Community Soapbox by John Killin

Oregon's economy is struggling. Just about every industry has been hit with job losses. But construction has been hit particularly hard. Construction spending is still just a fraction of the 2007 peak.

Oregon City and CenterCal raised hopes a few years ago when they announced that the old Oregon City landfill would be redeveloped into a Bridgeport-style shopping mall. The $220 million construction project was a big deal. It brought the promise of 1,500 new jobs to Oregon City. It would also have brought hundreds of construction jobs to people throughout our region.

The $220 million estimated cost for construction of The Rivers project eclipsed the entire amount the Oregon legislature spent in their 2009 state stimulus spending ($175 million) package. Sadly, the project appears dead.

To the dismay of people throughout the Portland area, Oregon City commissioners like Jim Nicita, as a proud voice of resistance, engaged in a process of barriers and delays that ultimately led to the developer pulling the plug and walking away. As a result, the opportunity to create jobs was lost.

Now, over 1,800 Oregon City voters have put the issue of recalling the controversial commissioner to the vote of the people. Most of us in the construction industry hope that Oregon City voters will seize the opportunity and send a message - Oregon needs jobs. We need leaders who will represent the interests of local voters and do the right thing.

I wish supporters of the effort to recall Nicita the best. We all know what needs to be done.

John Killin is president of the Pacific Northwest chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors.

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