Greenwashing at Its Worst

Evan Manvel

When thinking of greenwashing one thinks of oil companies using warm-fuzzy pictures and aspirational language, or DuPont sponsoring Earth Day celebrations.

The latest example is far closer to home. It’s Tom Hughes running for the Metro Presidency, and trying hard to confuse voters about who the pro-environment candidate is.

Throughout the Metro President race, the Sierra Club and OLCV have endorsed a single candidate: Bob Stacey.

It's not surprising - Stacey has dedicated his life to making Oregon a better place to live, including running 1000 Friends of Oregon for several years, building and helping pass Measure 49, and linking land use and transportation decisions with their climate impacts.

Sadly, Tom Hughes is working to pull the wool over many people's eyes, mainly by referring to endorsements from several years ago when he ran for mayor (endorsements the Willamette Week cited, while being mum on the current OLCV endorsement for Stacey).

As detailed at OLCV’s blog, Hughes has been invoking OLCV’s name in his voters’ pamphlet statement and in a mailer, and at candidate forums. His ads talk about protecting family farms and open spaces.

Hughes’ positions and money trail tell a completely different story. Hughes has been calling for greater expansions of the urban growth boundary, has been paid to lobby for developers, and is getting big money from development and anti-environment interests.

Developers have given Hughes over $100,000 in this race. Stimson Lumber – the second-biggest backer of Chris Dudley and a past six-figure backer of the anti-land use Oregonians In Action PAC - has weighed in with $5000 for Hughes. And the PAC of Rep. Matt Wingard – one of the worst anti-environment legislators - has also contributed to Hughes.

The choice is clear: if you support preserving Oregon’s environment, protecting our world-class farmland, keeping an effective urban growth boundary, and promoting responsible transportation choices, vote for Bob Stacey.

As a side note, Stacey has also been endorsed by Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Governor John Kitzhaber, Governor Barbara Roberts, and Clackamas County Chair Lynn Peterson.

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    I appreciate the post. It reinforced my decision to vote for Tom Hughes. Not that he is my ideal candidate, but I don't get to choose between good and bad, only between fair and horrible.

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        To be fair, that's kind of a shaky "false" by Politifact. They had to pull a quote from eight years ago from Hughes to get there...

        The stuff Hughes is saying now vs what he was saying then looks different to me.

        I'd be absolutely thrilled to get a commitment from Tom to work first with what we have before pushing outward--like we have with Stacey. I'd also love to see that same commitment from Tom to keep the area north of Council Creek and a good chunk of the urban reserves around Evergreen out of the UGB.

        Hughes' articulation around 3-4 (others have told me he's said 7-9 to them) 100 acre ADDITIONAL parcels in WaCo is just unacceptable, IMO. That's what I was told directly by Hughes..and nothing Politifact has here changes this.

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    It's just possible that Stimson and Wingard are contributing more against Stacey than for Hughes. Kinda in the same vein as Ken's comment.

    I've noticed that Stacey seems to be a pretty rigid ideologue without much interest in hearing out the various interested constituencies that might be stakeholders in a given policy argument. This would follow naturally from a guy that's mostly been involved in pure play advocacy and has not had to deal with real world give and take that comes with holding elective office.

    So, while Stacy never held elective office, Huges did, and as Evan didn't quite mention, was indeed endorsed by the OLCV twice in the past. This time around, the Greens have one of their won running, and their endorsement is a surprise of the Dog Bites Man variety.

    I'm real suspicious of the Pure in Heart, if their purity is tied to deafness. This leads to gridlock and further polarization.

    Gimme Tom Hughes any day. I want a guy with both a progressive record and a record of accomplishment in the real world. He's got a good solid record that's on display, and if he doesn't show an adequate hatred for developers, he's hardly alone in that POV.

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      Bob's got a lifetime of experience working in elected offices and finding solutions. He's worked for Congressman Blumenauer, Governor Roberts, and for the City of Portland, TriMet, and in private law practice.

      I don't understand your assertion that advocates don't deal with give and take all the time. Stacey worked to build Measure 49, which a majority of legislators and the vast majority of Oregonians supported - across the state. Voters hate to revote on issues, but in essence, they did, and Bob helped build something that the vast majority of voters supported, even though it changed a measure they voted on recently.

