In Friday's Daily Journal of Commerce, Tyler Graf writes, "Sam Adams' road-maintenance fee continues to make political enemies. No surprises there."
Huh? Actually, there is a surprise here.
Graf is referring the plan hatched by Sam Adams and Randy Leonard to put through a road maintenance plan for Portland that breaks the intended fee into a three-part affair so it doesn't have to be referred to voters. He quotes Jason Williams of Oregon Taxpayers United, a reactionary anti-tax organization that seems to favor anarchy, closed schools, laid-off police and firefighters, and of course pothole-strewn roads, all in the name of protecting the masses from the evil specter of paying their fair share to keep our civilized society stitched together. Williams is supposed to stand as the voice of reason in this story.
Williams calls the Adams-Leonard move to stave off a referendum, which would probably be voted down because pretty much any tax measure gets voted down, "sleazy". Maybe it's sleazy like allowing the lifeblood of our economy--our public roads and infrastructure--to crumble.
Graf does point out at the end that some of Williams' points are psychotically off base. Like saying both the tram and even MAX are failures. Or that Oregon already has the highest fees for automobiles in the region when it has the lowest.
Maybe it's just me, but I think finding a way to fix Portland's roads is exactly the kind of thing we as a city should step up and do. And if city councilors like Randy Leonard and Sam Adams can find a creative way to get this deal done, then that's great. I'm all for democracy, but Oregon already has way, way, way too many initiatives referred to the voters. I expect my leaders to lead some of the time, not to patronize us with having to get a rubber stamp for the tough decisions we'll vote down if it saves us half a nickel. I doubt Adams and Leonard are making many political enemies out of this road fee, but if they are, perhaps this is the chance for the voting public to be heard without actually voting. Let's tell the naysayers that an enemy of decent roads is an enemy of ours.