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Right-to-vote measures almost always pass

It has been publicly suggested that the passage of Measure 3-401 means that Clackamas County commissioners have not been listening to their constituents and that the message constituents are sending is that they are not interested in being connected to the Portland-metro region by rail or any other way.

Measure 3-401 was the recent right-to-vote initiative about funding for rail projects. In my experience, right-to-vote initiatives always pass. Regardless of how most people feel about a given issue, they are likely to support the notion of voting about it. In Wilsonville we had a right-to-vote initiative about using the Willamette for a drinking water source and on the same ballot we posed the question “Should we use the Willamette for drinking water?” Both measures passed. No one suggested that either one was a referendum on anyone’s listening skills.

In over 20 years of public service as a county commissioner and as a mayor in both Washington and Clackamas County, I have never known a city or county jurisdiction that had more avenues for public participation than Clackamas County. Hundreds of residents participate in the County’s Hamlets, Villages, 32 Community Planning Organizations, and over 50 advisory boards and commissions. We hold roundtables, town halls and summits. If anything, we do citizen participation to a fault.

So it comes as no surprise that in a county as diverse as Clackamas, there are also diverse opinions, and on many issues opinion is closely divided. At our public hearings, testimony on light rail has been fairly evenly split or slightly in favor. But if listening means agreeing, then no matter which way decision-makers decide, half of the testifiers will feel that they were not listened to. As leaders we have to make decisions, even in the face of intense controversy.

We also have to make decisions that recognize legal and economic reality. A legal reality is that the government can’t get out of a contract by passing an ordinance. A reality of state law is that most of the urban portions of the county are subject to Metro’s jurisdiction over land-use and transportation issues. An economic reality is that Clackamas County cannot thrive if we operate only within our borders. We have trading partners within the region, throughout the West and around the world. Clackamas County can continue to be a uniquely diverse and special place, but our prosperity and our future depend on our ability to be a regional player, and on our connections to the wider world.

So while listening to the desires of our current constituents is always important, so is good judgment and a sense of responsibility to the constituents of the future who will undoubtedly be connected to that wider world in ways we can barely imagine today.

Charlotte Lehan

Clackamas County chairwoman

Smear campaign is misleading, petty

The Clackamas Review and Oregon City News have published two letters criticizing me for my “frat boy image,” the latest of which was attributed to a co-worker of my opponent. I’m not sure what name-calling adds to the political discourse, but I want to address the content of these hit pieces.

I’m accused of hosting “an event for lobbyists with disgraced State Rep Matt Wingard that focused on Ultimate Fighting.” When Rep. Wingard resigned his leadership position, he was removed from the fundraiser. Two lobbyists were in attendance, along with more than 40 guests who cheered a local athlete from West Linn in his televised championship match. I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

I’m also being vilified for going on vacation with fellow legislators at my own expense, and that “multiple news sources reported on the attempted cover-up of Sheehan and the other Republicans’ topless club scandal.” There was no cover up or scandal. When The Oregonian called to ask about it, I told them the truth. While on vacation in California, we stopped for a beer on our way home from dinner. The bar had pool tables, a basketball game on tv, and a dancer in the corner of the place who took off her top. It was no more graphic or salacious than a PG-13 movie.

Both these letters cite a conservative talk show host calling me a “frat boy.” That talk show host is Bill Post, whose Salem show doesn’t reach Clackamas. It does, however, reach the House Democrats campaign office, where these ghost-written hit pieces originated.

My image should be defined by my record; I voted to fund education before anything in the state budget with $100 million more than the governor’s recommendation. We balanced the budget without mid-session cuts to K-12, senior services or public safety—all without raising anyone’s taxes. And I authored and passed the Funeral Civility Act, which protects grieving families from funeral protesters.

This letter-writing smear campaign is petty, misleading, and irrelevant. Please turn the spotlight on issues that affect our schools, roads and public safety.

Patrick Sheehan

State representative

House District 51

A problem of huge costs

Last February the State of California abolished all 400 urban-renewal agencies to address its dire fiscal problems.

The taxpayers’ cost has been staggering. Tax diversions siphoned nearly $9 billion per year and added over $80 billion in debt. Taxes normally would go to fund schools, police, corrections, parks and roads. But instead taxpayer dollars have financed developers and unwise projects the market won’t support.

This year the city of Portland spends an incredible 25 cents of each property tax dollar on urban-renewal debt. The city auditor recently stated, “The city’s overall financial position has lost ground due to growing debt [and] unfunded liabilities...”

Here in Oregon City, millions of dollars have gone to promote taxpayer debt. These taxes would finance private development. Some have the illusion and hope of jobs, prosperity and economic growth. The fact is: urban renewal is not free money. It comes at a real cost. Some local leaders have dangled the “free money” argument out to us as a false lure. It’s wrong.