      In designing that, compromises were made. Yet Stacey raised hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions to pass the measure. Hardly the sign of a person who can't work with others.

      I want someone who'll hold true to his values, while finding solutions that can work.

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      "Gimme Tom Hughes any day. I want a guy with both a progressive record and a record of accomplishment in the real world."

      Bending over backwards to pave prime farmland and create sweetheart deals for the development lobby is hardly "progressive."

      If you want someone who will actually stand up and fight for our quality of life, including protecting the environment, farmland, and the reductions in greenhouse emissions that compact development creates, there's only one choice, Bob Stacy.

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    Looking at endorsements outside the context of a specific race can be misleading. I have seen champions of a cause not get endorsed by a group because they did not stand a chance to be elected, and I have seen mediocre candidates (in terms of issue advocacy) be endorsed because their opponent was far worse. (Or maybe they were running unopposed, and while their record was not very good, they had the potential of being decent advocates if elected.)

    I suspect that the OLCV endorsement was of this latter category, a weak supporter that might have potential. The OIA $5000 contribution is probably also similar, he was probably rather weak for advocating OIA's positions while in office, but he is running against someone that OIA really does not like.

    Personally, I think that Hughes has a weak record on many issues that I care about, but it could have been worse. I did not care for him as my mayor, and I am not going to vote for him for Metro.

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    I really have to challenge the concept that this is "Greenwashing at its worst". I could understand that statement if you were actually talking about an anti-environment candidate, but I know enough about the candidates to know that Hughes is certainly not anti-environment. For me, "Greenwashing at its worst" brings to mind corporate public affairs efforts to convince people that they are doing good things to clean up the environment, while at the same time ignoring environmental regulations that apply to them. Recognize and accept the fact that we actually have two very good candidates running for Metro President, not one good and one evil.

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      Fair enough. I've heard some decent things about Hughes, think he's personable and he's not James Watt.

      What's particularly egregious about this example is how Hughes is using repeatedly and intentionally invoking a group's name in association with him when the group has endorsed his opponent.

      Apparently it's confusing voters, and probably some of OLCV's members, into thinking that OLCV supports Hughes.

      Using platitudes about the environment is one thing. Using a specific group's name - when their stamp of endorsement is designed to cut through the hype and be trusted - is what makes me think of this as greenwashing at its worst.

      And that those interests who have fought against Oregon's environmental protections are funding his campaign.

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    I have worked with both candidates and know them both to have the public interest at heart.

    However, both Mr. Manvel and Bob Stacey should know that these arguments don't hold water.

    After all, Bob Stacey competed for the very same endorsements that he is now hitting Tom Hughes on.

    In addition, hasn't Bob Stacey ALSO taken money from developers? Check his C&Es.

    I wouldn't suggest that this means that Bob is in anyone's pocket. I know that -- just like with Tom Hughes -- these contributions represent support, not obligation.

    In addition, hitting Tom Hughes on wanting to expand the UGB is a HUGE out-of-context misrepresentation. Here's an example:

    The OLCV blog says:

    "In May, when asked by the Hillsboro Argus about development, Hughes said "I kind of hope we don't [have enough land in urban reserves]..."

    However, that discussion was in the context of job projections. The story actually said:

    "Still, he thinks the urban reserves designations earlier this year were too conservative — not in terms of land for jobs, but in terms of the jobs projected. "I kind of hope we don't [have enough land in urban reserves] because that projects a job growth that is not very robust," he said."

    So that ellipsis was actually very relevant. Hughes was not lamenting the UGB, but the associated job projections.

    Hughes has been very public about supporting Metro's current recommendations.

    Disclaimer: I have done contract work for the Hughes campaign, although I am not on staff.

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      The whole 20-year better stare into your crystal ball or else requirement from the lege was a giant I Love You present from our reps and senators (GOP at the time, if memory serves, though it often doesn't!) to the development industry. Bob Stacy knows this. Hughes seems to think it's all well and good, and, while we're at it, let's pave over a little more prime farmland while we're at it, just to be on the safe side?

