly, I don’t like any of them at all, so am starting to think about how to best “send a message” with my ballot. Maybe that means voting for Johnson, or maybe that means voting for the Green candidate. Or even the Republican (well, probably not). I really don’t know yet.

JaredO
JaredO
14 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Ballots aren’t a great way to send clear messages.

The interpretation will be:

  • I support the corporate stooge, anti-minimum wage, anti-bicycle, gun nut, anti-climate action Betsy Johnson
  • I support the anti-choice, anti-climate action right-wing Christine Drazan
  • I support the person who’s actually accomplished things on workers rights, climate change, boosting housing, woman’s right to choose, and gun safety, Tina Kotek.

There’s no nuance of “well, I like this about Kotek but I don’t like her pro-highway votes.”

You don’t get that with your vote.

You get to choose one of the options, or say “well, I’ll live with destroying the planet because heck none of them are perfect.” There’s next to zero examples of people making progress that way.

The way you get to send clearer messages is to engage outside the election.

soren
soren
14 days ago
Reply to  Fred

we have a two-party system

I’m glad that you can admit that the USA is a grossly undemocratic duopoly.

Richard Hughes
Richard Hughes
15 days ago

Senator Beyer responded to letters of support for SB 395, the Bike Bill, that he would NOT support more bike paths off the road. The bill had nothing to do with bike paths and only increased funding from 1 to 5% in ODOT’s budget pertaining to what they currently do. He either doesn’t have the bandwidth or is operating under old programming. Governor Brown apparently owes him a BIG FAVOR?

Cathy Tuttle
15 days ago

This was a squandered opportunity by GovBrown to appoint an urbanist, BIPOC, youth, or transportation advocate who is dedicated to our car-lite future. Highway expansion or streets for people?

I encourage BikePortland readers to call, email (or both) members of the Senate Rules Committee that will vote on this appointment. Just say “No” to Lee Beyer on the Oregon Transportation Commission. The OTC will be deciding how to spend huge amounts of IIJA Infrastructure funding.

Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner 503-986-1719
Senator Tim Knopp 503-986-1727
Senator Fred Girod 503-986-1709 
Senator James I. Manning Jr. 503-986-1707
Senator Kathleen Taylor 503-986-1721

Sen.RobWagner@oregonlegislature.gov
Sen.TimKnopp@oregonlegislature.gov
Sen.FredGirod@oregonlegislature.gov
Sen.JamesManning@oregonlegislature.gov
sen.kathleentaylor@oregonlegislature.gov 

Damien
Damien
14 days ago
Reply to  Cathy Tuttle

And if you happen to be in one of their districts: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/FindYourLegislator/leg-districts.html – it’s worth pointing that out.

I find myself in Sen Taylor’s district, so I’ll definitely be reaching out.

Peter W
14 days ago

> Late last year, Willamette Week noted that Beyer was the sole Democrat to donate to the gubernatorial campaign of Betsy Johnson, a former state senator running as an independent.

What is Gov. Kate Brown thinking??

Chris I
Chris I
14 days ago
Reply to  Peter W

Good find! This is actually insane. What is going on here?

Watts
Watts
14 days ago

Wait… there’s a story?

Chris I
Chris I
14 days ago

I’m just here for the comments.

Peter W
14 days ago

I do! (Obviously.) Apologies if that “>” symbol didn’t make it clear it was a quote of Jonathan’s text!