Vancouver, Washington, Mayor Tim Leavitt enthusiastically supports a bridge project that would carry light rail trains from Portland, Oregon, into his town. “There is no more important opportunity for our city and our region than completion of the Columbia River Crossing,” he intones.
Transportation activist Margaret Tweet is more cautious. “Precious little discussion is held on the true transportation needs of our region by the government agencies that propose costly solutions,” she writes.
Back in 1995, Clark County — which includes the city of Vancouver — held a vote on a measure to fund the extension of Portland’s light rail to Vancouver. It was defeated. As if fearing repetition of this, today’s city “leaders” chose not to risk a similar negative vote. According to them, they alone should decide this expensive, controversial public works project.
So a group of citizens led by Larry Patella filed an initiative petition to gain a vote to forbid the city from spending any money to facilitate the Columbia River Crossing project. But their petition fell 32 signatures short of qualifying.
Then it was discovered that 606 people had signed the petition more than once. By state law, the county threw all the duplicates out.
So, seventy-five plaintiffs, including 44 folks who mistakenly signed the petition twice, sued to have their signatures count . . . just once. And last week a judge overturned the rule on duplicate signatures.
Is the initiative a go? Maybe not. Vancouver City Attorney Ted Gathe has issued a legal opinion saying the citizen-initiated ordinance is outside the power and scope of the initiative process. The city council seems poised to use the attorney’s opinion as an excuse to again block a vote of the people they serve.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.