Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bad day

Commissioner Amanda Fritz was the only Commissioner willing to stand with businesses and citizens today, and she was the only Commissioner to vote against Portland Water Bureau’s rate hike request which includes funding for millions of dollars in unnecessary and premature LT2 project spending.

Commissioners Nick Fish, Dan Saltzman and Randy Leonard had nothing to add to clarify (justify?) their vote to move forward with these expenditures, even in the face of new legal evidence there are ways to avoid replacing our reservoirs. Mayor Adams only spoke enough to put a plug in for his “Mayor’s Budget”, by way of thanking the Water Bureau for acting on his request to trim the hike by 1%.

The business community, public health community, low-income housing advocates, labor and union advocates, environmental activists, and joe citizen all oppose this move.  They oppose the rate hike, they oppose the LT2 expenditures.  Yet, the majority of our Commissioners voted to approve a course that will give us double digit rate hikes for years to come.  It’s a bad day for a "city that works".

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It is now or never

Indeed, it's D Day tomorrow.  Make your voices heard.  Council must refuse item #532 and item #537 on the Council agenda Wednesday, or it will be hardly worth turning back.  Don't spend another dime, until you give the state Drinking Water Program a CHANCE to accept the variance applications for the reservoirs and the watershed treatment plant.  Don't.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hell does not have to freeze over

Over 100 people turned out for Wednesday morning's water rate hearing, which ran over its allotted 30 minutes by almost 5 hours. Forty-five people signed up to speak on behalf of protecting our open reservoirs from senseless LT2 projects, including Siltronics, Portland Bottling Co., Yo Cream, Alsco Linen, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

KBOO's Joe Meyer ran a 4 minute piece which holds several interesting quotes from Fritz, Saltzman, and Adams (they begin at minute 2:45). But if there is one thing I absolutely don't want you to miss it's the quote from Dave Wagner, formerly of EPA's Office of General Council, stating there is a legal path to both a variance and a timeline extension for the reservoirs (minute 1:52). It seems Hell does not have to freeze over, as Shaff has claimed.

Testimony brought out at least two new points worth passing along to all of your friends. 

Most importantly, there is a NEW legal opinion now in our possession (many thanks to the Portland Water User's Coalition) from Dave Wagner of Reed Smith (a large firm specializing in regulatory issues, including EPA regulation).  Wagner's expertise was brought in to review Portland's legal options for saving our reservoirs, because concerned citizens in the business community thought this moment in our city's history called for action more robust than what the city was willing to do on their own.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but this really does seem like the kind of homework the city bureau should have done by now on our behalf. 

Secondly, just in case you were still wondering if Portland Water Bureau had their heart in this fight to save our city from senseless LT2 expenditures...   Just last month at the invitation of the EPA (and by Executive Order), PWB had the chance to comment on specific regulatory flaws found in LT2 and other EPA regulations, and from what I can tell PWB submitted just a few disjointed paragraphs in which only 3 sentences were dedicated to LT2.  Compare that with NYC’s response to this invitation – they submitted a 23 page argument with 33 pages in supporting data about their Hillview Reservoir.  That’s what committment looks like.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


KBOO's Joe Meyer ran a piece on LT2 and the open reservoirs this week titled Open Reservoirs and Government.  It contains a number of good interviews with Dr. Gary Oxman (county health), Dr. Thomas Ward (an infectious disease specialist), Kent Craford (business - Portland Water Users Coalition) and Floy Jones (Friends of the Reservoirs).  You can even hear Joe Glicker's voice (ex-PWB employee turned cozy consultant; he has profited hardily off of LT2). 

While I hope lots of people will listen to the whole thing, I have two highlights that actually leave me a little speechless.

Minute 36 - Dave Leland with the state Drinking Water Program indicates that his organization has jurisdiction over the LT2 issue now and that it is within their authority to grant a deadline extension, but PWB would have to ask first.

Minute 6.29 - Dr. Gary Oxman with Multnomah County Health, indicates he does not expect to see any reduction in disease incidence with the new reservoirs because they aren't seeing any disease incidence now (in other words, they can't get any cleaner than clean).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

That doesn't really cut it

The Mayor's 2011 budget, touted as reducing the Water Bureau rate increase, barely drops the increase at all.  You see, although we've been saying the increase will grow your bill 85% over the next 5 years, it was actually going to grow your bill 86.3% ... we rounded down.  Adam's "cuts" will allow your bill to climb 84.7%.  Or, right about what you were afraid of and that's not a cut.

The Portland Water Users Coalition has had something to say about this not-cut, too.