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Sources Say: Propaganda, not partisanship, may be coming into play

In the increasingly heated race for U.S. Senate, Republican Monica Wehby has launched an attack against Democratic incumbent Jeff Merkley — she’s accusing him of being partisan. The Wehby campaign has launched a website that labels Merkley “The Prince of Partisanship” and claims he has voted with the other Democrats in the Senate 97 percent of the time.

That may be true, but in case Wehby hasn’t noticed, Oregonians vote Democratic, too. Although only 818,217 of the state’s 2,121,351 voters are Democrats, that’s still more than the 649,614 Republicans. And Democrats hold every statewide office and four of the five congressional seats.

That’s not a recent trend, either. The last Republican governor was Vic Atiyeh, who left office in 1987. The last Republican Oregon U.S. senator, Gordon Smith, was defeated by Merkley in 2008.

Wehby may think she’s appealing to the 653,520 unaffiliated and minor party voters in the state, but most of them apparently aren’t all that independent.

Council dropped ball on using fees

As Mayor Charlie Hales struggles to persuade Portlanders to support his proposed street fee, he inadvertently reminded everyone of one reason the City Council has allowed the roads to fall into such bad shape.

Last week Hales asked the council to approve a housekeeping resolution to update numerous out-of-date city financing policies. But one of them was a 1988 recommendation to direct 23 percent of the city’s utility license fee collections to the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

The council stopped trying to meet the recommended target well before Hales was elected mayor, choosing instead to spend the money on other programs. But if the council had met the target, PBOT would have received an additional $23 million this year — almost half the amount Hales hopes to raise with the fee that he and Commissioner Steve Novick are proposing.

The council approved the resolution 4-0 on Aug. 6. Expect to be reminded about the failure to dedicate utility fees to transportation projects between now and November, when Hales wants the council to vote on the street fee.

Bridge idea goes nowhere

When Oregon U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer held a transportation funding forum at Portland State University last week, one proposed project did not draw any support. It is the new bridge across the Columbia River east of Interstate 205 proposed by Clark County, Wash., Commissioner David Madore.

Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt called it a “bridge from nowhere to nowhere.” Vancouver City Councilor Jack Burkman asked for patience with the county. Others wondered how Madore, who opposed the failed Columbia River Crossing, could even propose the project, which has not received any of the engineering and environmental studies that went into the development of the CRC.

A nonbinding advisory vote on the project is scheduled in Clark County at the general election.