© 2022 Tootie Smith for Oregon. All Rights Reserved.


The Relationship Between Business and Government

The coronavirus and the resulting shutdown continue to have devastating consequences for businesses and workers alike. An economy that had been growing at a healthy pace has literally come to a halt as storefronts remain shuttered worldwide.

Job creators are becoming increasingly anxious amid uncertainty as to when they can open their doors again. Some may never be able to. Many are still incurring expenses, even though their sources of revenue have dried up.

Having been a small business owner, I’m familiar with the struggles faced by our entrepreneurs. Throughout my years of public service, I always remembered the valuable perspective that I gained from that experience. That’s why I feel that it’s important for government at all levels to create policies that enable businesses to grow and thrive.

But far too often, politicians and bureaucrats take the approach that the needs of government must come first. They seem to forget that the revenues that fund their agencies come out of the pockets and paychecks of people who work for a living and those who employ them.

This current crisis highlights the differences between our leaders who understand how business works and those who do not. Those who do not understand are moving ahead with plans to increase tax burdens on employers, employees, property owners and anyone else who pays into government coffers. They’re already bemoaning the lost revenues that they were already counting on to grow government programs, hire more consultants and add to agency payrolls. I have experience in this area. When I first took office as a State Representative, the nation was reeling from a recession. The state’s budget was out of balance, and there were constant calls for tax increases.

As a member of the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee, I was tasked with figuring out the best way to balance that budget. And I’m proud to say that we got it done, by prioritizing key functions, and without raising taxes.

Despite the difficult circumstances we’re in right now, plans are underway to raise taxes on the residents of Oregon and Clackamas County. Those proposals were developed when the economy was surging. Now, with peoples’ livelihoods in the balance, and families struggling to make ends meet, those demands for higher taxes are unchanged.  

At the state level, businesses are going to be asked to pay the Corporate Activity Tax that was passed by the Legislature last year. That tax is applied to sales instead of profits, meaning that a business will have to pay it, even if it is losing money.

Also being proposed is a tax increase whose proceeds will go to Metro under the guise of providing services for the homeless. Much like the “affordable housing” measure that was passed in 2018, there is no guarantee that the funds will go towards their intended purpose or do anything to solve the problem. What it will do is give Metro more of your hard-earned dollars to grow its bureaucracy while producing little in the way of results.

I’m running for chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners to represent all of the small business owners, families and workers who are the backbone of our economy. Their needs have been ignored for too long by those who would put government first, instead of encouraging our businesses to prosper and thrive.

A Higher Standard

Public officials are held to high standards, and for good reason—their roles involve being stewards of taxpayer dollars. That’s why it’s important that people holding elected office strive to be honest and ethical.

One of the main reasons I’m running for chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners is I don’t feel those values are being represented in that office. Current Clackamas County Board of Commissioners Chair Jim Bernard has a troubling history of ethical lapses.

Bernard failed to recuse himself on votes to approve his wife as the director of the county’s tourism and cultural affairs department one year after marrying her. He subsequentially voted to approve budgets and pay raises for her.

Around a year ago, The Oregon Government Ethics Commission found Bernard guilty of ethics violations following an investigation.

According to this Oregonian article, Bernard “broke state ethics laws when he used his official position and government email to urge the county to hand over records to his wife for a possible lawsuit against the county.” It was also found that he “failed to declare a conflict of interest at a meeting where his wife’s request for information was discussed” and “attended part of the executive session where his wife’s request for records was discussed.”

Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 244.040(1) prohibits public officials from using or attempting to use their official position or office to obtain a financial benefit or avoid having a financial detriment for themselves, their relative or household member, that would not have otherwise been available but for holding their position or office. 

To make matters even worse, Bernard convinced his fellow commissioners to have county taxpayers foot the bill for his $20,000 in legal fees pertaining to the investigation of his unethical conduct. That is despite the fact that Bernard and his wife cost taxpayers a quarter of a million dollars per year in salary alone. It is substantially more once you include the costs of their insurance and PERS contributions.

Due to pressure from concerned citizens, commissioners eventually asked Bernard to pay his own legal bills. It never should have come to that. However, his fellow commissioners likely grew weary of the bad publicity they were receiving from that ill-advised decision.

