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Light rail continues to dominate as vote looms

First, let me say that I am not against light rail per se. With that being said, I would like to make the case for replacing the “Ideology of Light Rail” with the future: low/no polluting electric or fuel-cell powered buses.

Even though it is a long-term approach and somewhat more expensive right now, it needs to begin right now. The technology has been in place for a number of years (in the case of electric, several decades and in the case of fuel-cells, see http://www.utcpower.com/products/transportation).

These technologies are what should have received federal stimulus funding three years ago to create good-paying jobs for Americans, while getting us on the road to energy independence. I recently attended a documentary movie about electric cars (“The Revenge of the Electric Car”) and found out in a panel discussion following it, that PGE is heavily involved in a project to establish electric “filling stations” along the Oregon portion of the West Coast I-5 corridor (in conjunction with California and Washington). Why can’t they do that in the Tri-County area?

I favor moving funding away from light-rail projects and toward procurement of electric and fuel-cell powered buses. Why? Three reasons: low or no pollution, flexibility, and little infrastructure change. The first reason is obvious (the by-product of fuel cells is water). The second and third reasons relate to one another. If we use non-polluting buses, we can use the current highway system we have now without having to dislocate and disrupt citizens and the places they live and work. And since the buses would be low or non-polluting, we can have more, not less of them on the road, and they can service more areas. They can pick us up every five or 10 minutes instead of every 15 or 20 or more. That could actually make it more attractive to take public transportation that, let’s face it, is not an attractive alternative to the comfort and ease of getting in my own vehicle.

I have enclosed a letter I wrote to Fred Hansen of TriMet four years ago addressing this issue. I also sent a copy to our legislators at the time: Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith, and U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley. The only person I heard back from was Senator Smith. And of course, we foolishly dumped him two months later!

Robert Malchow

Oregon City

Vote against Big Oil

It occurs to me that if those who favor Measure 3-401 have their way, oil companies will have a virtual monopoly on fueling transportation in this county. That’s a fact. After all, what else would we be using?

It’s also a fact that the state of Oregon has electric resources (hydroelectric, wind, solar, and perhaps eventually wave power) that are not affected in the same way that gas and oil are, and these resources don’t have to be brought here from far off places, across oceans, or obtained through either old or new methods of extraction.

The first light rail was between Gresham and Portland. As anyone who has been paying attention will tell you, there were later connections, of which the one now being discussed is just the latest. Yes, light rail is on our county’s doorstep, and yes, even some well-meaning people such as the writer of the “Memo to Metro” (Sept. 5) piece won’t like it or use it, that’s most likely a fact.

Who am I to say these things? Well, the fact is, I am a Clackamas County native who lives outside the area affected by light rail and don’t have any public transportation where I live, but even so I have used the MAX light rail as well as TriMet by using my car to get to a convenient stop. I have family members who live within a couple of blocks of the electric light rail line in Washington County who are glad of its quiet proximity. They use it to go downtown, to the zoo or the Children’s Museum, plays, concerts, shopping, dining, theater, festivals, and for other various and sundry reasons they need or want to go anywhere.

I look at investing in electric light rail the same way I look at any major personal purchase: It may seem daunting at the beginning, but there are long-term benefits that will enhance my life and will be cheaper in the long run. So, it makes sense to me that Clackamas County should look to its future and support its citizens’ needs for transportation via electric light rail.

I expect my county’s commissioners to use a long-term view. In fact, I demand it of them. Throwing around words like “propaganda” and “gangs” are not good enough. Name-calling and negative words such as those above are too close to bullying for my comfort, and I will not support those who do so.

For me, the vote comes down to a vote between Big Oil and other fossil fuels forcing me to pay ever-escalating costs for any of the above reasons; or agreeing that Clackamas County commissioners take the long view and fund electric light rail. I am voting NO on Measure 3-401.

Serena Johnston

Oregon City

We’ve been right all along

I recently attended the meeting where Eleanore Hunter, chairwoman of the Oak Lodge Council was supposed to “answer questions” on Measure 3-401.

What I saw was a one-sided political presentation. She made several incorrect statements, including the outrageous claim that the measure would prevent police from responding to a train emergency. She represents Positively Clackamas, a group that gets most of its money from those expecting to make money from building the Milwaukie line. Positively Clackamas opposes voting, and is registered in Multnomah County!

Right now the focus is on the Milwaukie light-rail line. Only the very end of the line, and a huge parking lot will be located in Oak Grove. Milwaukie and the Portland’s South Waterfront will receive facelifts. We’ll lose the green corridor for the Trolley Trail because TriMet didn’t have the money to build an acceptable design. We should have an opportunity to vote on whether we should invest in rail projects so they are properly designed.

On Sept. 18 we’ll have a chance to vote on whether or not we approve of spending millions on Milwaukie light rail and future light-rail lines. I’m voting YES on Measure 3-401.

Yvonne Lazarus

Oak Grove

Why they’re voting yes

The Oregonian’s Editorial Board should think twice before encouraging or romanticizing so-called “Clackamas’ light-rail rebels” (Aug. 30). Pure democracy has its place, yes—but look behind the curtain. In this case your pat on the back feeds them—while the long range effects of their obstructive tactics may be very, very costly.

n What talented thoughtful people would stand for office to freely take the public rudeness, threats and abuse that Lynn Peterson, Charlotte Lehan, Jamie Damon or Ann Lininger have sustained by sitting on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners in the last years?

n How will the growing division drawn between residents in urban and rural areas of the county—or the larger region—be overcome to permit cooperative planning and issues resolution?

n How can the same divisions now shaping up in local communities be nipped in the bud or redirected to generate better outcomes for everyone’s Oregon?

