More dysfunction in the Washington County Commission

Carla Axtman

Living in a county whose government is so vastly out of step not just with its constituents but with the rest of the region is a fascinating experience. As I continue to watch Washington County government flout transparency and spurn the advances of citizens attempting to be a substantive part of the process, I wonder how much longer until things really break down. The frustration definitely bubbled over at last night's meeting.

About 23 people testified in front of the Commission, each given a 3 minute time limit (except for the Westside Economic Alliance--they always seem to get extra time...hmmmm). But all of the testimony was essentially meaningless as the Commission had made their decision before they heard any of it--and nothing anyone said in testimony mattered to them. It was a done deal before anyone even entered the room.

Dana Tims, the Oregonian:

Washington County's commissioners, in a lengthy evening session marked by high emotions among both board and audience members, approved a revamped proposal Tuesday mapping where growth should take place over the next 50 years.

The plan, hastily hammered out in recent days, represents a significant reduction in so-called undesignated lands, but maintains roughly the same total acreage that will be devoted to new residential, commercial and industrial growth.

The board voted 4-1 to approve the latest version of the plan, which was unveiled for public review less than 24 hours earlier. Commissioner Dick Schouten voted against the proposal, saying more time is not only available but needed for further study.

The need to shove this through on such a quick turnaround makes little sense. The votes to pass this same backroom deal mess will still be there after the first of the year. The only difference is, Desari Strader will be (thankfully) gone and Greg Malinowski will be in, which would make the vote 3-2 instead of 4-1.

Right now, Metro doesn't seem in the mood to approve any of the additions by Washington County.

Nick Christensen, Metro reporter:

Councilors seemed to feel that the council would support a plan that created no new urban reserves, and eliminated the proposed urban reserve north of Cornelius.

“Take out Cornelius and we’re there,” Collette said. “That would be the no-brainer, simplest way to do this. Obviously, they’re not really receptive to that.”

Councilor Carl Hosticka, who represents southern Washington County, said that would get the ball rolling on a conversation about where the boards would end up.

“That proposal would get a majority vote on this council. It would probably get a unanimous vote on this council,” he said. “At least they’re clear that that’s how we feel about the issue.”

Of course, the Metro Council changes after the first of the year. Former Hillsboro mayor Tom Hughes takes over as Chair, and Hughes was part of the original dealing in Washington County which gave his city a huge potential expansion. And as Rod Park goes off the Council and Shirley Craddick goes on, a bit of a wild card emerges until Craddick's positions become more clear.

With all this, however, the lack of substantive public process in Washington County continues, eroding citizen confidence in their government and frankly, pissing people off.

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    So, who will be running for Washington County Commissioner in 2012?

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      Good question, Jim. I suspect Dick Schouten will run for his seat again. The real wild card in this cycle will be Roy Rogers.

      Rogers is getting along in years and has served on the Commission for a very, very long time. He could very likely retire at the end of this term.

      More on Roy:

      But even if he doesn't, this would be an opportunity for a young, smart progressive to join the Commission. Rogers represents District 3: Bull Mountain, Garden Home, Metzger and the cities of Durham, Tigard, Tualatin, King City, Sherwood and a portion of Wilsonville.

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    Carla, this is a question derived from your earlier post but I think is relevant to the revised plan discussed here. Can you describe Helvetia and what is at stake there? From internet research I see that it's an unincorporated area, but what kind of potential changes are we talking about? Also, is this a "foot in the door" kind of issue -- something likely to expand at the next point of review of UGB and land use designations? If so, what would be at stake?

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