      No thanks.

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        A troubling prediction, to be sure.

        But saying "Hughes seems to think..." and then speculating on his thoughts isn't a very intellectually honest evaluation, is it?

        The point of my comment was to show that the concerns about Hughes are seriously out of context. Farm owners that I've spoken with are more than comfortable with Hughes' record and actively supportive.

        (OK, lunch break ending, so no more replies from me for a while.)

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          I don't know which "farm owners" you're talking with--but I've spoken to quite a few of them in Washington County (where Hughes is from) who were part of the urban and rural reserves process. Far and away, those that support preserving farm land and careful growth are ardently supporting Bob Stacey.

          Many of my good political friends are supporting Hughes. He's supported a lot of good progressives for office and helped them out along the way--and for that he deserves their loyalty. I don't grudge them this whatsoever. But on policy--the better choice by far, in my opinion, is Stacey.

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      I interviewed Tom Hughes myself on this, Mike.

      He told me that Washington County needs 3-4 more 100 acre parcels ready to go immediately in order to draw in the "next Intel or Nike or Genentech.."

      This within the context of thousands and thousands of square feet of empty industrial and commercial space available in Washington County. Not to mention the fact that the downtown core of Hillsboro has so much available space that one of the County Commission candidates was able to get campaign space as an in-kind donation. Why? There's so much availability that the owner can't rent it out. It's maddening.

      The current recommendations by Metro for Washington County are awful and the process for Washington County reserves was truly pathetic for those of us who live here. Its frustrating and irritating that you're using this as a reason to support Hughes.

      Frankly, its a reason to NOT vote for him, in my view.

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        Carla- You interviewed Tom early in the reserves process. Both he and Bob now support the current recommendations, including the 300 acres proposed by Michael Jordan so that issue is certainly not a reason to vote against Hughes.

        Don't take my word, watch the WW endorsement video. The UGB discussion including these very attacks come in at about 24 minutes.

        We may have "thousands" of empty industrial or commercial, but that isnt the same as large acre sites. Tom will still tell you that having only 2 hundred acre sites makes the region less competitive for large manufacturing anchors than cities that can show a company 7-10 opportunities. That doesnt mean he's going to blow the UGB, he wouldn't have the power regardless. It does mean the region may be less competitive for new large, employers. That's just the facts.

        But its not gloom and doom- Another thing you will see on the WW video is when the interviewers try to corner Bob into saying land use laws hurt economic development (right at the beginning)- Tom backs Bob up that there are a lot of other factors- most of which are perception rather than reality.

        Tom is a lifelong Democrat who supports progressive values and it's a shame these attacks funded by OLCV are taking resources away from other important races.

        Proud member of Team Hughes campaign and supporter of OLCV.

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          Actually Stacy, some of these empty commercial/industrial spaces are large lot sites. Come take a ride with me along Evergreen Road or down Cornelius Pass. I'd be happy to show you. There are already several big lots at the intersection Cornelius Pass Road and Cornell Rd that Intel has been trying to unload for a quite a while (inside the UGB) and can't. The 60 acres that the City of Cornelius brought into the UGB four years ago still hasn't even been annexed, and they've got 1000 acres in the urban reserves, almost double the size of their entire town. It's ridiculous.

          We here in Washington County have been told over and over again that business needs more land--well, we've given it to them. And now many thousands of square feet of commercial and industrial real estate sits empty, especially in Hillsboro. In fact, according to some research I have here, the real estate firm Grubbs & Ellis says that the office vacancy rate for the Sunset Corridor at the end of the 2nd quarter of 2010 was 27.6%. The only higher rate in the region is Tualatin/Wilsonville at 36.1%.

          And don't even get me started on the infrastructure problems this development has created.

          We've got development coming out our ears--and very little citizen participation allowed in the process. If Mr. Hughes wants to win my vote--he can stop talking about how we can pave over farmland and start talking about how we can use the SUBSTANTIAL amount of land we've already got (especially in WaCo). Further, he can talk about how he will help address the problem of what seems to me like a very deliberate lack of citizen engagement by Washington County on urban and rural reserves.

