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Knapp fed up with county commission

Oak Grove resident joins field of 10 other candidates
by: contributed photo Jim Knapp

Jim Knapp, a board member of the Oak Lodge Water District, says he has had enough of what he calls 'the devious deception of the county commissioners.'

While speaking to the Boring Citizen Planning Organization, Knapp reminded attendees that he is a chief petitioner against the way the commission is handling the Portland-to-Milwaukie light rail project.

His petition, which would be on the Sept. 18 ballot, would require the commission to put any decision for rail projects to a vote of county residents before committing funds.

He believes decisions should not be made without citizens advising the decision makers.

Knapp says he has testified to the commission and asked questions, but has received no responses.

'What I have been finding out,' he said, 'is that the commissioners want to spend money on a Portland agenda that doesn't fit Clackamas County.

'The commissioners have said their roads would go back to gravel. We'll I'm a real infrastructure guy. That's what I do (as a private concrete contractor). They want to put us in light rail cars and ship us off to Portland.'

But Knapp said he was appalled when he found out (from the Cascade Policy Institute) the light rail project would cost at least $205 million per mile.

'For that price,' he said, 'we could buy big fancy rock-star buses for 200 years.'

Choosing to pay for part of that project, Knapp said, is typical of many other commission decisions.

'I've had enough, like you have,' he told the Boring CPO group. 'There are no goals; there's no master plan that I can lay my hands on; and I don't know what direction we're going in. It's incredible. I couldn't run a business more than six months the way this county is haphazardly run.'

Outside of the meeting, Knapp told The Post he has gained special skills during 35 years of business experience. Since 1995, he has served on the Oak Lodge Water District board balancing budgets and handling public funds.

In 2005 and 2006, Knapp served as chairman of the Citizen Advisory Board to the Clearwater project for Sewer District No. 1 (Kellogg treatment plant near Milwaukie).

At that time, the advisory committee convinced the three-person commission the Clearwater project would cost too much money - and the direction changed to a crossover pipeline to take the stress off the Kellogg plant.

In his campaign to take a seat on the commission, Knapp continues to accuse the current commissioners of mimicking Portland, but he says that will ruin the county's livability.

'(The commission) wants high-density housing and light rail,' he said, 'and that brings crime down the tracks. If you look at history, Rockwood is a classic example of high-density housing with a lot of crime. And they wanted to fund it with urban renewal money.'

Knapp said using urban renewal money (which is a portion of property tax revenues) requires essential services (sheriff, fire, libraries and schools) to add fees to raise enough revenue for normal operations.

'And that makes people pay twice,' Knapp said.

He often quotes a friend who uses the term 'Portland creep.'

'Portland creep means bringing their agenda to Clackamas County without us voting on it,' he said. 'It keeps creeping farther and farther into the county.

'When I was out gathering signatures, people would tell me, 'We don't want this. This is why we moved out of Portland.' '

Knapp said the commission wants to bring light rail to Oak Grove and then build a train station there as well as an $8 million frontage road to take business traffic off McLoughlin Boulevard. He also said the commission wants high-density housing built with public funds within one-half mile of the train station.

'(The commission) has been very crafty and very deceptive on all these Portland-agenda plans,' Knapp said. 'But during the open house meetings, about 75 percent voted no. They turned it down.

'But the commissioners won't give us any answers (why they are pursuing the projects). That's why I am running for county commissioner. I haven't heard a legitimate reason why they're doing what they're doing. They clam up, and won't talk. You can't sit down and have a substantive conversation with any one of them. That's what's driving me nuts. It's like they're trying to hide it from the citizens.'

Knapp is on the May 15 primary ballot for Position No. 3 with Martha Schrader and Jeff Caton.

For more information, call Knapp at 503-789-9492.