Sunday, December 14, 2008

Vancouver Working Group

As the Columbia River Crossing project continues to progress, the City of Vancouver and CTRAN have the 'say so' in the design of light rail transit north of the Columbia River. Specific issues such as the alignment, design of stops and transit centers, and design of park and ride facilities, are under consideration. To this end, both the City and CTRAN Staff collaborated to create a citizen/stakeholder advisory group, known as the Vancouver Working Group. The purpose of this group is to learn of and consider options for the issues noted above. This group of citizens/stakeholders will provide feedback to the Vancouver City Council and CTRAN Board of Directors. Those bodies will consider the feedback from the Vancouver Working Group, as decisions are made in the Project Sponsors Council (Leavitt for CTRAN, Pollard for City of Vancouver).

I've had some back-and-forth dialogue with one citizen (Bob) who is in disagreement with how the Vancouver Working Group (VWG) was formulated. Bob believes the members of the VWG should have been interviewed in a formal process like other City boards/commissions.

The following is a copy of our discourse:

Jesus Christ Tim! Does it not bother you at all that this just popped up on Columbia Crossing Project stationary??!! You should really try and take off the City Council hat and try to see this stuff from my point of view. Just how in the hell does this group advise City Council objectively about anything to do with the Columbia crossing Project?? Since when does the Columbia Crossing project run City Council!! Stuipd question, that last one... !!

Hey Bob --- Last night at CTRAN we received a presentation from Staff and the Consultant hired to shepherd the process with this Vancouver Working Group. The group has been put together to provide to: 1) Learn more about the light rail options (e.g., alignment and loading/offloading), and potential impacts/opportunities for downtown, and 2) Provide input and feedback about preferred options to the CRC, City of Vancouver and CTRAN. Then, the City and CTRAN will consider that feedback as each body deliberates about some of the details. It appears that the participants identified have varying degrees of support for light rail, although, they will not be asked whether or not they support light rail. That question has passed. Now, it's a matter of what works best for the community, neighborhoods and businesses affected by this project. tim

Tim; So am I to understand that you have no problem with the fact that Matt Ransom all but lied to City Council Monday, when he claimed that the Transportation Department had appointed this "group", when in fact this is really an offshoot of the Columbia Crossing Project Office?? Do you recall anything I have said to you over the past 2 years about Bold Leadership, Integrity, Clear Communications, et al?? Are you completely blind to the way this looks on this side of the City Council's podium?? You really need to go review the CVTV video of the Workshop from Monday, and listen to what was actually said before you comment too much further... Tim, do you recall the controversy over in Portland this year, about the re-naming of Interstate Avenue for Caesar Chavez? A lot of people were pissed off the most because the entire process that City Council had set up was ignored in order to favor some special interest group. That is exactly what I see going on here. The City of Vancouver, under Mayor Royce Pollard, has found a way to get light rail endorsed in this town, without ever taking the issue before the voters. And you are endorsing his efforts to date?? Your votes prove that you largely do, and your words today prove it again. City Council has chartered a wide variety of Boards and Commissions in order to advise Council on things like the amount of City Council's Paychecks. I submit that the City's involvement in the Columbia Crossing Project is at least as important as the paycheck we give you and the rest of Council, and deserves a properly appointed Citizen's review council; NOT what we have with the "Vancouver Working group". I say it again Tim, these policies will come back to haunt City Council some day, when we finally get the Federal Transit and Transportation people in here to judge for themselves what has been going on. And Jeanne Stewart is absolutely must come to the voters some day for this in order to get the money to operate and maintain it. Good luck selling that in light of how the process has worked to date. Bob

Hey Bob -- I think you might be reading more into this than there is….there's no conspiracy going on with this matter.Just engaging stakeholders to help identify the best approach to building high capacity transit within the parameters of the locally preferred alternative. As part of the public outreach and engagement, the CRC suggested that the City and CTRAN Staff collaborate to identify the list of citizens of our community to participate in the Working Group. In fact, several of the members are known to been quite vocal about their opposition to light rail transit. The CRC is involved because they are funding the effort to engage in the citizens! As we heard last night at CTRAN, the group was formulated with specific intention to get differing opinions about how LRT could work in downtown and to Clark College. Nothing more, nothing less. I'm at a loss as to what you are reading into this effort as a negative to the project and the community.If you would like to participate in the Working Group, I will drop a note with Staff and it will happen… What a debacle the City of Portland created, with renaming of several streets in the City. My votes on recent issues are both supportive and in opposition to Royce (and other councilmembers).I think there are some of those that you agree with me and some that you don't. But to suggest that I have fully supported what Royce is simply incorrect. IN FACT, if you review the council decision on the locally preferred alternative, you will see that I motioned to remove all reference to accepting tolling as a funding mechanism. The entire council, with exception of the MAYOR, supported my position. He had the nerve to say to the entire community, "Tolls should be accepted". I disagreed and the council supported me. For the record, Jeanne Stewart is 'right' about the need to come to the voters for operating and maintenance monies for high capacity transit, but Bob, that has been a known, and accepted fact from the start by everybody involved. In fact, at CTRAN we (again, under my leadership as Chair of the Board), emphasized that CTRAN won't ask voters for capital $$$ to build LRT, and would ask voters for operations and maintenance. Jeanne isn't saying anything new nor anything that isn't already understood and expected by the rest of us! tim

