In the Forest Rd. Grant Game, Molalla holds a DUMMY HAND!

“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.” – Thomas Jefferson

(I’d add “the care of natural resources” to Jefferson’s statement – he didn’t know what a mess places like Molalla would make of the environment!)

“But after six years of disdainful, irresponsible spending, we don’t need a CPA to tell us that the public’s reservoir of trust in this project, and the voters’ confidence in its boosters, have been utterly depleted.– Steve Duin, The Oregonian

It’s always funny to check the garbage “plans” endorsed by TEAM and the City of Molalla against facts. Yesterday, Steve Duin of the Oregonian wrote a great opinion column (posted below) about the “rat hole” Columbia River Crossing bridge project that is eating public money with no results in sight. Just like “process” in “rat hole” Molalla’s past history, the consultants and engineers get rich while the public gets poorer and nothing get done.

And then there is the Forest Rd boondoggle – maybe Duin would like to profile another “rat hole” just to show it can and does happen all over Oregon: public money for NOTHING is the ongoing theme in Molalla!

Since yesterday’s post, in discussions with ODOT, Oregon’s Division of State Lands and with Clay  Glasgow (the planner at Clackamas County who  will thankfully soon be the PROFESSIONAL PLANNER for Molalla in the Contract that will be endorsed by the Board of County Commissioners tomorrow), I learned more facts that will serve to shoot the insane Forest Road feasibility study grant out of the water.

Who needs a grant when it is easy to prove up front this crappy Forest Rd bypass idea ISN’T FEASIBLE? We, the taxpayers, won’t pay for garbage that eats time and fills the pockets of consultants and engineers (who, I fear, might be chosen, horrors of horrors, by the City of Molalla – can anyone smell the rotting pork barrel?).

Fact one: Molalla recently gave up on a grant to fix Toliver Rd/213 with turn lanes, a stop light and sidewalks because the years of engineering and traffic studies proved the project would be a million and a half dollars instead of the first projected half a million. In either case, Molalla would ONLY have needed 20% matching funds. Molalla – ha, ha, ha! – couldn’t come up with the $300,000 matching funds needed so the only folks who got a benefit from that bogus”project” were the consultants and the PUBLIC PAID THE BILL!

Fact two: The cost of that failed Toliver/213 project ballooned, per ODOT, because of wetlands in the area. I contacted State Lands and got a link to the official 2004 wetlands map for Molalla. Guess what? The circa 40’s or 50’s Forest Rd route (currently only 20 foot wide paved and built before anyone had a clue what “wetlands” meant) goes almost entirely through WETLANDS?

So if the cost of  a half a million dollar project tripled because of wetlands, just imagine what the cost overage to mitigate wetlands to widen and build a several mile long truck route would be – including needed pedestrian and bicycle features.

Take the tens of millions needed for a road length through dry fields and TRIPLE THAT! Pretty hilarious, right, that a broke city that couldn’t come up with $300,000 in matching funds thinks “deciders” will look kindly on a tens of MILLIONS OF DOLLARS project that involves wetland mitigation most of the route. See the map for yourself, with all its wetlands glory and understand that State, County and Federal laws are VERY RIGID when it comes to altering or impacting wetlands:

http://docs.dsl.state.or.us/PublicReview/0/doc/863312/Electronic.aspx

A local landowner filled Bear Creek area wetlands without permission and ended up paying $11,000 to restore the wetlands.

And fact three: It has escaped City “leaders”, (who apparently still believe the bullshit coming out of their soon to be axed fake “planner”) is that much of the Forest Rd is surrounded by County controlled exception lands. There is NO expectation  that any or all of the current exception lands south of the city are going to be in the city limits. And the city has ZERO control over those lands.

Per professional planner Glasgow, exception land designation does NOT mean on hold to go into the city – it was a designation of lands that were too carved up in small lots to be called farm or forest.

So fake ridiculous “planner” has his head up you know where yet again!

I have now pointed out to the County that it looks like the Forest Rd would need to be a JOINT PROJECT between Molalla and the County.

LOL on that one, folks! The County knows better than to propose wetland impact projects with an almost broke city that is facing growing and demonstrable community opposition in times when there are zero funds to maintain roads we already have!

Clackamas County just mothballed a road project through habitat and wetlands in the face of huge public outcry.

Clackamas County is HONEST about the dire lack of funding to maintain current County roads.

Unlike Molalla, Clackamas County listens to the public with great interest and looks at all the facts before it leaps.