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            Again- Bob and Tom have the same position on the reserves. Are you unhappy with Bob for supporting the current plan and Jordan's recommendation.

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              Mmm...not according to the statement on them in the Oregonian:


              Tom is clearly saying that any changes made my DLCD should be "minor". Both Tom and Bob are saying that the process shouldn't be scrapped (which I agree with) but Bob is pretty clear that the counties should have to take whatever changes are recommended by DLCD and implement them.

              This doesn't look to me the same at all.

              You must understand that I'm coming at this from having watched and participated in this process for quite some time. I'm pretty good at sussing out the keywords.

              Jordan's recommendation was not what was passed by Metro, fyi. So if Tom agrees with Jordan, he doesn't agree with the current urban reserves for Washington County.


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              In addition, I know that Bob has been outspoken against the current Washington County urban reserves in the area north of Council Creek in Cornelius. This is in direct opposition to the current urban and rural reserves map.

              If Tom has made that same assertion, then I've missed it and would very much appreciate seeing it.

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      To be fair, the last five you listed don't. They care about whatever is specifically tied to their narrowly represented interests, for better or for worst. And WW is a newspaper.

      But I'm troubled by Bob's lack of truthtelling. He tells me he's from 1000 Friends, but I was just on his Facebook page...and he only has 342! I mean, did he think we wouldn't check??

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    Isn't it fair to say that environmentalists have "narrowly represented interests?"

    I mean, don't we all?

    I think any board or council that's dealing with both development and environmental issues should have equal representation from both sides. Too many environmentalists or too many developers isn't healthy in my opinion.

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      Thank you, Tom, for joining here in this venue to discuss the issues and the campaign.

      Regardless of where one stands, I think we can all agree on this: The next 14 days can't come soon enough!

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      Tom - I truly appreciate your response. Generally classy, folksy, and not extreme, reflecting who I think you generally are.

      You not-so-subtly laced your response by implying the Stacey campaign - rather than me - was the one pointing out where your money was coming from and your basic stances for more land inside the UGB, rather than less. Just so everyone's clear - it's my work, not coordinated with anyone. I don't work for Stacey or OLCV.

      As a voter, when faced with such general statements as "I have a history of balancing jobs and the environment," I want to see evidence of that. I've seen that sort of statement from everyone from George Bush to Robert Kennedy.

      When I see platitudes, I have to go beyond them. I look to: (a) voting records and other records of achievement; (b) who is endorsing in the current race; (c) who is backing their endorsement with substantial funds and whether I agree with those folks.

      There's not a huge voting record, though you're on record as generally supporting the polluting MegaBridge and more lands inside the urban growth boundary instead of less.

      OLCV and the Sierra Club, Governor Roberts and Governor Kitzhaber all support Stacey, as do many socially responsible businesses.

      A large chunk of your money comes from people who support weakening our environmental laws and Chris Dudley as Governor, as well as some money from those who support Matt Wingard as a state representative. In comparison, Stacey's money is coming from people who want to address the climate crisis and support our environmental laws. While we'd all like to believe there's not much difference between the candidates, monied interests see a very significant difference.

      Hence, I wanted to clarify:

      (a) OLCV has endorsed and is working to elect Bob Stacey

      (b) the monied interests of developers are generally backing you, while environmental interests are backing Stacey

      That doesn't make you a bad guy, or the enemy. It makes it clear where I want to vote.

      And yes, after the election, when the voters have spoken, I hope we can work together again.

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        You have lost all credible with blathering rhetoric like "supporting the polluting MegaBridge".

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          Funny, because frankly, that's peaked my interest. I know I should check my voters' pamphlet, but I'm curious: what ARE the candidates' positions on the current CRC proposal? What, if any, are their alternative proposals? Who else supports these ideas, and why?

          Carla has very clearly articulated the difference between the candidates in a way that makes Bob Stacy the clear choice, in my view. But the CRC is a huge deal. Mitchell, it is a "polluting MegaBridge"--$4 billion of sprawl subsidies from you and me, increasing green-house gas emissions and doing nothing--NOTHING--to relieve congestion. (The best it would do is move it.) Puh-leez.

