Steve Novick’s Gas Tax is “Regressive and Unnecessary” Says Fred Stewart, “I see a pattern.”

 

05LgColor

 

 

Steve Novick’s Gas Tax is “Regressive and Unnecessary”

Says Fred Stewart, “I see a pattern.”

 

Fred Stewart, candidate for City Council, announced today his opposition to the ten-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax proposed by Steve Novick, his opponent in the primary election on May 17.

Stewart said, “The time is long past due for the City of Portland to adopt a ‘Fix it First’ approach to our city streets.”

“The truth is,” Stewart asserted, “that Commissioner Novick has demonstrated a less-than-common-sense approach to maintenance of our city streets. He is, after all, charged with running the Portland Bureau of Transportation. The Bureau has a budget of $325 million in the current fiscal year. The Bureau has 750 employees, including 95 engineers, and a personnel budget of $50 million. Yet, despite this huge operation and budget, Novick has budgeted only $8 million this year for repaving city streets. Common sense dictates that the City re-prioritize the budget to ‘Fix It First’ before we consider any kind of tax increase.”

Stewart added that, “Steve Novick has been looking for more money for transportation projects by saying the City couldn’t afford to catch up on its repairs because it has under-spent on repairs in past years. But the truth is, in the three years that Novick has run the Bureau, he has chosen to under-spend on repairs when he clearly didn’t have to do so, given the size of the Bureau budget.”

“Moreover,” Stewart said, “Novick spent a couple of years promoting his regressive street fee to give us more transportation money for pet projects like the freight projects on Columbia Blvd. and on the South Waterfront, each of which are priced at $10 million. He didn’t even plan to take his big new street fee to Portland’s voters, but the rest of City Council wouldn’t go along with him. And then he waited in hopes that the State Legislature would fill the City’s transportation coffers, which, of course, it didn’t do.”

“I see the gas tax and the street fee as extensions of the same failed policy–trying to fund our street repairs without first addressing how we allocate our existing funds. Like the street fee, the gas tax is regressive and unnecessary. And it’s guaranteed to be passed on to Portland consumers and small businesses.”

Stewart further remarked, “I would point out that, of the additional $64 million this Novick gas tax will provide over four years, some $28 million would not be spent on maintenance, but on more of his pet projects so he could raise more campaign money from the building trades and highway contractors.”

“I see a pattern,” Stewart added. “This gasoline tax will hurt the locally-owned Portland gas stations because many of the users of our city streets will choose to buy gas outside of the city limits in order to avoid the tax. This is just like the back-room meeting Novick engineered to pay his boss, Mark Wiener, for lobbying for Uber, a multi-billion-dollar corporation. This deal hurt the locally-owned taxi cab companies and their drivers, just as the gas tax will hurt our gas stations and truck stops.”

“When Portlanders go the polls,” Stewart said, “they need to remember what Steve Novick said when his street fee proposal was challenged. He said, and I quote, ‘If people don’t like what I do, they can vote me out.’ That may just be the best idea he’s had yet.”

 

Donate to Fred Stewart for Portland City Council

 

Portland Youth Bureau

 

05LgColor

 

My Thoughts on Providing Better Opportunities for Portland’s Youth

 

My plan to help at-risk kids get the after-school enrichment they need is one with roots that go back many decades. In this case, we should learn from our past as we prepare to address our future.

When we look at making our City safer and more equitable, we must consider the opportunities we provide for our youth. For 40 years, wealth and privilege have played too strong a role in determining the extracurricular pursuits of Portland’s children and teenagers. This is not just unfair, but deleterious. Kids with nothing to do are at a higher risk for dropping out of high school, pregnancy, drug use, and gang membership. As they suffer from these predicaments, society suffers as it struggles to help get them back on their feet.What the City of Portland must do is to reestablish a dedicated bureau tasked with promoting the health, welfare, and enrichment of Portland’s youth between the ages of 8 and 18. I say “reestablish,” because not only is there national precedent for such a bureau, but one also existed in Portland 40 years ago. Going without it has been to our detriment, particularly in an age when street gangs have proliferated and grown more violent and better armed.

