26-80 - The Letter Willamette Week Didn't Print

Chris Smith

Two weeks ago, in a bizarre screed against Metro, Willamette Weekend recommended a 'no' vote on Measure 26-80, the Green Spaces bond measure that would fund Metro to acquire land for future parks, trails and natural habitat; and would allow Metro to partner with local jurisdictions to build urban parks.

My friends in the campaign in support of Measure 26-80 tell me that they know of at least 20 letters-to-the-editor submitted to Willamette Week in response. To date they have printed one.

Here's my contribution to the reject pile:

I take exception to your recommendation for a “No” vote on Measure 26-80 (Metro Green Spaces Bond Measure) in last week’s issue.

While I acknowledge that voters are faced with several tax measures on the ballot, I disagree sharply with your analysis of this issue. Not only does Metro have a proven track record of getting good value for the public’s dollars from its 1995 green spaces bond measure (over 8000 acres now in public ownership), but the approach of a willing buyer acquiring critical natural resource lands from a willing seller is surely an appropriate strategy in the era of Measure 37. That some of these lands will be outside the Urban Growth Boundary only highlights Metro’s foresight. The measure will also purchase environmentally critical land within the UGB and provide funds to assist local governments in developing critically needed parks in urban areas.

The complaint that some of these lands may be taken out of agricultural production is also alarmist. I know for example, that the CSA farm my family belongs to rents its fields on Sauvie Island from Metro. Metro is a proven steward of land for a variety of uses from farming to parks to habitat protection.

Your objection to "mission creep" at Metro is also off base. Even though Metro is not a housing provider, it plays a critical role in affordable housing, including policy research, development of regional policies that are equitable across jurisdictions, and providing technical assistance to smaller cities. This is an important core function for our regional government. Metro is studying whether it might take a role in the planning of health care facilities, but has made no commitment to do so, nor decided what level of involvement, if any, it might seek. Given that health care facilities have major impacts on our economy, communities and transportation systems, I think it’s entirely appropriate for the agency tasked with regional planning to examine how it should relate to these facilities.

Your recommendation reads as a gripe about Metro, not as a reasoned policy analysis. I’m casting my ballot in favor of Measure 26-80 and encourage the rest of the citizens of the region to do the same as a prudent and proven investment for future generations.

Chris Smith

Citizen Representative, Metro Policy Advisory Committee

Comments

  • (Show?)

    To be fair, WWeek printed two letters telling them they were on crack about this endorsement. In a week that they undoubtedly received dozens of letters protesting their dozens of endorsements, it seemed pretty generous.

    Of course, they had a lot to make up for. I just thought their "cut off Metro's nose because we're mad at Metro's ears" reasoning, well, blew. It's like protesting today's school lunch menu by voting "no" on the school levy.

    Let's get together and pass the sucka.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    Remember - the Willamette Week endorsed Measure 5 and it is likelyt their endorsement made the difference in the passage of that measure in 2000. Despite their denials in one of their editorials this year "We're not idiots", the truth is they act like idiots every election year in their transparent efforts to be unpredictable and entertaining. They really don't have anything to say - just applaud when you agree, boo when you disagree and ignore them when you go to the polls.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    Of course Measure 5 passed in 1990 and Oregonians no longer go to the polls, but you get the point.

  • (Show?)

    Ross, that's a perfect description of how Willy Week operates and good advice about what to do with their endorsements. We've already addressed how the white wine set at the O comes to their more-often-than-not inexplicable conclusions.

    It brings up a question though. Is there an editorial board on any newspaper in the state where they start from at least a nominally non-partisan position that does a good job of interviewing, analyzing and making endorsements?

    Anyone have a favorite?

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    My letter was also published in WW.

    I agree with the sentiment that WW just likes to be "controversial", or whatever, by going against the grain... you know, sometimes they really bodyslam some restaurant or a local theatre production... and then some big inflated controversy ensues when the restaurant complains/takes-out-an-ad and WW "stands by" the loony reviewer.

    Btw, for anyone pushing 26-80 out there, please send me an email... I've been emailing some of the Yahoo Groups about the Measure... e.g., Portland Kayaking has something like 8000 members... getting positive response, and a great way to reach a lot of people quickly. Mentioned this to the campaign but they (as usual) didn't respond... I have a few more of those groups to target, but have no time to join/email...

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    By the way, I think that 26-80 will win by 60+%

    (P.S., Why is my "personal info" never remembered when I make comments here??)