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            The dubious claims that the "mega-bridge" will increase pollution do not even pass that laugh test. It is will relive the choke point congestion due to the current bridge and on ramp configuration, and expand use of both bicycle and mass-transit across the Columbia.

            Anyone who seriously buys into the "mega-bridge" will increase pollution arguments forfeit any claims to have said arguments on the merits of the CRC taken seriously.

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              There are smarter, cheaper alternatives - that address the on-ramp challenge and the bike and transit connections - than the MegaBridge.

              But this isn't mainly a post about the MegaBridge. Let's talk more about it post-election.

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              I probably shouldn't weigh in without having done my homework, but don't we have an EIS that shows an increase in vehicle miles traveled as well as greenhouse gas emissions for the 12-lane proposal?

              If nothing else, we could certainly increase bicycle AND mass-transit across the Columbia without also encouraging single-occupant commuting. Right?

              Bottom line: Why would we want to make a 50+ year investment that's so skewed to the kinds of transportation that we know are a disaster, in terms of climate change, development, pollution and energy independence?

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        Evan- Hmmm... your post used the polled points in Bob Stacey's negative commercial and OLCV's hit mail and referenced a poorly-researched blog post on OLCV's website that was sourced by Bob's campaign (We know because a reporter shared those same quotes with us that the Stacey campaign had provide to them also).

        I guess the fact your post was exactly the same message is what led Tom to believe it was connected...must just be a coincidence.

        While your post may not be "coordinated"- it was predictable (note Tom's ad on the top of this page purchased last week).

        It's kind of funny that Tom is supposedly the "big business" candidate- but it's his opponent who has the large special interest donors and checks in the tens of thousands. It's not Tom's campaign running misleading negative ads and using fear.

        Maybe it's easy to criticize Tom for endorsements- but Bob also tried to get them- Bob tried to get the developers and the business community- he attended all the PAC interviews- he went to the homebuilders and the realtors and the building trades unions- he told them what they wanted to hear, he even told some of them along the way he supported the CRC, even the WW.

        Tom doesnt just make things up to suit his audience. He can say "I have a history of balancing jobs and the environment" because has done it. Tom actually has a record of managing the fifth largest city in the state- he served on Hillsboro's city council, on the planning commission for 15 years and as Mayor for 8. Tom is the only one in the race who has been elected to office, successfully led an organization of comparable size and budget, led a council, and yes, managed a UGB while creating thousands of jobs. That's why the union workers at Metro endorsed Tom- they trust him to manage.

        Hillsboro has led the state in job creation and the state would be even worse off in revenue if they hadn't.

        With the issues our state is facing right now, so many people out of work, state revenues falling, school budgets squeezed, we need more jobs and Tom is the one who has experience doing it.

        Those of you who know me, know I like to work for candidates who motivate people to vote their hope, not their fear. That's why I am proud to work for Tom- win or lose the man has integrity, AND he's one of the funniest people I have met in a long time. If you haven't seen his new video, check it out.

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          On this we can agree: Tom definitely should be included in future comedy events in the region!

          I'm confused by this statement: "it's his opponent who has the large special interest donors and checks in the tens of thousands. It's not Tom's campaign running misleading negative ads and using fear."

          In one sentence, you make up some bogeyman (unnamed) and tie Stacey to it. Then you claim it's not your campaign using misleading negatives and fear.

          If you have specific donors you think demonstrate something about the candidates, name names. That's what I did - I named two specific names - Stimson Lumber and Matt Wingard - as well as a collective category of donors, that concern me. Using "special interests" doesn't really provide any information.

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            I was pretty clear- Bob is the opponent who is taking big checks and running misleading ads based on fear.

            I was trying to be polite and not name call- but Bob's three biggest donors are OLCV- spending tens of thousands on hit mail pieces to use against someone who isnt an enemy- probably money given to them by the other big donor- Eric Lemelson who has given $78,500 and has now surpassed Loren Parks as Oregon's biggest giver, and John Gray who gave $35,000- the developer of Sunriver- the resort that wants to be a real town- talk about sprawl!

