Barbie and Ken battle on
Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt and his County Commissioner compadre Steve Stuart put out a statement last week calling on Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler to back the Columbia River Crossing project.
Herrera Beutler wrote a letter responding to the pair’s statement on Monday, telling the duo that they should be doing something else: putting the light rail operations and maintenance sales tax to a vote. For the entire C-Tran district. ASAP.
“If I were a more cynical person, I might begin to believe that some C-Tran board members are attempting to ‘run out the clock,’ delaying a vote of the people until it is too late for their voices to be heard,” she wrote, and closed with this line: “As C-Tran board members, your time would be better spent preparing the issue for the ballot than sending political statements to newspapers.”
C-Tran board members have said they plan to put the sales tax up for a vote in November 2012.
Leavitt in an email said that Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, is playing a dangerous game of political poker by not rallying for critical federal funding needed for the $3.1 billion to $3.5 billion megaproject.
“Her continual rhetoric about a vote on light rail is simply an attempt to divert conversation and spotlight on the FEDERAL funding aspect of this project,” he said. “We need her to garner as much Federal $$$ for this project as possible, in order to minimize the impact to our local commuters — that is where she should be most focused if she is really wanting to ‘serve’ our District.”
Herrera Beutler’s camp countered they have no idea what the mayor is talking about. As a member of the House Transportation Committee, she is working is working on a multi-year bill to stabilize the Highway Trust Fund, out of which CRC money would come, spokesman Casey Bowman emailed Tuesday.
“No opportunities for federal funding have been missed, and Jaime is an active participant in the process,” he said.
No matter where you stand on this project, you can thank Herrera Buetler and Leavitt for helping out the Postal Service in this time of critical cuts.
See the link above for Herrera’s letter. Here’s the full text of Leavitt’s email response to that:
“It appears that JHB lack of positive advocacy for the CRC is based solely on politics. At the very least, her positioning is misguided. At the worst, her positioning could cost our region (if the CRC is not constructed) hundreds of millions in economic commerce and a stable base for jobs growth for decades and future generations of SW WA residents.
Her continual rhetoric about a vote on light rail is simply an attempt to divert conversation and spotlight on the FEDERAL funding aspect of this project. We need her to garner as much Federal $$$ for this project as possible, in order to minimize the impact to our local commuters — that is where she should be most focused if she is really wanting to “serve” our District. Her north county constituents/commuters are going to be tolled — more than they might have to be — because she isn’t working to get more $$$ for this Interstate Project.
If I lived in Battle Ground, La Center or other north County locations, I would be incensed that JHB is paying more attention to light rail in downtown Vancouver than to working toward more federal funding the freeway improvements and bridge crossing for those in their cars/trucks.
Instead, she wants to divert to a conversation about a vote on light rail. In doing so, she continues a disingenuous messaging to her constituents that this is somehow an “up or down” vote on LRT and the CRC Project. Of course, those who have been able to track the project and progress for years now are well aware that a vote is only for an ask of sales tax increase for Operations and Maintenance of Light Rail.
In 2008, it was decided — after hundreds of meetings, millions in study work, and volumes of public input — that light rail transit was an integral piece of the CRC project. She continues to disrespect and ignore the NEPA process and the input of residents of her District, and the representation of local elected officials.
Commissioner Stuart was cordial in his response to her office today, via email. He asked their office to respond with what additional factual information is necessary for her to actually take a legitimate position on the project — pro or con. That was generous of the Commissioner. Fact is that JHB and her Staff have had numerous meetings with WSDOT and other participants in the CRC to provide information and answer questions. There has been plenty of Q&A. Now, our District needs leadership — one way or the other.
It’s truly a sad state of affairs when infrastructure investment — replacement of a bridge that is nearly 100 years old, interchanges that are dangerous, and connection into billions of dollars of public transit in our region — has become a joker card in a dangerous game of political poker that our Representative is playing.”