This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 4, 2012 7:46 AM. The previous post in this blog was Livin' just enough, just enough for the suburbs. The next post in this blog is Mayor Creepy's latest delusion. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Showdown in Clackistan

The war between the rogue county commission and the Clackistani rebels winds up, as we suspected it would, in a courtroom this afternoon. At issue is the commission's attempt to rush through, without the normal public process, a $20 million bond sale to raise money to hand over to Tri-Met for the insane Mystery Train to Milwaukie. The county's theory of how it is legally able to do this seems preposterous to us -- if it's right, then contrary to common belief, voters have virtually no say on public debt issues in Oregon -- but we're not the judge. Moreover, there are always procedural objections that the county might make, and it's anybody's guess what they might be.

One thing seems certain: If the bonds don't get sold in time to get the money to Tri-Met by two weeks from today, it may never get paid. The outrage against the commissioners has never been hotter, and the initiative designed to prevent the county from funding the project seems likely to pass when the votes are counted on the 18th.

We wonder whether prospective buyers of the bonds -- and Moody's, which secretly rated the bonds before the single public hearing on the borrowing -- are going to be informed of the brouhaha. They're supposed to be appraised of all the material facts surrounding the paper, but materiality is sometimes in eye of the beholder.

In any event, today could well be a historic day for the county and the region.

Comments (19)

I have a hunch the Feds have (off the record) told the Commissioners that funding of future projects is in jeopardy if they don’t help TriMet with their train today. Yes, they do that.

You'd never know it if you got information only here, but there seem to be some people who actually want the Milwaukie light rail, and even some among them who are affectedClackamas County taxpayers. A look at rush hour traffic on McLoughlin Boulevard could explain some of that. Not living out that way, I really don't have any prospect of benefit from it. But it does seem to me that, unlike the buried reservoirs, a rail installation gives us something for the money besides just a new set of problems.

Allan, regardless of the merit (or lack thereof) of a light rail line to Milwaukee I would hope you support the idea of government following the law.
The last thing we need is a group of people deciding that "they" know better than the common folk what is good for the common folk.

Those people who do want the train should be happy a vote can take place to voice their support.


This scandal is not about traffic or the many notions light rail supporters like to pump out.

Besides your ridiculous presumption that some only get their information here and that anyone would not have looked at or considered traffic you appear to be unaware of the rampant public deceit by the pushers of these debacles.

Their embellishment of traffic and the farce that Light Rail or Streetcars will reduce it is legend.

Over and over again critics have pointed out the flaws and deiberate misrepresentations with Metro's traffic claims and TriMet's phony claims of remedies.

McLoughlin traffic is not all that bad to begin with.
The occasional short lived rush hour traffic on McLoughlin is primarily at northern, Portland end and will not see any relief with PMLR.

The fact that some people "actually want the Milwaukie light rail" is entirely irrelevant.
However, it is good to see you attributing some of that minority fringe support to their confused belief it will reduce congestion on McLoughlin.
That is as wrong as the pitch that the LO streetcar would reduced the inflated congestion on 43.

If you think this concocted "benefit for the money" is reason enough to ignore the "new set of problems",the scurrilous
behavior by government officials & the prohibiting of a public vote then you are mighty short on information, wherever you get it.

Yeah. All 129 of them...

Mostly commenters here prefer a kind of echo chamber where everyone has the same views, so I'm sorry to be disturbing anyone's post-breakfast digestion. I agree with tankfixer's suggestion that the government should follow the law and respect processes that are designed to protect opportunities for public input. It's good that some judge is going to have an opportunity to look at that in the context of the county's proposed bond issue.

At the same time, the idea of having voters manage the government through successive initiatives and referenda is expensive, impractical and too heavily weighted toward negative outcomes. I'm not a Clackamas County voter but, having looked at the full text of 3-401, I would almost certainly oppose it, just as I would almost certainly vote to throw out the Commissioners who have worked so hard to neutralize the election's anticipated results.

I hope the hardware stores in Clackamas county have enough pitchforks, tar and feathers to enable us to run these Commissioners outta town in the style they deserve.

