When I heard Sheronne Blasi say at last Friday's City Club meeting, "I was endorsed by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters," a what the hell? alarm bell rang in my head.
Blasi is a Ward 2 candidate in the 2014 City Council race. She favors building a $400 million unneeded, unwanted, and unpaid for third bridge across the Willamette River.
The bridge would be an environmental, conservation, and land use disaster. Let us count some of the ways:
-- The west end would land outside of the urban growth boundary, so the bridge would need exceptions to four statewide land use goals, including the Willamette River Greenway.
-- It would channel traffic away from the urban core, making distant malls like Keizer Station more attractive and harming the vitality of Salem's nascent mixed use downtown.
-- The bridge would foster sprawl in west Salem while doing next-to-nothing to address mild rush hour congestion on the existing two bridges.
-- It would displace dozens of existing homes and businesses.
-- The bridge would trash the ambience of Wallace Marine Park and crush the revitalization of Edgewater Street.
-- It would expand Salem's carbon footprint considerably, hindering efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before irreversible tipping points are reached that will deeply harm humanity.
After the meeting I asked Blasi how she got the OLCV endorsement, given her support for the third bridge. She told me, "I don't know."
Well, I wanted to know. So I emailed an OLCV staffer, asking how Blasi got the organization's endorsement. I also said:
I'm still waiting for a decent answer. I did get a reply, but I was told that I couldn't share that response on my blog. So I wrote back and asked for a blog-shareable answer.
Well, i'm still looking forward to that. A friend who did some checking around on her own tells me that it looks like the local OLCV committee Ward 2 endorsement process isn't for anyone outside of the organization to know about.
It's weird that the Salem Chamber of Commerce is more open about how it makes endorsements than the Oregon League of Conservation Voters is. The questions posed to Andersen, Blasi, and Swank are on the Chamber's web site, along with their answers.
I wish OLCV was more forthcoming about why Andersen, Blasi, and Swank were considered to be equally deserving of the conservation group's endorsement.
As noted above, logically either the local OLCV committee failed to even consider the Ward 2 candidates' positions on building a third bridge -- which was the first question asked by the Salem Chamber of Commerce -- or the committee felt that it didn't matter, conservation-wise, whether a $400 million Bridgeasaurus Boondoglus tramples Salem's environment.
Bottom line: Tom Andersen and Bradd Swank are the Ward 2 candidates who deserve the vote of anyone who values sustainability, environmental protection, livability, and long-term economic success for Salem.
Saddling residents with a $400 million tax increase for an unneeded bridge is crazy, but this is what Blasi wants to do.