Portland is a PR machine for light rail & streetcar
Here are Some Facts About Portland Oregon
How Planners Keep the Public Out of Meaningful Input
This memo from the planners on the Colombia River Crossing planners details how to
make it look like they are listening to the public (with proper public meetings and
input), while actually ignoring them!
Columbia River Crossing: Project Sponsors Council Roles and Responsibilities (Draft
TO: Jay Lyman/CRC
COPIES: Amy Echols/CRC
FROM: Marcy Schwartz/CRC
DATE: October 15, 2005
In the first meeting of the Project Sponsors Council (PSC) it is important for
the members to develop an understanding of their roles and responsibilities in relation
to other groups participating in the project. This is especially significant because
the agencies represented on the PSC are involved in many other project-related activities
and there is a large potential for overlap and inefficiency if these distinctions
are not established at the outset. I have summarized my thoughts and suggestions
below to initiate discussion. It is in the Project Development Team’s (PDT) interest
to come to agreement on its preferences concerning the PSC as soon as possible so
the appropriate presentation can be developed and so we can “work” the issues with
individual PSC members in advance of the meeting.
As I see it, the PSC is a decision making body. It is expected to make the following
decisions during the course of the project:
• Approval of the Problem Definition
• Approval of the Evaluation Framework
• Approval of the range of alternatives
• Approval of the alternatives to be considered in the EIS
• Approval of the locally preferred alternative
The approval of the locally preferred alternative by the PSC would trigger individual
agency public hearings. Each elected official body (Board of Directors, Commission,
City Council, and so on) would take action, presumably to endorse the locally preferred
alternative recommended by the PSC. The PSC members would be entrusted to make the
other decisions on behalf of their fellow elected officials with no need for public
hearings or individual agency endorsements.
At each decision point, the PDT would disseminate a briefing packet ten days
in advance of the meeting containing the following information:
• The PDT’s recommendation
• The Task Force recommendation
• A summary of public comment
• A summary of agency comment. I am assuming the concurrence points (formal
or informal) of the joint regulatory review group would precede the PSC decision
points, but this bears more thought and discussion with Jeff and Heather. It seems
risky to me to have the PSC decide something, only to discover that the joint agency
group disagrees or wants a different wording of the document.
I assume that each PSC member would be briefed in advance of the decision meetings
senior staff of their organizations. Senior staff is responsible for providing
information and responding to questions. It is expected that each of the PSC
meetings would result in a decision with no need for extended deliberations in
meetings. This approach would require extensive coordination among PDT members
prior to the meetings.
The decision meetings would be open to the public, but only minimum legal notices
would be provided and no display advertising would be placed. We would not encourage
public participation. The Task Force chairs would be expected to attend and respond
to PSC questions concerning the Task Force recommendations. Task Force members would
be made award of the meetings. Meeting notes would be prepared and posted on the
Beyond these formal decisions, the PSC may want to consider interim items---component
identification and evaluation, initial alternative descriptions, funding options
to be included in the alternatives, and so on. I feel such meetings can be scheduled,
but should be kept to a minimum and not scheduled on a regular basis. Staff members
from each of these organizations are actively participating in the PDT, in the working
groups, and in the Regional Partners Group (RPG). Indeed, several of the PSC members
also sit on the Task Force where these items are discussed in detail. The organizations
have ample opportunities to influence the direction and content of the work that
will ultimately be presented to the PSC. If individual PDC members desire more detailed
information on the progress of the project, they can consult one-on-one with their
senior staff members. Again, the PDT should manage the “care and feeding” of individual
PSC members to ensure they have the required level and frequency of information.
Non-decision meetings should be treated as opportunities for the PSC members
to advise the PDT on key issues. No “official” decisions should be made at the meetings.
No public notice would be provided and Task Force participation would not be sought.
Meeting notes would be prepared but not posted on the website (the same as RPG and
working group meeting notes).
I look forward to discussion of these items. Let me know if I can modify this
information to support presentation and discussion among the Project Directors and
other team members.