Urban-renewal money subsidizes inflated profits and creates unfair competitive advantages in the marketplace. Subsidized projects may pay wages below average. Low-wage jobs contribute less value to our community, depress local vitality and impose hidden costs on publicly-funded service systems.

Oregon City voter approval of all debt is needed to get our money’s worth. This will attract businesses that give the greatest positive boost to our local economy. And this will stop private speculators from earning more than a fair profit from public investments. It is not their money, after all.

It’s your money. It’s your right. Close the loophole. Our leaders have refused—over and over again. They won’t fix the problem.

But you can fix it. Mark yes on your Ballot Measure 3-407, in late October.

What’s up? It’s your right to vote.

Dave Prideaux

Oregon City

Re-elect Rocky

I personally value City Commissioner Rocky Smith’s contribution to Oregon City and would like to see it continued. He is a local boy who values our history and who has been an honest, responsible, independent spokesman of all interests of our city. I respect Rocky and know he will be make the right decisions.

Rocky needs your help. Anything any of you can do to help Rocky in his campaign, please do.

Paul Edgar

Oregon City

Correcting the record

It looks like I may have to make a correction in my letter-to-the-editor in Wednesday, Sept. 19, edition.

I mentioned that the voters had authorized the $130 million indebtedness available to the urban renewal in 2005.

The correction is that the City Commission authorized the $130 million in 2007. The point in the paragraph still stands, the Urban Renewal Commission has had access to $130 million, but has not touched it.

Brian Shaw

Oregon City

Deceit, inaccuracy and divisiveness

Am I the only one that notices when the developers of Oregon City don’t get their way, they start writing articles in the newspapers which are deceitful, disrespectful, inaccurate, slanderous and in some cases outright mistruths?

As one of the chief petitioners for “Your Right To Vote,” I have seen my neighborhood meeting invaded by non-residents attempting to take over power of leadership; a recall of a city commissioner, and an attempt to use $130 million in urban-renewal funding to provide a path for developers to prosper by subsiding the improvements of their real-estate holdings at citizen expense. Isn’t that enough to want your right to vote as a citizen? It is for me, and that is why two years ago, after attending neighborhood meetings and City Commission meetings, watching online when I wasn’t able to attend, I decided to put my feelings into action.

I volunteered, along with Kevin Hunt and Dave Prideaux to be one of three petitioners to grant the public their right to vote. Two dozen Oregon City residents joined us in accomplishing our goal in more than a timely period. We were met enthusiastically at the front porch of residents, who eagerly signed our petition and thanked us for our efforts.

We are honest, hard working people; we have nothing to gain in our effort but to help the citizens of Oregon City have their right to vote. We have no “dog in the fight.” We’re just doing our civic duty.

I consider myself to be an honest person of integrity and I personally take offense at Mr. Crocker and Mr. Shaw’s remarks, as well as “The Hat Lady,” because I have worked with the petitioners and citizens directly. Crocker, Shaw and Hat Lady all do have a dog in the fight. They appear to have little interest in helping Oregon City residents, nor do they care about spreading rumors and slanderous accusations.

Folks, the issue here is not character assassination. The issue is Measure 3-407, your right to vote.

Barbara Renken

Oregon City

Class prevents abuse

I wanted to write this letter a number of months ago. October is Child Abuse Prevention month so I thought now would be a good time to write. I don’t know if many people are aware of Women’s Empowerment Project in Clackamas County. It’s an extremely important resource that explores domestic violence issues.

I took this 14-week class earlier in the year, and it was excellent. We were all in different phases of the process. Some women were still in relationships but were contemplating their futures, some were newly out of an abusive relationship, and others had been out for a couple of years. You didn’t feel judged and you were surrounded by women who understood your situation. A number of women said that they hadn’t realized the extent of their abuse until this class. The instructors were excellent.

The class covers in detail the many facets of domestic violence. It covered physical, psychological/mental, sexual, economic and legal abuse. We were taught the cycle of violence, coping mechanisms, red flags, blame reversal, safety planning and also what a healthy relationship looks like. We were also shown the many effects domestic violence has on children.

If anyone is looking for an excellent book on the subject, I would look at any one of Lundy Bancroft’s books. This class used some of his information as a reference.

The class is free and once a week. You can call Patricia Barrera for more information at 503-655-8776.

Donja Bunnell

Mulino

We welcome submissions from readers on local issues for our Editorial and Opinion page. Please send your thoughts by Friday at noon to Raymond Rendleman at editor@clackamasreview.com. Try to keep Letter to the Editor submissions under 400 words, but longer submissions will be considered for Community Soapboxes. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar, libel and appropriate taste. Letters must be accompanied by a full name, a telephone number and street address for verification purposes.