When I asked Sam Adams why before the meeting began he said it was because it was a second reading of the ordinance. When I asked him how that could be since he had just combined the three separate ordinances and changed the language at the behest of the petroleum industry just last week, he told me that, while true, the entire time that political battle waged the one ordinance was always on the agenda. Well, the media missed it and I did too. Sam’s finagling with the rules wins again. And you, taxpayers, you lose. They voted to pass the tax.
If I’d been allowed to testify, this is what I would have said:
Good Morning, my name is Victoria Taft, I live in the City of Portland and am a radio talk show host on KPAM 860.
I’m here today as a citizen to urge you to reconsider and please say “no” to this tax today and begin looking inside the city budget for money to be able to repair roads and streets.
Commissioners say that for 15 years road repair and maintenance has been allowed to languish and now it has reached a critical mass…so you need to do something now.
I don’t doubt for a minute that the city has allowed the roads to degrade. There are some potholes out there that could swallow small children.
But let’s be clear here.
The money that previously was used for street maintenance has been spent elsewhere.
You, and the commissioners before you, chose to spend that money on other things.
Even your recent $34,000,000 surplus isn’t being used to fill any potholes or fix any roads.
You’ve chosen to spend money on—among other things– a statue in homage to a group that flouts the law every week…the Zoobombers…
You’ve had money to spend on tax abatements, subsidies, streetcars, pissoirs for drunks, paying the rent for illegal aliens, acting as a matchmaker between illegal aliens and employers who hire them illegally, gridlock inducing bike boxes, and the so called “voter owned elections” which you didn’t see fit to allow the voters to vote on.
And don’t get me started on the tram.
Now you—The city commissioners—in the guise of maintaining the streets—want to have a hand in choosing the kinds of cars we drive, how much we drive them, and –for that intrusion—stick us with a bill every month …a billing change which will cost –in your estimation—$14 million more.
Those billing costs alone would fill 200,000 potholes.
This money will be used for much more than street maintenance…it will go yet again to fund more of the city commissioners’ pet projects.
Out of a $3 billion dollar budget you’d think you’d have found a few shekels to spend on road maintenance.
Now you say you want us to trust you…that THIS time you’ll spend the money correctly.
Please say “no” to this extraordinary interference in the lives of Portlanders, please say “no” to this unprecedented tax or— at the very least…let Portlanders vote on this tax increase.
The City Council today takes up Sam Adams’ “Safe, Sound and Green Streets Proposal,” otherwise known as the CAR TAX.
If this were just another tax you might suck it up and pay it, but Sam comes after cars with both guns blazing by charging each household a monthly fee (which costs the city an additional $14,000,000.00 to do –because the tax would be added to your water bill which would now go from quarterly to monthly) with businesses being charged by the square foot and both being assessed a certain amount of car trips per month. If you drive a certain kind of car, such as a Toyota PIOUS, you’ll get a rebate, if you don’t you’ll pay more. If you take mass transit you get a rebate; if you don’t as much you’ll pay more. What does mass transit and miles per gallon have to do with road maintenance? Add to this the sister measure by Multnomah County of assessing a car registration fee and the state’s interest in increasing the gas tax and you begin to understand that this isn’t just about fixing the back log of street repairs, this is an assault on the car. It begins to make it the city and county’s business what kind of car you drive, how much, and charging you for it.
Assessing cars a use fee for using the streets is already done through gas taxes, registration fees, licensing, and DEQ.