  • alan bluehole (unverified)
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    Yes. I'm going to have free(dumb?) fries at Corbett Fish House due to WW's latest big controversy.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)
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    you know, sometimes they really bodyslam some restaurant or a local theatre production.

    In 1990, they body-slammed educational opportunities for every kid in Oregon, as well as practically every other public service in the state. And they used the same "send them a message" argument as they are with 26-80. When are they going to get sent the message that their irresponsible shennanigan's have real consequences?

  • Amanda Fritz (unverified)
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    Doretta, I found The Mercury's endorsement process by far the most thorough, meaningful, and open of any of the newspapers. Of course I am not entirely objective, because they endorsed me, but I believe their conclusions on all their recommendations show due diligence and attention to a broad range of issues and facts. And they are up front in declaring and owning their biases.

  • Jim Labbe (unverified)
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    Thanks Chris,

    Yours was one of the best, most incisive letters I saw in response to the WW editorial.

    Clearly it was too on the mark for the Willamette Week to publish.

    Thanks again,

    Jim Labbe Urban Conservationist Audubon Society of Portland

  • Harriet (unverified)
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    Newish to Portland after godawful and dangerous decade organizing pro-choice in Pensacola, FL, after 3 murders at women's clinics. People here keep pushing the WW on me, seems to have must-read "coolness" cachet? I loathe that rag, cynicism so deep and often recognizable -- even for a newcomer -- as factually insupportable. Did I mention foul disdain, superiority to others' risks and efforts, to those who dare lift a finger? WW's agenda seems to be serving as a weekly emotional support group for lazy, disinvested sophomores who step out on no limbs at all, just demand the critic's seat, the right to scoff. Not at all cool, I gather, to care, to lift a finger, respect humbly the impact ea. of us has, for good or ill, on others. The WW reads like the product of pissy 13-yr-olds mouthing last-word judgments, full of last-word certainty, perpetually disgruntled, perpetually disappointed, perpetually ripped off, insulted... oblivious to fact THEY have no clue how a human community actually works. I can't glance thru the WW w/out wanting to sentence its producers -- each -- to a decade or so, 100% on his/her own, in the Deep South.

  • anonymous (unverified)
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    The WW reads like the product of pissy 13-yr-olds mouthing last-word judgments,

    Well its not. Its the product of middle-aged hipsters trying who act like 13 year olds in an effort to identify with what they mistakenly think is the youth culture. Kind of embarassing really, but people of a certain age still see it as the alternative voice of Portland because that's what it was in the mid-1970's. Now, its kept in business by the tobacco companies' advertising.

  • Garlynn (unverified)
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    While we're ragging on Willamette Week, the self-concious rag that once published a cover featuring a bird cage and a bird taking a crap on an issue of their newspaper:

    I sent them this letter, after attempting to comment on their endorsements page on their website and realizing that my comment would never get published:

    "Dear WW,

    It really irks me that, while WW in theory "allows" comments on its website, in reality these comments are "subject to approval," and on timely pieces (like election endorsements), they are often not posted at all.

    I urge WW to make the comments on the website more like a traditional blog. That is, every comment (that doesn't have foul language, or whatever filter you'd like to use to prevent non-useful crap) gets posted. If you get 255 comments on an article, great- you know that you've hit a nerve.

    Don't stifle dissent. Please.

    If other people would like to comment on your endorsements, and disagree with them, and explain why -- let them. It's in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution for a reason -- free speech is useful. As a newspaper, an instrument of free speech, you should be encouraging it, not stifling it.

    Shame on you for stifling comments on your endorsement stories up till now. I hope that I can praise you for changing your policies & practices in time for this coming election.

    Thanks, ~Garlynn"

  • Garlynn (unverified)
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    ...of course, they didn't respond to my letter, but they did post my comment in opposition to their opposition to 26-80, so that's a start. :-)

  • Grant (unverified)
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    I wrote the second letter. (the only one filed under "yes on 26-80") I was glad they published it, but have been dismayed by how few people seem to actually read the letters to the editor.

  • Kit (unverified)
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    The WW/Metro debate it about an old feud, but the WW is wrong on this one!

  • Jill Fuglister (unverified)
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    The Coalition for a Livable Future also penned a letter taking issue with Willy Week's no vote on 26-80. Ours also landed in the reject pile.

    <h2>Vote yes on 26-80!</h2>

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