Tom Potter wants to spend almost a million dollars to conduct "visioning" sessions. Ok, let's get this straight.... Portland still is chasing business away, unemployment still way above the norm, traffic is worse than ever, the city budget is so bad that they want to tax cell phones, and what does Potter propose? The "Community Visioning Project!
So he's going to convene a series of public forums where he will "engage the community to create a shared vision for Portland's future, 30 years from now and beyond."
A shared vision? He knows there is no such thing. There is no consensus "vision" as to how Portland should grow. There are vigorously competing views, and political processes decide which view wins. For decades now, the central planners (the auto hating, choo-choo loving, congestion creating, density dealing, bike boogiers) have dominated the political process.
They've had their way. Their policies have been winning. That's why we have the N/S light rail even though voters said no. That's why Highway 26 is still two lanes each way, as it was 30 years ago when Washington County had about half as many people in it. That's why the economy is Portland is so bad, while the rest of the nation is on the upswing. That's why we have tax-abated $300 per sqauare foot condos. That's why we'er bleeding millions of dollars out of schools, fire departments and police to line the pockets of favored developers.
Folks like me who think Oregon's land use policies make us uncompetitive, and who think it is absurd to invest the lion's share of transportation dollars in a rail system only 3% will use, and who know that high taxes drive productive people out - we've been losing. We are not a majority in Portland or Multnomah County.
Our vision lost in the Portland political arena. OK, I get that, and although I am of the opinion that the victors are ruining the city I grew up in and love, I'm a big boy. They won.
So why the "visioning"? Why does Potter want to pretend that there is some consensus vision, and that by asking the "public" there will be revealed some true north that all people can rally around heading toward?
We've all seen how it works. They convene public outreach sessions, dominated by people of the prevailing vision (new urban, auto-hostile, light rail friendly). Anybody with an opposing viewpoint is barely tolerated, and their views certainly have no impact on the proceedings.
They gather in large rooms, yammer on and on, then separate into "breakout groups," to yammer some more, then report back to the full group to tell everyone what they yammered about, while a scribe furiously writes down the various "results" on butcher paper hanging on the walls.
And those "results" are then selectively complied into the "summary of proceedings" and we have our "Vision."
It's a farce. There is no such thing as a shared vision that reflects everybody's views. Anybody who pretends there is should not be taken seriously.
It is simply a way to claim some kind of legitimacy to the policies that they want to shove down our throats - "sustainability," "smart-growth," "new urbanism" or whatever name for their nonsense is currently in vogue.
Don't buy it.