A new Youth Bureau, run in partnership with the Bureau of Parks & Recreation and local nonprofits, would encourage and administer after-school programs for interested students. These programs would be diverse and plentiful: sports leagues, chess clubs, theater, dance troupes, arts classes, computer clubs, and language classes, to name a few. Everyone has interests, and the Youth Bureau can work to entice students to chase their curiosities and develop themselves physically, intellectually, and creatively. These programs would serve as motivation for students to work harder at school and would end “pay to play” for good. With an extra reason to do well in school in place, Portland’s students would not only live healthier, more positive lives outside of school, but would be driven to excel within the classroom, as well.

I propose that this Youth Bureau work alongside the Bureau of Parks & Recreation because it needs to be ideologically separate from the justice system and organizationally separate from the school system. Students must not be made to feel like they are being monitored by police, kept in extracurriculars solely to keep them out of trouble. Instead, they should be encouraged to take pride in their achievements and instructed by people without ulterior motives, even if those motives are positive, overall. Likewise, this Youth Bureau would be separate from the Portland Public Schools system so that it could be maintained independently of the state and county, and so that it could continue year-round, without having to accommodate the needs of the academic calendar. These activities should not be held hostage to the convoluted politics of the school system.

Some people might claim that Portland has better things to spend taxpayer dollars on than football, camping trips, crafts supplies, and costumes. Yet the cost of not engaging our youth is even higher. Day camp is cheaper than jail, and coaches are cheaper than cops.

If elected, I will help focus Portland’s efforts on its young people before they become a matter of law enforcement. We need to stop our current policy of neglecting our youth until they start to pose a problem. If we do not show interest in them, gang members, eager to recruit new blood, will. A well-run Youth Bureau is not only a matter of giving children and teenagers a better quality of life and education, but also a matter of public safety. Therefore, I will dedicate the same zeal to enriching these kids’ lives that I will to protecting Portlanders from crime

Donate to Fred Stewart for Portland City Council

I have Been Snubbed!

 

05LgColor

 

 

To my dismay, I will not be attending the Portland City Club’s Candidates Forum for Arts and Culture tomorrow at Portland’s historic Armory. It appears to me that people with my background are not welcome at this event.

The organizers had little use for a candidate like me, raised in Portland and already deeply involved in my community, and the format of the event shows their lack of interest in serious policy discussions. Rather than engage all candidates for a longer forum, which could help get as many ideas on artistic and cultural issues out as possible, the few people actually invited will be mostly limited to sound-bites over the course of the 90 minute event.

Portland’s vibrant artistic and cultural currents are of great importance to me and I look forward to discussing them with anybody who wants to hear my perspective and share their own with me.

Link to the Candidates Forum for Arts and Culture: http://www.pdxcityclub.org/calendar_day.asp?date=1/26/2016&event=373

 

 

Fred Stewart
fred@fredpdx.com

Donate to the Fred Stewart for Portland City Council Campaign

A Portland Story

05LgColor

 

 

Fred Stewart remembers how it used to be in the city where he grew up and spent his entire life. Back in “the old days” there was a stronger sense of community engagement and community support for one’s neighbors and friends. That’s what Fred Stewart wants to help foster when he’s elected to the Portland City Council in 2016!        

People connected more with their city government in years back. And City Hall was open to their ideas, their plans and their hoped for aspirations for the community they were committed to living in and improving for the better.

That feeling of community engagement and warmth has slowly eroded. It’s not the same city that it used to be and I, Fred Stewart, want to bring some of that warmth back to Portland and back to City Hall.

