By Craig Stephens
Smoke must be coming out of County Commission Chair John Ludlow’s ears as he realizes the fundamental contradiction with his own arguments, like a computer imploding in a sci-fi movie when dealing with an internal contradiction of logic.
In an opinion piece in the Nov. 21 Oregonian, Ludlow says that Clackamas County has the highest median family income and highest percentage of high school-educated residents. And yet it lacks jobs compared to other counties, forcing workers into long commutes to get to work.
Ludlow proposes that this trend will continue, and soon there will be a shortage of land for industrial use. However, he is in a position to understand why Clackamas remains unpopular for industry to move in; there is no effort to improve internal transportation or participate in regional planning because he and Commissioner Tootie Smith have staked their flag on making sure that does not happen. Commissioner Jim Bernard, who is running against Ludlow for the Chair’s position, has been at pains to point out that the problem of continually criticizing Metro and regional partners is that our county will inevitably be left out of critical conversations that would lead to jobs and economic gain for the county.
Now Ludlow has posted an idea on Facebook for wasting money on an outrageous expansion of the urban reserve for additional industrial sites. This is to accommodate non-existent industry jobs that are not being attracted to Clackamas County — some might say because of his repulsive shenanigans in office. He says this idea was based on bringing jobs back to Clackamas County for those commuting to “PDX and Washington.” A sort of “let’s put lipstick on it and hope no one notices it is a pig” approach to placating wealthy developers with taxpayer money.
The demographics of Washington and Clackamas County are very similar. Clackamas has almost exactly the same median income per family as Washington County. But obviously we in Clackamas must spend more of our money on commuting individually. And speaking of commuting to work, and the roads we use to do it, Ludlow has acknowledged that there is a huge annual budget shortfall in Clackamas County for basic road maintenance while steadfastly doing nothing about fixing the problem. After trumpeting the county’s refusal of a $5 annual vehicle tax increase for the Sellwood bridge, he appears reluctant to suggest a similar method to fund the much needed repairs for county roads.
Significantly, the Clackamas County Commission under Ludlow has maintained strong resistance to any long term planning with the regional partners such as Metro. This sends a signal: “Closed for Business, Go Elsewhere.” Washington County, on the other hand, embraced Metro’s planning concepts and worked with business and industry to build family jobs far into the future. The Metro slogan is “Building a Better Future.” Ludlow’s slogan sounds more like “Building a Better Future for Wealthy Developers at the Cost of Billions of Dollars from Taxpayers Who Are Forced to Pay For Infrastructure Development Across a Major River While Commuting to Jobs Elsewhere.”