Bernard has never been shy about his desires to have county residents pay higher property taxes, to both the county and to Metro. He is supporting Metro’s pending property tax proposal.

But what most people don’t know is that Bernard himself has gone through the process of having his own personal property taxes reduced. Last December, he filed an appeal with the county assessor’s office, asking for a 32 percent cut in his property taxes. That’s right—he got his own property taxes reduced while supporting additional increases to the property taxes you will be paying.

I’m proud to say that I’ve never been found guilty of ethics violations, nor have any such complaints been filed against me during my multiple stints of serving in public office. At no point did I ever use public office to directly benefit myself or a member of my family or household.

Elections are all about choices. In this regard, the upcoming vote for chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners could not be more clear. Jim Bernard has abused his authority, been found guilty of it, and had the audacity to expect you, as the taxpayer, to fund his legal bills when he got caught. He wants lower property taxes for himself and higher property taxes for you.

As the next chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, I will hold myself to a high ethical standard and put a stop to the shameful pattern of behavior that we’ve seen out of that office for the past few years.

Government Exists to Serve the People

It is clear by now that the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic shutdown is going to hit people and businesses right in their pocketbooks. What can government do to ease the pain for the average family from economic ruin?

The generous unemployment benefits from the federal government will help in the short term, but there’s a higher picture to consider. Suspend the newly enacted taxes that were passed or considered by three levels of government.

Clackamas County residents are looking at having to pay several new taxes and fees being implemented by multiple layers of government. Despite the hardships being faced by many of our citizens, they can expect to give more of their hard-earned dollars to Clackamas County, Metro and the State of Oregon whether you are employed or not.

Clackamas County residents spoke loudly and clearly a few years back when they rejected an increased vehicle registration fee with 64 percent of the vote. Despite that, the current Board of County Commissioners and Chair Jim Bernard worked behind closed doors and without public input to increase the fee anyway.

Metro, a regional agency with a poor track record of effectively managing taxpayer dollars, is insisting that voters approve yet another tax in the upcoming May 19 election for homeless services. At this rate we all will be homeless. Tax increases are being shoved on us while businesses remain shut by government and residents have been told for weeks to stay in their homes.

Instead, plans were made to continue increasing taxes and growing and expanding state and local government. An entirely new tax was passed. The 2019 legislative session passed the Corporate Activities Tax (CAT), which assessed businesses based on their gross sales. It is coming due now.

But anyone who has ever run a business knows that some operate on very slim margins. That method of taxation doesn’t take into account the overhead that businesses have. Some have high volumes of sales with slim profit margins on each sale. Others have higher profits on smaller numbers of sales. But all of those businesses are treated the same under the CAT. The worst thing about the CAT is that it is applied regardless of whether a business is profitable. In short, a business can lose money and still owe the tax.

 During the last few years of economic expansion, the State of Oregon saw record revenues flowing into its coffers. For instance, money was not spent on new computers for filing of the sudden surge in unemployment claims. Nor was there much discussion over the past few legislative sessions of providing tax relief for businesses, individuals or families. A few years back, the federal government gave money to Oregon for computer upgrades. The money vanished where?

Meanwhile, Clackamas County ran up huge budget deficits for the preceding two years while record taxpayer revenues were gathered. Metro, likewise, laid off 40 percent of its workforce due to the closure of its public venues. And they still want to tax us.

Clackamas County, Metro and the State of Oregon exist to serve the taxpayers who fund their budgets, and not the other way around. All three of these entities should be working to make life easier for taxpayers and entrepreneurs, not more difficult. 

Unfortunately, the people who are elected to leadership positions in all three of those organizations are more worried about growing government than they are about protecting taxpayers.

As the next chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, I will help guide the county through this and any other crisis over the next few years with an approach based on customer service. There’s sane no reason that struggling businesses and families should be facing multiple additional layers of taxation right now. The right action to take would be to reduce the amount of taxes and fees they’re paying until we can fully recover from the effects of this pandemic.

Customer Service as a Top Priority

At the end of the day, the purpose of every public organization should be to improve the quality of life for the citizens it serves. But far too often, it seems that the politicians and bureaucrats in government agencies prioritize pet projects over their residents’ needs.

