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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Push comes to shove between Tri-Met and Clackistanis

Well, that was quick. We're not even at the ides of March, and already Tri-Met is suing the newly elected Clackamas County commissioners for following the clearly expressed will of the majority of the county's residents. As a smart friend of ours pointed out this afternoon, the insolvent transit agency has never really had to deal with a truly uncooperative local government within its boundaries before. Now we'll likely see it at its worst: manipulative, arrogant, petulant, thuggish, and dishonest. Tri-Met richly deserves all the tsuris it is currently getting, and the bankruptcy that is just around the corner.

Comments (31)

It'll be interesting to watch and see if Clackistan is the future of local governance or just a one-off aberration.

As for the "the bankruptcy that is just around the corner", the sooner we get there with all the local entities that will go there, the sooner we'll take the hit and then get through it.

Lake Oswego is also not playing along.

The difference is that Lake Oswego has moved from "full speed ahead" to "proceed with caution." Clackamas County has moved from "full speed ahead" to "full speed astern."

"Our focus is to keep the project on time, on budget and create jobs as we build a more efficient transit system," Fetsch said.

Looks like the Mota man has been visiting TriMet again. Time for some drug testing.
So 200mil. + / mile static trains are more efficient than scalable , reroutable and very flexible rubber tired buses? Duuuude pass those brownies.

I have been in on many planning briefings by TriMet and let me tell you, alot of what is going on is seat of the pants. As of last month they still have several properties that they have not aquired yet and many more that they recently realized that they need. Crazy.

TriMet's panties are a little bunched up right now, but wait till they find out Clackistan has pulled out of the TriMet and Metro cabals!

My bet is that it's going to be a serious beat down for the Clackistanis on this go around. I agree that the pukes over at Tri-Met are a bunch of arrogant a-holes, and I'm all for the push back, etc., but the die has been cast by the actions of the duly elected Clackamas County Commissioners such that the county is legally bound.

I love how the Oregonian reporter fails to indicate where the lawsuit was filed. The only way the rebels have a chance is if an elected Clackamas County judge rules on it. If it's in Multnomah County or Federal District Court, Tri-Met will have its way.

Tri-Met richly deserves all the tsuris it is currently getting
I disagree -- a business structure of assets deserves no abuse: Don't kick the bus.

The self-serving carpetbaggers hiding behind the legal entity shell and disbursing money to their cronies deserve to have the full weight of the law crush their individual rights and wealth. Corporations should never pay penalties unless the human beings who made the bad decisions also pay. Anything less is just taxing ourselves while the tax collector laughs and pockets the vigorish.

By the way things are run at TriMet, I wouldn't think it would be all too difficult to find a breech on their end. At any rate, it will be interesting to see what kind of back-room dealings that come to light in discovery.

According to the Tri-Met Press Release, the case was filed in Clackamas County Circuit Court: http://media.trimet.org/trimet-files-lawsuit-to-require-clackamas-county-to-follow-through-on-long-standing-commitments-to-light-rail-project/.

Usual K-

Eleventh Amendment - fascinating document, legally and in terms of 1790s politics - precludes Federal court.

There once was an old Clackastani
His logic uniquely uncanny
He fought tooth and nail
And stopped the light rail
So they sued but didn’t get any

Does anyone honestly think anything is going to stop that train? Only sheer incompetence will delay it, stopping it doesn't push money in the right direction. So it won't happen. Sad.

Jo, I have to agree. I am not sure fighting the good fight will change things. So when does it become a waste of time and money to continue? Not sure. Maybe in the larger sense it will slow the madness in other areas. That of course will be no help to Clackamas County.

the die has been cast by the actions of the duly elected Clackamas County Commissioners such that the county is legally bound.

Whatever's in the existing contract is probably binding. But there will be other things that Tri-Met needs from the county - things that weren't foreseeable at the time the contract was signed -- and if the county says no, Tri-Met's going to have some real problems.

Gibby, slowing the madness is needed. I think in discovery, if it gets there, will be embarrassing for all the other 11 governmental agencies pushing MLR, especially TriMet. That alone will be beneficial.

Another benefit from all this will be having all the governmental agencies along the SW Barbur/99 Transportation Corridor beware that allowing voting on proposals is a must. Citizens must demand it, and if governments fail to allow it, then referendums are needed. The so-called "outreach" governments are claiming is bogus.