Tim this is not about conspiracies, it is about open Public meetings, and the way the City of Vancouver goes about seeting them up. The City has an established process for forming these groups. The City has violated this process at least twice in the past month alone. That is the core issue at hand here, and putting me on a committee in violation of accepted procedures solves nothing else either! I will seek my remedies elsewhere. B

I think I see now where you're going…

However, there is a bit of misunderstanding here.
There is indeed an established process for appointing members to established boards and commissions that serve at the pleasure of the city council….like the Planning Commission, the Parking Advisory Board, etc.

But, there are many other advisory groups that are created to provide feedback to the council that aren't city-recognized and established (as in historical) advisory boards.
For example, I have personally participated in advisory boards/groups like: Development Review Fees Stakeholders Group (prior to being on Council), Haagen Park Master Plan Citizens Advisory, Pacific Park Master Citizens Advisory, Critical Areas Ordinance Advisory Group (as a Planning Commissioner), etc.
There is no specific protocol or requirements the City or City Staff must follow to create these citizen input groups. The 'Vancouver Working Group' is the same thing…
So, there is no violation of any accepted procedures and you participating is no violation either.

If there's are any legit criticisms to such groups like the 'Vancouver Working Group', it is:
A) The City or City Staff have 'stacked the deck' to favor a pre-determined outcome.
B) The City or City Staff had a pre-determined outcome before forming the group, and are simply jumping through hoops with the 'working group' to 'check the box'.
I think those are legitimate concerns to be expressed anytime a group is formed.
However, in this case, as I mentioned previously…the makeup of this group appears to be pretty balanced with both supporters and skeptics of LRT.

In any event…enough on this. I hope this makes sense now Bob. I have no reason or desire to give you any misdirection, misleading information or spin. I am all about facts and data…that is my personal inclination and driven in by my engineering background. Fact is, I'm not that good at political schmoozing and 'wheeling and dealing' because I'd rather deal with factual reality. On this matter, I'm simply trying to give you the whole picture so there's a better and correct understanding of what the working group is. You want to be more informed of what's going on in our community than most, and I appreciate that and am willing to assist in that. I've given you the facts on this issue and you can chose to do with them what you will…


1 comment:

Debbie Peterson said...

Tim, I have to disagree with you re: the composition of the Vancouver Working Group. Are you aware that 13 of the 22 members are signed sponsors to the Columbia River Crossing Coalition? I have attended every meeting, and I have to say, it is disturbing to me. First of all, only 10 minutes is allowed for public comment (5% of the total meeting time). When I requested emails of the VWG volunteers, a CRC represented emailed back and said that injunctions may be taking place. I emailed, asking who and what was involved with the injunctions, especially since I assumed these people had been given CRC public access emails. Funniest thing, the next day I received an email from CRC with a list of the VWG private emails. Today, I emailed the VWG group, and within a few hours, a Vancouver City Employee who is also a VWG volunteer, asked to be removed from the email list. Does this group really represent people from Vancouver? I don't think so. Why do I say that? Because Tom Mielke's December, 2007 survey sample of 500 Clark County residents gave a 70/30 split opposing light rail. Less than a month ago, another survey resulted with the same figures for all of Clark County. We should have at least a 50/50 split on that VWG group. We do not. I have talked to each one of these people, and I can tell, you, Tim,with the exception of one person, no one wants to talk to me re:light rail research facts. It is absolutely shocking to me how closed minded 21 of 22 are. Also, I haven't seen you at any of these meetings? Why not? You would obtain a real education at why everyday private citizens are so disenfranchised with politicians and government. One more thing. When you talk about a vote - I am surprised. Evidently you haven't kept up to speed on our illustrious senator from the 49th. Mr. Pridemore has decided that democracy doesn't work here, in the 49th, and so, has sponsored a gerrymeandering bill that will subdivide the district, creating a more concentrated light rail-friendly voting block. C-Tran, with you as chair, will determine which subdistrict gets to vote on this important, far reaching, financially impacting issue.
Debbie Peterson