Throughout my careers in both the public and private sector, I’ve placed an emphasis on customer service. It’s the same approach I intend to take as the next chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners.

Customer service was critical back when I was owning and operating businesses. My husband and I ran a historic bed and breakfast hospitality site in Molalla. We always made sure that our customers received the experience that they expected and were happy with the service we provided them.

In the private sector, failure to meet customers’ expectations usually means having to close your doors. If you raise your prices too high, customers will take their business elsewhere. If you aren’t responsive to what your customers want, you won’t have any more of them.

Somehow, people in the public sector often have a completely different attitude. They seem to forget that they are there to serve the public, and not the other way around.

As a longtime resident of Clackamas County, I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with the level and quality of service being provided by those who are supposed to be leading us. It’s one of the biggest reasons I’m running for commission chair.

Residents’ quality of life is eroding in many key areas. To put it simply, Portland’s problems seem to be making their way over to Clackamas County, with the tacit encouragement of our county board of commissioners and its chair. Instead of focusing taxpayer resources on solutions that could solve some of those problems, our county politicians are demanding more taxes be paid to them and other organizations like Metro. No private business would survive by conducting itself that way.

Take transportation, for example. The county has a big backlog of roads that need to be better maintained. Good customer service would dictate that the county start fixing potholes. Commute times continue to grow as Portland area traffic gets worse over time. Are there any plans to build new roads? Sadly, there are not. It isn’t even being discussed. And given current county political leadership, I don’t expect that to change any time soon.

The answer to our road quality and traffic problems isn’t to continue pouring billions of dollars into inefficient light rail systems that most residents don’t use and never will. It isn’t to charge residents tolls to drive on existing roads that their tax dollars have already paid for. Not only is that a failure of leadership, but it’s bad customer service. Clackamas County residents deserve better than that.

County leadership needs to do a better job of being responsive to citizens’ concerns, rather than viewing them as sources of additional revenue. As chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, I intend to put the customer service of county residents at the forefront of every decision I make.

Farmers, Loggers, Ranchers and Truckers Are Essential

I’ve long admired the pioneer spirit that founded Oregon, as well as the industries that brought people to this region in the first place. And as much as society and the world have changed since then, our natural resource industries are still a critical part of the state’s economy.

Even though we’ve seen the advent of technology, tourism and other industries, Oregon and Clackamas County still their fair share of people working off of the land. I’m happy to say that I’m one of them.

I grew up on a farm in the south part of Clackamas County. That experience taught me hard work, independence and self-sufficiency, qualities which have served me well. It also inspired me to get my start in the public policy arena, where one of my first positions was an executive director of the Oregon Lands Coalition.

To this day, my husband and I are the proud owners of Meadowbrook Hill Farm. We live in a log cabin home that we built ourselves.

I know what it’s like to wake up early to handle the many tasks and duties that are involved with running farm operations. Logging and farming are also labors of love, and I have the utmost respect for people working in those professions.

During my two terms in the Oregon House of Representatives, I fought hard for the farmers, ranchers, loggers and other natural resource workers in my district and statewide. My voting record was one of strong support for private property rights and the ability of citizens to use their land as they see fit.

When the Timber Unity movement started last year in response to cap and trade legislation that would have devastated rural Oregon, I stood in solidarity with the members of its grassroots organization. Due to my longtime support of our vital natural resource industries, my candidacy for chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners has been endorsed by Timber Unity. I wear that endorsement as a badge of honor.

In these challenging and unprecedented times, we’ve been reminded of just how important those natural resource industries are. Equally important are the trucks and their drivers who deliver those products to market. Can you imagine how difficult things would be right now if cap and trade had passed? It would have created hardships for many of the trucking companies who are now working overtime to make sure that the food our farmers grow can get to customers. That awful legislation threatened those same farmers, ranchers and loggers that our economy so desperately needs.

I’m proud to have the support of Timber Unity and will represent our farmers, ranchers, truckers and loggers….all of whom are absolutely essential to our economy and way of life.

Prudent Planning with Proper Priorities

After years of riding on the coattails of a booming national economy with low unemployment, the State of Oregon is now in a world of hurt.

