Today's no-brainer Yes vote, and the eight who voted No.

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Today's no-brainer Yes vote, and the eight who voted No.

Down at the Lege, there are usually three kinds of issues - ones that break down along partisan lines, ones that create big divides but not partisan ones, and no-brainers.

Replacing the Sellwood Bridge is a no-brainer. After all, on the federal 0 to 100 bridge safety scale - where 100 is perfectly safe - the Sellwood Bridge scores a 2. That's not a typo. That's not a failing grade. That's a disaster waiting to happen. I don't know about you, but I avoid driving over it as much as possible - and when I do drive it, I'm thinking ahead about how I might escape should the bridge collapse and my car lands in the water.

Like I said, it's a no-brainer.

Which is why it's so bizarre that there were eight votes against HB 2179 on the House floor today. Fifty legislators voted in favor (including 21 Republicans), and eight were against. Even more bizarre is the rundown of which eight legislators voted against.

Five of the eight represent Clackamas County residents. The very folks who use the Sellwood Bridge. (70% of all trips across the Sellwood start or end in Clackamas County - as it is the only Willamette crossing between the Ross Island and the Oregon City bridge.)

The five Clackamas County no votes were from Reps. Vic Gilliam (R-Molalla), Mark Johnson (R-Hood River), Julie Parrish (R-West Linn), Patrick Sheehan (R-Clackamas), and Matt Wingard (R-Wilsonville). [Johnson's district includes a wide swath of eastern Clackamas County, including Damascus, Sandy, and Estacada.] The other three no votes were Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte), Sherrie Sprenger (R-Scio), and Jim Weidner (R-Yamhill).

It should have been a no-brainer for all eight - but especially the Clackamas Five.

Now, why would these legislators vote no? Well, the only organized opposition to the Sellwood project is coming from a small - but noisy - cabal of Tea Party activists in Clackamas County. They are apparently so enthusiastic about being part of a national anti-tax movement that they've decided to oppose even a basic $5/year car registration fee to pay for replacing the Sellwood Bridge.

Did I mention that the bridge scored a 2 on a scale of 0 to 100 for bridge safety? Five bucks doesn't buy much in this world, but in Clackamas County, five bucks is going to save lives. Like I said, it's a no-brainer.

One more thing: HB 2179 wasn't even a tax measure or a funding measure for the bridge project. It was a technical fix that makes sure that if Clackamas County voters approve the $5/yr fee, that those funds can actually be used to pay off the bonds issued to fund the project. In other words, this bill makes sure that if the Sellwood funding measure passes, the voters' wishes will be followed. According to the bill summary (pdf), there's "no revenue impact" and "minimal fiscal impact". Like I said, it's a no-brainer.

One of the big questions in Salem (and in Washington DC) has been this: With the Tea Party ascendant inside the Republican Party, which legislators will follow their radical anti-government lead - and which ones will be mainstream conservatives, committed to their values but willing to engage in discussions about constructive solutions?

HB 2179 is one bit of evidence. Given a choice between a no-brainer that is a technical fix, respects the voters' wishes, and helps replace a bridge that is a danger to local residents - and allegiance to the Tea Party's "shut it down!" ideology - here's eight legislators that chose the latter.

Which legislators will be at the top of my personal replacement list?

That's a no-brainer.

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      John, I agree. But I do want to give credit to the 21 Rs that voted Yes on this bill. At least, they recognized a no-brainer when it was presented to them.

      The other 8? Unbelievable.

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        Sometimes I think you Libs are just willfully obtuse or just a-holes. I seem to remember a lot of people on this blog complaining about the bridge to Vancouver that, if expanded, would allow people to get home and spend more time with their families but somehow you all thought it was wrong.

        If some lefty voted against the Sellwood bridge because of the impending Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail line you'd be praising him.

        I think the only no-brainer here is you.

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          Sometimes I think you Libs are just willfully obtuse or just a-holes

          Well nobody could honestly accuse you of being overly self-aware. Who said irony was dead?

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          Huge difference between CRC and Sellwood.

          No comparison.

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            I just made the comparison and it is an apt one. You all talk about public transport as being a part of the CRC as well as cost etc. etc. ad nauseum. BUT when it comes to the Sellwood bridge the thought of paying for it and the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail line doesn't seem wasteful and foolhardy? I'm really trying to see this through your own prism and your logic comes up wanting.

            Instead though you prove you are willfully obtuse by skimming over these implications and responding like a wretched teen with "no comparison." Again who is the no-brainer?

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              You made the comparison yes...but its clear that "apt" has nothing to do with it.

              The CRC is a long, slow, problematic mess that has been riddled with design flaws, huge consultant fees and an upticking budget. It's also a project that crosses state jurisdictions adding considerable layers of complexity. Further, the Interstate Bridge isn't imminently ready to fall into the river, unlike the Sellwood.

              The Sellwood Bridge has no such design and cost issues. The vast majority of it's use comes from Clackamas County:70%.

