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Lancaster: Council rejects debate, demeans critics

As I read the recent submissions to the Community Soapbox, I was struck by a frightening remembrance of days gone by. A time when long time residents (and some not as long), very involved in their community, passionately expressed their opinions and concerns to their city leaders, only to be rebuked with impunity.

The problems come when (so-called leaders), instead of embracing spirited debate and differences of opinion, seek to denigrate and demean anyone who does not think just like they do. True leaders would seek understanding and attempt to reach a compromise or consensus while acknowledging legitimate differences.

Mayor Bernard has tried to excuse his ongoing misconduct as OK because he 'Love's this City'. But if a citizen speaks out it's automatically characterized as a 'Vicious attack'. It would appear Councilor Collette has adopted the same profile.

Councilor Collette's overt 'personal attack' on Mr. Zumwalt, (simply because his opinion and insight raises legitimate concerns), tells us a lot about her character and inability as a leader.

Failure to learn from past mistakes ensures they will be repeated. As a relative newcomer, perhaps Councilor Collette is not aware that this type of arrogant belligerence is exactly what caused the recall of the Mayor and two City Councilors not that long ago.

I find it incredulous that Councilor Collette accuses Mr. Zumwalt of 'half truths' when she has outright lied in open council sessions. If that isn't enough, she conspired with Mayor Bernard, Councilor Barnes, Representative Tomei and others to jam a transit center on Kellogg Lake by calculated and intentionally misleading a generous donor (Mrs. Swanson), instead of doing the right thing and honoring a legal agreement.

Ms. Collette goes on to speak of partnerships and says people in Milwaukie are 'working together'.

Which people? What partnerships?

If you look close:

A partnership with Metro in which Milwaukie gets shafted big time. Just look at the recently signed intergovernmental agreement and you will wonder how we could ever have agreed to such a bad deal.

Only selected neighborhood chairs are in the loop on critical issues

Council Meetings and their outcomes are decided ahead of time behind closed doors (excluding certain members of the council)

Committees are hand picked with predominantly like minded people

And did I forget to mention that North Main business owners are planning to file a lawsuit against the city over recent council decisions?

Does any of this sound like good representation or ethically transparent conduct in government?

But don't take my word for it. There is a plethora of evidence in City Councilor e-mails (public records the Mayor refuses to discuss), which tells the whole sordid story in appalling and deplorable detail.

Read them for yourself. You make the call.

I have lived in Milwaukie for 25 years, raised my children here and served on the City Council for 6 years (right after the recall). It saddens me to see that nearly a decade later, after all the positive progress that has been made; we appear to be right back where we started.