The impact of the coronavirus and resulting forced government closures of business have caused a record number of unemployment claims to be filed. Because Oregon has no sales tax, it is highly reliant on property and income taxes. This means that the years of record revenue flowing into state coffers could dwindle to a mere trickle almost overnight.

Layoffs and furloughs began in the hospitality and leisure sectors, with restaurants and hotels being hit hard. Then they started happening in the manufacturing sector. The public sector hasn’t been immune to job losses, either, with Metro and the City of Portland both having to reduce their number of staff positions.

So when the state was collecting record revenues from taxpayers for the past few years, was there any kind of plan put in place for any eventual downtown in the economy? Sadly, it appears that there was not.

That’s unfortunate, because it’s important that government hold steady in times of crisis and emergency. Citizens look to their leaders to maintain continuity of service. Instead, we’re seeing state government fail to provide that safety net and security when the people of Oregon need it the most.

The federal government has even stepped in and has provided an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits. All of those newly unemployed workers should have been able to file their unemployment claims immediately to start receiving the benefits that they’ve been paying into. That would have made it easier for them to keep paying their bills and buying necessities like groceries.

Instead, those same workers are expressing widespread frustration. Many are unable to log in to state computer systems. Still others sit and wait on hold for long periods of time through telephone systems that are also outdated and inadequate to meet the surging demand.

While it’s true that most people could not have anticipated that a global pandemic would shut down large segments of the economy, prudent management practices still should have been in place to ensure that vulnerable citizens did not slip through the cracks. But, unfortunately, this was not done.

What were the government priorities that were deemed more important than taking care of the same people whose taxes fund these same systems that are now failing them? Well, Oregon’s political leaders decided that instead of taking care of vital business, they would pass record amounts of taxes on them and individuals to continue growing bureaucracy.

Rather than preparing us for a time of future uncertainty, our governor used her executive authority to use $5 million in state funds to implement cap and trade policies. That’s despite the fact that most of the counties in Oregon, representing around half of its population, opposed the same kind of bill when it was proposed in the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions.

If nothing else, the Timber Unity movement that grew from the governor’s actions, and the recent events following the coronavirus outbreak, highlight the importance of our timber and trucking industries.

We’ve seen what happens when store shelves go without essential paper products. Our political leaders shouldn’t be bullying the trucking industry into giving up money to grow state government programs. They we should be asking what they can do to make it easier for them to get their products to market.

I’m proud to say that my candidacy for chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners is endorsed by Timber Unity. The support that I’m getting from business leaders and workers isn’t just due to the decades that I’ve been a champion for their various industries. It’s also because of my many years of management leadership in the private sector.

I intend to put that management experience to good use as the new chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, along with everything I learned as a former commissioner and two-term member of the Oregon House of Representatives. What’s becoming increasingly obvious is that our current leaders left us ill-prepared for the crisis we face and that our workers, families and businesses deserve better than what we’ve gotten from them thus far.

The Fundamentals of Good Management

There were a lot of things I learned when I served in the Oregon House of Representatives from 2001 to 2005. One of them was how to best prioritize and utilize taxpayer resources to fund critical government services.

I was assigned to the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee. Many of my colleagues were on policy committees and would be able to go home once they were done meeting. Not me. Because Ways and Means has several subcommittees, I would often find myself at the capitol in Salem early in the morning and well into the evening.

All of that time learning the ins and outs of the state budget was very necessary, as the national recession devastated Oregonians’ pocketbooks. Our state government is largely dependent on income tax, so that meant fewer revenues were available. But the budget still needed to be balanced.

The demand for government services outpaced the dollars that were available, so we had to determine which programs provided the best value to the state’s residents. By the time we were done, the budget was balanced without citizens being burdened by more taxes.

I took the same approach when serving on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners from 2013 to 2017. Not only was the budget balanced, but the county had a surplus of funds.

Sadly, that is no longer the case. Under its current board of commissioners, the county has taken a completely different direction. The result is that the budget has faced a shortfall of $20 million over the past two years.

How did we get here? It’s simple. County government grew beyond its means. More programs were added. Consultants were paid to conduct “special projects,” with no accountability for performance or their value to county residents.