The participation in and monitoring of policymaking is a duty of citizenry. Putting sticks in the spokes of Oregon’s storied system of representative government and policy implementation is not.

In Clackamas County the noisiest obstructionists appear to be captives of ideologues who would shrink the capacity of government to function altogether for any purposes but their own. I am reminded of Grover Norquist’s bathtub—or Allen Alley’s recent comment from the floor of the RNC about the imminence of Oregon going red. Must that be our future?

From what I’ve observed personally, a significant number of these Clackamas County “rebels” are more nearly straight-out bullies. They are angry and feeling their oats after successfully turning back effective tree-cutting guidelines in unincorporated Oak Grove and quashing the idea of incorporation for the same general area. Plowing a deeper ditch of division between urban and rural constituencies, the same disaffected core as much as killed the future use of urban renewal as a tool for revitalizing the time-worn McLoughlin Corridor—and also defeated the contribution of a pittance to replace the quaking Sellwood Bridge.

Now, girded by a top-heavy infusion of money from non-resident fat cats, they have placed on the ballot an intentionally confusing measure under the guise of “Let us vote YES” (to say NO to light rail) long after the fact when their input would have been useful. Their motto seems to be “When in doubt, stall.” What? Until a new majority on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners can be installed come November??

I find that option frightening. There is more at stake in this Clackamas County ballot season than meets the eye—which is why The Oregonian needs to be cautious in its admiration of “rebels” to the south. In my opinion, asking voters what they want by voting CAN be something to lament—when it is untimely, deceptive, devisive and/or shielding of a more destructive agenda lurking behind the curtain.

That is why I intend to vote a decisive NO on Measure 3-401. I hope those who can will, too.

Pat Culley Kennedy

Oak Grove

Vote to turn back clock

Measure 3-401 attempts to lead Clackamas County voters backwards 2,500 years to an early form of democracy in ancient Athens. In this form of government, every major decision is in the hands of the voting public rather than their elected representatives. This is an inefficient and very costly way to run a democracy.

Measure 3-401 is so poorly written that it would actually inhibit our ability to vote on rail issues in the county. County representatives and employees are prohibited under this measure from discussing or planning elections on rail issues.

Your NO vote on this poorly conceived measure is essential, lest a small group of Tea Party activists take control of our transportation future. The light rail link from Portland to Milwaukie provides an opportunity for Clackamas County to join a region-wide transit system that will grow as our population grows. Vote your aspirations for our county by saying NO to Measure 3-401.

A yes vote on Measure 3-401 is not a vote for more democracy; it is a vote for more traffic gridlock.

Judy Davis

Lake Oswego

Keep jobs on track

If someone told you they could bring a ton of new jobs to Clackamas County, your first reaction would probably be, “Great! How can I help?”

Unfortunately, Measure 3-401 on Sept. 18 will have the opposite effect. It would kill light-rail work, which economists predict can bring many, many jobs to our county. The measure requires a public vote before spending any county money on light rail. That’s a job-killer.

Already nearly a dozen Clackamas County companies are working on the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail Orange Line. That means hundreds of badly needed construction and operations jobs are in the works now and in the near future.

Remember, too, the fact that economists say more than 100,000 jobs will be created in the Portland metro area in the next 10 years, and a big chunk of those will be along the light-rail line now underway. Our county deserves its share of new jobs.

Vote no on Measure 3-401 to keep these jobs on track.

Genie Uebelacker

Clackamas

Save the Trolley Trail

In 2010, Clackamas County commissioners committed $25 million towards extending the proposed light-rail line beyond Milwaukie to Oak Grove. In a declining economy they apparently hoped to pay for it by creating an urban-renewal district. Almost a year ago, citizens passed Measure 3-386, requiring a vote on diverting taxes for urban renewal. Last week the commissioners attempted an “end run” in order to borrow millions to cover the cost. The ill-conceived plan fell apart, leaving the county scrambling to come up with the money before Measure 3-401 is expected to be approved by the voters on Sept. 18. The measure will require a public vote on light-rail funding. Four of the five commissioners appear to be doing everything possible to ignore the will of the people. Two of the commissioners (Lehan and Damon) may pay a heavy price because they hope to be re-elected in November.

Metro authorized the route and $4 million for an environmental impact study on July 24, 2008. The option of building a shorter line was included because funding the project was not certain. In the summer of 2010 TriMet announced a shortfall of over $300 million.

Instead of following a clear mandate, the promoters cut features and pursued an unacceptable low-budget approach that includes destroying the section of the Trolley Trail to make room for the tracks. TriMet should have designed the line to run down the middle of McLouglin Boulevard, but that would add millions to the cost... money TriMet does not have.

The beautiful fir trees on the trail right of way will be needlessly cut down if the citizens do not act soon. The new Trolley Trail will be squeezed between the tracks and a steep hillside. A 14-foot-high concrete retaining wall will be constructed, turning the green corridor into another noisy mass of concrete.

Once again Commissioner Savas has been the lone voice of reason in the convoluted Milwaukie light rail project. Hopefully the citizens will seek his help in saving the Trolley Trail, even if it means that a shorter line will be built. Contact the commissioners at 503-655-8581 before it’s too late.

Les Poole

Oak Grove

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