Bridge vote never about the money
- Gary Gipson
- Lake Oswego Review - Opinion
For everyone still complaining about the cheapskates in Clackamas County who voted down the $5/car/year vehicle registration fee to go towards the cost of repairing the Sellwood Bridge, it was never about the amount.
Lake Oswego is not responsible for the Sellwood Bridge. Clackamas County is not responsible for the Sellwood Bridge. No matter who uses it, Multnomah County and the state of Oregon - to whom we already contribute - are responsible and have been derelict to the point of negligence over a number of years.
There has never been a 'regional responsibility' for infrastructure maintenance. It doesn't matter how close it is located to Clackamas County. It doesn't matter where the destinations of those using it are located. The location in Multnomah County makes it their responsibility.
Frankly, there is more money spent in Multnomah County by Clackamas residents utilizing the Sellwood than the other way around. They already benefit from us. The safety of the Sellwood has been brought up for years with proposed money for repairs instead funneled to other projects (streetcars, residential/commercial projects, bicycle paths). It has always been Multnomah's bridge to maintain. They failed and then wanted to be bailed out.
An analogy is the neighbor who does no repair or maintenance on his property for 20 years while you do the upkeep on yours to maintain it in good order. The neighbor then approaches you and tells you his house has been condemned. He requests you pay for a portion of the costs of renovation of his house and yard. After all, you can see his house from your property and it will improve your view. It will increase the value of your house because yours will no longer be located next to a condemned house. Besides, he doesn't have enough money to do it himself. You should be a good neighbor and chip in. Of course there will be continuing maintenance costs in the future as well with which he will need assistance.
Multnomah residents are now threatening to close the bridge or institute a toll. Multnomah County can institute a toll if they want. They can tear the bridge down if they want. They can turn it into a bike and pedestrian trail if they want. That has always been the point. It is their bridge and they can do with it what they want. Had Clackamas chipped in $22 million or $220 million, it was still Multnomah's bridge and they could make decisions regarding it without consulting Clackamas.
This would never have been an issue if the Clackamas County Commissioners had been considering the interests of their citizens in the first place. Too many costly political maneuvers have been run through because of a leadership agenda contrary to their duties of fiscal responsibility. The same exists on the Lake Oswego City Council. Both governmental bodies have to realize the economic climate and the fact all of us have dwindling resources.
They think the public trough is overflowing. Well it isn't. We are in a drought and they need to spend wisely. Both the commissioners and the councilors have a common practice of inviting the public to speak and then ignoring them completely.
Basic services will have to suffer if pet projects are continued.
Gary Gipson is a Lake Oswego resident and COLA-LO board member.