There will always be plenty of meetings to attend for the citizens of Portland, if they are made to feel appreciated and made to feel welcome. There will always be ways to get involved but the feeling citizens used to get from their local government is not there anymore. It’s been replaced with a cold and impersonal attitude of separatism, where the elected leaders and the common citizen stand at opposite ends of the struggle. Citizens are no longer encouraged to become a part of the government that is dedicated and obligated to serve them in quite the same way that they used to, in “the old days.”

It seems that in today’s Portland certain individuals, who may have more influence, and their views are more welcome in City Hall, than the shared views and perspectives of the local people who have often lived their entire lives here. Longtime residents of Portland, (who may be from specific parts of town) or people who are not big financial donors are ignored, not listened to and made to feel they don’t matter. Their concerns and perspectives are thrown to the wayside, and they are made to feel unimportant in the political process and invisible as a result.

Lost in the ongoing discussion of the complex transportation issues, to take one contemporary example, is the long history of investment some people have made in their business and how transportation issues may impact their livelihood in the future. The reality however is that their perspectives are important, and they deserve to be listened to, by their elected leaders, not ultimately ignored.

Changing rules overnight should not be done with people past the investment’s in mind, which need to be considered. What we need to solve our future transportation problems is a level playing field so the free market can decide and make those decisions fairer to all involved.

Lost is the feeling of eager public service that connected citizens with their elected official in a relationship of gratitude, mutual support and friendly communication. Instead we in Portland have gotten a feeling of arrogance and entitlement from elected officials, many of whom have no history in our town and no real commitment to staying in Portland for the long haul.

That arrogance and disengagement on the part of elected officials pushes the everyday citizen further away from the political process and further away from the feeling that they have a say in important decisions that impact the common men and women of Portland, who are committed to staying in Portland.

City commissioners lately have been doing TO Portland, and not FOR Portland. Rarely do citizens, despite working hard through the official process, feel the final decision on important issues shows any kind of empathy or consideration for their lives, and their struggles and the realities of what survival means to them on a personal level. These issues include a livable wage, fair housing that all can afford and access to employment opportunities and education.

The solution to these complex dilemmas is to elect officials who are intimately and historically connected to their community, as I am. Although my main concern over the past couple of decades has been growing and maintaining my thriving real estate business, I have also been intensely committed to serving the people of my community in whatever ways were needed.

I served officially as a neighborhood leader, volunteer and activist in a variety of capacities, and doing a variety of things, but I also served my community in more personal ways as well. I have met and worked with people from all over Portland and I’ve developed countless friendships, community engagement networks through volunteering and other networking systems.

People who know me will tell you I could not have accomplished all that I have without being brave enough to listen to the people around me, and that means listening to Portlanders, and asking questions, also. I don’t have all the answers, no one does but I have always been smart enough to listen to the people around me, and that is the sense of connection I want to bring back to city hall. I want to adopt an open door policy where every citizen can contact me, via phone, email or in person, to discuss what matters to them and what they want from me, as a leader.

Everyone knows we can do better in transportation, urban planning, social services and much more.  I want a better, safer, fairer Portland, not a Portland encumbered by petty desires and jealousies that create plans that go nowhere and only stay on a sheet of paper.

I want to be the public servant you can count on. I may not always agree with every approach or opinion, but I am the kind of leader you can talk to. The kind of leader you can both teach and learn from, and that’s because I know how important and how positive connections can be, for all.

Let’s begin this process by promising ourselves – all of us, of all income brackets, education levels and all types of people, who populate this great city, that we can make better connections. We can create social and city connections that actually do make Portland a better place for all of us.

I am asking you to pledge your support to me, Fred Stewart, on Election Day because I have pledged my support and my dedication and loyalty to everyone in my community of Portland, Oregon. That commitment will not change. It will only grow stronger by the day, as I am able to create positive change.

Help me become the leader that Portland needs right now. A leader who has developed relationships over decades with community members and everyday citizens; a leader who cares about where this city is going and a leader who cares about preserving the elements of Portland that make it uniquely our city!

 

Help me help Portland! Pledge your support to me, Fred Stewart!