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LO citizens do not want the streetcar

Clackamas County Commissioner Ann Lininger and Lake Oswego City Councilor Donna Jordan submitted citizen comments in support of the Portland to LO streetcar and attacking the opponents of the streetcar as a well-funded, organized Dunthorpe group who were spreading disinformation.

They defended further studies regarding the streetcar. Both cited value-engineering in these studies to minimize costs, suggesting final figures would be half of current estimates. Both relied on previous surveys showing support for the streetcar to indicate the majority of LO wants the streetcar. Both attacked LO City Councilor Mary Olson for her column the previous week against the streetcar, claiming she only represented the previously mentioned Dunthorpe group.

You have to wonder if Lininger and Jordan wrote their articles in the same room, at the same time, perhaps guided by (former Mayor) Judie Hammerstad and (current Mayor) Jack Hoffman.

Further studies are not going to cut the costs. The estimate had been set by the DEIS study they have relied on. No matter how they fudge the costs, the fact is the streetcar will not reduce congestion or spur the development the advocates are trying to promote. The smokescreen of lower costs only allows progression towards the goals of a few at the expense of many.

The referenced surveys have been debunked because they couched the question of the streetcar similar to 'would you like free ice cream?' It provided no background of cost or inconvenience or alteration of our community identity. Jordan's council promised a new survey. Where is it?

Why didn't they mention the LO City Council hearing on the streetcar? Very few Dunthorpe people attended, and even fewer spoke. Overwhelmingly, it was LO homeowners speaking out. Neither privately funded nor professionally organized, they are concerned and filled with consternation at the four council members who continue to ignore the public on issue after issue. Jordan labels them as the 'loudest,' not the majority. The opponents outnumbered the proponents 2 to 1 and the only person who screamed her testimony was a proponent. The only truly organized effort evident at the meeting was that displayed by the Next Stop LO people who provided all the testimony in favor of the streetcar except for the one 'very loud' individual. The lack of voices outside that truly well-organized group would seem to display a lack of support throughout the rest of the community.

Mary Olson is correct regarding the status of public opinion on the streetcar and if a vote were taken today, it would be defeated soundly. Putting that vote off until next May buys time for proponents. We can fully expect efforts to continue ahead until we can bring a stop to all of this with the elections of 2012.

Lininger, Jordan and others are pushing changing LO to the image of Vancouver, B.C. or Portland. The LO that is currently emerging is a place that seniors and people of modest means cannot afford to live. Taxes, fees and living expenses are going up and income is static. The vision of our current leaders puts all of us in (to co-opt a current popular phrase) an 'unsustainable' economic position. They refuse to hear those that disagree with them and continue to push their pet projects on to an increasingly resistant citizenry.

Gary Gipson of Lake Oswego is a board member of COLA-LO