2013 Mar 07 Thursday 20:10 U (8:10 PM PT)

It is my hope in the name of sustainability and a public
demonstration by the Oregon legal community that the
presiding judge to be assigned to the case of
TriMet vs. Clackamas County would make all parties and
supporters of either side utilize public transit between their
respective offices and homes to the Clackamas County
Courthouse in Oregon City.

And further to demonstrate the effective movement of transit
riders, the resultant viability of the proposed “Orange Line”
and court support for principles of sustainability; by having
all parties to the lawsuit emulate the operation of the soon to
be constructed “Orange Line”.

This means for daily trips approximately between the
Multnomah County Courthouse in Portland, travelers to the
Clackamas County Courthouse in Oregon City would take
TriMet Line 33 – McLoughlin to the Milwaukie Transit
Center and then transfer to Line 32 – Oatfield and continue
on to the Oregon City Transit Center; and the reverse when
court adjourns.

I predict the following would occur prior to the first hearing:
1. Attorneys for TriMet would agree to terminate the
“Orange Line” at the Tacoma Street Station in SE Portland
as suggested by Clackamas County Commission
Chair John Ludlow.
2. Pay all court costs in this matter immediately and
without question.
3. Pay off the $25 million 2012 September bond issue of
Clackamas County along with all early payment penalties.
4. Agree to return TriMet to its primary function of mass
transit rather than an agent for dense development in the
mythical world of Metro / Oregon sustainability.

Charles Ormsby (Skip)
EM: Sentinelskip@gmail.com

Boy, I am not sure about this one. If Ludlow and company ring up a hefty legal bill and judgment against Clackamas County, voters in Clackamas might not keep their patience with the change in governance at the County. But if Ludlow can avoid such an outcome of legal and judgment costs and stop the train, he may gain long lasting notoriety. Maybe Clackamas can wheel out the legal concept of home rule, which many local jurisdictions retain but hardly ever exercise. It's a hold over from the days when the marshal was days away and the local deputy and towns people had the power to do all kinds of things against outside threats, in this case TriMet.
Actually there is a bill in the Oregon legislature currently which would allow counties and others to disenfranchise out of TriMet. Talk about a quick death if customers start to bail from the highly indebted and obligated TriMet agency; and if TriMet goes, Metro isn't far behind.

Bob, your words are music to my ears! Just the thought of Metro's demise gives me a thrill.

Back on planet Earth - the LO Rebellion is being hampered somewhat, just as in Clackamas County by the hubris and greed of the former administrations. We are saddled with contracts that were too limiting and much too expensive, and these previously created debts will continue to restrict real progress in maintaining streets and other infrastructure and services.

I trust John Ludow to know what's of value and what's bulls**t and to get rid of the latter (if possible). It takes guts. Hopefully in Lake O the elected officials are committed to the citizens' well-being rather than future political or financial schemes, and don't fall into the trap of wanting to be liked by everybody, it doesn't work anyway. We are watching

Curiously, TriMet's lawsuit alleges that the county was supposed to transfer the property by December 6, 2012, and has continuously refused since then, meaning that the county's refusal to transfer the property started while Charlotte Lehan was the county chair, three weeks before John Ludlow took office.

Don't forget that TriMet wants *you* to go to Salem to lobby for them:

http://trimet.org/sos

"SAVE OUR SERVICE!
We love our platitudes of justice and liberty, and cling to them with devotion knowing that they make us so much better than everyone else."

It's a "matter of fairness", you see. Ugh.

If Tri-Met can sue the commissioners currently sitting, why can't the previous commissioners be sued by the county?

This ought to give Clarke County and Olympia something to think about before agreeing to get into bed with these thugs.

So how are they "forcing" the Clacks to follow through on its "commitment" to Milwaukie light rail? Specific performance on the conveyance of land?

From an unimpassioned perspective, one has to truly wonder why a certain consortium of officials are so hell-bent on committing the region to one particular technological solution to transportation, an archaic and bankrupting one at that!

Ludlow and Clackamas County should turn around and sue TriMet, its current and past Board, its current and former General Manager for malfeasence, by reckless spending errors over the past 15 years leading up to this point.