Here’s a couple of maps from the Molalla archives that clearly show that the Forest Rd is either fully surrounded by or adjoins County land for much of its route (beware, though, because failed manager and fake planner had their mitts on the production of these maps, which clearly have some gaps between them regarding what’s “in” the city or not. I guess we have to wait for new, honest, competent professionals for maps that show EXACTLY what is in or out of exception lands):

http://www.molallaplanning.com/Manuals/Proposed%20Molalla%20Urban%20Renewal%20%20District%20Boundary/September%202007%20Map.PDF

http://www.molallaplanning.com/Long%20Range%20Planning/County%20Version/Molalla%20URA%20Map%204-%20Inc%20Soils.pdf

Let’s hope that once the fake “planner” packs his bags and cleans out his desk and the failed “I work for  the good old boys” creepy manager drives his fancy red car off into the sunset to his real home somewhere else in a month of so, new leaders and realistic planning will end the need for vitriol and endless research to counter Molalla absurdities.

Till then, the FACTS will keep marching on so Molalla can’t continue to inflict taxpayers with the waste of public money in rat holes to Nowhereville that sit gathering dust like the Toliver/213 project or –  even worse! – like the long predicted to FAIL urban reserves that the Council forced us to drag through the FINAL DENY finish line. YUCK!

In a footnote, when I told the ODOT rep I had read the City of Sandy’s excellent website and noted that Sandy proposes great quality of life projects in scale with its ability to complete the projects, she said “But Sandy is MUCH larger than Molalla.”.

I have to confess I took some glee in pointing out to her that Sandy is only a little more than a 1,000 people larger than Molalla. The REAL DIFFERENCE between the cities is that Sandy only proposes and bites off projects in scale with its ability to implement the projects and Sandy has System Development Charges in place.That’s what a COMPETENT AND ETHICAL CITY DOES! That’s called REALITY!

Evidently Sandy hasn’t been a Kingdom of Incompetent Nepotism like Molalla.

I’d even go out on a limb and guess that leaders in Sandy actually use their brains to dig deep to understand issues before they would allow a fake planner, a mayor who thinks he is King, a greedy gang called TEAM that just sees citizens as wallets and a failed “I work for the good old boys” manager dictate policy. It is called RESEARCH before a vote.

I’d venture to guess that Sandy’s leaders have a great respect for the public money they are entrusted to protect! I wonder if Sandy would come over and have a seminar on how COMPETENT AND ETHICAL cities are run?

And now, on a larger public waste scale, here’s the Columbia River Crossing story by Steve Duin from the Oregonian:

In the Columbia River Crossing bridge game, we’re the dummies

Nancy Boyd isn’t seeing red. After reviewing the $130 million that has already disappeared down the rat hole, the Columbia River Crossing‘s new director notes, “I don’t see any red flags on what’s been spent.”

Seriously?

Because the CRC could not find a qualified “traffic consultant” in the Portland metro area, the empire builders hired David Parisi of Mill Valley, Calif., and paid $19,200 to help cover rent on his Pearl District apartment. Parisi’s consulting company — which doesn’t have a working website — has billed CRC more than $1.4 million.

No red flag?

Shortly after EnviroIssues hired communications director Linda Mullen away from the Washington State Department of Transportation in 2006, EnviroIssues was graced with a PR contract for the bridge project. The firm’s billings for this public-relations disaster now top $5 million.

No apologies?

At the behest of the Oregon Department of Transportation, the CRC hired Tom Markgraf, a former aide for Rep. Earl Blumenauer, and paid him more than $1 million to chaperone public hearings and schmooze the body politic over four years. Eventually, lo and behold, Markgraf’s son, Peter, was also drawing a CRC paycheck.

C’mon, Ms. Boyd: Not even the hint of a blush?

In The Sunday Oregonian, reporter Jeff Manning laid out, with his usual clarity, the fatuous finances of the CRC, a $3.6 billion train wreck whose promoters appear oblivious to the recession, regrets or reality checks.

The current balance sheet is telling. When Govs. Ted Kulongoski and Chris Gregoire gave their DOTs a blank check, abdicating further leadership or restraint, the CRC evolved into a chummy fraternity of transit groupies.

No one had incentive to save money. As is so often the case with ODOT, no one is accountable, much less disciplined, for runaway costs.

And no one at CRC is sheepish about any of this. Heck, they all insist they’re doing God’s work.

For what it’s worth, I’m a huge fan of infrastructure. I believe future generations in Portland will be especially thankful for every mile of track that was set down when federal transit funds were still available, and that includes the ongoing $1.5 light-rail expansion to Milwaukie.

But the Columbia River Crossing, as conceived, is built on fatally flawed assumptions about traffic patterns, congestion relief (the gridlock at the Rose Quarter will only grow worse) and available funding.

And the run-up to construction has been marked by the arrogance and greed of engineers, consultants and urban planners who want us to believe they’re doing us a favor as they enrich themselves and their liberal (in this case, at least) friends.

Boyd told Manning she considers the $130 million spent to date “reasonable” because the tab is less than four percent of the $3.6 billion price tag.

That she still believes a $3.6 billion project is possible is a troubling sign.

That Boyd has finally requested an internal audit is more encouraging. But after six years of disdainful, irresponsible spending, we don’t need a CPA to tell us that the public’s reservoir of trust in this project, and the voters’ confidence in its boosters, have been utterly depleted.

Steve Duin

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