|Is this a "request" or a demand?|
At the October 23, 2018 SKATS Policy Committee meeting, the Policy Committee directed staff to draft a letter from SKATS to the Salem City Council related to Salem River Crossing. The purpose of the letter is to request that the council respond to the LUBA remand and support completion of the Salem River Crossing Final EIS.Of course the current Council has responded. By action or inaction they have said they don't believe the UGB expansion is warranted. And there is increasing sentiment that the FEIS can be completed for a "no build" alternative and satisfy all the Federal requirements.
But this letter would be written clearly to talk past all that.
It's not clear also how much of a "demand" is this "request." What is SKATS prepared to do if the City continues to say "no thanks"? Is this just a diplomatic exchange of "requests"? or is this a sign that they are prepared to ratchet up the conflict? It certainly reads as a tit-for-tat following the City's letter on Goal 7. But what force would they use to back it up? Are they going to start withholding funds on Salem projects or ranking them low in scoring and prioritizing assessments? Maybe just use the letter to rally public pressure from the "build it now" autoist expansionary camp?
Maybe you will have a better idea for how vigorously Council might have to defend its position. But certainly, Council should not be lulled by appeals to collegiality. (Also, is Cherriots prepared to do more to defend transit and non-auto mobility? Or have they caved again already? Why did Cherriots go along with the letter?)
Earlier in the year, the MPO made a show about comity and respect for individual jurisdictions:
Chair Clark said that this committee has had difficult issues to decide in the past. She thinks that what makes this MPO stand out and makes it stronger as an organization is that they find ways to reach agreement. She would hate to lose that by eliminating the unanimous process and moving to a majority vote on SKATS. She said there is a space for local jurisdictions to try things that are in the best interest of their communities, but they need to recognize that they don’t have jurisdiction over their neighboring jurisdictions. Regional planning is best done by best practice and collaboration. If a jurisdiction wants to add an overlay for greenhouse gas as part of their planning that is fine, but the city of Keizer won’t accept a resolution passed by the city of Salem as mandatory on Keizer.The asymmetry here suggests it's only supposed to work one way. That unilateral and instrumental approach to comity and fealty is certainly our National model these days, and perhaps this move should be read in alignment with that.
So this will be interesting to watch.
|Look for the historic sign|
next to the entry
This Special Meeting of the SKATS Policy Committee meets Tuesday the 13th at 11am. SKATS is at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Table Five 08.
(Comment on the TAC agenda will be in a separate note later this week.)
|At what point will the MPO recognize science?|
Remember that editorial counseling against despair and paralysis?
And all of those are reasonable and incrementally effective.
Meanwhile, the large apparatus of government power pushes in precisely the opposite direction, and at a magnitude that dwarfs personal choices made in a system whose incentive structure works against them.
The asymmetry between puny personal actions, which pricing signals, other incentives, and general social capital don't yet always support, and huge scaled-up spending programs is a very great part of the problem and central ingredient in despair.
|The start of a long letter|
More immediately, the draft letter is maybe a little more whiny than I expected, and this may be a sign of weakness rather than negotiating strength. On the surface and in tone it is "request" more than "demand." You'd think an actual demand letter would be a little more terse and not so long. Maybe this misunderstands bureaucratic courtly gesturing, and you will have a better reading of it all. But I don't read it as coming from a very powerful position, curiously.
In the letter they go in hard on the sunk cost fallacy.
|Sunk cost fallacy and no-build option|
It appears that Council may have wanted to dodge the need to say outright that they prefer the "no-build" conclusion, but it may not be possible to avoid that explicitness. The MPO and ODOT don't appear inclined to take the hint, and instead prefer an obtuseness that will flush out a more explicit statement by City Council.
|The close with autoist notions of total system|
Separately, it is interesting to note that Council's own representative at SKATS continues to subvert and work against Council's intentions and goals with a personal agenda at odds with Council direction.
As for Cherriots, which a commenter suggests "registered opposition," the agenda item says "the Policy Committee directed staff to draft a letter from SKATS." SKATS currently operates on a "consensus" model that requires unanimity. A Cherriots dissent should have vetoed any direction to staff on drafting a letter. So the Committee elicited from Cherriots sufficient assent to be able to "direct staff to draft a letter." Maybe Cherriots will vote against the letter on the 13th, but when they might have done so at the last meeting, they did not. Vigorous criticism that includes a "no" vote from Cherriots will be welcome!
Addendum 2, November 21st
Apparently the committee members themselves thought that decisions had to be unanimous, but this does not seem to be the case (see comments below, also). So that is helpful to confirm. Here are a couple of clips from the minutes on the October 23rd and November 13th meetings.
|From the minutes: Simple majorities are sometimes ok|
|Part of the Cherriots criticism|