Starting last August, I began to publicly question current Clackamas County Commission Chair Jim Bernard about how and why things have gotten to this point. His response, or lack thereof, helped me conclude something I had long suspected—he’s a huge part of the problem.

Bernard’s lack of leadership results from the fact that he is not a manager. That’s why he doesn’t know how to budget public funds with a proactive approach to preparedness. And it’s one of the main reasons that, instead of planning for the future, the county government is lurching from crisis to crisis.

In that sense, and in terms of basic governing philosophy the contrast between Bernard and myself could not be clearer. Let me elaborate and spell it out.

I have always firmly believed that the government exists to serve the public, and not the other way around. The responsible approach is to work with the revenue that the county has available to it and properly prioritize those resources. Constantly asking citizens for more money just to grow budgets, for the county and for other entities like Metro, is irresponsible.

Instead of telling citizens how the county can help them in this time of crisis, the county’s leaders are choosing to put the government first and ask for more money.

The crisis occurring right now is that companies are losing money and workers are losing their jobs. It isn’t that the county and Metro don’t have enough of other peoples’ money to grow their budgets and bureaucracies as much as they would like to.

My governing philosophy came from years of running private sector businesses. I know what it’s like to manage organizations through good times and bad. Most importantly, I’m proud of the work I’ve done both in the Legislature and on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners to put good management practices in place. As your next commission chair, I plan to build on those years of experience to get the county government back on the right track.

Putting Clackamas County and Its Residents First

One of the most important function of a commissioner is to represent the interests of county residents. That’s especially true of whichever commissioner serves as chair of the board of commissioners.

As a longtime Clackamas County resident, I’m extremely familiar with the county’s communities and its residents’ needs. I’ve seen the area evolve over the years alongside the neighboring metropolis of Portland. And I feel it’s more important than ever that Clackamas County and its cities have their own unique identities that are independent of the state’s largest city.

Even though some of its cities are considered suburbs of Portland, the vast majority of Clackamas County is rural. I think we need to allow and encourage those communities to maintain and preserve their small town feels and rural characters.

As Portland has grown, so has the severity of its problems. We’ve seen increases of such urban issues as graffiti, traffic and homelessness. But worse yet, some of these social ills are starting to spread out to nearby communities, including some of the cities in Clackamas County.

That’s one of the most important reasons why we need to preserve the county’s autonomy and empower its residents to choose their own collective destiny.

For far too long, we’ve seen the county’s interests become subservient to Metro, the regional governing authority. I agree with the many county residents who feel that Metro is another costly level of government that undermines other, more local municipalities like cities.

In response to the loss of $11 million in revenue per month caused by the coronavirus crisis, Metro has laid off nearly half of its employees. It’s likely that more will be furloughed.

Before all of this, Metro was considering a multi-million-dollar tax measure in the name of funding services for the homeless. And even though thousands of Americans and Oregonians have lost their jobs, Metro is going ahead with its proposed tax measure.

If passed by voters, Clackamas residents and businesses would be surrendering themselves to the taxing authority of one of the worst managed cities in America. 

The idea of having the City of Portland collecting taxes from folks outside its jurisdiction, without the direct concurrence of Clackamas County residents, is simply wrong.  If we somehow got this question before Clackamas County voters asking if they want to have taxes collected from them by the City of Portland, I’m confident they would say no.

Current Clackamas County Commission Chair Jim Bernard has spent his entire political career doing the bidding of officials from Portland and Metro. By contrast, when I served as county commissioner from 2013 and 2017, I stood up to those urban interests and put my constituents first.

Portland’s problems are due largely to its officials’ lack of leadership and the chronic mismanagement of vast amounts of taxpayer dollars. Clackamas County residents should not be left holding the bag for the failures of politicians and bureaucrats from the City of Portland and Metro.

It’s time we had a county commissioner chair who was willing to stand up for our citizens’ interests instead of writing blank checks to bail Portland and Metro out for their failed policies. I’m proud of my track record of doing right by the citizens of Clackamas County, and it’s why I’m running for chair of its board of commissioners.

Getting Back to Basics

All too often, we see what happens when the government tries to do too much—cost overruns, lax oversight, mission creep between different agencies and core functions not being done well. That is one of the many reasons that I’ve always thought government should stick to doing a few things and should seek to do them well.

