Portland Congressman to George Will: Let’s Debate

bowties.jpgWill vs. Blumenauer: Battle of the bowties.

Just when you thought George Will’s pouty, ill-informed tirade against new Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was going to stand unchallenged, here comes Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

Blumenauer, co-chief of the Congressional Bike Caucus and a Streetfilms favorite,
released a statement this morning that dares the conservative pundit to
come to Portland for a debate on sustainable urban planning and
transportation policy.

The gauntlet was first thrown via Twitter, where Blumenauer posted: "it’s LaHood that gets it. George Will doesn’t …" before following up with a sarcastic reference to the love of bowties that both men share.

So
is Will prepared to answer the call and head northwest? We’ve got a
call in to Newsweek’s spokeswoman, and will keep you posted on any
response we receive.

Meanwhile, you can read Blumenauer’s full statement to Will after the jump.

In
his article, Mr. Will proves that he is mired in a one-dimensional
past, one that the city of Portland has successfully overcome” said
Blumenauer. “He opposes policies that will provide Americans with more
choices while saving them money, creating jobs and protecting the
environment. In Portland we have been able to increase productivity,
boost our economy, and invest in our city’s resources by taking a
well-rounded approach to transportation. Secretary LaHood shares this
comprehensive view on transportation options for our nation — it’s not
about behavior modification its about giving Americans the freedom to
choose more than just the highway or byway.

Rather than pontificate about practicality from afar, I
challenge Mr. Will to come experience Portland, and then debate the
facts, the future and the visions we offer,” continued Blumenauer. “I
am proud to defend the Portland model so painstakingly developed and
implemented over the last 1/3 of a century. Maybe he will understand
why young well educated people move here without jobs and older, well
established business and professional people won’t leave for jobs that
pay more. We will be happy to buy his plane ticket and give him a
bottle of Oregon pinot to die for.

  • Erik

    I would hope Blumenauer would also show George Will the Portland Baseball park which was built with private funds, unlike most of the temples of Will’s religion, Major League Baseball.

  • Except the dirty little secret is that Portland is shedding families like crazy. Young people and hipsters are moving in, the working class and middle class with families are moving out. Public schools close every year in that city. It is turning into the Northwest’s version of San Francisco. Incidentally, that means that those residents who have to live in the suburbs because they have to drive their kids to school, events, etc. are either faced with a ride on one of the nation’s slowest light rails (riding through Downtown and Lloyd Center is an agonizing experience for anyone who’s ridden LA or San Diego light rail) or on urban freeways that are only two lanes in each direction in places – the most underpowered freeways of any urban area.

    If Portland is so great, why is Clark County, Washington growing faster than Portland? Why are so many residents moving across the border and working in Portland, despite double taxation (Washington’s 8.2% sales tax and Oregon’s 9% income tax on incomes over $7,000) and a horrible two lanes in each direction bottleneck on I-5? Why are businesses relocating from downtown and moving to the 217 corridor and the Silicon Forest, which has poor transit access?

    Look, I lived there once upon a time. It’s an OK place to visit (if you have no desire for any ethnic food whatsoever – the Chinese food and Mexican food there is horrible) but Blumenauer’s reality is not the same of those people in Clackamas County, the 217 corridor, or the residents of Clark County. It’s the reality of a certain population of Portland, mostly those in NW who think they’re better than everyone else (I lived in the working class NE section and in Vancouver when I was there). I’ll one-up Blumenauer and take George Will, or anyone actually, on my alternate universe tour of Portland – where you can see where Tonya Harding ice skated, where some stuck up young woman faked a kidnapping, the rented school buses that take bar patrons around town (where they throw up on homeowners’ lawns), the fake new urbanism of Orenco Station, and the failed Beaverton Round development. (Actually, I’m going to be doing that in September, when I do my light rail tour to Seattle and Portland, including the new ClackMAX. Twitter for info.)

  • Favorite quote based on this story?

    “Silk-stocking caveman George Will, in a recent Newsweek article, fulminated against against Ray LaHood, New Urbanism, Smart Growth, Portland, and just about anything that isn’t petrogluttonous suburban sprawl. And he managed somehow to do it in the name of “small government,” though only the military is more dependent on tax handouts than American automobilism.”

    – Richard Risemberg, “What George Will Prefers to Portland“, New Colonist, May 23, 2009

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