Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Mad Men of Portland's City Council

I’d like to give you an update about the council hearing yesterday.  But, it has left me almost speechless.  And that doesn’t happen often.  I’m not going to pull any punches now, or I won’t have anything to write. 

Your City Council was illogical.  Remarkably so, even for people caught up in political thinking.  But what’s more, they were defensive, angry and whiney… it was as if they’d all caught Randy Leonard disease.  All but one, that is.  Commissioner Amanda Fritz stood by a logical, compelling argument on behalf of the community; a community which has united around this new proposal as never before in the LT2 debacle.  We should visit her campaign office this week and find a way to thank her. (I just looked, it's in my hood.)
Randy Leonard took bullying to a whole new level, looking into my eyes with such extreme anger as isn’t normally experienced in a civilized society.  While our coalition talked about new opportunities and moving forward and unprecedented and united support for this new compliance option, Nick Fish and Mayor Adams asked insincere questions as a platform to berate participants in the public process.  Nick Fish asked Kent Craford (Water Users Coalition) about past opportunities, then Fish condemned him for talking about the past.  Mayor Adams seemed to be accusing me of misleading the public about the fact that our proposed covers would be plastic… that this must be why I’ve used the words “Hypalon-like” in my public letter. (It isn’t true.  Hypalon was the brand name of the cover Portland owned once, and I thought specificity would bring clarity.  I’ve never sugar coated this new proposal.  In fact, I usually describe the covers as something akin to giant pool covers, and I can’t think of a less sugar coated description than that.)  Mayor Adams asked testifiers for citations for every assertion made.  Yeah for fact checking!  I love citations, if you know me you know I can provide my research, as can the people with whom I research.  But his tone made it clear he was not asking to learn more, he was asking because he hoped to demean people.  As if the citizens were clearly all parrots without independent thought, unreasonable people not fit to govern themselves, or at least not as fit as himself.  This fact standard did not apply to Water Bureau’s assertion that the reservoirs on Tabor demand high-priority seismic upgrades.  We asked to see their study and we were rebuffed with statements that they were The Bureau, with engineers.  Never mind that The Bureau has shown a propensity for expensive build projects not always sensibly prioritized. 

Dan Saltzman just kept showing signs of post-traumatic-stress-syndrome from his tenure as Water Bureau head.  He refused to believe that our supporters actually support this new option.  He was afraid they would all eventually come to their senses, for they must have been fooled, or knocked unconscious because that’s the only explanation for us actually uniting under one plan, and that when they did come to their senses they’d rise up and... bother him.  Nick and Dan alike seemed as much as anything, like they just want to bury these damned reservoirs so they can stop being bothered by The People.  After all, this isn’t even supposed to be their problem because this isn’t their bureau. (Never mind it’s our water supply.)  IF they took this new proposal, wouldn’t they be at risk of having even more meetings about these blasted things when the covers have to go through Land Use Review?  Nick recounted all the ways citizens can participate in the land use process (actually, he implied they could hijack the process – how is that for revealing your feelings about public process?) and how citizens could have a role in this discussion for years to come and man that would just be hell on wheels.  They didn't want to do something the community might not like, so instead they'll barrel ahead with something they KNOW the community doesn’t like.  And the logic?  After weeks of real community organizing, of consensus building conversations moving out in concentric circles, further and further into the community, our coalition has won an impressive list of supporters all wanting the same thing.  If we can so effectively unite behind this compromise and serve our support up in one straightforward letter and still not influence our Electeds, then all I can guess is that these men don’t believe in you, or me, or our rights to participate in government.    

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Testimony at Council Hearing Sept 5, 2012

For the Record, Agenda Item 997 - September 5, 2012

Today I voice a position supported by the full MTNA by unanimous vote at our neighborhood meeting last month.

Hypalon-like covers are one of EPA’s approved methods of LT2 compliance.  They are cheaper and they make us fully compliant. 

At this moment it is Common Sense vs. Over Engineering.  It is Preservation vs. New Construction.  Always before, in the LT2 conversation you’ve been forced to align yourselves counter to Portland’s culture.  You’ve had to choose Over Engineering and New Construction when what you’ve wanted was Common Sense and Preservation.
But not anymore.  There is no reason to continue on with Kelly Butte, or any other part of PWB’s current compliance plan for LT2.  You have a new option, one that’s not been on the table before.  The groups that have opposed this option in the past, support it today.  Business, public health, environmental, equity, and neighborhood groups are all on board.  The groups that oppose your current compliance plan SUPPORT this plan.  Even the groups that have opposed compliance on principle, SUPPORT this plan.

We ask you to reject Water Bureau’s attempts to muddle the conversation at the last minute with untested claims that these structures are unsafe and too old.   These are tired arguments, they’ve been addressed before in other forums and we can address them again if the community so desires.

LT2 is a Federal beast that has stripped us of local power.  We dare not mix into our relationship with LT2  any other project, or we unnecessarily hand over local control of those issues too.  Every other, non-LT2 project should be staged, costs and approach, in a way that best suits our community without the LT2 gun to our heads.
MTNA supports a change in our compliance plan to include Hypalon-like covers.