              "No-brainer" indeed. Clackamas County needs to pay for this bridge.

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                Further, the Interstate Bridge isn't imminently ready to fall into the river, unlike the Sellwood.

                Say it with me, John.

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                  Let me try to make this as simple as possible for you all to understand. If the Sellwood Bridge is dangerous they should close it. Since money is tight and they are building a bicycle and mass transit bridge that will go to Milwaukee it would seem that by your perspective that the Sellwood bridge should simply be removed. Wouldn't it follow that with the Lake Oswego trolley that most of that traffic would be rerouted to more eco-friendly mass transit? This is how I would envision what would make good public policy from a liberal perspective. What do I have wrong?

                  From my more fiscally conservative/libertarian perspective, I believe that the Sellwood Bridge would be a great candidate for a toll-bridge, especially if there is a mass transit/bike bridge coming on its heels in a few years.

                  Otherwise, I was showing you how I thought that the Republican's from Clackamas were just as stupid as the fools that continually cry about improving the CRC. If you had read my posts instead of projecting on them, you might have detected the subtle way I was shifting perspectives and likening what I believe are two foolish groups of hysterics condemning projects without offering real solutions in their stead. This is why I found your article wanting because it didn't even examine the mass transit options that your people have been championing for that same area. I just thought it should be obvious.

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                    Even more simple.

                    Was the bridge that collapsed in Wisconsin a few years back rated a 57 on the same scale (0-100) in which Sellwood is rated a 2, or not?

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                    This is how I would envision what would make good public policy from a liberal perspective.

                    I think this is where your caricature of the "liberal perspective" is at odds with reality.

                    1. A bike and transit bridge alone isn't good enough.

                    2. People in Milwaukie can't get to downtown Portland (or Beaverton) by taking the L.O. streetcar.

                    Sorry, but even the "liberal perspective" acknowledges that cars need to be one of the many options offered.

                    Go back to watching Fox News now, OK? You'll feel better soon.

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          Sometimes I think you conservatives are unable grasp reasoning that requires more then one step. If one bridge project is worthwhile, than all bridge projects are worthwhile, eh? Are you also unable to distinguish between the danger of flames in a fireplace and flames in your pants? Obama's birth certificate, climate change, supply-side economics: there is no end to the gullibility of conservatives. I wonder if low intelligence, poorly educated people are drawn to conservatism, or if conservatives voluntarily fry their reasoning processes in order to fit in.

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            Both parties seem to have their fools, witness the above response that has almost nothing to do with anything on this page.

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              Yes, foolishness from both sides:

              Democrats - 10% foolishness Republicans - 90% foolishness laced with selfishness, lack of compassion, racism, sexism and militarism.

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    Full disclosure: My firm built the Yes on 3-372 website. I speak only for myself.

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    Great column Kari. This is about as much as a "no brainer" vote as you can get. Imagine 2 on a scale of 100, you almost think people would be required to sign a safety waiver to cross over.

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    Bridge hyperbole is running loose again!

    Of course the Sellwood Bridge issue is not as black and white as you make it out to be. The oft-repeated assertion that 70% of Sellwood crossings involve Clackamas county is from a study over 10 years old, with methodology shown to be dubious. Even the Oregonian found it faulty.

    As to bridge deficiency that is also more nuanced:

    Q. What is a "structurally deficient"bridge?

    A. Structurally deficient means there are elements of the bridge that need to be monitored and/or repaired. The fact that a bridge is "structurally deficient" does not imply that it is likely to collapse or that it is unsafe. It means the bridge must be monitored, inspected and repaired/replaced at an appropriate time to maintain its structural integrity.

    (Explained quite well at )

    Based on the past history of, oh the last 10 or 12 projects that Portland and Multnomah County have run, there is little to no chance that this one would be done on time and on budget.

    I actually have no problem with turning the Sellwood bridge into a toll bridge. I have little reason to use it now and would visit Portland even less if it was a toll bridge to get there. I no longer go to areas of Portland that have parking meters, and I would likely never use a toll bridge either. I'll just stay in Clackamas County and wave at you all.

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      As someone in Multnomah County, we will thank you for such a moratorium should you actually do it.

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      I do believe that the bridge that collapsed in Minnesota was a 57. Sellwood is a 2.

      You can spin all you want. Bottom line: it ain't a safe bridge and needs replacing.

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      Per your quoted definition, the "appropriate time" to replace the Sellwood bridge has definitively arrived. You could argue it should have been sooner, and probably would have been had it not been for the fact that it is owned by Multnomah County but heavily used by drivers from Clackamas County and the city of Portland specifically within Multnomah Co. Getting tripartite funding agreement has been a big sticking point. Meanwhile as much monitoring and repair as possible has been done, but unstable grounding of the west end of the bridge means the the fundamental problems are not remediable in such ways, or at least not at a cost which would not be better used to build a better bridge, that would solve a number of problems related to narrowness, bridge access, and pedestrian / bicycle uses. While per your definition "structurally deficient" does not inherently mean likely to collapse, the particular structural deficiencies of the Sellwood bridge mean that it is no longer allowed to bear the weight of Tri-Met buses or heavy trucks. I.e. there are enough safety issues, identified by exactly the monitoring you mention, that the functionality of the bridge is significantly and irremediably impaired.