"the idea of having voters manage the government through successive initiatives and referenda is expensive"

You've made the assumption that they'd have to ask voters on spending every $0.01 - Which is not accurate at all. I see this as no different than voting on a school bond or adding property to the taxbase (you know those 1 acre things that show up when a city wants to expand?)

This measure is concerning light rail only and asking commissioners to come in and ask for one big number up front. If nothing else, it's a referendum.

Who knows? Maybe it will fail, then again maybe it will pass and they'll treat it like METRO did on the NO vote on the convention center.

BTW - If you like traffic, vote NO on 3-401. If you don't like traffic, vote YES on 3-401 (to paraphrase and expand the road signs.)

Is it your intention to bring here every false bromide being coughed up by the light rail supporters who don't like voting?
While also misrepresenting commenters here?

It's preposterous to suggest "Mostly commenters here prefer a kind of echo chamber where everyone has the same views".
So that was BS.

The county commissioners and TriMet are opposed to any public action or courtroom scrutiny that may require them to follow the law and respect processes that are designed to protect opportunities for public input.

Then you bring the tired farce about voting on everything.
There is no such effort, agenda, group, intention or objective by anyone to have voters "manage the government through successive initiatives and referenda".

That is one of the worst claims by initiative opponents.

So there is nothing to that claim or any potential for the red herring "expensive, impractical and too heavily weighted toward negative outcomes."

Are we to be impressed that YOU have "looked at the full text of 3-401"? As if supporters and their lawyers haven't?

Your naive opposition to it is obviously from all the horribles ginned up by the opposition.
Most of which have been settled as nonsensical.
Such as the false claim law enforcement would be prohibited from responding to incidents involving any rail.

You must be smarter than the Sheriff who endorses it?

So what is your opposition based upon?

You can read the Lawyer's statement on page 9 of the voter's pamphlet statement .


Speaking of traffic on SE McLoughlin, I have been commuting the same route down I-5 to the 99E-McLoughlin exit to SE Portland for nearly 20 years now, and over the years it's slowly gotten a little worse.

BUT, about the same time the viaduct replacement project was completed about 2 months ago, nearly every single evening much of it is now just a parking lot for miles, and there isn't any more construction.

What happened? "Traffic planning?"

And the streetcar isn't even running down MLK yet.

You know perhaps it is a good idea for the voters to approve every single penny spent, at least for a while.
Recall when you were young and your parents trusted you to spend your allowance wisely ?
But instead of saving a little you splurged on so much candy you got sick ?
Many government bodies are at that point, they have splurged with the money the public entrusted to them and it's time to put them in a time out, withhold their allowance and let them grow up a tiny bit.

I thought Oregon was unique in that it was founded on the notion of an initiative-based government.
What strikes me as profound is the fairly recent crop of politicians who want instead to act like powerful rulers and do as they see fit (and have privately pre-arranged).

I think Abe hit the nail squarely on the head. And the current federal government is quite capable of punishing those who aren't on their team. Ask any former car dealer.

So when do we get to hear how things went in court today?

The judge denied the writ on procedural grounds.
The merits were not adjudicated.
More action coming.

In judge's opinion announced immediately in an oral ruling from the bench, it wasn't extraordinary enough of a situation to order by a writ of mandamus that the County Commissioners comply with the 60-day notice requirement mandated by Oregon state law. The bond offering stands, for now, but the ballot petitioner separately filed just beforehand for a TRO. The County will probably move the Court to require a $20million+ bond be posted by the petitioner before any TRO to be issued. Should be another hearing asap. Same arguments as today.

Allan L. wrote: some people who actually want the Milwaukie light rail

Great, then they can vote that way if they feel strongly. Or stay home, and accept the outcome. Either way, that's how spending is (or should be) decided in this state.

Personally, I think that $20M is twice wasted, as TriMet probably won't endure long enough to ever run so much as a test train down that line.

Look at how operations are going now. TriMet is barely hanging on by their fingernails. It takes heroic efforts to maintain the illusion of normal scheduled service.

Allan, you certainly can't say that light rail paralleling Hwy 26 or I-5North has appreciably helped congestion. So how does $210 Million per mile for light rail parallel to McLoughlin help when $15 Million per mile would install a more used rapid bus system?

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