Former Urban Renewal Commissioner Rob Crocker and current Urban Renewal Chairman Brian Shaw have unwittingly become the best cheerleaders for passage of Measure 3-407 to give citizens the right to vote on all new urban-renewal debt. These “bullies playing victims” wrongly accuse others of misrepresentation while spinning their own fabrications.

Crocker claims urban renewal is an investment tool that has caused tax revenues on his properties to more than double. Furthermore, he states this is “exactly how urban renewal is supposed to work by increasing Oregon City’s tax base.”

According to public records, Crocker’s business, T-5 Equities, was awarded more than $143,000, with another $55,000 pending in urban renewal grants. Tax records for 706 Main St. indicate a loss of 41 percent in real market value since the grant was awarded in 2007. Tax records on 721 Main St. show a loss of 10 percent in real market value and an actual decline of $20.44 in property taxes paid after receiving urban-renewal funds.

Contrary to Crocker’s claims that urban renewal “is a great investment tool for our city” that “in the long run, will provide greater funding for our fire, police and other city services,” it would take more than 40 years to repay the first group of public subsidies, without even factoring in possible future loss of property value, time value of money, inflation, and continual loss of property tax revenues until all debts are paid off, potentially adding several decades or more to the equation.

So, after 40-100 years there might be enough “greater funding” for the fire department, police and city to buy a few feet of fire hose, several handcuffs and lots of red ink. This is Crocker’s definition of “a great investment for our city.” I wonder if Crocker would support the same in the city where he lives?

Shaw spins even more fantasy, stating (Sept. 19) that voters approved an urban-renewal debt increase of $130 million in 2005. In fact, there was no public vote on the debt increase; it was approved by the five-member city commission in 2007.

Shaw then stated that The Rivers project would bring $1 million every year to Oregon City, despite the developer’s own estimates indicating millions of loss to the public.

In his attempt to “correct the record” (Sept. 25) Shaw contradicts reality again, stating “... the Urban Renewal Commission has had access to $130 million, but has not touched it.”

In fact, the URC has taken on millions in debt to buy the City Hall and subsidize the Cove project, and would have assumed nearly $20 million more debt for The Rivers project.

It was actually Shaw and Crocker’s opponents who knew these projects would never repay the debt who kept the URC from touching more of the $130 million. Why do you think they fought so hard to recall a commissioner and eliminate URC neighborhood representative positions?

Perhaps the most convincing argument for Measure 3-407 from Chair Shaw is contained in his September 12, 2012 memo to the Urban Renewal Commission: “What Oregon City Urban Renewal doesn’t need right now is to expose its past, where it becomes ‘public. ... Our current staff and commission are trying to show the taxpayer to trust our decisions. Bringing up the past will only distract us from our endeavors and minimize that trust.”

Shaw asks, “Do you feel comfortable voting for funding for these complicated projects?”

I ask, “Do you want these guys voting how to spend our money?”

Yes, Crocker and Shaw make the best arguments yet that the voters should be allowed to vote on $130 million public debt that relies on our residents’ (who pay 75 percent of Clackamas County property taxes) full faith and credit. Keep it up guys, you’re doing a heck of a job supporting Measure 3-407.

Nancy Walters is an Oregon City resident and former chairwoman of the Urban Renewal Commission.

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