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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Meanwhile, over at Metro...

While we're all anxiously awaiting the outcome of The Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes, I hear rumblings that there's some monkey business going on at Metro.

At the risk of exposing myself as a lazy man, let me ask my readers what they've heard about this. By nightfall, I'll bet we have some good links to the latest scoop.

I'm a big land use planning fan, but I'm very, very suspicious of "unique" governmental bodies such as Metro. I can't believe the cities and counties can't do this work without all the additional bureaucracy (and another unwatched pot of tax dollars waiting to be wasted or stolen).

Maybe this issue will educate me further about Metro's pluses and minuses.

Comments (8)

Everyone lauds Metro as being such an innovative idea. "Regional governement! Brilliant!" What a load of crap.

If we really wanted innovation, the state should redraw county boundaries. Create a new county (call it Willamette) from what is essentially inside the urban growth boundary and then figure out what to do with the remaining rural lands and small towns. Probably what remains of Clackamas and Multnomah would be consolidated, and Washington would be split between Columbia and Yamhill.

There, that was simple, wasn't it? The urban area is one county, and the issues that are common to the urban area (transportation, sewer, water, etc.) are handled by the county government. Issues that are more localized would be handled by the cities. And the small towns and agricultural communities don't get their issues swamped by the pushy metropolitans.

Yeah, simple. Until you realize that so many political oxes would get gored. "Redraw boundaries? Gasp! What are you, an anarchist? Bring the torches! Get the pitchforks! We got us a radical to kill!"

Seriously, can you see the commisioners & sheriffs & clerks of Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas sitting by when their little fiefdoms come under such an attack? And so we have Metro, a quasi-county, because adding extra government almost never threatens the jobs of existing government.

"Oregon. Things look different here." Hardly.

My first reaction to your county-changing proposal is positive. But looking at it from the perspective of the rest of the state, it sounds quite scary (which may, of course, be appropriate for the day). Talk about one single county wielding an awful lot of power, both economically and politically. At least portions of Washington and Clackamas counties more rural and conservative areas temper the impact of the exceedingly liberal (and oh, by the way, I'm one of those liberals) urban parts of the Portland Metropolitan area.
And I think, that is what you already get with Metro is the strong influence of the liberal views of the city populous with much check.

This is something I've been pondering as of late as it affects Oregon state politics and possible the nationwide chasm.

I'm not sure what the solution is other than to just shut up and listen to each other.

Hey, while we're at it, let's have the new county secede from Oregon...

But on a more present-moment note, I hear that there's a plot afoot to postpone some sort of regional planning for a half-dozen years or more?

Can someone name something accomplished by the many, many people at Metro? Besides getting Tri-Met buses to run out to Gresham, that is. The Metro name keeps popping up whenever folks in the news need an opinion, but I have yet to hear of any accomplishment coming from there.

And re-drawing the county line is a good idea. Too good to ever happen, though.


Counties have no power to speak of at the state level. In fact, they are supposed to be agents of the state, administering state law (the county court house), as much as local law-making bodies. Having the Portland metro area in one county or 10 shouldn't matter in the state house, since power there is already apportioned by population, not administrative disticts.

To the degree that counties (as counties) do have power in the state house, then having only one set of commissioners representing Portland, rather than 3 sets would tend to dilute the effectiveness of the county, rather than enhance it.


You're post seemed sarcastic. Why should a redrawing of the boundaries (not necessarily my plan, but any readjustment) automatically be scorned? Did the 19th century mapmakers do such a bang up job that their wisdom should remain unchallenged in the 21st century?

Isn't government supposed to be a tool to help us achieve our goals? Don't tools need sharpening now and again? Sometimes an old tool is no longer suited to the job at all. Why should sub-divisions like counties be fixed for all time? Cities annex and new ones are incorporated; I suppose it's possible for them to split or un-incorporate, although that seems pretty rare (perhaps it shouldn't be). Yet counties are inviolate? Why is that?

Please note that I do know the difference between "you're" and "your", even if my previous post doesn't reflect that. Damn homonyms! :o

Okay Jack, I'll bite...

Why is postponing regional planning "monkey business"?

Perhaps they're waiting to see if Measure 37 passes?

Well, as long as we're talking about redrawing counties, let's put the borders of the new counties strictly along the divides between watersheds.

The reasons why this might be a good idea I leave to your imagination. :-)


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Meanwhile, over at Metro...:

» Metro: I don't quite get it. from pontifications: snippets from a homopoliticogeek
Jack Bog has a story about some sort of undulating controversy over at Metro, but we're not sure where it's going. Read the comments there -- they're interesting. I have a (sort of) intersecting question/point: I understand the nature of regio... [Read More]

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