A happy holiday story this isn’t.
In fact, this week’s Rogue, Dan Holladay, is trying to extend misguided anti-government political activity to new depths.
So how is Holladay misspending his holidays?
Trying to gin up support for a ballot initiative that would let Clackamas County voters reverse a $5 biennial auto-registration fee the county recently passed to raise money toward the county’s $22 million contribution to the $300 million cost of building a new Sellwood Bridge.
Two data points provide some context: Safety inspectors rate the 85-year-old span a two out of a possible 100 points, and a Metro traffic study found 70 percent of all trips across the bridge either begin or end in Clackamas County.
The latter finding provides a rationale for Clackamas County commissioners’ unanimous Dec. 9 vote to increase vehicle-registration fees by a little more than the price of a Happy Meal.
Soon afterward, Holladay announced he would try to gather the 6,332 signatures needed by Feb. 17 to qualify for the May ballot.
Holladay says the tax is simply backfilling money Portland Mayor Sam Adams wants to divert from the bridge project to Milwaukie light rail, and he objects to “cross-jurisdictional” payments. “We have political subdivisions in Oregon,” he adds. “Clackamas County doesn’t pay for Multnomah County’s jails.”
Holladay, an Oregon City electrician, is no political neophyte. He won election in 2003 to the Oregon City School Board and to the city commission in 1998. He has also run unsuccessfully for mayor and the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners.
As Holladay should know from his service on the school board and city council, one of the fundamental principles of democracy is shared sacrifice. That’s why everybody pays for schools and prisons, even though relatively few families use either.
Micromanaging $5 fee increases—especially those that would rebuild the only bridge between Oregon City and downtown Portland—is not what our forefathers envisioned when they created citizen access to the ballot.