Letters: Light rail's real cost; Concord School; Janelle Bynum moderated well; Electoral College; Gladstone politics
The very interesting dirty-diesel feature articles and Gary Blair's historical letter in response that ran in this newspaper on Feb. 1 and 22 bring some pertinent thoughts to mind.
Look at some cost figures: the Clackamas Town Center Light Rail Green Line came in at over $600 million and the new Milwaukie Orange Line at $1.4 billion. Round that off at a neat little $2 billion — how many electric buses could have been running in our area already?
Why the stall? Could it be that TriMet is stalling, looking over their shoulder at federal funding for another light-rail line in the Barbur corridor?
TriMet's obsession with light rail is well known, and to me this seems a relevant theory. Mr. McFarland's comment regarding "manufacturers overstating the benefits of their products" is hilarious considering the cost and underperformance of light rail.
Pushing the rail on this area as they have borders on the unconscionable. Our infrastructure, educational, medical and other social needs have been sorely neglected. It is a crime.
What did every "who-dunnit" we ever read tell us about solving the crime? Follow the money. Is there anyone left with enough integrity and guts to take it on?
Future of historic school in the balance
In December of 2013, the North Clackamas School District announced that the historic Concord Elementary School would be closing due to budget considerations, saving the ?d?istrict over $450,000 per year.
The community ?fought to keep the doors open?, but the charming school eventually closed, and?? 285 students were relocated to other schools.? A secondary factor in the closing was concerns for the ?student's safety. Vehicle traffic had grown dramatically in the area since the school opened in 1938.
In addition to the iconic building, the property features a covered playground structure and large grassy fields; the perfect setting for a neighborhood park. With strong local support, the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District is considering a "land swap" with the school district that would secure the property for future use. (This newspaper covered the proposed swap between North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District and the North Clackamas School District in a Feb. 8 news article, to which Jennings Lodge resident Lisa Bentley responded in a Feb. 22 letter.) It's a good concept, but many are not comfortable with some aspects of the proposal.
The North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District's maintenance budget will rise considerably due to the acquisition of the historic school building and former North Clackamas School District administration building on Southeast Lake Road in Milwaukie. The Concord property is a special gem, and I support the parks district acquiring it.
Like others, I am concerned about the future ability to maintain and/or operate the two additional buildings. A bond measure to increase the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District operating budget was soundly defeated by the voters in 2014, but If the long-term financial numbers are acceptable, it will be a wise investment in a community that has been underserved for years. A nonprofit organization has been formed to ensure the 6-acre property is preserved for public use. Their voices will be heard during a public meeting to be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday March 9.
Many see the school as a future library site, but the legal battle over possibly consolidating two libraries has not been resolved. The current Oak Grove Library has inadequate parking, and has been impacted by construction of the new Goodwill store. Its fate is unknown. Regardless of that issue, there are many possibilities for the wonderful school and its spacious grounds.
The first step is working out a deal that has minimum risk — and greatest potential. The proposed sale and land exchange is posted on the Clackamas County Commission website, and it deserves a quick look at clackamas.us/bcc/documents/businesspackets/bcc20170309_2.pdf.
Don't succumb to false choice
Regarding John Shepherd's Community Soapbox of March 1 headlined "Rep. Janelle Bynum lacks opinions on important issues," I also attended Representative Bynum's recent transportation forum in Happy Valley. While I do agree with Mr. Shepherd that it is important and good for us to know where our legislators stand on any issue, this may be the most challenging time for any legislator, particularly the freshmen, to get oriented, with Oregon's already serious budget and revenue issues in a new federal climate of a tyrannical and ideological administration.
This presentation was technically oriented toward the identification of specific transportation issues and potential fixes in House District 51. The professional panel was — very professional — and enlightening. Rep. Bynum — admittedly not a professional road person — did a nice job of moderating. The obvious next step, now that she has an understanding of transportation issues in her district, is to do her best in the Legislature to work toward the best possible transportation budget so that the residents and transportation experts in the district can work toward their highest priorities.
The question about the potential impact on Oregon's transportation revenue if we are punished by the president for remaining a sanctuary state came near the end of this long and technical presentation, and while a valid question, turned the forum in a totally different direction clearly without time for adequate discussion. These issues require their own fair and thorough airing; for instance, the question automatically imposes a serious moral dilemma: Do we sell out our civic and humanitarian values for road dollars, for the 18 percent of our total road funding in the past biennium that came from the federal government?
I hope this was not the intent of those asking this question. We should not succumb to such a false and corrosive choice, but should first do all we can as a diverse and humane community to resist it.
Draw line between opinion, truth
I appreciate Jeff Molinari's letter (Feb. 15) in response to mine regarding the Electoral College and Trump's victory. In this era of "fake news" and "alternative facts," it's important to recognize the difference between fact and opinion. Reasonable people have difference of opinion, but facts need to be similar and sourced, or rational discussion isn't possible.
Mr. Molinari and I disagree about the utility of the Electoral College. I consider it an anachronism ill-suited to 21st-century politics. That's my opinion. He complains that Oregon has one of the worst economies and educational systems in the country. The facts do not support this. According to business insider, Oregon's economy is 13th of 50 with Washington the best and West Virginia the worst. We do have work to do regarding education. We are 43rd, between Alabama and Nevada, with Massachusetts being the best according to wallethub.com.
If we can agree on basic facts such as 2+2=4, force equals mass times acceleration, and that the U.S. did indeed land 12 astronauts on the moon, perhaps our differences of opinion can lead to collective progress.
Obviously our new president has his opinions too, but when he states the news media is the "enemy of the people," he's not being helpful. Sounds like a dictatorship in the making, in my opinion that is.
Barbara Bronson's made-up facts
Wow, the opinion page of the Clackamas Review has become like slow-motion Facebook, in more ways than one.
Barbara Bronson (Letters, Feb. 22) wrote about how "It is quite remarkable how readers like to opine on subjects they don't understand at all," referring to my relaying the fact that Trump's travel ban was illegal (Letters, Feb. 8). You're right, Barbara, although accidentally.
Because I didn't decide Trump's idiotic, poorly conceived, sloppily written, unnecessary, counterproductive executive order was illegal, District Court Judge James Robart did (a GW Bush appointee, FYI). And Judge Robart's decision was quickly upheld on appeal.
Why anyone would chortle about this arbitrary harassment of legal American residents is beyond me. If you really want to be more safe, keep loaded guns out of the hands of your toddlers. They shoot more Americans than do immigrants.
Insult to democracy
Whoa, please understand that opinion of the author of "Library Foundation no longer runs City Council" (Feb. 22) must have been having a bad day.
Inaccurate statements and personal attacks should not be part of a well-thought-out democracy.
Slighted by city
Three positions recently opened on Gladstone's Planning Commission. I applied thinking my many years in construction, 19 of them supervising large commercial projects in the metro area, would be helpful.
I lost out to a Girl Scout Leader, a retired electrician and a tissue-sales manager. I thought planning positions were open to all citizens of Gladstone, with preference given to individuals with particular competence in the field of municipal planning — by way of their profession, trade or prior governmental service (Section 2.28.020 of Gladstone Municipal Code) — instead of friends and neighbors of city officials.
Maybe my application should have said 35-plus years experience as a sheep herder, 19 of them as head shepherd. I could have mingled with other head shepherds in the city. Then I would have known they really don't want anymore shepherds, they're just looking to build their flock.