No clear choice in Boring vote
Residents and other stakeholders in the unincorporated area of Boring will vote in the first of three town hall meetings this Saturday at Naas Elementary School to determine whether or not their community will adopt Clackamas County's new village quasi-government.
We believe that there is nothing inherently wrong with the village as a concept; the opportunity for 'Boregonians' to have a say in local issues at the county, Metro and state levels is unprecedented and something of which the community should take advantage. Change is inevitably coming to the area, and the stronger a voice Boring has, the better it can deal with the unique challenges it will face in the coming years.
We also believe that the 'teeth' of the village have been removed through a democratic process. The fear of taxation has been alleviated in the revised bylaws, which prevent board members from suggesting a village tax. None of the proposed village activities require a tax base, either, thanks to revisions in that area as well.
It seems that the village has been severely weakened as a result of citizen input, and the average resident of Boring isn't likely to see much change in their normal lives if and when the village is approved.
That said, we agree that, as village skeptic Wayne Strickland says, 'the process is backwards.' Clackamas County needs to revise its ordinance to allow the community to have an up-or-down vote on the formation of a village before the community potentially wastes its time and energy developing a village that nobody wants. A lot of work has gone into developing the proposed structure for Boring's village, but if residents vote down the bylaws this month, all that work will have been in vain. There has to be a more efficient way to do this.
The process also makes it too easy for petitioners to get away with a miniscule amount of citizen involvement. We respect Les Otto and his fellow petitioners for their efforts, but we agree with the village opponents in that more should have been done to notify the 8,500 residents of Boring about the quasi-government. The county village ordinance allowed the petitioners to get only about 3 percent of Boring residents to sign the petition to get the formation process going - and they went above and beyond what was required.
Many residents felt as if they came into the process at the eleventh hour. Does that mean the village talks should stop or restart? Would a tax-proof hamlet government work better for Boring? It's hard to say. Despite the petitioners' failures at public relations, there's no question that people in Boring know that their community is considering becoming a village. Now it's up to each citizen to embrace his or her civic responsibility by independently investigating the pros and cons of a village and then voting.
It may be too late for the village, since many citizens feel disenfranchised and are still feeling burned by the attempted annexation of the Boring Water District in 2005. Citizens may shoot it down on principle that they weren't informed. But now that they do know something's going on, the responsibility for being informed rests with the citizens and stakeholders of Boring.