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    As a Clackamas County resident who occasionally uses the Sellwood Bridge (and who used it occasionally when I was a Multnomah County resident, too, but I probably use it more often now), I always feel like I'm taking my life in my hands when I go across the Sellwood Bridge.

    Unfortunately, there really is no other way that makes sense to get from Lake Oswego to Sellwood.

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      I used to live in Westmoreland, and walking under it ten, fifteen, twenty years ago was not something you did casually. I simply don't take the Sellwood Bridge. It's worth the extra drive to the Ross Island for peace of mind.

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    I suspect the logic goes like this:

    1. The bill will pass (it's a "no brainer")

    2. There's a vocal group of idiots in my district who are railing against the project.

    3. If I vote for it, they will continue to yell at me.

    4. If I vote against it, they will shut up (at least until they find some new stupidity to latch onto).

    5. If I vote against it, it will still pass (see #1).

    Given that, it really was a "no brainer".

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      Sadly, you're probably right. If they're kowtowing to their loudest and most unreasonable constituents by making bad decisions to make the noise go away, they're just asking for more of the same bullying behavior.

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    Funny how they always find money to build things like Milwaukie Light Rail (and the brand new iconic car-less bridge to carry it over the river about one mile from the dilapidated Sellwood Bridge) but when it comes to replacing the bridge everyone knows needs to be replaced, all of a sudden they need a brand new tax to get it done.

    So after years and years of neglecting the Sellwood Bridge, and frittering billions of transportation dollars on rail, now we are told they need a new way into our pockets to bail them out of their irresponsibility.

    Forget it.

    Yes, it's a "no brainer." A very easy yes vote for those without brains.

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      So you'll vote "no" on an infrastructure project that's badly needed because you're mad about an entirely different, unrelated project?

      No wonder conservatives keep losing in Oregon.

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      Rob -- this bill was not a vote on the bridge or registration fee. It was a vote to ensure that, if you lose in fighting the fee, at least you'd have some comfort in knowing the fee was going to pay off the bond, not something entirely different. Jeesh.

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    Carla, missing the point seems to be one of your most honed skills.

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      Seems to me Carla drove directly to the point of the "reasoning" you give to try and defend the votes for not repairing a dangerous bridge which is in need of replacing.

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        Who said to vote against replacing the bridge? I would vote against the TAX. Not the same thing.

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    Whatever. I can't quite figure out if you folks are really as dense as you pretend.

    If you confuse an objection to an entirely NEW tax to pay for something that should have been dealt with long ago out of existing tax funds, but wasn't because that money was wasted on a variety of planners wet dreams and pretend that it is an objection to any tax funds at all being used for that purpose - well, arguing with you in this forum is pointless.

    But Carla, I still await the day you have the guts to have an argument in person, in studio, where it's not quite so easy to get away with intentionally avoiding the point by some idiotic drive by argument.

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      I can't speak for Carla, but I'd happily argue with you on-air.

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        Kari: I am doing Lars tomorrow. One topic will be the non coverage by the local media of the racist and profane and anti-American counterprotesters at the April 15th Tea Party rally.

        It was national news, yet a grand total of zero coverage in Oregonian, or local TV.

        Want to come on?

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      By all means..please..continue to come here and insult people. That'll win everyone over.

      You're objecting to a NEW tax. I get that. That's what we need to pay for replacing the Sellwood Bridge. You're pissy because you think previously collected tax dollars should have been used to build a pony up the evidence that the money was there and squandered. All this hot air you're blowing around is meaningless without it.

      Even if you can demonstrate money was squandered--the bridge still needs replacing. It's an integral part of the traffic system in the region--heavily used by people coming in from Clackamas (thank you, unchecked development in Happy Valley with no real plan for infrastructure...go conservatism!) Either way, it's time to pay the piper. You can do it now--before the bridge falls into the Willamette. Or wait until your hand is forced.

      Why would I bother going on the radio with a guy who shows such obvious disdain for me and my beliefs/principles? That's a fool's errand, in my opinion. You have no interest in a fair and honest discussion. You've demonstrated that here time and again.

      If or when you grow up and learn to behave yourself, maybe I'll consider it. Until then, no thank you.

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        Why would I bother going on the radio with a guy who shows such obvious disdain for me and my beliefs/principles?

        So you would only go debate someone who liked you and agreed with your beliefs and principles?

        Welcome to the echo chamber.

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          Nope. I've already debated Ross Day on Think Out Loud. It was a great experience and I'd do it again.

          Just so you don't misunderstand again, this is about your fundamental lack of interest in an honest exchange of ideas.

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