In my two terms in the Oregon House of Representatives, I saw the results of the state government trying to be all things to all people. My first term began in 2001 and the nation was in recession. I was assigned to the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee and tasked with balancing the budget amid declining revenues.

Luckily, my colleagues and I were able to accomplish this without raising taxes. We did it by identifying and prioritizing key services. Expensive, non-essential programs that only served a few people were eliminated and spending was brought under control.

In the years since then, our state leaders have constantly expanded the scope of what they think the state government should do. And now that the economy may be headed into recession, the state could be in a world of hurt and potentially painful budget cuts.

One of the reasons I enjoyed serving as Clackamas County Commissioner from 2013 to 2017 is that county government has the unique position of being the closest to the citizens it serves.

During my stint as commissioner, I took the same approach to governance and budgeting that I did in the Legislature. Not only was the budget balanced, but the county had a surplus of funds.

In the years since then, the county leadership has taken a much different direction. The approach has been to grow government’s footprint without regard to the ability to pay for it further on down the line. Consequentially, this fiscal recklessness has meant deficits of $20 million over the last two years and discussions about the need for “rightsizing” county government.

The real problem is that county government got too large in the first place. It’s time to get back to the basics.

County government’s top priorities should be law enforcement and all aspects of its criminal justice system, the infrastructure that is needed to keep people and products moving, and essential services that are valued by citizens, such as alleviating homelessness.

As chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, I will use my previous experience to return the county’s budget to sound financial footing. I have a proven track record, at the state and county level, of balancing budgets without burdening citizens with higher taxes.

The Importance of Law and Order

Throughout my campaign for chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, I’ve emphasized the need to focus on the most essential of services. And out of all of them, law and order is arguably the most critical.

When I served on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners from 2013 to 2017, I strived to ensure that county residents had adequate law enforcement by fully funding the sheriff’s office. It was, and is, important to me that our deputies and other personnel in that office have high morale because that results in better performance and service for citizens.

I advocated for full employment of that office. That includes multiple divisions of the sheriff’s office, such as patrol, jail and investigations. I also voted to keep benefit packages whole by increasing medical benefits.

As your next Clackamas County Board of Commissioners chair, I will use common sense budgeting practices to balance the budget, as I have before, and provide the services that are necessary to keep citizens safe.

I will do this by prioritizing core public service functions over specialty projects.

I’m speaking, specifically, of the new courthouse that the current commissioners are pushing in spite of public opposition.

That project is estimated to cost $230 million, including debt service. Commissioners have considered funding it through a property tax increase of 17 cents per $1,000 in assessed value. The owner of a home valued at $350,000 would face an additional $595 in taxes per year.

It’s true that the Legislature has allocated $31 million to the county for the study and planning of the courthouse. But that is contingent upon the county providing matching funds. Given that the county’s budget has become unsustainable, that scenario is simply unrealistic.

Fortunately, there is a better way to meet the same need for improved courthouse facilities.

The first step would be to renegotiate with the Legislature and aske for the $31 million outright to do the project. Then I would change the project to better meet taxpayers’ needs.

My plan is to rent one of the abandoned mall sites and retrofit it. The cost of this approach would be around $20 million, or less than 10 percent than what is being proposed right now.

The coronavirus situation and the advent of online shopping has caused an increase of available storefronts at malls like the Clackamas Town Center. They include the Sears building, and J.C. Penny’s may soon also be vacant.

Over the long-term, this will keep the properties on the tax rolls through a long-term lease agreement to be worked out with the mall’s owner.

The Clackamas Town Center is located right off of I-205 and is accessible through existing light rail and bus systems. Its buildings already have adequate parking, escalators, elevators and are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

More importantly, I know for a fact that this approach will work. How do I know? Because I’ve done it before, while serving as a Clackamas County Commissioner.

A judge was looking to relocate her crowded courtrooms. So we rented an abandoned commercial structure that had previously housed a Joanne’s Fabrics. The building was located inside of a strip mall right behind the Clackamas Town Center.

I believe that county residents will be much better served by this creative solution than they will by being put on the hook for property taxes to fund a project that they do not support.