            You seem to believe that if someone gives a contribution that an obligation exists to tow their line- I dont agree with that, but since you do, you must believe that Eric Lemelson has 314 times more power with Bob that the $250 check Wingard wrote Tom. I notice you didnt mention that Tom got 10k from AFSCME and 1500k from Governor Kulongoski? You only picked the donors to inflate "fear factor" that fit your thesis.

            Either they are both influenced by who gives them money, or neither are. I believe these are both good men who can't be bought so it's silly for you to imply.

            Attacking Tom as a business lobbyist- I understand it polls well, but OLCV has as one of their board members works for the same firm and same clients as Tom- so they can't be that bad.

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              That's exactly right - Bob's biggest supporters are:

              (1) the state's leading political environmental organization;

              (2) the state's leading progressive donor who's dedicated to fighting climate change and promoting good land use planning; and

              (3) a businessman and philanthropist who was one of the original advisory board members of 1000 Friends of Oregon, dedicated to implementing Senate Bill 100 and McCall's vision.

              How are these "special interest donors"?

              I agree the candidates are both good men. And I agree they can't "be bought." And I don't think they have to toe the line of their donors' beliefs.

              However, regardless of how much additional influence we believe donors have once someone is elected, this much is clear: the interests who are supporting Hughes are imagining their interests will be better served by Hughes, and the same is true of Stacey.

              Given that, I'd invite anyone to compare the two contributor lists on line and draw their own conclusions.

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      Agreed. I say this as someone with a Stacey sign on my lawn. I had the chance to talk with and hear from Tom Hughes at a regular event I attend which often has candidates come and speak with (Thirster's). While I have cast my support behind Stacey, I see this as one of the few races this cycle that no matter who wins, we will have a good President of Metro.

      This post does nothing but diminish Stacey's campaign in my eyes.

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      Like I said upthread, Tom is a guy who has supported progressives and a lot of my very good political friends endorse him. I agree that its unfair to paint him as some anti-enviro boogeyman. I don't think that's the case.

      That said, I have very serious reservations about Tom's land use vision for the region. Whether for good or for bad, I have spent more hours that I care to admit studying this stuff. Washington County simply can't afford (both for taxpayers who have to foot the bill for infrastructure and the chewing up of the best farmland in Oregon) to not look to what we have already developed first. We can't simply rely on the next Intel or Genentech or Nike. We need to make Washington County a place where small business can thrive.

      I'm deeply concerned about Tom's land use priorities.

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    Tom Hughes is backed by corporate lobbying groups the Home Builders Association, the same pro-sprawl group that has endorsed Chris Dudley. Enough said.

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      Please Hart! You have posted the same comment on 4 or 5 blogs now and I'm just wondering if you get paid by the word or the post? Fear-based politics of personal destruction are so yesterday!

      Tom is also backed by the Governor, Brad Avakian, AFSCME, ArtPac, farmers, Dave Hunt, Tina Kotek, Tobias Read, Chuck Riley, environmentalists, small business owners, and progressives across the region (even Carla admitted that).

      Some of Tom's donors don't like Bob, that's true- but where are they going to go- there isnt a Republican in the race. They see Tom as the only one with a chance of getting the economy moving because he's the only one who has actually created jobs.

      And if you want to talk scale, Bob has received more money from one donor who doesnt even live in Metro (does he want to add Yamhill to Metro?) than Tom's top 10 donors combined.

      I'm sure it polls well, but get a new talking point.

      Proud to work for a great progressive like Tom Hughes.

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    I think the bottom line is that Stacey is dedicated to infill, Hughes is not. When land is needed, Hughes would give them the farmland because the other land had not been prepared. That is a small, subtle and significant difference. There is also Hughes' history which shows ongoing antagonism with land use restrictions and Metro when it impinged on Hughes' idea of what was best for Washington County. Finally there is the birds of a feather argument, including the fact that Hughes is at Tonkin Torp where some of the most god-awful schemes have been cooked up, e.g. the Langdon Farm to Klamath Casino deal. All in all, I thought Stacey was the only safe candidate if a voter is absolutely committed to keeping foundational farmland as foundational farmland. Whether someone has a zippy personality is not all that important to me, although when I heard the two candidates I did not think Hughes was all that personable, BTW. (My ballot is already in.)

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