One of the interesting events to observe in the past three years has been the number of times that the Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce, and the leadership of the Aurora Airport Improvement Association, along with Ted Millar of TLM Holdings (owner of Southend Airpark and the old church camp development) have appeared before the Wilsonville City Council to excoriate them. And what was the message: we’re the good guys just trying to run our businesses, and you (the City of Wilsonville) have no business getting involved in the expansion of an airport outside your city.
It doesn’t matter that most flights fly over Charbonneau and Wilsonville, or that increased traffic at the Aurora Airport directly impacts city traffic on I-5, or that the airport has inadequate infrastructure like sewer and water. The city should mind its own business and leave us alone to do what we want.
And after the last election cycle saw Ted Millar as the largest campaign contributors to Ben West and John Budiao, which assisted Ben West get elected to the Council where he has uniformly voted against Council actions to limit airport expansion, now as the next election looms even more outside money is pouring in. Ben West said “The Aurora Airport is a gift to Wilsonville” at a city council meeting. The ‘gift’ appears to be generous campaign contributions to Ben West and John Budaio!
It started on Friday, Sept. 18, with a fundraiser for John Budiao that featured Sen. Betsy Johnson as the keynote speaker, lined up next to airport developers and conservative politicians.
It goes without saying that it is unusual for a Senator from Scappoose, who is also Co-Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, to be dropping into a local city election, and leaving big contributions to a city Mayor and Council race. But, oh wait! Sen. Johnson used to be Aurora Airport Manager, has been the most ardent legislative supporter of funding Aurora Airport expansion, and describes the commercial interests there as “The Family!”
In the past few months the Aurora Airport Improvement Assoc. has launched a public relations campaign on behalf of the Aurora Airport, a classic example of “greenwashing” the airport issue. The ‘Friends of the Aurora Airport’ is operated by Public Affairs Council, JL Wilson’s lobbying company, who also operates the I Love Aurora Airport Facebook page for their client.
Now we see that JL Wilson has organized a public action committee called Jobs Political Action Committee, and an awful lot of outside money is now running through that PAC to fund the campaigns in Wilsonville. The goal: take over the City Council and make it airport friendly.
Citizens of Wilsonville and Charbonneau, as well as the surrounding area, need to understand that most of the money funding these campaigns is coming from corporate interests who own business or operate aircraft at the Aurora Airport and who are trying to keep their names hidden by contributing through this PAC. This lack of transparency in contributions and expenditures is an attempt to conceal donors and interests, is not just about electing fresh faces to the Wilsonville City Council. It is about flipping the Wilsonville City Government to change city policy about the Aurora Airport.
This is about taking over the City Council and installing airport friendly politicians who are financially dependent on airport contributors!