The Straight Scoop
Why the censorship?
Why would a city council be so unwilling to allow citizens to voice dissent? Why not welcome citizens to freely discuss the most expensive project in the history of Southern Washington?
What is Bait-and-Switch?
In government, Bait-and-Switch is a tactic that lures taxpayers with a problem (the Crisis), offers them a solution (the Bait), but sells them an inappropriate, unrelated, or exaggerated project (the Switch).
What is the goal?
The crisis is traffic congestion in Portland Oregon from the I-5 Columbia River Bridge to at least 5 miles south. The bait is a new bridge. But rather than widening the freeways in Portland to relieve that congestion, those Portland bottlenecks will remain. The switch is a massive multi-billion dollar project that extends miles north in Washington that does little to solve Portland traffic congestion. It is so costly that it could easily pay for 10 new I-205 Bridges. The project turns existing Washington freeways into toll roads even if drivers don’t cross the bridge into Oregon. Although voters defeated light rail by a large margin and voters are prevented from having an election to defeat it again, politicians appear determined to force light rail into the heart of Vancouver.
Enriching special interests:
Without neighborly citizen participation, projects like this can get way off track. The priority can switch to enriching the firms that offer study, engineering and construction services even if they are too burdensome for a community to bear. Bait-and-Switch projects can be recognized when incumbents appear to rule as dictators over their subjects as they attempt to slip their project through but become too obvious in their attempts to avoid scrutiny.
What are the telltale signs of a Bait-and-Switch project?
In government, Bait-and-Switch projects are often not uncovered until irreversible damage has been done and taxpayers have suffered a massive loss. Symptoms include:
- Unusual measures to silence dissent
- Suppression of factual information
- Aversion to open debate
- Double standards for supporters and dissenters
- Citizen communications rules increasingly restrictive
- Attacking the messengers rather than their message
- Officials elected under false pretences
- Blatant broken promises, violated trusts
- Conflicts of interest
- Campaigns funded by firms that will profit from the project
- Excessive sums paid to proponents for unproductive studies
- Passing the buck to avoid responsibility
- Maximizing the size and scope of the project
- Understating the ultimate cost
- Overstating the promised benefits
- Controlled by political appointees rather than appropriate agencies
- An obvious disconnect between the Bait and the Switch
- Officials adamantly clinging to obviously illogical positions
- Disorder, chaos, confusion, disenfranchised citizens
- Lack of detailed financial reports
- Incurring excessive debt despite strained resources
- Pushing ahead despite strong opposition
- Haste, rushing ahead despite poor timing
Well meaning people:
Promoters often enroll well meaning people who promote the Bait-and-Switch project because they genuinely want to fix the original problem. They fail to recognize that the disproportionate project will raise the cost of living beyond their reach. Too late, they discover that the inappropriate project is far worse than the original problem.
Where is Jeanne Harris now?
After the city decided to close fire station #6 and layoff 18 fire fighters due to lack of funds, council member Jeanne Harris has now returned from her all expenses paid $19,000 4 week tour of Europe as an ambassador of our city. This is city business, while the biggest project in our history is not? Should this city council be traveling the world as a role model?
How did we pay for the I-205 Bridge?
Gas taxes paid the total cost of $169.6 million for the I-205 Glenn Jackson Bridge, 90% federal, $4 million from Washington, $11 million from Oregon. That bridge, built 28 years ago shows us how this is supposed to work. The major interstate freeway systems across this nation were paid for with a 4 cent federal gas tax. Toll roads back east were built before gas taxes. Washington now pays 54.4 cents per gallon and 60.4 cents for diesel. Remember how we built the 205 Bridge. That model shows us how to build interstate bridges.
The connection between Light Rail and Tolls:
Elected leaders misrepresent the truth when they tell us that they support light rail but oppose tolls. Federal statute requires a 50% “local match” to pay for light rail. That local match is tolls. You cannot have light rail without tolls. Light rail requires tolls. Elected representatives who “support light rail but oppose tolls” are being dishonest.
Who pays for cost overruns?
Light Rail proponents notoriously understate the ultimate cost. Billions in cost overruns for Light Rail projects are standard procedure. Federal funds are fixed up front and do not cover cost overruns. Local taxpayers will be billed for the difference. For an independent financial analysis, see the pdf document sponsored by Chris Girard, President and CEO of Plaid Pantries, Inc.
What’s the root problem?
Instead of freeways, Portland spends their road taxes on light rail. The results are bilions of dollars in debt, crushing taxes, traffic jams and congestion. If we re-elect the incumbents in Clark County, that’s exactly what we’ll get, plus tolls. This election will decide.
Not city business?
Many businesses along the proposed light rail lines in downtown Vancouver will likely not survive the construction that will close 30 square blocks for up to a year. The city continues to authorize more money for bridge and light rail consultants including $50,000 this past week to try to figure out what to do with the five acres of darkness under the proposed bridge. Three of the council members sit on the C-Tran board and are using that money (over $700,000 so far) to promote light rail instead of bus service, while raising bus fares and increasing the deficit.
Getting on the right track
If either of these boards passes a resolution opposing this tolling project, it will be stopped. State and federal authorities will not fund it. We can then state the terms of a revised plan that cuts the pork, cuts light rail, guarantees no tolls, requires at least 50% federal funding, and requires existing Washington and Oregon state gas taxes to fund the balance.
Where to from here?
We will continue to update this site to help our community to move into action and know what steps to take. We will be forming an informed coalition of citizens and business leaders. Scheduled events will be posted on this site and you will be notified if you have signed up. We encourage you to register to join our cause so together, we can move forward.
Quote of the day:
“We’re about first and goal from 4 yards out.”