Blumenauers batting .750


If U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer was a baseball player, Monday, July 7, would have been a pretty darn good day with him going 3 for 4 at the plate.

However, we much rather would have hoped that he had gone a perfect 4 for 4.

Here's a recap of Blumenauer's at-bat performance earlier this week:

• Hit No. 1. The Portland Democrat hosted on Monday what was billed as an invitation-only discussion concerning the deepening crisis facing America's aging infrastructure of transportation, water and energy systems.

Rebuilding and Renewing America, Blumenauer called the summit. He said that repairing the nation's existing infrastructure that serves people and the economy will cost more $1.6 trillion over the next five years. Population growth, global warming and the growing energy crisis will make the problem far worse, he said.

• Hit No. 2. The resulting discussion Monday was anything but light conversation. More than 200 civic, business and government leaders showed up to first hear Blumenauer strenuously call for the adoption of a U.S. agenda to address the national crisis, as well as adopt local strategies.

It is good to see Blumenauer bring the issue down to this level. He has worked hard to make infrastructure an important national issue, but it is a must that citizens understand the crisis and how it affects them.

• Hit No. 3. Wisely, Blumenauer told the largely urban-centric summit-goers not to lose sight of Oregon's needs beyond the Portland urban growth boundary. He pledged to take his idea of an infrastructure summit on the road to smaller and rural communities to engage more Oregonians in the discussion and problem-solving.

We believe these communities will welcome Blumenauer's recognition that Oregon's needs and future exist in balance - not exclusion - with Portland. And while most of the 1.8 million people expected to come to Oregon in the next 25 years will reside in the Portland area, the region's success will not occur without the economic success and the enhancement of the entire state's livability and environment.

Investing in the right infrastructure strategies for both urban and rural Oregon is essential. Solving the infrastructure crisis and other issues will require differentiated strategies that work in urban areas and beyond.

But in one regard this week, Blumenauer did not excel as we would have hoped.

• Miss No. 1. As Portland-area elected and appointed officials - including the Portland City Council - vote this week and next on constructing a new Interstate 5 Bridge connecting Portland and Vancouver, Wash., Blumenauer himself took a more passive public approach. In doing so, we think he missed an important and timely opportunity to make publicly clear how important he believes the bridge corridor improvements to be.

'I am trying to help people in Oregon figure out what they want and help them get it,' he said. 'I want to help them sort through the issues and make sure it is the most complete approach.'

Yes, allowing the local process to proceed is appropriate. However, given the importance of this project to the regional, Pacific Northwest and West Coast transportation network, we would have preferred that Blumenauer would have verbally inspired local leaders and citizens to move forward on a new bridge that would meet community, economic, transportation and environmental needs.

Had he done that publicly, Blumenauer would have gone 4 for 4 at the plate of leadership. And he would have helped Oregon and the nation move even further ahead than he otherwise successfully did last week.