And then actually open up TriMet to see if the light rail mafia are actually buying off TriMet and if there is any fraud, kickbacks or other undue influence behind the scenes...

If TriMet wants to play hardball, Clackamas County should get the biggest, baddest baseball bat and fight back. TriMet might win this battle but even they admit they can't win the war. We all know bankruptcy is not that far away; and in fact if TriMet was right and if the labor contracts were the ONLY issue, they could have declared Chapter 9 and erased those contracts, the pension, etc. But we all know that TriMet can't declare Chapter 9 because then TriMet will be wiped out in its ability to sell bonds required for light rail construction. So Chapter 9 really kills of TriMet's goal of light rail expansion, which proves that TriMet is playing games by publicly harassing the unions for their own financial failures.

And since Washington County is unwilling to pull the trigger (note how TriMet has been being a little more cushy with the county, with the "Westside Service Enhancement Plan" and of course no discussion to kill off WES) - maybe I'll pin my hopes to Clackamas County causing TriMet's demise...

Grumpy, your comment about how Clark Co. and State of WA should be leery of getting in bed with TriMet, etc. is appropriate.

It is unusual for a governmental agency to be suing another. This is going to have long term negative consequences for all 12 gov. agencies involved.

My understanding is that some of the contested "property transfers" were not part of the PMLR Plans as adopted by TriMet and Clackamas Co. in their Agreements. The scope and particulars of the project were not appropriately vetted with full definitions/plans because of TriMet's rush to beat opposition. Clackamas Co. has given its $20 Million to TriMet, but the ballgame has changed some (property transfers). It's like a Seller of a home going into final closing day with the Buyer adding another 2 conditions to be remedied to the prior list of 30. In this case of TriMet and Clackamas Co., they are close to broke, or its not in their budgets.

If I were Empress for a year I would kick Tri-Met out of Clackamas county completely and have my own bus service ala Wilsonville. The bus service out here is abysmal and expensive.

Lee,

If the "property transfers" are not part of the agreement, what standing does Tri-Met think they have to sue to get them completed? Is it along the lines of you agreed to let us bring MAX in, and paid your money but we forgot about needing x, y, and z so now you have to give it to us or else?

I sure hope that is what it is, but if so it should be a quick trial. (If it even makes it that far.)

Go Clackamas county, go!

Michael, please note that I said "some". You're right about Agreements shouldn't mean that TriMet has card blanche abilities to add, change, omit any parts of a project. What kind of a fool would hand over $20 Million and then have all kinds of discretionary abilities?

"Partnerships" do not mean how TriMet,ETC. is defining it.

TriMet's agreements with the North Clackamas Park and Recreation District don't obligate the district to transfer ownership of its property at all. The district merely promised to let TriMet build on the district's property in exchange for TriMet building the Trolley Trail next to the tracks, also on the district's property.

Watch this lead to some whining all the way to the Obama administration because the 'RailVolution' is being slowed-down by a bunch of (something derisive).

(Or maybe this has already happened and we just haven't heard about it yet).

The North Clackamas Park & Recreation Agreements that Isaac mentions are one of several TriMet messes. There's also the ODOT land that TriMet now discover it needs. And there are other properties along the route being discovered to be needed because of TriMet's haste to be able to claim "we are too far along".

This haste was financed by TriMet stealing $200 Million from State Lottery Funds (notice how all the Lottery Funds advertisements don't mention this takings?).
Then another $20 Million was taken from South Waterfront URA, then another $20 Million from the Sellwood Bridge construction costs by claiming they saved over $20M in design modifications. This is another new way to raise dollars-claim an inflated price, then find made-up savings, then transfer to any other pet project.

These all became the "seed money" so that ground could be excavated, some concrete poured, and some properties purchased. There was also a lot of inter-agency and in-agency budget money transfers and hidden administrative costs and design costs that facilitated the preliminary construction before total financing and approval by City of Milwaukie, Clackamas Co. and others.

Now TriMet Inc. has the gall to sue.

If "the property" to be contributed is in private hands, the only way the county can force the transfer is via an eminent domain proceeding. It seems to me that the county would be found to acting in good faith if it failed to pursue an eminent domain proceeding if and when the citizens voted that PMLR wasn't in their public interest.


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