An Editorial (of sorts)
Personal Opinion re: Betsy Johnson by Bill Eagle
I normally don't write editorials. I spend most of my time just posting letters that other people send me. lately I have received a storm of letters involving Betsy Johnson, and thought it might be appropriate for me to write a response.
Betsy has been around for quite some time, and has often made substantial contributions to our community. She has helped with St. Helens 13 Nights on the River, the Columbia Foundation, CC Rider Transportation, Women's Resource Center, various senior centers, and numerous other charitable and philanthropic organizations throughout the our county. She has also managed to create a number of enemies, some of whom have resided with the Port of St. Helens. It is difficult for a person in public service not to create enemies. Someone suggested that she was being "Swift Boated," and it appears that this may be the case.
I seriously doubt if Betsy has abused any public trust. I am still not sure if she had a real conflict of interest when she sponsored SB 680, since the Scappoose Airport had a "through the fence" arrangement that has been in existence for several years. The purpose of SB 680 was to benefit other rural airports. Given hindsight, it would have been much better if Betsy had declared a "Conflict of Interest" when she introduced this bill just so that she could avoid "the appearance of evil."
I knew Stan Wagner. I worked with him when I used to work for the NRCS. Stan did not like the gravel people destroying the land. He trusted Betsy, and believed that she could save that land from being mined if he would sell to her. She was, in fact the only person that he felt that he could trust.
I also do not believe that Betsy made $119,000 on the property. This figure came about as a result of a reporter from the Oregonian subtracting the purchase price from the sale price. What the Oregonian didn't take into account were Betsy's legal fees, survey fees etc. Betsy had to spend a large amount of money in getting the UGB extended to allow the Wagner property to be sold for light industry, rather than gravel.
Betsy did make a profit, but not a large one, the amount of money that she realized was quite a bit less than the $119,000 reported by the Oregonian and I would have no doubt that Betsy may have considered her profit "insignificant, when she considered all the money she spent in preparing this property for sale."
There have also been some reports that Betsy was instrumental in helping pass Sen. Ben Westlund's SB 30. This bill preserved wilderness areas and prevented development on the headwaters of the Metolius river. Some have implied that since Betsy's family owns property in this area, that she some how profited by the bills passage. No one has bothered to explain how she was able to profit by wilderness preservation.
What I see are a number of people who she may have crossed in the past now using this as an excuse to get revenge. They speak to the reptile brain. A few years from now, most things will be forgotten, but when Betsy is considered for a higher office, someone will say "I don't quite remember what it was, but wasn't she involved with some shady business with land deals and legislation? They won't remember any specifics, only feelings.
It was suggested to me, and I do believe that it is so; Betsy is being swift boated.