Lake Oswego: A streetcar named undesirable

by NW Spotlight

First hand account of meetings the last two weeks on the Lake Oswego streetcar

The Lake Oswego Mayor Jack Hoffman’s law firm represents Gerding-Edlen, Dike Dames and the Streetcar manufacturing company, among other benefactors and beneficiaries of this racket. He declared the “potential” conflict of interest last week and it was raised again by Councilor Kehoe last night just prior to Mayor Hoffman making the deciding vote.

Councilor Bill Tierney works for PGE, whose biggest clients may be the streetcar and light rail operators.

It was a heated at times, adversarial debate prior to the vote.

The three councilors who are opposed had done much due diligence and thoroughly dismantled every element of the plan.

The high cost, lack of funding, other higher priority needs and projects, the environmental aspects, the ODOT reported declining traffic and no demonstrated congestion problem to the many problems of paying for and crowding high density-8 story buildings into the Foothills was made crystal clear.

The proponents avoided such study and instead parroted the usual mantras heard during every prior rail transit/development scheme while also insulting the public at large who are opposed to the entire plan.

Repeatedly the proponents lectured that the public doesn’t have an adequate understanding and that we need to provide our children with livable & walkable communities.

It was exceedingly obvious that Jordon, Moncrieff, Tierney, and Hoffman had not studied the issues, had done no homework and were deliberately attempting to marginalize everything that exposed the empty rhetoric they were using.

Neither the Streetcar nor the Foothills high density are wanted, funded or affordable. There is no future funding source for any of it including the operation of the Streetcar once it is built. Quite the contrary, Gudman pointed out the city has a lengthy list of needed projects that already far exceed projected revenues. He asked the proponents “which of these projects are you intending on sacrificing for the Streetcar and Foothills?”

Hoffman declared that was a false choice and Jordon said, “We always find a way to fund things”.

Gudman pointed out that all of the other projects would be sacrificed.

The proponent councilors were dishonest and dismissive of every fatal flaw no matter how crystal clear they were demonstrated.

At one point after Gudman presented the ODOT numbers that showed traffic had declined in recent years and that congestion was not a problem in need of a streetcar remedy, Donna Jordon fessed up that she “did not know if congestion was or will be a problem” but declared that “the streetcar allows them to get out in front of it”. That’s the kind of substance proponents provided.

If this current step in the process proceeds, the region plans on spending another $25 million on more planning with the proponents claiming it is needed to better know what is being decided. Only then will they and the public understand what is at stake. Only then will the decision be made to proceed or not.

Make no mistake about it, these four proponents (Sam Adams all) are Kool-Aid drinkers who have and will line up behind every single cockamamie stunt and their vote last night was to push it forward.

The conflicts of interest, dishonesty and reckless behavior have finally ignited the long needed battle. It was very encouraging and real progress to see three honest and responsible councilors take off the gloves and battle them in such a public manner.

Removing the other four from office and a petition to require the public vote they disallowed last night should be moving quickly forward.