In an editorial yesterday, the Oregonian urged Clackamas County Commissioners to carry through on $20 million to fund plans already made with TriMet for light rail lines even though voters clearly said (60% to 40%) last September that they wanted no funding to go to rail projects without voter approval.
The Oregonian editors explain:
The public debate immediately centered on whether Measure 3-401 applied retroactively to, say, a MAX line heading into Milwaukie. It flared further when John Ludlow and Tootie Smith in November won positions on the county commission having waged anti-rail campaigns.But, the editors think the voters' decision to spend no more money without specific voter approval should apply not to future money spent, but to future plans made because the $20 million is "a done deal".
Measure 3-401, in our view, can only apply to projects going forward, and even then it may prove problematic on federal lines that could cross Clackamas County, such as high-speed rail between Seattle and Eugene. For now, however, Clackamas County taxpayers should not have to bear the frivolous legal costs of their commissioners duking it out with TriMet over a done deal.Compare this to the Oregonian editors ongoing pleas for the Oregon State legislature to "reform" promises made to PERS recipients. For some reason PERS promises and plans are not "a done deal" so they can be reformed. But Clackamas County plans with TriMet are set in cement and therefore cannot be reformed.
In the most recent of a series of editorials urging changes in PERS funding the editors suggest "thorough" reforms even though they will certainly meet stiff legal challenges.
Devlin and Buckley use the play-it-safe argument to justify their watered-down reform effort, and they may be right. The reforms they seek may, indeed, have a better chance of surviving the inevitable court challenge than some elements of the OSBA package. At this point, however, it's all guess work. Nobody knows what the Supreme Court will condone and what it will nix. So why not be thoroughCompare that to Oregonian handwringing over "frivolous legal costs" to taxpayers if Clackamas County doesn't pony up the $20 million to TriMet.
Apparently legal costs are only frivolous if the editors decide they are. Light rail legal costs are bad. PERS legal costs are good. So Clackamas commissioners should try to avoid legal costs and state legislators should not worry at all about legal costs. Go figure.